2013 was a year when I got to visit Taj Mahal, see the Himalayas at sunrise, hike Mt Pulag in the Philippines and traveled with very little money in Scandinavia. While no travel ever goes perfectly well, sometimes it’s those imperfections, misadventures and challenges that you encounter along the way that makes traveling more fun and memorable. As I was selecting my favorite travel photos for this blog entry, I realized that beyond the aesthetic qualities of the picture itself, it’s the emotions captured and the memories evoked by the photos that give them a special place in my heart. So here are my favorite travel photos and reasons why I like them.
1. Old couple at Kaivopuisto Park, Helsinki
Because I’m a hopeless romantic.
My friend and I were just walking aimlessly in Helsinki without any real itinerary when we came across hot air balloons being inflated at Kaivopuisto Park, so we decided to just sit on one of the benches and watch. A few minutes later we saw this senior couple watching, arm in arm, as if it was their first date. Makes me wonder what their love story was.
2. Mail boxes in Bakka, Aurland, Norway
Because writing and sending letters the traditional way are now a novelty (plus I like the contrast of colors in this photo).
While hiking from Gudvangen to Rimstigen, I saw this in Bakka, a tiny village in the municipality of Aurland, Norway.
3. Sculpture of a couple in Vigelandsparken, Oslo, Norway
Because I love how this sculpture is able to convey the emotion of two persons in love (and how the clouds helped create an even more dramatic mood.)
I imagine the old couple in photo #1 looking like this when they were younger.
4. Happy kids in Nagarkot, Nepal
Because their smiles remind you that happiness is a matter of perspective.
5. The delayed train that we almost missed in Agra, India
Because we met angels on earth while stranded for more than five hours at the Agra Train Station.
Our trip in India was a memorable one for us. We got scammed. We were stalked. We got stranded for several hours at the train station, causing us to miss our flight Back to Singapore. In the midst of these misfortunes, we met and Indian father and daughter who befriended us while stranded at the train station. They made sure we got seats on this train (it appears that the tickets we got were for “chance” passengers and the conductor questioned our tickets), that we won’t get scammed anymore, and that we reach our hotel in Delhi as safely as possible. If not for them, we would have been kicked out of the train and that is certainly not a good idea when you are in what has been labeled by the media as “rape capital of the world”.
6. Bhaktapur back street
Because you get to see how the locals really live.
Traveling to Nepal will get you all templed out if you only visit the usual tourists spots. A tour of Bhaktapur’s back alleys provided the needed break for my eyes and has given me a more insightful cultural experience of this ancient town. As we went into one of the back streets, I took a snap of a group of local women doing their morning routine while enjoying a chat with their neighbors around their communal well.
7. Sunrise at Mt. Pulag, Philippines
Because I was able to do two things that I love, all at the same time: hiking and watching sunrise.
Mt Pulag is Luzon’s highest peak and the Philippines’ second highest. I’ve seen photos of it many times before from other websites and vowed to climb it someday. That someday happened in February 2013. Though I got body aches from climbing it, they were nothing next to this view. Definitely worth it.
8. Bicycle guy in Oslo, Norway
Because he’s hip and good-looking.
Oh Mr Bicycle Guy, stop teasing me with your street chic look or the fact that you managed to look effortlessly hot with one hand holding the phone and the other hand holding on to the lamp post. Call me, maybe?
9. On top of Mt. Ulriken, Bergen, Norway
Because it feels like I’m on top of the world.
And obviously, I’m having fun.
10. Selfie, nature and reflections
Because it seems we’re one with nature.
Took this photo outside Voss public library. It is interesting to see things from outside (the clouds, the mountain, the lake, the greenery and us!) seem to merge with the things inside (books in the library).
11. Sunrise at the Himalayas
Because I never thought I’d see the Himalayas.
The view at sunrise is just breathtaking.
12. Eensy, weensy spider at Gudvangen Camp, Gudvangen, Norway
Because even a spider can teach us about simplicity, hard work and persistence.
Saw this at our camp site after returning from our Rimstigen hike. After appreciating the beauty of bigger aspects of nature (i.e. the fjords), seeing this tiny insect struggling to survive after the rain made me realize that we also need to appreciate the small things in life.
13. Kjosfossen waterfall in Aurland, Norway
Because it just looks ethereal.
14. The amazing view that we almost missed in Rimstigen, Norway
Because the view is breathtaking.
We almost missed seeing this view because of several hurdles along the way, one of which involved some horned goats.
15. Eating ice cream in Stockholm even if we were broke
Because it kept our sanity.
As I’ve already written about in my earlier blog entry, we had little money during our Scandinavian trip because my friend lost all her money to pickpockets. That didn’t stop us from having the “luxury” of eating ice cream. Yummy!
16. Central Station, Oslo Norway
Because God is good, and life is fantastic despite its ups and downs.