Blog - Category Archives: Asia
Series of photographs of the streets and ghats in Varanasi, India. Check out the full slideshow in the porfolio section…
Istanbul’s soul doesn’t quite belong to the Middle East, but it is also not a western city. It has a distinct European feel to it, including the shameless riches of a rapidly growing economy. Well on its way to become a world metropolis, it still has to find its new feet as the former support pillars of religious conservatism are gradually being eroded.
The original Pamir Highway is part of the legendary Silk Road that led from China and India toward Europe and the Middle East. Much of the road runs along the River Panj, or Amurdarja, which flows into the Aral Sea.
We picked up the trail at Dushanbe in the Tajik lowlands. Civilization’s grasp fades with every mile driving into the Pamirs. Was it not for a few narrow, fertile river valleys, the Pamirs would be completely empty. A 2-day drive takes you to Khorog, an island of relative comfort and civilization in a vast mountain range.
We tried to reach the Geisev valley but due to the high Bartang river, the road was blocked and we didn’t want to take the mountain pass. Having failed to reach the valley we asked in a local village to stay in someone’s house. We were warmly welcomed and fed (potatoes) by the locals, but our thin skin was not able to withstand the relentless attacks that followed during the night. Various bed bugs/fleas/mosquitos ate us alive. We were mere junior training partners for those bugs from hell. In the morning, we limped away, utterly beaten.
The Kingdom of Mustang is a remote valley in the northern reaches of Nepal’s Himalayas. Devoid of roads and inaccessible on foot for much of the year, it has retained its Tibetan population and lifestyle.
Mustang has the most beautiful landscape I ever saw and I may not have done it justice with my photos.
Ladakh is also called “Little Tibet” and even a glance at the land and people reveals why: Ladakh is a small time capsule of Tibetan culture that has been unmolested by Chinese oppression. Under India rule, Ladakhis enjoy the freedom to practice their religion and preserve their Tibetan heritage. Ladakh supports a disproportionately large number of monasteries (gompa) which serve as conservation centres for Tibetan culture.
High altitude above 3500 metres and its remote location in the Himalayas have kept western influences relatively low, but tourist groups and the presence of large numbers of military personnel exert a steady influence that may eventually erode the traditional Tibetan lifestyle.