Nepal Earthquake in 2015 // The Aftermath

I must admit it has taken me a bit long to write this article about the Nepal earthquake in 2015. There are good reasons for this but I am so happy to share with you some photographs we took while in Nepal and the earthquake aftermath in 2015.
The world as we see it is beautiful but it sometimes suffers. As it happened with this breathtaking country.

To give you a bit of a background why we took this trip and what we did there, I shall start from the beginning.
Nepal was never on our list to be honest. I almost didn’t even know where to find it on the map. Until one day, when a good friend started working for World Vision in Kathmandu and invited us there. (Thank you Vali!!).  Free accommodation for an entire month in Nepal was all of a sudden possible.

As many people know by now, Nepal has been through unbelievable struggles in the past decade and the past year alone. Earthquakes kept on shaking the grounds for months and if this wasn’t enough, things got even tougher. For some political reasons (not at all justifiable), India has decided to stop exporting any gas, oil petrol since the Autumn of 2015. With shattered houses from the earthquake, Nepalese people also had broken hearts, as their bread and butter was taken away. Without petrol, they could not drive for work, without oil and gas they could not cook and feed their families. Entire countries were advised not to visit Nepal during this times, so tourism has decreased around 70%, from what we were told. Considering Nepal’s main economy is based on tourism, everything hit them hard and strong.
It may not sound like the best of timings for us to visit either, but we had tickets long before any of this had happened and so, together with our friend from Radu Benjamin photography, we went.

Let me explain to you some of the photographs we took in Nepal. Bare with me, it’s a long story, but it’s still a very little part of a month’s worth of experiences in Asia.

Below, Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, as seen from above, on the hill of The Monkey Temple, around lunch time. It is by far one of the most polluted places in the world, along with India, although it sits in a valley, surrounded by the Himalaya’s mountains..

Kathmandu capital of Nepal after the earthquake in april 2015
When we were there, there was already a petrol crisis, so you can see hundreds of car and motorbikes, parked on the side of the road, waiting to buy some petrol on the black market, for 5 times the regular price.
Traffic in Kathmandu during the petrol crisis in Nepal after the earthquake
The aftermath of the earthquakes in 2015 can be spotted pretty much everywhere. Many temples shaken, houses lost even couple of floors. Life has to go on still, even with much loss in people’s lives.
Aftermath of the Nepal earthquake in 2015 Window of a Yellow house in Durbar Square in Kathmandu Lady feeding pigeons in Durbar Square by the temples in the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu Man smoking a cigar and a broken temple in Durbar Square in Kathmandu after the Nepal earthquake Man sitting in a rickshaw in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal
The festival of lights was approaching (celebrated similar to our Christmas holidays) – brothers would buy gifts to their sisters and kids go carolling and dancing in the evenings, for money or sweets. Everybody was decorating their homes with lights and Marigold flowers. Nepalese man in a flower market in Kathmandu on the Light Festival in Nepal Black and white image of Nepalese man and child begging on the street Children at a car fixing shop in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal Nepalese boy leaning against a wall of a car workshop in Kathmandu Nepalese girl running near at a water fountain in Kathmandu Nepalese lady caring water from a water spring in Nepal Nepalese boy by a spring in Kathmandu after the earthquake in 2015 Grumpy Nepalese man selling bananas in a square in London I was passing through a narrow street in Kathmandu when I encountered this man, just sitting on a very old couch (if you can still call it a couch) , as if he was only waiting for time to go by. I politely asked if I could take a photo of him and he nodded, without being bothered at all by my camera. It was here when I realised that street photography is not as exciting for me unless I get to interact with the subject I want to photograph. That’s when I feel that magic happens.

Old Nepalese man sitting on a broken sofa in Kathmandu after the earthquake Nepalese people selling food on the side of the street in Kathmandu Nepalese craftsmen making golden statues by London wedding photographer, Green Antlers Photography
As we spent a couple of days just walking around the city of Kathmandu, we found this temple in the area of Patan. My heart skipped a beat when I saw him sitting in the doorway of this temple as he was praying consciously to his gods. He wouldn’t even talk to me until he finished his prayers. It was sad and beautiful to watch him, all in the same time.

Nepalese man praying sitting near a temple in the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu Nepalese children smiling at Green Antlers PhotographyHindu and Buddhist temples in Pathan Square after the earthquake in Kathmandu Nepal Nepalese man sitting and dog crossing on the street Nepalese woman carrying a heavy load on her head Sacred Destinations in Kathmandu, Boudhanath Stupa after the Nepal earthquake Nepalese woman at Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal Nepalese boy sleeping on the floor in Kathmandu , Nepal Nepalese woman and little girl lighting a candle in temple in Kathmandu Woman in traditional clothing from Nepal after the earthquake Nepalese men at temple selling beads and praying

This image stopped me in my tracks. It looked like a Biblical scene, where people would come to the temple, some to pray, some only to get few crumbs or coins. Temples in this country exist for religious reasons, but for commercial ones nonetheless.
Sometimes, the line between the two is very much thin.
Tibetan monk passing by a bling man begging in the temple square of Boudhanath Stupa Nepalese woman begging at the Temple after the Nepal earthquake 2015 Nepalese people praying at the Monkey Temple after the Nepal earthquake 2015 Tibetan monks praying and begging at the temples in Nepal Nepalese woman at the Monkey Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal As we were walking around Swayambhunath (also known as the Monkey Temple), monkeys would stare you for food and take advantage of any opportunity.
Beware though, monkeys here are the most aggressive and territorial animals, so don’t think you can pet them. They will attack and bite. And it’s not pretty.

Monkeys in the Temple square at Swayambhunath Temple in Nepal Monkey and her baby on the rooftop of the Swayambhunath hindu Temple in Kathmandu Man feeding monkeys at the Swayambhunath Temple in Kathmandu
Tibetan monks. Precious kids. I’m fascinated by their culture and dream of getting to Tibet one day. But that’s on my long list of places to see some day.

Tibetan monk children after the Nepal earthquake 2015 Nepalese woman selling candles for prayer at the Monkey Temple in Nepal
Tents set up for people who have lost their homes after the earthquake in 2015. In the image below, they were waiting in line to get a portion of rice for the day.

Nepalese crowd standing in line waiting for the rice ratio near tents of the aftermath of the earthquake in Nepal Nepalese boys carrying a log on the streets of Kathmandu Tents of the refugees of the Earthquake in Nepal in April 2015 Nepalese girl dressed in traditional outfit and succulent plant in Kathmandu,Nepal
Little restaurants for street food, where you could buy the best Momos in town. Momo is a traditional food, a dumpling with buff or veggie filling. One of the best traditional foods they have, if I can say so myself.

Nepalese woman and men eating in front of a restaurant Man on motorbike in Kathmandu capital of Nepal Portrait of Nepalese girl dressed in school uniform in the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu Aftermath of Kathmandu after the Earthquake in Nepal 2015 Kathmandu capital of Nepal after the Earthquake in 2015 Nepalese man by Green Antlers Photography Due to the fuel crisis, women especially started to feel very frustrated, as they couldn’t cook for their families. They decided one day to get out in the streets and block some trucks with fuel, that were driving for bigger cities, where the tourists were. It was almost funny to see the entire scene, because despite of them being so upset, they were still smiling and were not at all aggressive. The police came to the scene but gave up arguing with the ladies in the end. Only more empty promises were made.

Riots in Nepal due to the fuel crisis in 2015 Police men walking on the street in Nepal
One of the reasons we had to go to Nepal was because people mattered. People like this guy, Benjamin, who decided to give up on his land and build shacks for people who were left without their houses. He has 5 families living on his land now and his dream is to build a guest house for tourists to come and stay there. He plans on having an entire community of  Christian Nepalese around him, which is a daring dream in a hindu country.
He thought me about Grace and love for people I was short of giving Grace to.

Nepali man playing a Nepalese traditional instrument, madal
She is Rozina. A girl with dreams bigger than herself. Although she has lost her home because of the earthquake, she is hoping to teach and help others. Such a beautiful soul!

Nepali woman standing in the doorway dressed in a blue sweater Sunset over the Kathmandu valley in Nepal with the Himalayas in the distance
Rice harvesting season.
Nepalese woman harvesting rice in Kathmandu valley Nepal-after-the-Earthquake-2015-Green-Antlers-Photography59 Nepali people harvesting rice in November in Kathmandu Black and white image of Nepalese woman on the field in Kathmandu valley People in Nepal at the rice harvesting season Portrait of Nepalese woman in traditional outfit holding a copper cup Nepalese people during the harvest of the rice in Kathmandu Kathmandu Valley at sunset by Green Antlers Photography
As we got a bit tired and frustrated living in the overcrowded and polluted capital, we decided to go to the jungle, to Chitwan National Park. Because it was right after the rainy season, the grass was really tall, so it was extremely hard to see any sort of wild animals, except for some dears and rhinos. There is a large number of elephants at the resort, kept in chains but let freed for grazing in the mornings. They were also used like horses, to carry heavy loads and bring wood. The season you visit such places is highly important, as it can increase your chances to see a tiger so obviously, we didn’t.

River in Chitwan National Park at Sunset Nepali men in a canoe on the river in Chitwan park Chitwan National Park river bank in Nepal Boy rowing a canoe on the river in Chitwan National Park Sunrise over Chitwan National Park, Nepal
Being outside the capital is probably where the beauty of Nepal lies, so our next stop was the Himalayas. We hired a guide to take us to Annapurna Base Camp, a 5 days trek in the Himalayas. We could see some breathtaking views and waking up at 5 am to see  the sunrise over the Himalayas is something I shall never forget.
Before you decide on doing such a trek though, do a bit more research, please, don’t go like us, not having a clue what you’re going to do. Also, no one tells you this, but trekking in the Himalayas actually means climbing more stairs you have ever climbed in your entire life altogether. After a few days, a straight road is all you can wish for and your knees are going to ache for days. Take my word for it.

Prayer Flags hanged in the Himalayas mountains Bridge over a river through the forest of Nepal Nepali boy holding a stick with a forest behind trekking through the Himalayas
Like a mountain girl. It’s all about the stick.

Girl trekking in the Himalayas holding a stick a forest in the Himalayas mountains in Nepal Himalayas mountains and a Nepali woman
Along the way, we met sherpas and people living in the mountains, with beautiful big smiles and strong arms. They could carry loads we could never even lift but it was their only way of taking anything up the mountains.
Nepali sherpa resting and smiling Horses caring loads in the Himalayas mountains Nepali woman and the Himalayas tropical forest Himalayas mountains and a river valley , aftermath of Nepal earthquake The Annapurna Base Camp in the Himalayas mountains in Nepal aftermath of the Nepal earthquake 2015
I will never forget this day. We arrived at a guest house , where this lady made some tea for us. We went inside the kitchen and Sam was fascinated by her beautifully aged face and the light in the room so he asked if he could take this photograph of her. She kindly obliged so Sam shot this portrait I will forever cherish. All we had to give this lady was some chocolate and raisins but  up in the mountains, snacks are an international love language as it is impossible to get anything up there, unless you pay a sherpa, quite a bit of money.
This portrait would have never happened if we hadn’t taken time to go inside, talk to her and create a connection. It was one of the most beautiful days in the Himalayas mountains.

Portrait of a Nepali woman standing by a window holding an Iron cup edited with VSCOCAM
This is Asmitha. A 15 year old Nepalese girl living in the mountains with her grandma. Without any children or school around a good walking distance, she didn’t learn to speak any English and most probably is not even educated. We stopped at her grandma’s house on the way and were amazed by her beauty. There was this wooden kitchen where she was trying on her scarves and the light was piercing through the ceiling. It was one of those breathtaking moments hard to describe and this photograph stands as testimony for it.
Portrait of a Nepali girl in a wooden room Beautiful Nepali girl standing in the doorway of a wooden shack Portrait of a Nepali lady dressed in traditional outfit with beads around her neck Black and white portrait of a Nepali woman in a dark room Portraits of Nepali people in the mountains Nepalese women beating wheat outside the house in the Himalayas mountains Nepali woman sitting on the ground and smiling with the Himalayas in the back Nepali woman carrying a heavy load on her head walking down the stairs Nepali woman laughing in the mountains
We woke up early before sunrise to walk for an hour, for a view not many have seen. Here’s Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek, at 3,210 m. It was the most beautiful place we’ve seen that month and I feel so blessed to have shared this moment with Sam. It was painful to get there, but so worth it.
Black and white image of the Himalayas mountains at Sunrise Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek at Sunrise The Himalayas mountains at sunrise Black and white image of the Himalayas mountains Black and white image of man in front of the Himalayas mountains in Nepal Sunrise over the Annapurna mountains The Annapurna Base Camp Sunrise over the Annapurna mountains in the Himalayas Snowy peaks of the Himalayas mountains
This trip would have not been the same if it wasn’t for some special people who looked after us, guided us and even fed us.
Carmen (on the left) is a beautiful soul with a heart and love for this people I can barely understand. She has thought us more things about love and mercy and my heart was just blessed meeting her. Plus she can cook the best rice recipe in the whole wide world. The boys can confirm, no doubt about that! Thank you Carmen… you’re a gift.
Pierangelo, on the right, is the Italian guy who left years ago on a quest to find meaning and found God in Asia instead. Since then, his heart beats for these people and is an ambassador of love amongst them. He is a man of action and does not stop helping them in any possible way. Such an amazing human and we were so grateful for the bridges he created between us and many around.
Thank you both, Kathmandu is lucky to have you.
Portrait of people in Nepal
Radu, Sam and I, after a month long spent in Nepal, back at the airport. We ate more rice than I thought it could be possible, we washed our clothes by hand, we had power cuts at least 3 times a day and we even stepped in a swamp (clearly that was me).
But at the end, we were richer as people and with bigger dreams.
London wedding and travel photographers Green Antlers Photography

I’ll conclude with a story I’ll forever keep close to my heart and that changed me a bit. One of the most meaningful 5 minutes conversations I had.

As we were on our way to Nepal, on the transfer bus for our next plane, I was sitting next to this middle aged lady and we starting talking. She asked me where I was going and why there. I explained my only purpose was to explore, rest and grow. She then said the most beautiful thing:

I often ask people how big is your garden? It’s not the square metres or the trees or the flowers. 
It’s the Oceans and the mountains and the roads less traveled.