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iamdat This journal is dedicated to the people and places whom I have had a chance to come across.

Lost in Bhutan - Day 2

BHUTAN | Sunday, 26 December 2010 | Views [970]

Day 2 – Dec 5 2010

7.00 am – I didn’t sleep much, thanks to the dogs barking all night outside the hotel. It’s quite strange that you can see dogs almost everywhere around here. Anyway, a walk around the hotel shows me an interesting fact about the traffic in Thimphu: All streets are one-way, except for the main street that runs through the capital.

After a filling breakfast, we dropped by at the Memorial Stupa for the 3rd King. I observed some interesting cultural aspects of the people here. There was a room with perhaps more than a hundred of prayer candles being lit. It was definitely the best place to warm you up from the cold morning. There was another room with lots of prayer wheels being constantly spun by the people who were sitting nearby or by those who were walking by. It was dark inside, but luckily I found one corner with some sunlight shining through, creating a fantastic ambient source on a lady’s face.

Then we headed towards the animal conservation area and observed the Takin, Bhutan’s national animal, and goats ... Since there were fences in the way and I did not have a proper lens to photograph the animals, I decided to visit a Bhutanese household nearby. It was fun as I climbed onto the rooftop and had a chat with this 9-year-old girl called Xing (that was how she pronounced it). Her English was really good and she was very friendly. We talked about school, family and our hometown and I got some background story about her as well as the students' life there. It was during their winter holiday and school only resumed in Spring.

The next location was Pangrizampa Astrology School. Right at this place I and Jason had a long talk about exposure. Most importantly, he introduced to me the concept of zone design system which connects the photo’s composition and the exposure in it. It was new and complex to me but basically, zone designs requires you to compose your photo so that there are certain zones of different light intensities, then you have to calculate the proper exposure to fit the photo, as well as your intention. Before, I often used exposure lock to get the lighting that I wanted, but this concept seemed much more flexible.

Also at that place, I climbed onto the top of one of the buildings and staged a photo of a monk reading a book by the window. I must say that it was a really great photo that I constructed, but I did not find much satisfaction in it because it might not be true. I was supposed to document factual stories, not to fabricate any. After all, the fact, not just the reality, is what makes photo-document and photojournalism powerful.

The final destination of the day was Cherry Monastery, which was 20 km upper Thimphu. It was a long trekking up the mountain slope in the cold air of the late afternoon. The sunlight shot through the dense forest, creating intricate textures of the trees’ shadow on the ground. Eventually we reached the top of the mountain where the Monastery was situated. The quietness cloaked the monastery. Unknowingly, I climbed higher into the restricted area, overlooking a broad view of the entire valley. The late afternoon sunlight disappearing over the mountains made the scenery much more simply yet beautifully lit.

Tags: bhutan, buddhism, dzong, fortress, landscape, monks, paro, prayer flags

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