After learning about the major earthquake that recently struck Nepal, I looked through the digital scans of negatives from the rolls of film that I shot in 1998. As I counted the years on my fingers, I realised that it was about half a lifetime ago when I visited Nepal.

I didn’t take many travel notes back then, but I have fond memories from this trip. The warm smiles of the children in the mountains; sidestepping huge chunks of yak dung that dotted the walking paths; drinking a big bowl of garlic soup on the first night of our hike and enjoying the warmth as it spread throughout my body; having hot tea and Tibetan bread with sugar and eggs at breakfast in mountain tea houses; the endless horizon of snow-capped peaks as we walked up and down and around the Annapurna mountain range; the amazement of being in a constant drizzle as we passed through low clouds; being closer to the night sky with stars looking so big that I felt I could touch them if I just tiptoed.

Nepal 1998: Breakfast at a tea house in the mountains

I turned 18 in Nepal amidst these majestic mountains and awe-inspiring views. My first (legal) sips of alcohol were that of Nepali whiskey, poured out of a kettle mixed in with warm water as we danced to local songs by the lake in Pokhara. I still remember the chorus of my favourite tune.

Nepal 1998 - mountains02

It was an adventure and a privilege to spend those two weeks in Nepal. It was humbling as I stood amidst these majestic mountains, thinking how small we are and how lucky we are to be surrounded by such beauty.Nepal 1998: With Ang Dorje

I used an Olympus mju point-and-shoot camera when I was in Nepal. The negatives had turned yellow and degraded over time due to the humidity in Singapore. Previously, I had only re-touched the photo below which was taken at Annapurna Base Camp.

Looking at these old images yesterday, I was motivated to ‘restore’ the digital version of some of the photos that I took in Nepal in 1998. Here’s an example of a ‘before’ image:

Nepal 1998 - city o

It took some fiddling around on Photoshop to adjust the colours. Below are the results:

Nepal 1998 - map  Nepal 1998 - mountains03

Sunrise from atop Poon Hill: We had to climb up the hill in the dark, before the sun started to rise, for at least an hour. The sunrise was spectacular. Much more impressive seeing it in person than on a photo.
Sunrise from atop Poon Hill: We climbed up the hill in the dark for at least an hour so that we would reach the top before the sun rose. The sunrise was spectacular, more impressive seeing it in person than in a photo.
Boudhanath Temple: From the 5th century, this is one of the largest stupas in the world. the 1,500-year-old structure escaped significant and complete destruction, save for reports of cracks in the spire.
Boudhanath Temple: From the 5th century, this is one of the largest stupas in the world. The 1,500-year-old structure escaped significant/complete destruction, save for reports of cracks in the spire.

I couldn’t adjust the colours of the photo below to my satisfaction. I removed all the yellow in the photo and ended up with this image which reminds me of old colorized photos taken in Japan. I quite like the effect.

City view: I couldn't adjust the colours to my satisfaction. Decided to remove all the yellow in the photo and ended up with this interesting image which reminds me of old colorised photos taken in Japan
City view

Several of the buildings in this photo were probably destroyed in Saturday’s earthquake. If you wish to give your support to Nepal and its people, there are various ways to do so. Here are some useful links: The Guardian and Time.

I hope that Nepal will receive swift aid from other nations who have more resources and start rebuilding itself. Just like it did after the devastating Nepal-Bihar earthquake in 1934.

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5 replies on “1998: Remembering Nepal

    1. Such events remind me of how temporal our time on earth is and to make the most of every day.

      I should scan the actual prints – which I think should still be in an alright condition – the next time I’m back in Singapore. Would make for less work 🙂

  1. And this are the precious photos you took, glad you had them. Every historic site are destroyed here and became memory. It such a wonderful back then. Thanks for visiting. tc

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