March 4, 2009
February 3, 2008
February 1, 2008
Here is that five tiered roofed temple again in a Time Photo Essay.
January 31, 2008
Nepal keeps popping up as a topic here. This site, Spirit of Baraka features still shots from Baraka – a film by Ron Fricke. Here, an image from Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square. In the background, the Siddhi Lakshmi with the guardian statues; in the foreground left Vatsala Durga with the “gate” on one corner of the step.
January 30, 2008
My friends Yam Gurung and Samantha Schuster have put together their trekking company. Here’s the site: The Trekking Yeti.
Have I talked enough yet about this wonderful beautiful country?
From their site:
Our vision is to share the spirit and beauty of the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal with travellers seeking a safe adventure and renewed energy. Yam Gurung was born in a small and remote village in the Annapurna region where his parents still live today. In addition to being an accomplished trekking guide, porter and organizer, Yam is an experienced chef, father of two and husband of Canadian born Samantha Schuster. As well as being an experienced nurse in the Canadian North and a registered midwife Samantha has traveled widely in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Including, of course, numerous sojourns to Nepal where she and Yam first met in 1998. When they are not in Nepal, Yam and Samantha live in London, Ontario with their two children Charlotte Maya and Kam Lama.
Our family recently returned from Nepal, and Karen has put up some pictures at http://web.mac.com/karencu which cover many of the sites Trekking Yeti offer on their tours.
January 24, 2008
More from The Secret Museum of Mankind
WHERE THE NEWAR CRAFTSMAN’S FANCY IS CUT IN IMMORTAL STONE
Nepal has not unjustly been called a museum of archaeology and arts. In this time-worn street of Bhatgaon structures of great architectural merit, with handsome ornamentation of Oriental design, are to be seen on all sides. The entrances of many of the important buildings are guarded by large stone animals which stand on each step in pairs and are reputed to have great strength.
This photo above on Secret Museum scanned as it from the book, and sourced from somewhere around the turn of the century, is actually flipped left to right. Someone was making a compositional choice, conscious or unconscious, and figured that the viewers wouldn’t know any better anyway.
Not surprisingly, I found a photo of the same set of buildings surprisingly from a very similar position, through a Google search for Bhatgoan Nepal in this Flickr Stream from east med wanderer from 1998.
There are a few well known temples in Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square and Taumadhi Tole, and the larger ones all have a series of guardian statues along the main entrance. But these ones match. As much as I tried to space myself around in my head, I couldn’t set out a position where that scene could have been seen, until I flipped the old photo. So, here is the flipped image, , and east med wanderer’s photo from roughly the same place.
Cross referencing with memory, guessing, and with Lonely Planet’s Nepal, the temple with the statues on tiers is most certainly Vatsala Temple Siddhi Lakshmi in the Northeast corner of the Square… which isn’t square. Centrally, the vaguely pyramidal shape belongs to the water tank, and the with the octagonal roof is Chyasalin Mandap, destroyed in 1934 by an earthquake, rebuilt in 1990. The temple on the left with the open archways is , I suspect, Siddhi Lakshmi Temple a corner arcade. The octagonal roof belongs to Vatsala Durga temple. The whitish tower seems to be Vatsala Durga. The white building on the right with the vertical windows is, I suspect, the 55 Window Palace.
Taumadhi Tole is a hub of business activity, whereas Durbar Square is much quieter. Here is one of my own photos of the temple with the octagonal roof – oh, so cleverly cropped so as to exclude the distractions of context or place – and my family strolling through the Durbar Square – from the opposite side of the other photos – in late October of 2008, that whitish pointed temple, which I believe is either Krishna Jagarnath temple or Shiva Kedarnath Temple in the background. I deserve a through beating for being such a poor reporter. Please correct me.
Yet more: The street in the picture below is still just as busy with trade and shops as you see it in this older photo. But imagine it with cars and motorbikes in both directions
STREET MARKET SCENE IN A DECORATIVE OLD WORLD SETTING
Among a prolific display of quaintly carved houses, topped here and there by a red tiled pagoda roof, the marketers of Bhatgoan peddle their wares, while coolies parade the street carrying bamboo poles from which depend baskets of tasty meats, and ghurras filled with “dhye” (sour milk) or toddy, the juice drawn from palm trees which soon becomes highly fermented and intoxicating.
As compared to this photo where if you look carefully, you can see that same temple set in a small square (Nasamana Square?), but enclosed by taller buildings. On the right side of the older photo you see a set of steps. These lead up to a smaller altar which is, no doubt, still there today. The Squares are the hubs of commercial activity.
If anyone has more accurate information, please!
UPDATE: Monday, February 23, 2009
The Daily Explorer posts an essay of their correspondent’s recent trip, with a couple of pictures of interest to this historical continuity.
The first, from a point slightly farther back than the previous view, with our ancient photographer probably up on the wall behind that leftmost lion, if not on the lion itself, and the other, I swear, from exactly the same rooftop restaurant table from which I took mine.
November 10, 2007
This video essay and interview with Richard Florida; At the intersection of immigrant and hippie is an interesting find in light of our recent trip.
There has been no functioning government in Nepal for about 12 years now – at least since the last election. Kings and parliaments and Maoist insurgents arguing over how things should be done have put a stop to any kind of local power in terms of city planning. The streets of Kensington Market are safe and civilized compared to Kathmandu.
The views of traffic, goods on the streets, people walking, taste slightly of the intensity both of Kathmandu, and a remaining street market near a now closed garment market of Old Shanghai. Both are under tremendous pressure.
The Kathmandu Valley, it is said, can support about 1.5 million people. At the last count, meaning the last time anybody actually counted, the valley held 2.5 million. It feels incredibly dense. Surrounded by mountains, they really have nowhere to sprawl.
Shanghai is an amazing city. Shanghai is a completely planned, reconstructed city that contains a nearly 20 million people.
It is hard to believe that Nepali’s can pack Kathmandu any more densely. Brick and mortar construction can only go so high, but some who go to The Emirates for a few years bring back enough money to build six and eight floor hotels with more modern building techniques – squeezed into lots in Thamel with a breath to spare. The Chinese Government just appropriates entire neighbourhoods and reconstructs them. Sprawl isn’t a problem. Flat goes in every direction.
Thamel, in Kathmandu, and Shanghai are Shopping. The streets of Shanghai are crawling with an expanding middle class with money to spend. If there’s one thing the Chinese Government understands, it’s Capitalism and if there’s one thing the Nepali Maoist understand it’s that Tourism is the heart of Nepal’s economy, and you can’t scare them away if you want income to run the country. The Chinese Government understands that it owns access to the market, and if corporations want to play, they have to pay.
A ferry ride across the river to Old Shanghai and a short walk through grey winding streets brought us to a street market. As much as you could marvel at Shanghai’s huge pedestrian mall on Nanjing Road and a walk the river along The Bund, it all seemed plastic, just a beautifully articulated surface. Old Shanghai market streets were real, genuine – like Kensington, like Thamel, alive with people working, working at living and making a living, attacking the street – the public space with vigour, need, hunger.
There’s more than just a hole at the emptiness of downtown London, a city that can sprawl because it can, where Developers have called the shots with the city trotting along on a leash. I can’t imagine any of the developer faction going to Shanghai to come back here to complain about Planning, or returning from Kathmandu and whining about needing more freedom.