July 28, 2018 – High on High Bridge (OOTD #337)

Look at me, back at it with the Kentucky adventures!

Today’s blog sees Amanda and me in another small Kentucky town, wandering around and trying to find something to do. We had had plans with another friend, but he canceled on us last second, and we had to go figure out what we would do without him. We had already gotten dressed and made ourselves look cute, so we had to actually go out.

We’d had some friends post some pictures at this park called High Bridge in Kentucky, so we decided to pop over there and give it a go. This is what we found.

The daredevil in me wanted to go out and climb onto the bridge and try to get cute pictures, but the practical human being in me who still fears death held me back. When I go, I want to go with flying colors, and I feel like “died while trying to get a good picture for the ‘Gram” would not look good on my death certificate.

Having exhausted the photography opportunities at High Bridge, we decided to drive back to Lexington — but not before happening upon another photography opportunity.

Honestly, I can’t even remember what prompted us to stop in this field. I think it was something about a sign that indicated there was a historical site somewhere down the gravel road. At any rate, we never made it far enough to find whatever historical site there was — we did find this field though, and this pretty sunset.

I’m a sucker for a good field, I don’t know — there’s just something alluring about a big open space under the sky. It’s the most stereotypically Kentucky sight out there, but I like it nonetheless. I complain about Kentucky a lot, but I think I complain about Indiana more. I’ll miss Lexington when I’m back in South Bend.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life at home in Kentucky. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: H&M

Jacket: Thrifted

Jeans: American Eagle (thrifted)

July 24, 2018 – Nightlife (OOTD #336)

You wouldn’t believe it, but guess where I went back to — that’s right, a parking garage.

Once again, I was with my friend Amanda, and once again, we were on the hunt for a particular building in downtown Lexington with an Instagrammable view from its roof that many of our friends had taken pictures at. We’d gone looking for it many times before (check them out here and here and here), but every time, we’d come up empty-handed. This time was no different — though we found another parking garage with a different, though still Instagrammable, view.

This parking garage had a color changing light display on its exterior side, with parts of the light still showing through on the inside. The light was dim, and it was dark out, but I still feel like I got some interesting shots. It’s got something of an edgy, underground (ironic, given the fact that it’s a parking garage roof) vibe to it — a little different I think from the kinds of shots I usually get.

One of these days, I’d love to do a full nighttime photo shoot — get a nice camera with a good flash, find some glamorous looking night life, and go to town. Until then, though, some neon parking garage lights and my iPhone flash will have to do.

Inspired by the good luck we had with this one parking garage, Amanda and I decided to do a little more exploring of nighttime Lexington locations. We came across some street art, another rooftop, and a stairwell that made for what I think are a pretty decent first foray into nighttime photography.

I complain sometimes that Lexington is boring and that there’s nothing to do, but I have to say it has its charms. Sometimes, I just have to go to a colorfully lit parking garage to see them

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life at home in Kentucky. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: a boutique in Nepal

Skirt: a boutique in Nepal

July 16, 2018 – Swayambhunath Squared (OOTD #332)

Every single time I reference Swayambhunath in one of these blogs I have to Google to spelling. Can you really blame me though?

Anyway, we wound up back at Swayambhunath again, out of a lack of basically anything else to do. Allie hadn’t been before, on account of falling ill the day we went as a group, and I was happy to go again, since I felt a little rushed the first time I was there. The activity we had been planning on doing — a sky lift up to the highest mountain in the Kathmandu area — didn’t pan out due to some poor weather, and we just couldn’t think of anything else to do.

Look, Kathmandu is a really fascinating city, and there’s a lot of fun and interesting things to do — for a few days. After a few days, I feel like I kind of exhausted the tourist things to do. Boudhanath, Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, Patan Durbar Square, the Garden of Dreams, and Thamel are fun for a few hours/a whole day, but once you’ve seen those, I feel like there wasn’t a whole lot else, especially for such a large city. There’s no shortage of restaurants and shops, but you can only eat and shop so much.

I’ve enjoyed these last few days in Kathmandu with Allie, but I think we both agreed that we wished we had chosen to stay somewhere outside of Kathmandu instead. Pokhara would have been neat. Expensive to travel to, sure, but perhaps worth the cost.

Forgive me if I sound too negative about my last full day in Nepal — it was nonetheless a fun experience seeing Swayambhunath again. I got to take my time and explore a little more, which I didn’t really get to do the first time when I was with a larger group. There was a monastery that I hadn’t seen before, as well as a few overlooks and shops. And afterwards, we decided to walk back to our BnB instead of taking a cab, which was about a three mile trek — so great exercise, and a more intimate view of the city than I had gotten to see before from a bus window.

In the evening, we went to a yoga class. Now I get what you must be thinking — yoga in Nepal, that must be a fascinating cultural experience, right? A predominantly Hindu country with a deep, ancient history, a place where namaste is actually said instead of just printed on t-shirts at fast fashion stores like Forever21?

It was like, the whitest thing ever.

The studio looked like it was straight out of Southern California, and the instructor was wearing Lululemon leggings. I was one of I think two non-white individuals in the room — which I haven’t been able to say since I was in Chicago three weeks ago getting ready to depart.

Still, it was an enjoyable enough yoga class, even if it wasn’t particularly cultural. I don’t know if I would bothered to do it in Nepal if Allie hadn’t wanted to, as I feel like I could have had the exact same experience in 9/10 yoga studios in the United States, but whatever. It was a nice sampler of western culture before I’m thrust right back into it in a day.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Nepal. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: Some boutique in Kathmandu

Pants: Also a boutique in Kathmandu

July 15, 2018 – Dans le jardin des rêves (OOTD #331)

I sure hope that French is correct.

Welp, the conference is now over, and I’m on my own in Kathmandu. Or rather, not entirely on my own — I’m with another Notre Dame student who had attended the conference — but we’re relatively alone.

I did London by myself last summer, which was no problem at all. It’s London, it’s not terribly different from the US, and in some ways, it’s even easier to navigate. The Underground is truly a marvel. Kathmandu, on the other hand, is nothing like the US, and quite impossible to navigate.

There are practically no street names. There are no addresses. There are no signs, or traffic lights, or subway systems. You can go on TripAdvisor and look up the biggest tourist attractions, and then ask a taxi to take you there, but it’s not a very good city for independent exploration — you may never be able to make it make back to your hotel!

Anyway, after a long, stiflingly hot taxi ride from Dhulikhel to Kathmandu, dropping off people at the airport and at their various hotels on the way, Allie (the other ND student with me) and I went to our BnB.

Allow me, really quickly, to say, that if you’re in Kathmandu and looking for a relatively inexpensive BnB within walking distance of the tourist district Thamel, Cocina Mitho Chha is an excellent choice. As a social enterprise, it uses its funds to maximize improvements in the social sphere — in this case, by educating underprivileged young people in hospitality skills that will allow them to get jobs in the hotel industry. The food was great, the service was great, its mission is admirable — overall, a lovely experience.

After getting settled in, we decided to go check out something called the Garden of Dreams, which was about a twenty minute walk away from our BnB. That’s where these photos are from. It was a really beautiful, and quiet spot, a nice respite from the chaos of Kathmandu.

Otherwise, we allowed ourselves to have a pretty relaxing day, not rushing around and not pushing ourselves. We did some shopping, had dinner at a bar where they showed the World Cup, and basically just tried to recover, mentally and physically, from the intensity of the conference we’d just spent the last two weeks devoting ourselves to. Or rather, we tried to relax, as much as we could, in an insane and hectic city like Kathmandu.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Nepal. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: Forever21

Pants: American Eagle

July 13, 2018 – Big Day in the Big City (OOTD #330)

Namaste!

It’s hard to believe, but this was almost my last day with the Madrasa Discourses summer intensive.

The official last day is July 14, but that’s going to be devoted to discussion and reflection (so basically, classroom stuff), and I don’t really expect that there will be much in the way of blog-worthy material. July 13, on the other hand, was very much blog worthy.

The day began early with what else but filming for an NBC documentary short about what we’ve been doing these last two weeks in Nepal, and the mission of the Madrasa Discourses founder, Professor Moosa. Filming mostly just involved sitting there and pretending to be attentive while Professor Moosa pretended to lecture us, as well as a few shots of us sitting around and pretending to talk to each other.

Hopefully though, some of the footage of me — even if it’s only an elbow —  will be used for the actual television spot, which will be aired during the commercial break of one of ND’s upcoming football games this September. It’ll be my elbow/shoulder/half an eyebrow’s fifteen minutes of fame!

For the filming, we went up to the rooftop of the lodge, which, for whatever reason, I’d never actually been to before. And what a shame too, because it was quite a spectacular sight from above. I know I’ve talked extensively about the beautiful mountain views in Nepal — so much so that I’m probably beginning to sound like a broken record — but it’s honestly one of the most beautiful areas I’ve ever seen.

With such beautiful views, and with the end of the program drawing so near, everyone decided it was a great opportunity for group photos.

It’s something of a sad thought, but I guess I’ll probably never see some of these people again. They live in Pakistan, or India, or South Africa, and being realistic, when am I ever going to be able to visit those countries? Or if I ever can, would we even remember each other enough to get together? I made some really fantastic friends over these last two weeks though. If ever there was a group with whom I would want to share two weeks in a foreign country with, it was these guys — even if we’re likely to never meet again.

After filming, it was time for a final group field trip into Kathmandu. This time, we went into Pashupati, a Hindu spiritual site, and Boudhanath, another Buddhist stupa.

Pashupatinath was cool, even if it did suffer a little from “Just Another Ancient Temple” Syndrome, which I’ve mentioned a little before on this blog to describe the rapid exhaustion of the novelty surrounding the old religious buildings in Nepal. It’s fabulous and fascinating and completely different from anything in the US — but it’s pretty similar to a lot of what’s in Nepal. At some point, an ancient temple is just another ancient temple.

Pashupatinath had cremations though, so that was very different. And some naked little boys swimming in the river next to the cremation site. No photos, don’t worry.

While we were at Pashupatinath, one of the Indian guys saw me eyeing one of the marigold flower chains, and he offered to buy me one. I was a little hesitant, since I thought the marigold chains were meant for the Hindus visiting the temple, but he seemed to think it was okay. Maybe I acted a little inappropriately but…they were flower necklaces. I love plants. How was I supposed to refuse wearable plants?

After Pashupatinath, we went to Boudhanath, which, next to Swayambhunath (lots of        -aths, huh?), is probably the most recognizable tourist site in Kathmandu. It was also, to my untrained eye, really similar to Swayambhunath (Seriously though — it was another big round structure with a pointy golden Buddha at the top).

Boudhanath was probably the most spectacular of the manmade features I saw in Nepal, simply because it was so massive. Like I said, it was pretty similar to Swayambhunath in terms of architecture, but it felt so much bigger. You could probably jog circles around Boudhanath and get a pretty good workout.

I didn’t do that though — instead, I went into a coffee shop and chilled for a while. It had been a long day, and I was anxious to get off my feet. And I think most people in my group were too, because the coffee shop was a very popular place to go.

Normally, I hate tour groups, but this one hasn’t been so bad. I guess for one, it’s not really a tour group — not in the sense my senior year New York trip was — but also, since literally everyone here is an adult, we’ve been given a lot of freedom to kind of just do whatever we want. Still, that doesn’t mean the schedule didn’t get absolutely overwhelming at times, and even if there was an opportunity to rest, it was usually at the expense of doing something fun. I can’t imagine trying to travel to Kathmandu alone though, without anyone from the area and without being able to speak the language.  Honestly, I feel like going with the group of adult male and female South Asians, who were at least slightly familiar with the language and culture of the area, was the best way to go short of actually having a local Nepali friend to show me around.

I have a few more days in Kathmandu still before it’s time to fly home, but it’s just another girl and me traveling alone. Boudhanath was a nice way to close out my time with the whole group, though. Nothing like a massive Buddhist stupa to serve as a backdrop for parting ways with your new Muslim friends.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Nepal. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: Hollister

Skirt: Some market in New York City

July 12, 2018 – Rained Out (OOTD #329)

I guess I should be grateful that it took this long until the rain got in the way of our plans.

It’s monsoon season in Nepal, meaning of course that rain is a constant threat. Up until this point, though, the rain’s been no trouble — it comes while we’re in class, or while we’re still getting up in the morning, and then it goes. It always returns the next day, but that’s not really a problem as long as it doesn’t come in the afternoon when we want to go out.

Today though, it turned out to be a problem. It came at night, and it came hard. Two major roads that connect Dhulikhel to Kathmandu flooded, leaving us stuck at our hotel for the morning.

And part of the afternoon, actually — we ended up lazing around the lodge until quite late in the day. The roads ended up clearing though around mid-afternoon, and we finally made it into the city.

We went to a shopping district which specialized in fair trade stores and…really expensive saris? We went with the intent of checking out the fair trade stuff (some of which was made in the factory we’d toured the day before), but as it turned out, there were a ton of sari shops in the area too. I wish I could have bought something, but it was all way too expensive for my poor wallet.

From there, we wandered around the town  little bit — saw some monkeys, saw a river, choked on pollution — you know, local things. It was probably one of the most relaxed days I had in Kathmandu, or as relaxed as a day in Kathmandu could be. I was almost hit by a car like five separate times, rather than ten.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Nepal. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Skirt: The LOFT

top: some boutique in Kathmandu

July 11, 2018 – Monkeying Around (OOTD #328)

I’m back in Kathmandu again!

Yep, after about two straight weeks of intense classes and discussion, we’re finally off the hook. The last lecturer of the Madrasa Discourses summer intensive will be teaching exclusively in Urdu, which none of us Notre Dame students can understand, so we were allowed to go off on a little field trip on our own for the day.

The first stop for us (well, the second stop — we got pizza at a mall beforehand) was a design house where some other Notre Dame students were interning for the summer. They gave us a tour of the facilities, introduced us to the workers there, and showed us the prototypes they were working for for sale in fair trade shops.

It was neat, but a little slow. I’m totally here for the mission of fair trade — ensuring fair wages for workers, providing jobs for women who need them, etc. — but a tour of a factory is still just a tour of a factory.

Besides, I was pretty excited for what we’d be seeing next — the Swayambhunath Monkey Temple.

And yes, I did just have to Google the spelling of that.

Swayambhunath is arguably the most famous tourist site in Kathmandu, up there with Boudhanath, another Buddhist stupa. It’s 365 steps to the top (though we just drove up most of them), and along the way, as the name suggests, you get to meet some wild monkeys.

Wild monkeys are kind of scary! I guess that should be kind of obvious, based on the “wild” bit. And it’s not that I was expecting them to act like puppies and be all cute and ask for petting, but I figured, you know, since they’re in a tourist area, they’d be pretty used to tourists walking up and taking photos.

I guess not.

There are no terrifying stories of monkeys that attempted to attack me or anything like that, but I did get hissed at a few times from a distance. Key here is “from a distance.” After my first experience getting hissed at, I decided to keep far away from the monkeys.

But what about the stupa at the top of the steps? How did that stack up?

Pretty well! You know how I’d been complaining a bit over the last few days that seeing all of the temples and shrines was beginning to grow old? Not this one. Swayambhunath was decidedly spectacular — a big gold pillar into the sky surrounded by billowing prayer flags and spinning prayer wheels. There’s nothing boring about that.

It also helps that I got some of the best views of Kathmandu that I had seen ever from the top of the Swayambhunath stupa. I know I’ve spoken extensively about all the spectacular mountain views I saw in Nepal, but this cityscape could give all of them a run for their money in the “best Nepal views” competition.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Nepal. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: Pitaya

Skirt: vintage (thrifted)

July 10, 2018 – That Was Unexpected (OOTD #327)

Nepal is full of adventures. Sometimes, that adventure sees you getting an expected tour of a water treatment facility.

I’m not sure where even to begin this blog because I don’t really quite remember how I wound up here — I think it was just another one of those days when I went out for a walk with some friends and we saw where fate decided to take us. At times, that has been to a giant golden Buddha, down the side of a mountain, or to the edge of a cliff.

Today, it was to some septic tanks and a filtration system.

It was just about as exciting as it sounds — interesting, in that I hadn’t really expected to wind up at a water treatment plant, and boring, in that it was, well, a water treatment plant. There were some locals who were happy (I think?) to offer a tour, but they didn’t speak any English, so it was more of a tour to the Pakistanis I was with. I just sort of nodded my head and pretended to be engaged — much like I do when I’m in class at Notre Dame.

Here’s something cool about my Pakistani friends — they’re not shy at all about photos. They take photos of everything, they want photos taken of themselves all the time, and they’re not at all judgmental when you ask if they’ll take a photo of you. It’s fabulous. When I’m with my American friends, I could be somewhere spectacular like the Taj Mahal, and I’d still be self-conscious about asking them to take my picture. With the Pakistanis, I could literally want a picture with a cool rock, and they’d oblige.

That’s why I wound up with photos of myself at the water plant — I would not have otherwise done pictures here, but they all wanted pictures, so I joined in the photoshoot. I wonder what they’ll do with them. Post them to Facebook? Write a post on their fashion blogs about it?

After that, we stopped by a grocery store to pick up some snacks. Once again, I wasn’t really expecting to take any photos, figuring my high fashion septic tank editorial shoot would be enough, but once again, I was wrong. Turns out, there was another beautiful sunset (ugh, another one!) and we had another perfect view of it.

One of these days, I may get tired of Himalayan sunsets, but, as Aragorn says in Return of the King, “today is not that day.”

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Nepal. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: Some boutique in England

Pants: J. Crew (thrifted)

July 9, 2018 – A Developing Building In A Developing Country (OOTD #326)

Hey look, I’m back!

Whoops, looks like I accidentally took a three-day hiatus from this whole daily blogging thing (again). It’s like I’m flawed or something.

Anyway, let’s jump right back into the Nepal adventures — it’s day nine in Nepal, and I’m back in Dhulikhel after a day trip to Kathmandu. Dhulikhel, for as different as it is from suburban America, is beginning to grow old after having been here for a over a week. It’s in Nepal, which is exciting and exotic, but it’s still a small town in Nepal. Small towns only have so much to do.

So here’s what Dhulikhel had for me — a temple, momo’s, and an unfinished building.

First up, the temple. It was…a temple. I’m not sure what else there is to say about it — sure it’s totally different from anything I get to see in my normal life at Notre Dame or in Kentucky, but at this point, I’d seen dozens of Nepali temples. With the exception of some of the bigger ones in Kathmandu, the smaller ones like this were beginning to run together.

The South Asian students with me were also not terribly excited by the temples either, on account of them being pretty used to seeing them all the time around there own home towns. I got a few photos, and then we moved on.

After walking aimlessly as we so often do during these afternoon walks in Nepal, we ended up coming across a restaurant in a field.

Does that sound weird? A restaurant in a field? Well, that’s what it was. It was off the road a little bit, and just sitting there by itself in a field, no other buildings around.

With such a strange location for a restaurant, we of course had to go up and order something. My friend, Haya, was craving french fries, and I was interested in trying momo’s, a Nepali dish similar to Chinese dumplings (spoiler alert: Chinese dumplings are way better).

While sitting at the table waiting on our food, my friend, Elsa, spotted an unfinished building sitting nearby the field that looked abandoned. With nothing else to do, we decided to explore.

There wasn’t really much to explore, in truth. The building appeared to have been begun, but never finished, so there was little to see except the foundation and framework of what it was to be. We got a nice view of the sunset from the second floor — but I’m pretty sure I’ve wound up with a pretty view of the sunset almost every day I’ve been in Nepal from the various locations I’ve ventured to. Pretty views are pretty much just the normal, everyday views here.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Nepal. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: The LOFT

Pants: H&M

July 8, 2018 – Getting Edgy (OOTD #325)

I bet my mother about had a heart attack when she saw these photos.

As much as I generally don’t mind heights and don’t mind climbing to the top of slightly sketchy perches, I would not have actually done so if it were actually as dangerous as these photos make it look. While my friends did once tell me I was probably the most likely person they knew to die while trying to get a selfie, I do actually care somewhat for my physical wellbeing.

So rest assured, I’m actually safer here than I look — there’s a ledge not far below the rock I’m sitting atop, and then the cliff below. It was still pretty scary looking down though.

So why am sitting on a rock in the mountains, seemingly perched on the edge of the Kathmandu Valley? Believe it or not, I did not actually climb all the way up here just for a rock and some pretty views — it was actually a temple to the Hindu goddess Kali that I had in mind.

One of the very first excursions I went on while in Nepal was to the “1000 steps temple,” which I never actually ended up reaching on account of the sun going down and our legs getting tired. Instead, about 250 steps up, we stopped to see to pay a visit to the giant gold Buddha, and then, satisfied with what we had seen, turned around and went back.

This time, we decided to go the rest of the way and finally see what was at the top of those 1000 steps. It was literally about 45 minutes of climbing, but finally, the steps ended and we were greeted with the infamous 1000 steps temple.

And you know what? It was pretty lame. I’ve seen plenty of religious structures so far while I’ve been in Nepal — mosques, stupas, temples, shrines — and pretty much all of them have been exciting experiences for me in one way or another, either because of the architecture of the buildings themselves or the beauty of the rituals performed there.

The Kali temple, however, was no architectural marvel, and there were few people there to actually observe doing anything. In fact, I think the only people we saw there were tourists.

In fairness, we were unable to visit part of the actual structure due to damage that had been caused by a bad earthquake a few years back, so perhaps that would

If the temple itself was relatively uninteresting, the views we saw there at the top of that mountain were the exact opposite. Nepal, and in particular, the Kathmandu Valley, is full of spectacular mountain views. I’m actually surprised I’m not tired of them by now with how often I see them. The sight of the cloudy hills never gets old, though.