If it was any other photographer, that would have been the end of the story, and Thoma would have gone on to explore and photograph other parts of the world. But in 2008, he got his son Michal to retrace his steps to Manang, carrying with him an album of black and white photographs taken thirty years earlier.
“The idea was to document and interpret the changes that had happened in Manang in the intervening years,” Zdenek Thoma, now 84, said during another visit to Nepal this week. Thoma went back to Manang on this trip, and the transformation has been even greater. In 1979, he had to walk for two weeks from Dumre up the Marsyangdi to Manang, today there is a road right up to Manang village.
The road is rought, but has further altered the livelihoods and architecture of this once-quaint valley at the edge of the Tibetan Plateau. Even so, a lot of things have also remained the same.
“When my father first came to Manang in 1979, I was just six months old,” says Michal. “I grew up listening to his stories about Nepal instead of fairytales. The photographs were imprinted in my mind, so when I finally got to Manang myself in 2008 I was already familiar with the place.”