Tag Archives: photography

Photo book: The Beauty of Beijing

There are cities where you go to spend a few days eating like the locals, visiting the sites, people watching, and soaking in the culture and then leave feeling satisfied that you’ve checked it off your list and don’t need to return.

Beijing is not one of those cities. It’s big, bustling, beautiful and utterly bizarre. Even after two trips there, I still don’t feel like I’ve had my fill of the capital city. I’ve maybe had a drink and an appetizer, but I’m in no way ready to lay down my napkin, push my chair back and pat my stomach contentedly. Continue reading Photo book: The Beauty of Beijing

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Hiking Tiger Leaping Gorge

I had no intentions of going to Tiger Leaping Gorge.

My original plan was to go to Lijiang and spend a few lazy days eating yak cheese and exploring the nearby villages.

But thanks to a chance meeting on a train and the certain swagger that comes with youth, I instead jumped on a bus and hiked 16 plus incredibly strenuous miles over mountains and around bends with someone I’d just met.

It wasn’t the first spontaneous decision of the weekend. After deciding at the last possible moment that I had no interest in spending the long holiday weekend in Guilin, I threw some clothes and my camera in a bag, went to the train station with a scrap of paper listing three far-flung destinations around China, and said I wanted to go to whichever one had the next train out. Continue reading Hiking Tiger Leaping Gorge

Photo book: 16 more reasons to love Siquijor

An authentic experience can be hard to come by in many big cities in Asia. Cities like Bangkok, Siem Reap and Singapore are so entrenched in Western travelers Asia hit-lists that adventures can feel canned. Whether it’s the people jockeying for room to take a picture of Angkor Wat, fighting over merchandise at the weekend market in Bangkok or waiting in lines longer than those at Target on Black Friday to see some temple, travel can get taxing.

Thankfully, there are places, like Siquijor Island, that acts as an antidote to travel fatigue. There the food is delicious, the people gregarious and genuine, the sunsets vibrantly hued and the only other Westerners are those who have “gone native.”  I already waxed poetic about the charms of the small Filipino island, but here are 16 more reasons why.

Continue reading Photo book: 16 more reasons to love Siquijor

Forever my favorite: Siquijor island, Philippines

From the sweet perfume of honey-marmalade topped pink rice to the lazy sensuality of a mongrel blend of spices rubbed into a rotating chicken, a myriad of scents assault my nose in the family-run market.

To my left were a group of middle-aged Filipino men, gathered around an old, flickering TV set, watching a sporting match that was evidently very exciting. Every few minutes the cacophony of raucous cheers and jeers and the toppling of chairs as the men leapt to their feet were heard throughout the open-air market. Continue reading Forever my favorite: Siquijor island, Philippines

Photo Book: Finding the charm of Moalboal

Moalboal didn’t look like much. We’d just emerged from the heaving, paint-chipped bus from Cebu City, had extracted our bags from the bowels of the idling beast and were already sweating. Cooking in the midday heat, we wandered in towards town in hopes of finding four things: a bed, a dive shop, dinner and a beer (or three).

We found the first two easily enough, and after a long search, found the latter two. As we sat on the curb, sipping our Tanduay Ice, we debated reworking our travel plan: stay just two days, instead of three. We’d only been in the city for a couple hours and were already writing it off.

However, on day two, the sun seemingly rose over a brand new city. We found the charm of Moalboal in the retro Coca-Cola bottles, in the halo halo (a dessert made of fruit, ice, and ice cream), in the riotously colorful tricycles (many of which bearing gospel phrases or quirky names), in the stunning beaches with ombre hues of blue water, and in the personality of the people who call the little beach town home.

Continue reading Photo Book: Finding the charm of Moalboal

Photo book: 15 Stunning Reasons Why to Temple Hop in Bangkok

I like to think that the first King who occupied the Grand Palace in Bangkok met with his designer and said something like, “Nah Bro, not enough sparkles. Slap some more gemstones up in here. And throw in a couple gold-leaf murals for good measure.”

Covering nearly every inch of the 100+ buildings that make up the Grand Palace are tiles in a myriad of hues, tons of gold coating, and elaborate murals in vibrant colors. It’s an artistic experience just walking around the grounds.

The palace was the official residence of the King (first of Siam, then of Thailand), his court and his royal government from 1782 until 1925. Now it’s only used for a handful of ceremonies a year. But, that doesn’t mean it isn’t teeming with tourists. As the number one most visited place in Bangkok, oodles of people filter in all day. But, it’s a massive structure, filled with buildings, halls, open lawns, gardens and cozy courtyards, so getting away from the herd isn’t as hard as it sounds.

One thing you won’t see below is a snapshot of the famed Emerald Buddha who takes up residency at the Grand Palace. The enlightened man isn’t about the paparazzi — photographing him is forbidden. Housed in a dazzlingly decorated chapel, he sits between a pair of yaksha (mythical giants, of course) who stand sentry over this 18-inch frame. Three times a year, he gets a visit from the current king, who gives him a little wardrobe change. With each passing season — hot, cool and rainy — the Emerald Buddha gets new royal robes.  Continue reading Photo book: 15 Stunning Reasons Why to Temple Hop in Bangkok

Photo book: 13 pictures to inspire a motorcycle trip around Nha Trang, Vietnam

Nha Trang — an area that was once a simple settlement of a few small fishing villages — is rowdy. Though its beginnings were modest, vacation goers couldn’t shake the affect of the seas siren song, and soon the stunning bay and white sand beaches were home to stripped beach towels in bold hues, swanky resorts, and Speedo clad Russians partaking in a multi-city cruises and sweating beer buckets. Once the sun goes down, vacationers retreat from the beach to luxe restaurants or clubs with the music turned up so loud the sidewalk vibrates and beer pong cup make a wobbly run for the border.

But, if shooters and Speedos aren’t your thing, you can do like we did and get a couple motorbikes to cruise around the neighboring villages. Just outside of the city limits, the raw countryside resumes. There you’ll find sweet old woman parked in plastic chairs facing the bay where their menfolk are out harvesting their living on Crayola-colored boats, hikes ending in glorious multi-tiered waterfalls, and little roadside stands specialize in fresh seafood dishes (like the seafood fried rice pictured below!).

Continue reading Photo book: 13 pictures to inspire a motorcycle trip around Nha Trang, Vietnam