Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Contemporary interior design in Kathmandu :: Pipalbot

Pipalbot showroom in Kathmandu, Nepal
On the last few days of my visit to Kathmandu I stumbled across a Baber Mahal Revisited which is an new redevelopment of a series of old Rana buildings and courtyards converted into craftsman based retail showrooms and a couple of amazing restaurants. 

Hidden amongst these courtyards I was excited to find the interior design showroom and lifestyle store called Pipalbot, so I had to pop in... 

Pipalbot is a joint venture between Tim Linkins (an Australian-born architectural photographer and designer) and partner Diki Ongomo (who is based in Kathmandu).
Hand-made silk rugs
Their designs are created in the Kathmandu Studio by a network of local Nepalese craftsmen, dyers and weavers creating Tibetan wool and silk rugs. There is also other objects of art created from locally sourced materials like cane, ceramic, wool and cashmere.

This was a pure delight to find such great modern designs using local craftsmen and artisans all here in Kathmandu.

Have fun.


Saturday, 26 November 2011

Village Life & Trekking in the Annapurna Region

Beautiful brass flower pots at doorways.
I am now finished trekking in Nepal and so will soon be flying to Mumbai, India.

It's been an interesting few weeks trekking through these extremely remote villages high up in the Himalayas and witnessing first hand how sustainably local people live. 

In years past some of these villages were on well established trading routes with China and Tibet. Nowadays a lot of their income comes from trekkers like me staying in local tea house style accommodation whilst trekking from village to village. 

Most of these lodges spend the trekking season attending to guests but when the season finishes they turn their attentions to growing produce for the next season either locally or lower down in the foothills.

Hot water for trekkers is mainly solar powered with the odd gas system in the more luxurious lodges. However the locals use the local river or village water supply to wash everything, including themselves… Bear in mind this local water supply is extremely cold. In a few of the village you can also find hot springs which the locals take advantage of... Who can blame them!
The local village water supply and washing day!
Food is either grown locally or carried in by porters, donkeys or depending where the village is by aircraft. Needless to say in this cold and harsh climate food variety is limited and if it can be stored it will be, normally in a dry shed at the back of the property or hung out in the sun.

When it comes to waste there is still a massive issue with disposing of it however I did notice some great examples of recycling waste with beer bottles being used as edges to flower beds and old food and paint tins being used as flower pots. 
There is also no such thing as electric appliances! Dishes are washed in the local water supply and then left out in the sun to dry. Most stoves are still fuelled by wood which is a problem as it is leading to local deforestation but kerosene stoves are being promoted as a more sustainable alternative.
A typical, well ordered, lodge kitchen.
Blankets, rugs and woollen products are provided by the unlucky local Yaks. It is quite a weird experience to sit on a Yak skin!
A small retail display of local antiques and Yak products! 
Even Monks have tea breaks! They also offered us a cuppa at 3900m above sea level!
Carved timber window and door frames.
Prayer wheels, stones carved with prayers and prayer flags.
This trek is a great experience and it is so nice to see that behind this basic and remote living style the villages still express individuality, creativity and take great pride with decorating their entrances, lodges, monasteries and messages to their Gods!

I am now off to the tiny laneways in Kathmandu to haggle for homewares items to send home.

Have fun.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Temples and Colour :: Kathmandu, Nepal

It's been over 6 years since I was in Kathmandu last. Everything is still the same except for the abundance of free wi fi and travellers with an assortment of apple products to keep them entertained.

As technology moves forward in great strides I am sorry to say that infrastructure and building repairs and maintenance have not. It is quite sad to see such beautiful old crafted temples and building architecture covered in so much dust from the smog and some are literally crumbling away. 

However, under a blanket of city dust there is still a rainbow of vibrant colours, fabrics and textures, beautiful timber carved windows and amazing architecture.
Coloured cotton fabric

Carnations everywhere

Temple architecture

One of the many things I remember from Nepal is their amazing carved timber windows

Some interesting forms of scaffolding and structural support!

Please bare with me as from tomorrow I will be trekking around the Annapurna Circuit and then the Sanctuary for 3 to 4 weeks and will be without any form communication until I return. 

On this trek I will encounter remote villages and homes that are still without mains electricity or mains water. It will be interesting to see how these villages live without basic infrastructure that we all take for granted today. 

Have fun.