Back in March of this year, I had the most amazing honour of travelling to Nepal to watch two of my very good friends tie the knot. Full Nepali styles. This involved lots of dumplings and a 4 day wedding celebration!
I really challenged myself on this trip to try to capture the locals. While I have a passion for nature, I love people. But I've always been too afraid to capture strangers. I always feel too intrusive and like I'm taking advantage of them. Thankfully with the help of our personal guide (AKA the bride: Ayesha Giri), I was able to get heeaapps of practice in. So the below might not be what you're used to from me, but some of the included portraits are my most favourite images I've ever taken.
The end of two long-haul flights saw us flying pretty much parallel to the Himalayan Mountains. They are scary big. This turned out to be one of the handful of times we actually got to see them during our stay - #thankssmog. I had no idea what to expect here. I assumed it would be busy, but not on the level of chaos we were met with when we arrived. Bustling, dusty, smoggy and colourful. A complete cultural smack to the face the second we got off the plane. A fun game of bag Tetris in a tiny taxi at the airport was then followed by speeding, dodging and weaving through the bustling streets of Kathmandu. Imagine instant dust to the back of your throat, dust in your eyes, cars, motorbikes and people everywhere. Tangles of power cables, rubble covered streets, toppled buildings, tiny ramshackle shops, cooking in the streets, and in the middle of it all; random cows dotted throughout the chaos. Just chillin' on the road. As with Indian culture, they are sacred in Nepal. So sacred in fact, it's considered rude to shoo them. So they literally just go where they please and the world just whizzes around them.
We were stationed in Thamel during our time in Kathmandu, which is known as the most popular tourist area. As a result, the whole suburb is a car-free zone and very clean in comparison to the rest of the city. Lots of shops and lots of good food. Hit up BK's for the best fries and momo's (Nepali dumplings). I was amazed at how safe I felt in Kathmandu. You trust the people and I never felt uncomfortable once. In a country where they really believe in karma, crime is unsurprisingly quite low!
During our stay here we were super lucky to be part of the Holi Festival. The streets get filled with people throwing brightly coloured powder and water bombs on you every 2 steps. If you don't want to get colour on you, you just don't leave the house. The Nepali believe it to be good luck to put powder on fair skin, so fair to say (lel) we got nailed. Definitely a highlight of my life so far.
The wedding was made up of several days, with the main wedding day being the biggest of them all. My beautiful friend Ayesha (the bride) is a twin and her and her sister were married off on the same day. As a result, there were hundreds of people in attendance. The ceremony itself went on for hours, so you just kind of eat and drink all day while the bride and groom do their thing. Then suddenly they are married and they leave in a horse & carriage. It was a whirlwind of colour and a multitude of traditions that had to be done in an exact order and way. So that was really fun watching my kiwi mate Jack stumble through a few of those while a Nepali priest yelled at him in an ancient language he didn't understand.
Highlights of the wedding included: my mum teaching our Kiwi group how to do the 'bus stop' (an old-school line dance from the 70's) then proceed to perform said dance to "Slice Of Heaven" to a crowd of bewildered Nepali.
"Where do I go from here? I think I may have peaked. Does it get any better than doing The Bus Stop to Slice of Heaven in Kathmandu at a traditional Nepal wedding? I think not!" - My mum.
We also had to also play a sort of crazy rugby game with Jacks wedding shoes. Tradition calls for the grooms' shoes to be stolen by the brides family and stolen back by the grooms family. A hilarious game of this shoe rugby erupted in the middle of the wedding. Needless to say, the kiwi boys nailed this part of the celebrations!
The next series of images are from an ancient city called Bhaktapur. The delicate brickwork of this historic city suffered mercilessly to the earthquakes in April 2015. Effects of this damage are still very apparent, but a lot of rebuilding and repair has gone on in the past 3 years. This was my favourite place to photograph the people. They are so kind and open. I was really fascinated with their day to day lives and loved capturing it all.
DISCLAIMER: There are graphic images below of a goat being BBQ'd with a blowtorch in a town square. Sorry in advance if you find this offensive.
Then back to Kathmandu for the wedding reception! We had handmade saris to wear which we had to get help putting on because they are so complicated. Then to top off Kathmandu, we visited a couple more stupas including The Monkey Temple - the most ancient religious site in Nepal. True to its name, there were monkeys everywhere!
Again, congrats for getting through another long one! Stay tuned for part 2 of my Nepal trip when we head to Chitwan and Pokhara!