A Total TaiTai Tale

Tale of a Total TaiTai who was in Beijing & Beyond and is now in Singapore & Surroundings!

Tag: CelineInKathmandu

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25 April 2015 – 11:56am Kathmandu time. (*2:11pm Singapore time)

After so many attempts over the years to go back as a group, this year was the year. We obviously had to cancel our trip but we are there in spirit.

Thinking of you Guru & Thakur, and to my Nepal Crew it would have been awesome to be together again today 💕

To read about our experience it’s here, for the whole trip it’s here

from Tumblr https://ift.tt/3eNKd2U

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25 April 2015.

A trip of a lifetime… a trip that would change us.

It seems like yesterday, yet a lifetime away.

Early this morning my phone started to beep more than usual.

The Nepal Crew WhatsApp group was getting more message than usual. Well it’s an unusual day for the crew.

Two years. At least my heart doesn’t skip a beat anymore when I’m on shaking ground.

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One year ago today I was back safely in Beijing after my trip to Nepal.

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6 months ago today I was about to end a 5-day photography trip in Nepal when….

#PrayForNepal 🙏

Chronicle of the trip: http://ift.tt/1RuYQpd

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On my way to Dubai.

Opening of the exhibition of our photos from Nepal at Gulf Photo Plus is tomorrow evening. The exhibit will be on until the 11th

But mostly excited about seeing the group again. They will be a few tears, lots of hugs and massive laugh.

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Sucking in the sun and clean air.

What I see when I’m laying down: Front & Back iPhone camera pic

This was taken the day before I left for Kathmamdu but somehow it never posted.

I need to go back to normal.

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And another one with me in it just for the fun.

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Waiting for my plane on the Tarmac.

Kathmandu, Nepal – April 25, 2015 around Noon.

This was written by my fellow photographer friend Francis. I have added some of my own perspective in Italic

April 21st 2015 a group of 14 photographers met
in Thamel Katmandu, the start of on an arranged 5-day photo tour of Kathmandu
and the surrounding area to capture images of this amazing country. On Saturday
April 25th the group found themselves in the center of a horrific natural
disaster, an earthquake of a magnitude that would take lives and make an
historic change to the beautiful country of Nepal.

Gulf Photo Plus based in Dubai UAE, planned a
trip to Nepal, for keen photographers who would like to spend five days
accompanied by a professional photographer and local guides to visit World
Heritage sites, scenic views of mountain ranges and vibrant street life.
Photographers from various world locations gathered for this amazing
opportunity to do what they love in a place of natural beauty with wonderful,
charming and caring people. The trip started exactly as planned and all the
photographers had great fun.

The last day of the trip, Saturday April 25th,
the group had some free time before airport pick ups to relax, gather their
things and say good bye to their new found photography friends. A few minutes before noon a 7.9 magnitude
earthquake struck Nepal, the events from that moment are difficult to put into
words and many people will have different accounts, I can only confirm my
personal experience, but I think it has a common theme.

(this part is from my perspective) After we got back from our canceled Himalayan scenic flight I
decided to go for a walk around the neighborhood with my friend Natalie to try to find a few
little souvenirs to buy. After an hour or so of wandering we went back to the hotel and I ask my friend Saeed if he
wanted to go shoot a few frames, as I wanted to see him in action. I only took my iphone, I wasn’t really in the
mood of shooting, I just wanted to observe him and see what he was looking for
in a shot. That’s the great part of traveling
with fellow photographers who become friends and don’t mind sharing their
knowledge! We got back to the hotel by 11:30am as we needed to check out. On my
way up to my room to gather my bags I run into another photographers, Francis,
who as on his way to wander the streets too, I told him if he gave me 15
minutes I would love to go with him. I
run upstairs, decided to skip a last shower (thank goodness!), took my bag to
Mila’s room since she was staying an extra day and my flight was much later than
the rest of the gang, checked out and was just giving Mila her room key when
the ground started to shake. We weren’t
quite sure what it was (I remember thinking it felt like the metro in our Paris
apartment) then it started to shake more. I could see Tonya and Lynsey walking
in zigzag like if they were on a boat. Somebody shouted earthquake and we all found shelter under the
tables. (end)

Small objects started to crash around us,
crockery was flung to the floor smashing as it hit. Under the table we could do
nothing except watch and listen to the chaos around. The floor started to move
side to side violently, adrenalin flowed, it seemed to be slow motion, it
continued to move with even more resonance, I could hear crashing vehicles,
beeping horns, screams and cries. Through the legs of the table I could see
people running in the streets, carrying children in panic, not knowing what lay
ahead. As the rocking floor motion started to slow almost to a stop, the
restaurant group appeared from the tables, frightened and confused; “run to
open land” was shouted and nobody questioned it, quickly we dashed out the
restaurant and joined the flow of horrified people heading to an open expanse
of land 500m from the hotel.

Stood in the common area it was a feeling of
terror, people gathered and looked at each other not knowing what to say, then
the aftershock came, people dropped to the ground, the earth moved again, more
screams more cries, power lines swayed, buildings shook. The tremors continued,
with decreasing magnitude, but with the same terrifying effect. (My husband called and asked me if I was ok
as a newsflash of an earthquake in Nepal had appeared on his computer) All
people tried desperately to contact family and friends to assure their safety.

The next few hours the focus shifted to how we
get out of Nepal, where are the passports? How do we get to the airport? Are
there any flights? Is the airport operating? Our group were extremely luckily
to have the most dedicated two local guides, who at this point had already
completed their services and had every good reason to turn their full attention
to their families safety, but what they did goes beyond explanation. The two
guys appeared from nowhere and found the larger number of our group, and then
they went off in search of the others, whilst the tremors and uncertainty
continued. They managed to locate each member and group us back together,
comforting each other was high on the agenda, as emotions flowed. News came through the
airport was not operating, and communication was limited and not consistent.
Nobody wanted to remain in Thamel and everyone wanted to stay in open space. A
decision was made to try and organize getting the group to the airport. With
direction from our group leader the guides arranged transport with unbelievable
efficiency in a time of disaster. We made it to the airport car park,
the guides continued to support us with information, food and water, never at
any point did they leave us even though they had family issues way beyond any
of our needs. Night was closing in, the
weather started to cool and morale was starting to fade. What do we do next? As
we prepared to sleep on the car park floor the guides would not accept this,
although no complaints from the group, the guides felt a level of
responsibility. The country was in a state of shock, nothing was working,
confusion continued, but again the guides never left our sides and with
astonishing effort arranged a coach to the airport with support from Etihad
airline, to be our home. Water and snacks were plenty and we had extreme
comfort on the scale of the situation.

(this part is from my perspective)

I
was supposed to be the last one to take off I ended up being the first one out
of Nepal. I was the only one traveling
from China, my fellow photographer friends all came from Dubai and Abu Dhabi
(and one from Qatar). My flight was one
of the only three flight that landed and took off from the Kathmandu airport
that night. After resting for an hour or
so in the bus, our guides told me that my flight was indeed scheduled to arrive
(my husband had informed me about it) and that I would most likely be leaving
so I needed to get to the terminal. They
only let in the persons who where traveling. I was in an almost empty airport which the military had taken over after
airport personal were sent home and I was surrounded by Chinese (the only
flights coming were from China Eastern and China Southern airlines) away from
my new very best friends. Another tremor
struck and we all run out of the airport onto the tarmac. I couldn’t decided if I wanted to stay there
or go back to the “safety” of the bus and surrounded by my friends. I talked to a Chinese Canadian guy, calmed
down then a little Chinese girl started a conversation, practicing her English! By 1am I was on board of the plane ready to take off to Guangzhou. I arrived relieved in Guangzhou, headed to my
next flight to Beijing and with only an hour late from my original schedule
landed in Beijing airport at 12:40pm. I
started to read the news and it finally hit me. It was a lot scarier from the outside. Looking at it we were in a little part of town where no building
collapsed within our eyesight. We saw a
few walls down, a few houses tilting dangerously on our way to the airport but reading and seeing the photos
of the devastation from the safety of my apartment in Beijing was not easy on
me. I was happy I got out on time but
felt horrible leaving my friends behind. I couldn’t reach them I felt helpless. I tried to monitor their flights but the information were non consistent. I eventually heard they had all left. The ones for Dubai taking the last airplane
leaving Kathmandu. (end)

Back to their account of their time after I
left:

Early Sunday morning we woke on our coach,
sleep was intermittent, between additional tremors during the night. Whilst the
group freshened up, the guides had already started their day seeking food for
breakfast: boiled eggs, bread, cookies and jam was a welcome surprise. Lots of
waiting and information seeking was the order of the days, as things were
becoming clear and organized a second earthquake struck at around 1pm, a
magnitude 6.7 was strong enough to cause further worry and disruption to the
airport. By late Sunday night the whole
group had seats on flights out of Kathmandu, some journeys back home more
difficult than others, but the whole group eventually made it home by Monday
27th April.

There is nothing this group could ever do to
repay the guides for keeping our group safe and getting us through this
situation back to our loved ones. As we hugged and left them, we headed off out
of a devastating situation, a fortunate position. The guides would need to stay
and try to rebuild their lives.

To try and raise funds for the people of Nepal,
the photography group is going to arrange a number of exhibitions and intend to
sell prints with all funds heading back to the people of Nepal. Please support
this in any way you can. These people are beautiful, kind, dedicated and
deserve a helping hand.

Gulf Photo Plus will in time,
arrange a link for further information!


Thukar&Guru
Our Heroes (guides): Thakur and Guru!

GPPCrew
The photo group:

Lisa Seymour – Christina Dimitrova – Mila Hyman – Chris Redley – Thukar (Guide) – Natasha Haggard – Noelle Sinclair – Tonya Colson (Group Leader) – John Gorst – Natalie Tonking (in the back) – Rahat Latif- Celine Suiter – Francis Cox – Saeed Nassouri – kneeling Lynsey Dyer (Group Assistant)

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At the airport