Friday, November 15, 2013

Tridevi Temple

Kathmandu's Tridevi Temple amidst a jumble of wires, seems to capture the city's tussle between tradition and a quest for modernity.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Kathmandu - 15 Years Later

Following a 22 hour journey from Vancouver via Guangzhou, I arrived in Kathmandu late in the evening. Last time I was here, Nepal proudly proclaimed to the world that it was a Himalayan Kingdom. Since then the royal family was elected out - and then killed, under strange circumstances, by the crown prince. As I rode in from the airport, the taxi driver pointed to the Royal Palace and mentioned casually that it was a museum.

Elections are approaching, and transportation-related enterprises are apparently on strike. Violence is brewing amidst the chaos of the Nepali electoral process. Reading the Kathmandu Post this morning, I see articles pertaining to violence in remote mountain villages, grenade attacks, and the possibility of a general strike. The shadow-side of Shangri La.

In addition, as we are getting set to begin a 200 kilometer trek in the remote Manaslu region, I read the following in the warm and pleasant Kathmandu coffee shop where a delicious cup of Himalayan java is unfogging my fuzzy, multiple time zone-induced consciousness: " With mercury plummeting and snowfall starting, thousands of people in the high altitude districts have started fleeing the cold and into the plains." Except a few of us. I picture a scene representative of Tintin and Snowy (Milou) in the Himalayas - Tintin Au Tibet.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Samoan Islands

While I have yet to post travel tales and photos of a recent trip to the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific, my home is already a chaotic scene of  winter gear to be used in a more challenging environment - an upcoming high altitude trek in Nepal - the Manaslu Circuit. Before I embrace my inner Tintin in Tibet, I will put my packing (and unpacking, and re-packing) aside for a while and convey some of my experiences as somewhat of a Johnny Come Lately Robinson Crusoe.

After having attended a psychology conference in Hawaii, I felt a little more adventure was in order, and so I caught a plane from Honolulu to  - and I love to say this town's name - Pago Pago, capital of American Samoa. From there I would later travel to the nearby independent republic of Samoa - what used to be called Western Samoa.

Over the years churches have succumbed to volcanic eruptions and tsunamis, but the spirit of the Samoan people has remained intact amidst natural disasters. Their joyous disposition was evident in all my encounters.

Robert Lewis Stevenson wrote, "In the South Seas" in 1908 in Samoa. Reading his accounts while visiting those very islands a hundred years later, gave me an appreciation of the massive changes effecting island life, but at the same time how significant aspects of this culture  thankfully remain unaltered. The Victorian photographs arranged with traditional local artifacts gives us a peek into Stevenson's home in Apia, Western Samoa.