One of the questions I get asked a lot is what got me into photography in the first place. I can’t honestly say that I was wielding an SLR out of nappies (if I’m being honest, for most of my gangly & awkward teenage years I avoided cameras as best I could). Then in my early twenties I caught the travelling bug, and that’s when I really got how amazing photography could be.
This time last year, I was 3,800m up in the Himalayas, eating yak cheese and hiking above the cloudline. Of course I had to bring Bobby Kamora with me.
This is the village of Kyanjin Gompa, about as middle of nowhere as you’ll get, about 8km from the Tibetan border and about a 3 day hike from the closest town. Houses are insulated with yak dung and people wash their clothes in glacial streams. Electricity? Only if you’re very, very lucky. It’s one of the places that really blew me away, and thank god for photography because my memory’s so bad, give it a few years and I’d have forgotten what it looked like. (And, considering the bus trip to get to the trail head was as close to death as I’ve ever come, I’m never likely to go back!).
It’s a different world. Little runny-nosed boys help their mothers with the industrious task of knitting…
… livestock is herded through the “high street” before being sacrificed for religious festivities….
…and wild horses roam free amongst prayer flags and dilapidated Buddhist monasteries .
(Is that horse smiling? I swear he is. But then if I were a horse and lived there, I probably would too.)
The village itself is breathtaking, and from about 3pm clouds roll in from the other end of the valley and blankets it in white.
Oh, and just when you’re thinking the place can’t get any better, you need to know there’s a cheese factory. A yak cheese factory, of course.
Before you ask, it’s pretty yummy. And yak-herding does seem a rather pleasant past time, don’t you think?
The village mainly consists of elderly people and young kids, mainly because folks of school and working age would move down to the towns to educate themselves and make a living. I did wonder what it’d be like to grow up in a world so completely on the edge of civilisation. After some careful observation, it seems that it involves (a) flying a lot of kites with your dad, whilst wearing matching snazzy jumpers….
(b) trying to kick chickens
and (c) generally being very cute (but very, very snotty)
Yeah. The Langtang Valley is a really beautiful place…
When people ask, I tell them they should definitely make the trip there at least once in their lives…if they can hack the 8 hour bus trip on this bad boy that is 🙂
Oh wait, did I say 8 hours? I meant 13…
I’m still glad I went. 🙂