Nepal, Bhutan, and Cambodia are home to some of the world's most visually stunning and culturally fascinating spiritual sites. David Samuel Robbins leads participants on an expertly curated and experience-rich, two-week photographic survey of these three fascinating countries—a tour that includes seven UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Our itinerary guides us through a series of selected highlights from the Himalaya and Southeast Asia, linked together with a series of five intra-continental flights, including the Kathmandu–Paro flight, closely paralleling the Himalayan range and offering views of Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, and Kanchenjunga.
From a home base at premium-grade hotels, we explore the principal religious shrines for Hinduism, and Buddhism, each with their own complex visual iconography and ornate traditional architectural styles.
Our first four days are spent in Kathmandu, Nepal, where we visit six UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Swayambhunath (aka the "Monkey Temple"), an ancient Hindu and Buddhist complex perched on a hill top; Boudanath, one of the world's largest Buddhist stupas, surrounded by a Tibetan refugee enclave with over 50 monasteries; Pashupatinath, a revered Hindu Shiva temple complex on the banks of the sacred Bagmati River; and the medieval cobblestone alleyways and historic Durbar Square of Bhaktapur.
Next we travel to Paro, Bhutan, to witness a ritualized Tibetan Buddhist masked dance performance reenacting mythical struggles between good and wrathful deities. We also explore the lush Punakha Valley and the exquisite 16th Century Punakha Dzong, a massive fortress/monastery featuring the main Monk's Assembly Hall, one of the architectural masterworks of the Himalaya.
For the final leg of our journey we take the short flight
from Bankgok to Siem Reap, Cambodia. From here we explore the vast and
astounding ruins of Angkor Wat. One of the preeminent archaeological sites in
the world, Angkor was once a thriving, complex metropolis of over a million
people at a time when London was only a fledgling town of 50,000. Collectively,
the fantastical structures and statuary of Angkor represent the pinnacle of
Khmer civilization, spanning six centuries of creative genius and intense
religious fervor. Originally conceived as a Hindu temple complex devoted to the
god Vishnu, Angkor gradually transformed in to an extravagant Buddhist
monument, and the rich visual symbolism of both faiths is seen everywhere.
These represent only a portion of the expedition’s
highlights, and throughout there are endless opportunities to engage in
environmental portraiture, classic street photography, traditional
architecture, and landscape imagery. Join David and experience the
ancient, vibrant, and visually stunning architecture and culture of
Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar.
In his instruction, David prioritizes aesthetic issues over purely technical considerations. He provides frequent informal demonstrations in the field and, through evening slide shows, shares the work of world-class documentary, fine art, and travel photographers. In open discussions, we evaluate this work to consider ways we can adapt some of these artists’ ideas and techniques to our own styles.
“The central challenge for today’s travel photographers is to develop a distinctive, personal style of visually representing their experiences,” states David, “And to somehow return home with images that transcend predictable clichés, having created a stylistically unique and consistent body of work that comments as much about the artist’s individuality as about their subject matter”.