Leiko Manalang recently took a hike through the Annapurna circuit in Nepal, which was the catalyst for her exhibition Namaste at Courthouse Youth Arts. With such a journey to get the shots, we thought we’d ask Leiko to share a few stories behind the shots.

Tilicho Lake

“Slowly but surely” a phrase I said to myself many times. This day, we didn’t take our big bags (glad we didn’t have to) and had a shared day bag to put our water bottles in. The altitude here was crazy. We were averaging 4,500 m and every few steps you take, it felt like a sprint and I remember how slow I was and my blisters didn’t help. My lungs found it difficult to adjust with the oxygen levels and even though my legs wanted to keep walking, I knew I had to slow down or I’ll screw myself over. It was such a great feeling when I walked over this tiny hill and saw the stillness of Tilicho Lake. It was so peaceful, almost like a real life painting. I couldn’t believe how blue and motionless the lake was. We sat there in awe for a good while and our Snicker Bars never tasted so good.

Walk to Muktinath

This was the longest day ever. We woke up to eat our dry, cold, pre-made strawberry jam sandwiches at 4:00 am and proceed to tackle the highest pass in the world also known as Thorong La Pass. The journey to the top had us questioning ourselves… “What the hell are we doing?”… We were exhausted, emotional and suffering from the lack of oxygen hahaha… When we completed the pass, we still had to get to Muktinath. The walk there was all downhill, this image is overlooking the journey towards Muktinath. We were so excited and thought that this village was our stop but it wasn’t. Muktinath was in the horizon. We had more walking to do. It was bittersweet. I remember how peculiar it felt to feel so defeated and accomplished the same time. After 12 hours of walking and smashing 16km in one day, we were fatigued. Even though the walk back was hard on our knees, India and I felt so relieve that we were headed to a more civilized place.

Getting to Tilicho Lake Base Camp

To be precise, the moment this photo was taken, I was feeling incredibly under the weather. I was feeling quite defeated but we met new friends the night before and it was nice to have new friends to talk to. We were on our way to Tilicho Lake Base Camp and we were so lucky we made friends with this group of Nepali boys. They helped us reserve a room at the Base Camp. If it weren’t for them, India and I would’ve had to sleep in the communal tea/dining room or pitch a tent outside. We were so lucky. This day we went through a landslide area for the first time and our hiking boots were unrecognizable from thin sand. The highlight of this part of our trek was meeting the new friends. We got by at the end of the day with each other’s company.

Ghyaru Viewpoint

This viewpoint in Ghyaru and part of this trek was possibly one of the highlights. I learnt that when you are surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, silence is key in order to fully experience the moment. This day was incredibly tiring for us. We tackled this big hill/mountain (when do you start calling it a mountain?) during the day and boy, the altitude got me bad. There were a few times when India and I would just stare at each other in order to communicate. When we got up to the lookout, we were reminded of humbling this place is and how small it makes you feel. We took our time scoping the area but I found myself sat against this big Stupa. The way the prayer flags danced with the wind, how the sun provided so much warmth yet the cool breeze kept the temperature chilly, it was such a surreal time.

Leiko’s exhibition, Namaste, runs until Friday, March 23. You can keep uo to date with her work on Instagram.

All images supplied by Leiko Manalang.