June 3, 2010

Entrance & Maintenance

Although you could apply visa to enter Nepal ahead of time, this beautiful country does provide rather convenient entrance with visa on arrival, many major currency accepted, but currency fluctuate; for example, one may pay US dollar, Euro, RMB, Indian Rupee and etc, but the real value of the currency is still down to the relative exchange rate. I paid 60 USD, and the process is reasonably quick, not much difference from those who with visa prepared, to go thru the immigration check spot.  Check anyway!
Nepal's currency is rupee,  many hotel accept international credit card, or the ATM machine accept one to draw money from their credit or debit card, with this convenience, suggestion is not to exchange too much rupee, you need them for street level purchase, but many of them accept major currency, this said:  "Nepali rupee is accepted, may not preferred!" Go figure!
I cleared my luggage, meet the guy sent from the travel company, get in a car, around 30 minutes later I am in the comfort of the reasonably nice hotel room - Yak & Yeti! Billed as a 5-star hotel, not quite, but I have no complain.  Kathmandu is capital city of Nepal, focus on people, culture and something not in your modern daily life;  this is not NY, Paris, Tokyo or Shanghai, OK!  In March 2010, there is no building over 6-storey, I can't say it is good, or not good, it is Kathmandu, it is Nepal. 
This is a Panoramic image of Kathmandu (Kathmandu valley) - shot from Swayambhunath-Stupa or nicknamed "Monkey Temple", this is among the highest point in the valley, if you want a similar full panoramic view of Kathmandu, get their before sunset!  I made the shot using a Canon 1Ds III mounted with a Leica Apo-Letyt-Elmarit 400/2.8, took 11 succession of shots to stitch them together for this final image, the original image in 16-bit RGB TIFF is 772.2mb, 48,876 X 2,633 pixels. Compressed to this web-friendly size of image to share.  I will cover more tips of producing panoramic in the next chapter.
Now let’s get back to Kathmandu. Like all the countries with ancient history and culture, Nepal certainly has many, and Kathmandu as a capital city, has a beautiful legend of her own. 
According to Swayambhu Purana, the Kathmandu Valley was once a large lake "Nagedaha" (Sanskrit: Naga Dah menas "Snake Lake"). Legend says, and many believed that Manjusri (Sanskrit name मञ्जुश्री [Mañjuśrī] can be translated as "Gentle Glory", Chinese 文殊菩薩, a bodhisattva associated with transcendent wisdom), saw a lotus flower in the center of the lake and cut a gorge at Chovar to allow the lake to drain.  The place where the lotus flower settled became Swayambhunath Stupa and the valley thus became habitable.
Here is a crop from the center of the panoramic image above, so it shows a little more detail on web.  However, anyone wants to have an idea of what detail on the original art, contact me.

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