Friday, August 24, 2012

Lights, Camera, Action!

One of the great things about Nepal is all of the interesting opportunities that just seem to drop out of the sky due to the fact that I’m from some far off land. My most recent adventure was in Nepal’s film making industry, taking on the part of an American psychiatrist who has to diagnose a troubled young Nepali girl. How does this happen, you might ask?

Poster for the film PaDHmini that I acted in

I was at the farmer’s market a few weeks back and a guy who use to come there quite often approached me and asked if I had any interest in being in a movie. Now this isn’t all that uncommon in Kathmandu, often foreigners are needed to fill in as extras or small parts for roles where there are white folk visible. With a shrug and a bit of a chuckle I said sure, and the guy asked if I’d like to sit somewhere and discuss. At this point he starts explaining that they need someone to play an American psychiatrist, when he discovers I’m American this is all the better. He’s explaining the roll, and it sounds fine, I’ll be in a few scenes with two separate shooting days. As the role begins to sound more and more complex I kind of stop him and ask;
“I’m only going to have a line or two, and mostly be a prop right?”
“Oh no. You will be on screen for about 20 minutes or so and have 15 minutes of dialogue. You have to interrogate the main characters and discover the psychological problem that the main actress is suffering from”

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Monsoon Trekking: Solukhumbu

I've done more monsoon trekking than the average bear, and I always write about how it aint that bad. Still every time I'm about to do a trip in the monsoon I always buy into the hype a bit and assume it might be a miserable time. Even when I read my entry about The Big Monsoon Lie or what a great trip I had up in the Gosainkund lakes I still assume maybe I just got lucky. Well I just got back from another great trip, with fabulous views, decent warm weather and hardly another tourist on the trail- this time visiting the land of Everest up in Solukhumbu.

Water falls this time of year are awesome 

In the last post I said I was going to try the backside of Annapurna, but as it turns out there are no flights into Humde until September unless you charter a flight. This was a trip with a very small time window due to the schedule of a friend that was visiting and only had roughly five to seven days. The toughest part about monsoon trekking in Nepal really is just getting to the trail heads, as the roads are a mess and the clouds can ground planes for days. We booked flights into Lukla and got out the day we were supposed to, no problem. Just to point out that this is not always the case, the week previous flights had been grounded for five days straight.

Clear views from Namche Bazaar 

The weather was fine the whole time we were up there. On our initial day we got some light rain during the day, but nothing heavy until just as we reached Namche. This pattern, and this being the pattern I've observed every trip, held up the whole time we were up there. Mornings are generally clear and offer the best viewing of the mountains (5:30ish when the sun is first coming up seems to be best), by afternoon some clouds rise up from the valley and obscure the views, and in the evenings you get some heavy rains. Generally if you can be indoors by three or four in the afternoon you don't get too wet. 

Looking down the valley toward Amadablam & Everest

Speaking with the lodge owner of the Khumbu lodge in Namche (highly recommended, place and service is great) it appears that this monsoon is even slower than normal. It's really too bad too, because of my four trips to the region it was easily the most pleasant temperature wise, and the views were as good as my September trip and my first March trip. It was also clear that the rain and clouds were less of a factor the further up the valley you went. Due to time constraints we only went as far as Tengboche monastery this time, but it was clear that the worst of the rain fell south of Namche at the sub 4,000 meter (12K feet) elevations.

Clouds move over peaks east of Namche

As I know this blog often gets searched out for advice on people wanting to (or being forced to) trek during the monsoon period, all I can say is that every time I go I have a good time. Solukhumbu was no different, and as the pictures show we were certainly not denied the beautiful views of the region. Obviously experiences will vary, but the longer I live here and talk to other people traveling and go on trips myself in the monsoon, the more convinced I become that it's not a bad time of year to go up into the mountains.
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