'In The Shadow Of A Giant' by Ben Rompotis
Traversing Nepal and Sri Lanka.
This is the second in a series from Ben. Check his first, covering Marrakech HERE.
Similar in size and population, Nepal and Sri Lanka gain both economical and cultural influence from their relentless neighbour, the booming sub continent of India. One of the world’s fastest developing nations, it's no secret that India is in an unforgiving quest to stamp their authority as a global superpower. The question however, is where does it leave countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka?
During my travels in 2015, it occurred to me that Nepal doesn’t want or feel destined to compete with India in global influence. Its desire, ironically enough is quite the opposite - they want to be left alone. When I was there last year it was arguably one the most important times in Nepal’s recent history. Post the devastating earthquake that we all know about, and with the world eyes fixated on this uniquely beautiful landscape, the Nepalese government passed bold and successful constitution amendments to expel major Indian political influence. In an inevitable backlash of violent protests and outrage, and speaking to the local Nepalese I met, I was told the Indian government began to ration fuel coming into Nepal, and with the only Chinese border destroyed in the earthquake the result is chaotic. After listening to other media streams you could be forgiven for questioning the full extent of the local’s accusations, but one thing you can’t deny is the animosity felt between a crippled Nepal and India.
Take a trip down south however and Sri Lanka is an island of different ambition. A pocket of paradise, everyone has heard of the postcard beaches and resorts that litter this unforgettable place. Take a trip inland through towns and cities however and you may find, as I did, something a little less exotic. Sri Lanka takes on a whole new perspective at this point, life is faster and business and commerce an increasing priority. I thought to myself this is a country that’s competing, or at least following in the footsteps of her big brother India. There is undeniable evidence of intense work ethic here, something that I didn’t experience in Nepal. Even along tourist hot spots and coastal towns I found it hard to avoid flaring local tempers and an obviously fierce competition for the vacationer’s business.
This doesn’t make Sri Lanka any less beautiful, the people are unquestionably good intentioned. The difference for me however, was between being hassled in Ceylon, or walking in peace among the Himalayas and the rubble of Kathmandu.
Homeless in Kathmandu.
An artist decorates a semi destroyed wall in Kathmandu.
Kite running is popular in Nepal.
Kathmandu rooftop kite battles.
After waiting hours in line for fuel, our bus finally gets ushered through, with military on guard.
Buses are limited so the men ride on rooftops while the women and children sit below.
Child in a crammed bus.
Fishermen in Sri Lanka.
The train tracks a reliable highway for trade in the dense rainforest of inland Sri Lanka.
The tea fields of Elia.
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