Monday, 25 May 2015

Before the Nepal Earthquake, Saturday April 25th 2015.

Here,s a look at rural Nepal on Saturday 25th April 2015.

These on the left were snapped around 3 hours before the great quake, about 1 hour outside Kathmandu on the road to Pokhara. Those on the right were snapped about 2 hours after the quake about 2 hours from Pokhara.

Earthquake Diary, Nepal Earthquake, April 25th 2015

Saturday April 25th 2015 3.45pm

Krishna's sister points and mutters "ground" on seeing how concerned I was to see the Pandeys place closed. A grazing meadow of sorts, shared with all manner of livestock, kids and teenagers and right now crowded with hundreds of locals. Slowly but surely news is emerging of deaths in Kathmandu due to an earthquake a few hours ago. 

Dharahara tower, a popular tourist attraction and Kathmandu view point has collapsed - that's the news from Kathmandu as locals here are frantically trying to connect with their relatives in the capital. Communication lines are grinding to a halt, power is out as the fear of aftershocks could bring down the lines.  There is a sense of real fear, an edginess that's hard to describe among a community that knows their country is in serious trouble - the fragile and developing infrastructure of this country has been seriously effected but to what extent, well, we'll just have to wait for the power to return. 

A quick recap - the vibrations felt on the bus earlier was the earthquake emanating from Kathmandu. The jolt at the cafe was an aftershock  but thankfully both events were well outside the sphere of damage with Pokhara itself on the edge of the shockwave effect. 

6.30pm and life begins to stir as dusk turns into night, still with an edginess, folk cautiously trading a path back to their homes. No further tremors have been felt since mid afternoon but everyone here is expecting another significant jolt - and that will come at anytime, without warning!

7pm electricity is back on but no internet to be found anywhere. Thankfully a line, a phone line to the outside world. Yes it's working, and a phone call to Mother England where my first indication of the scale of this earthquakes damage is becoming apparent - it's quite bad. Fair to say no one in Nepal will get agood nights sleep tonight!

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Nepal Earthquake Diary, April 25th 2015

A Sudden Jolt...

Saturday April 25th Between Kathmandu and Pokhara 12.30-14.45: 

The usual pit stop for all the tourist buses on this route. A tourist cafe perched on the edge of a ravine - picturesque with white water gushing below disappearing into the Himalayan hills yonder. Suddenly, without any warning a violent shudder as windows swing open and crash against the building. The place is cleared in 2 seconds flat as as passengers instinctively seek a safer spot. That was definitely a tremor - a conclusion arrived at quite quickly and linking that with the vibrations felt on the bus 35 minutes earlier. Back to normal a few minutes later - at least I got to finish drinking my lovely Nepali tea!

On the road again. 13.00, about 40 KM from Pokhara now and somewhat concerned with today's  earth-moving events. I'm no expert in seismology but quite clearly something's going on down there!

14.45 and rolling into Pokhara. Unusually light traffic but with plenty of people sitting in groups outside houses. Business shutters are down, closed. Oh, it's Saturday, the Nepali day of rest which could explain the presence of all theses people - but to be grouped up like this is something I haven't seen before. 

15.30 Hotel room price negotiated without too much difficulty, 600 Nrp per night, about £4.20, includes a TV! A stomp down to Lumbini Kitchen next, they're expecting me so hopefully someone's milked the buffalo ready for my cup of tea! 

Oh, what's going on here- the place is all locked up, so is next door and a few other places that are normally open, even on Saturday. 

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Nepal Earthquake, April 25th 2015

My Earthquake Diary, Nepal, April 2015

Saturday April 25th Kathmandu 6am-7am: Stupa Guesthouse to Kantipath, just a 10 minute hike part of which involves negotiating concrete slabs and rubble as this narrow road in Thamel is getting some serious maintenance - yes, time to close the nostrils as the subterranean sewerage system is revealed!

Abut 30 tourist buses are lined up along Kantipath as usual, ready for the 7am exodus to those parts of Nepal with tourist appeal - Lumbini, Chitwan and my destination, Pokhara. Time to grab some tea, chapatti and dal for breakfast.

7am- 9.35am: 7am on the dot, no waiting for late passengers as the bus heads away down Kantipath. A few pickups around town and soon we're on what's called the Prithivi Highway to Pokhara. A picturesque scene - picturesque enough to take ones mind off the fact that around here they overtake on corners and think nothing of trucks approaching head on, normal for Nepal! Picturesque enough until the first food, water and toilet stop at 9.35. 

10am - 12.30pm: On the road again, just about 1/3 of the journey completed without incident thankfully. Let's hope I get to lunch in one piece! If that happens then the rest of the journey should be straight forward. The bus stops suddenly, a few puzzled looks since there appears no obstruction. There's a vibration, a kind of fast oscillation for around a minute. A landslide close by probably, not uncommon around here, combined with fuel sloshing around in the tanks underneath is probably the reason. No one seems unduly concerned at 11.55am as the bus continues towards lunch and stop number 2. 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Lorong Buangkok, The Last Village, Singapore April 2015

Not exactly a secret, but not widely publicized either - Lorong Buangkok, situated off Gerald Drive and is Singapore's last village. As urban development creeps ever closer the pressure for these villagers to sell up and move on must be enormous, so this is possibly the last chance anyone will get to see a slice of rural Singapore as it was way back when. A rustic environment where houses of wooden construction had roofs of tin nestled between banana plants and mango trees.

The houses are real, the people are real even the plants are real - this is definitely not a tourist set up which may explain the lack of Chinese tour groups around here! So, in the shadows of hi-rise mass housing blocks here are a few, and possibly the last, view of Singapore's only remaining village.