Archive for May, 2008

Running after 4 weeks, and altitute training

I had my concerns being away for four weeks that I wouldn’t be able to run when I came back from Nepal. I even brought my running shoes, but as mentioned in an earlier post, I’d be insane to try to run in Kathmandu traffic and pollution, so that didn’t happen.
I was hoping that being at high altitude for two weeks would make up for not using running muscles, being that my body was full of extra red blood cells that could carry more oxygen to my lungs and muscles…
The day after I came back, I set off on a standard 8.5 loop run with my running club, going at the pre-Nepal standard pace, and soon found out that yes, even with the extra blood cells, my leg muscles just gave up after about 4 miles, cramped up and waved the white flags…
This was bad news considering that a week later I was hoping to improve my Broad Street Run time from last year. After that run I pretty much gave up hope on that, until the start line where I met Geoff who normally runs a similar pace to mine, and who basically pulled me to the finish line in 1:11:59, about 50 seconds faster than last year, even though I was in great pain and pulled a few wrong muscles.
That makes 4/4 in PRs this year - a marathon, half-marathon, 5 miler, and a 10 miler… Let’s hope there will be a few more of those in the fall.

Add comment May 30th, 2008

Photography in Nepal

I had many thoughts about taking photos, as well as photo equipment during my Nepal trip, so let me summarize them now…
So I came home with something like 1200 photos, 800 of which I post-processed and posted on my site. To most people they seem really good, and even I have to admit that a few are pretty damn awesome, but that’s bound to happen given the opportunities and the surroundings I was in.
However, about 3 hours into the trip I realized that I won’t take as many photos as I normally would on another trip. In Kathmandu, even in the tourist locations, I was more comfortable just working with one lens, and bothered to stop and do a lens swap only in quiet places. Not that I felt really threatened or worried that I’d get mugged, but I never got completely comfortable playing a role of a tourist wielding all this fancy equipment in front of the locals, and getting in their faces to take photos. But it is hard to be subtle about taking pictures because if you’re white you stick out, and if you have a long white lens, you stick out even more!
So I had to settle for long lens shots from a distance (70-200mm Canon f4L, or shooting from the hip with a wide-angle (my 10-20mm Sigma), in places that weren’t pure tourist attraction shots.
While on the trek, I only took two lenses, the very versatile but sometimes not wide enough, and often not long enough Canon 17-55mm F2.8 IS, and the 70-200 beast. I carried the long lens in my daypack the first few days, but then quickly realized that I rarely felt like stopping to pull it out for several reasons - loads of dust, slowing down the progress of the whole group, and then just pure laziness, being that any kind of breathing or extra movement at higher altitudes were difficult. So about 90% of the shots in the mountains were done with the 17-55, with the long lens being used only in camp, and on some special days that I knew I’d want it with me. I also didn’t make any side-trips or traveled off the path too much to get that slightly different shot, again because of general fatigue, and I quickly settled for taking regular tourist snapshots, but hopefully with somewhat better angles and exposure (which can be tricky at times with the bright snow and ice).
If I had to pick an ideal one lens camera setup, I’d say a Canon 5D paired with the 24-105mm lens would be ideal, as on a full frame camera it would cover most of the range, and with stitching and cropping could pretty much handle most situations I was in.

1 comment May 30th, 2008

A happy ending

Well in a sense - as this trip is nearing its end, and we have less than an hour of flying to JFK, I’m fondly remembering my first paid-for massage experience. Evan and I had some extra Bhats and lots of extra time at the Bangkok airport, so we decided to get a full body 45-minute Thai massage. It was a bit weird as we were sweaty and smelly, but they do give you one-size-fits-all PJs, wash your feet with a warm towel, and then proceed to beat the crap out of you. These two tiny Thai girls kept giggling while they flipped us around and inflicted pain (the good kind) to each muscle. They thought we were brothers, possibly because of the beards - do all white guys look the same to Asian people?
Yesterday morning, which seems forever ago, and now definitely half the globe away, we had morning tea in the chill back yard of the Pilgrims bookstore, then said goodbye to good old Kathmandu.
I’ve definitely grown fond of Nepal, and shed a tear or two on the plane when leaving it. Nepal and its people will definitely stay in my heart, and I feel differently than when leaving prior destinations I’ve seen as a tourist. Possibly it’s because I spent more time than at any other place outside of Croatia and the U.S., possibly it’s because the way I’ve seen and experienced Nepal - slowly, by foot, accompanied by the locals, actually getting some understanding of their complex society and culture, and seeing firsthand how difficult life is for most Nepali, who yet somehow still appear happy and friendly.
I don’t know when the next time will be when I get a chance to visit it, and under what circumstances. I am fairly sure that it will be quite a bit different though, as witnessed by all the construction in cities and the mountains. All I can say is that I wish Nepali people all the best with coping with political and economic changes (progress?), a rapid boom in tourism that’s inevitable, and all the environmental and social issues that will come along with it.
This concludes this portion of the program, which turned out to be my most valuable travel experience so far, and until next time, NAMASTE…

Add comment May 10th, 2008


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