High in the Himalayas

Senior Staff Photographer Dom Furore takes you behind the scenes on his stunning journey to the Himalayas.

Released on 3/7/2010

Credits

Starring: Dom Furore

Transcript

00:02
[Narrator] My friends always ask me
00:03
if I have any cool trips coming up.
00:05
I've got to admit it was a lot of fun
00:06
telling them I was going to Kathmandu.
00:08
I was actually going to the Himalayas
00:10
to do some black and white photographs
00:11
of golf courses in the mountains.
00:13
In doing my research, I couldn't find any good photographs
00:16
of courses in Nepal.
00:18
But the golf course architect, Ron Fream,
00:19
had told me there were a couple
00:20
of really interesting ones up near Pokhara
00:22
and that there were also a couple courses near Kathmandu
00:24
that were worth taking a look at.
00:26
When I finished in Nepal, I planned to head down
00:28
to the foothills of the Himalayas in Lijiang, China
00:31
where I knew there was a beautiful course.
00:33
Unfortunately, when I got to Kathmandu,
00:35
it was really cloudy out.
00:37
The Kathmandu Airport is the main hub in Nepal.
00:41
It was a fairly modern-looking airport
00:44
with a great newsstand and a barista
00:48
that could really crank out the lattes.
00:50
I checked out the courses there,
00:52
and while they had some interesting features,
00:54
they were a little bit too far away from the mountains.
00:57
So it was off to Pokhara.
00:59
Unfortunately the weather in Pokhara
01:00
was just like it had been in Kathmandu.
01:03
My bodyguard and guide on this trip
01:04
was an old college friend, Pat Lim.
01:07
He's lived in China for the past few years
01:09
and that would come in really handy later in the trip.
01:11
Our first stop was the Yeti's Golf Club
01:13
at the Fulbari Resort.
01:15
The golf course maintenance is a little different
01:17
from what we're used to in the States.
01:19
It's very labor intensive,
01:21
and the hazards can be a little extreme.
01:24
After a few days of heavy haze,
01:26
we were finally able to see the mountains
01:28
and I got the photographs that I needed.
01:33
And then it was on to the second course.
01:35
Unlike the Yeti's, the Himalayan Golf Course
01:37
sits down in the canyon instead of up on top of it.
01:41
It's a long hike down
01:43
and a real workout climbing back up again.
01:48
Since it has a bridge across the river,
01:49
a lot of the local villagers
01:51
use it as a shortcut across the canyon.
01:54
Every morning our limo would pick us up
01:55
and our driver would take us to the course before dawn.
01:59
We'd hike out to our spot, set up,
02:01
and wait for the sun to come up.
02:03
And then we'd hope that the mountains would show
02:06
and, day-after-day-after-day, they didn't.
02:10
We'd hike back up,
02:12
right about the time the caddies were coming to work,
02:15
and then we'd hop in the car and head to town.
02:18
Driving is pretty slow-going in that area.
02:21
There are a lot of obstacles
02:22
and the road are in pretty tough shape.
02:25
Pokhara sits right on the edge of Phewa Lake
02:27
and it's a very tourist-friendly town.
02:29
The best advice I had the entire trip came from Ron Fream,
02:32
who told me to make sure that I ate at Mike's.
02:34
It was a diner that was started by a guy from Minnesota.
02:37
Every morning we'd have breakfast there,
02:39
and we'd watch the villagers come across the lake
02:41
in their boats bringing their kids to school.
02:45
I never quite figured out how the whole boat deal worked.
02:48
They seemed to be community-owned
02:50
and people would just come up and grab one and go.
02:52
Everyone seemed to be interested
02:54
in getting their kids a good education.
02:56
Everyday the kids would be sitting out in front of the shops
02:58
doing their homework, and quite a few people told me
03:00
they spent a large part of their income on tuition
03:02
so that their kids could go to a good private school.
03:05
Along with the boats,
03:06
there were some other interesting forms of transportation.
03:09
And some of it was very efficient.
03:12
The people were very friendly,
03:14
and some of them were downright charming.
03:16
And we had a lot of fun just walking up and down the street
03:18
meeting all the shopkeepers.
03:20
Everyone seemed to be very entrepreneurial
03:22
and it seemed that everybody either owned a shop
03:25
or dreamed of owning a shop.
03:27
There were people everywhere doing embroidery,
03:30
and it was amazing what they could do with a sewing machine.
03:33
Even the people that didn't have shops, had shops.
03:38
This guy went from village to village
03:40
sharpening scissors and knives.
03:42
Power outages weren't a problem for him.
03:45
While we were there, there was a lot of turmoil in Tibet
03:47
and there was also a lot of turmoil down around the border
03:49
which was keeping fuel from getting across.
03:52
We had power blackouts every day
03:54
and because of the fuel shortages,
03:55
nobody could use their generators.
03:57
So it made it really tough to call home,
03:59
or to use the Internet.
04:01
And I knew I'd been there too long
04:02
when it was time to get a haircut.
04:04
After a while we got used to the local food,
04:06
and the yak cheese was actually pretty good.
04:09
The familiar Western snacks sometimes weren't that familiar
04:12
when you opened them up.
04:14
The fast food wasn't bad.
04:18
And the Nepali people really had a great sense of humor.
04:22
Everything seemed to revolve around water,
04:25
and people were doing laundry everywhere you looked.
04:35
Because cows are sacred in the Hindu religion,
04:37
they're free to roam wherever they want.
04:40
It's just the craziest thing to see.
04:44
These cows would walk the same route,
04:46
at the same time, every single day.
04:50
You could set your watch by it.
04:52
They didn't bother anybody
04:54
and they ate a lot of the garbage,
04:55
and nobody really seemed to pay attention to them.
04:58
The amazing thing is, you never saw any of this.
05:02
I suspect that's why the gardens looked so good.
05:05
In the afternoon, we'd wander back to Mike's
05:07
and take their advice about dessert.
05:09
They had great apple pie
05:10
and we knew that if it'd have been a busy day,
05:12
they would have hidden two pieces in the back for us.
05:15
We'd sit by the lake and watch the boats start to come back
05:18
to pick up the kids to take them home.
05:24
And then we'd head back to the hotel, go to bed,
05:27
get up in the morning, and do it all over again.
05:30
I really felt like I was living in the movie,
05:31
Ground Hog Day.
05:33
Finally, after about 20 days, the sun came up,
05:39
we could see the mountains and we got the shots we needed.
05:42
I was so happy to finally see the mountains
05:45
and know that I was gonna get out of there.
05:47
I got the shot I wanted,
05:48
and then it quickly started to haze up again.
05:52
So I went down to the other end of the canyon
05:54
and did a couple more shots.
05:56
And then something unusual happened.
05:58
A couple of golfers actually showed up.
06:02
And they had the same problem with the cows
06:04
that the people in town had.
06:07
Our work in Nepal was done
06:08
and it was time to move on to China.
06:11
We got up in the air and it was absolutely spectacular.
06:16
We went to the city of Lijiang
06:17
which is actually a very modern city,
06:19
with an ancient city right in the center of it.
06:22
It's a very tourist-friendly town and I got the impression
06:24
that a lot of wealthy Chinese people vacation there.
06:27
Everywhere you looked, it was the old against the new.
06:31
There were restaurants everywhere.
06:33
The food was good,
06:36
but sometimes I wasn't quite sure what we were eating.
06:38
I let the driver take us to his favorite restaurant one day.
06:41
He told us the food was really fresh.
06:43
So it was a little fresher than what I'd like.
06:48
He also told me the garnishes were safe to eat.
06:52
It was a good idea to look very closely
06:53
at what was on your plate.
06:57
I decided the deep-fried grasshoppers
06:58
were a little to far to go for the sake of a good story.
07:02
I eventually found a restaurant
07:03
that had exactly what I was looking for.
07:07
The next morning, we got up and headed to the golf course,
07:12
and it was just a beautiful morning
07:14
with spectacular clouds everywhere you looked.
07:19
I had a day and a half of perfect weather
07:23
and after a month on the road,
07:24
I knew I was finally gonna get my favorite stamp
07:26
in my passport.
07:28
It had been a great adventure,
07:29
but it was nice to finally be headed back home.
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