Sunday, April 8, 2012

Seven Super Shots (I Got Tagged!)

One of the advantages of traveling nowadays is that you can choose to be connected all the time. And when you stay connected when you travel, you will most likely encounter the great travel community online, spearheaded by travel bloggers, tour booking agencies, and other like-minded individuals hell-bent on inspiring and encouraging you to explore the world around you. Another advantage, of course, is that you get to participate in fun games like this one!

Seven Super Shots was started by Hostelbookers, my online go-to for finding the best budget accommodations wherever I am in the world. And no, they did not pay me to write that. It just became second-nature to me to check and book my hostels through them. Based on my experience, the hostels and guesthouses recommended there are better than those in some of the most popular guidebooks. Trust me on that.

But let's get back to the game. Having been tagged by the lovely Tom from, an English expat writing all about his life as an English teacher in South Korea, please allow me to share my Seven Super Shots with you all.

1. A Photo That Takes My Breath Away

Puntod Island, Bohol
Puntod Island, Bohol, Philippines

Does anyone notice the date stamp on the watermark? Yes, I took that picture almost four years ago. I did not have my own camera then. I basically hijacked the point and shoot camera of a friend I was traveling with and never gave it back until the trip was over. It was one of the first trips I have ever taken (my first plane ride, in fact) and the photo still takes my breath away. The photo is a shot of Puntod Island in Bohol, Philippines. It was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen in my life. And that truth holds to this day.

See Related Posts:
7 of the Most Beautiful Virgin Beaches of the Philippines
Best of Bohol, Philippines
5 Unmissable Travel Experiences in the Philippines

2. A Photo That Makes Me Laugh or Smile

McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, India
Playful kids in McLeodganj, Dharamsala, India

McLeodganj, a tiny Tibetan township up in the foothills of the Himalayas in Dharamsala, India, was one of the places I found myself in when I started my very big trip around Asia. And I did not even plan on going there! On our way to the Tsuglagkhang Monastery, I saw those two kids in the photo playing and goofing around in a little shack beside the road while their mom was doing her daily chores. I love how coy and genuine the smile of that younger kid is. It reminds me of the many smiles we received from the gentle Tibetans living in exile in that tiny town in northern India.

See Related Posts:
Finding Tibet in Dharamsala, India
Keeping a Candle Burning for Tibet: the Norbulingka Institute
How to See the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala

3. A Photo That Makes Me Dream

Bayon Temple, Angkor, Cambodia

In many ways, this photo that I took of one of the many structures in the vast temple complex of Angkor, Cambodia, is really one of the photos that made me want to travel more. After that trip, it made me dream of having a life on the road, a life where travel occupies me 24/7. That dream has become a reality, I am glad to say. So I look back at all my photos from this specific trip, this trip to Cambodia that I did a few years back, with a very specific fondness.

See Related Posts:
Cambodia: The Heart of Angkor
Cambodia: Angkor's Royal Foundations
Cambodia: Siem Reap's Night Life

4. A Photo That Makes Me Think

Sundays at the Temple of Heaven
Old-timer tells his life story, Temple of Heaven, Beijing, China

When we went to the Temple of Heaven, one of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Beijing, China, we were not expecting we were about to look into the daily lives of common Beijing-ers going about a leisurely Sunday in the big capital city. People were playing Chinese chess, gambling with playing cards, dancing to keep warm, rehearsing with their choir, and in the case of this man, telling his life story to all those eager to hear it. At least that's what I think. I do not speak Chinese. But it made me think of what could he be telling his big very captive audience. Was he sharing the secrets of the universe, as the Chinese saw it? Was he telling them the story of a long-lost love? Was he a war hero regaling people with tales of a time gone by? I don't know. I guess I will never know.

See Related Posts:
China: Beijing, Temple of Heaven
China: Beijing, Forbidden City
China: Great Wall at Mutianyu

5. A Photo That Makes My Mouth Water

Bale Well, Hoi An, Vietnam
A most interesting food experience in Hoi An, Vietnam

Alright, so that is five shots stitched together in one. In my defense, it's one dish. Oh make no mistake about it, that is just one dish. It's grilled pork skewers, twice-fried spring roll, Vietnamese pancake, fresh greens, and coleslaw, wrapped all together in rice paper dipped in a rich peanut sauce. Gees! Just writing about it makes my mouth water! If you do find yourself in the charming town of Hoi An in Central Vietnam, do yourself a favor and head over to Bale Well restaurant. That whole dish cost me a mere 5 USD. Better to eat the dish with a few people. It was so good but the serving was so huge I wasn't able to finish it all!

See Related Posts:
My Top 7 Vietnamese Food Faves
Vietnam: Surviving Saigon
Vietnam: Sights in Saigon

6. A Photo That Tells a Story

Varanasi, India
Old couple in the middle of their morning routine, Varanasi, India

If you have been to Varanasi, India, you know that that place forces you face death right in the face. This city and its dizzying maze of alleys and side streets which all opens up to the staircases on the banks of the River Ganges, reek of religion and holiness, not to mention a heady mix of dizzying incense, cow dung, and burning flesh. It can all get too overwhelming. And yet, if you take a morning stroll there (something I highly recommend), you will see that life goes on there as it has for many, many years. The photo is of a beautiful old couple starting their day with a wash in the river, their morning reads, and, of course, breakfast, a routine I reckon they do every single day of their lives.

See Related Posts:
The Cold, Clammy Hands of the Man from Varanasi
Photos from the Holiest of Holiest Places in India: Varanasi
India's Monument to Love: The Taj Mahal

7. A Photo I Am Most Proud Of (a.k.a. my worthy of National Geographic shot)

Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nepal
Trekkers make their way down the Annapurna Sanctuary, 4100 meters high up in the Nepal Himalayas

It will be presumptuous of me to declare any of my photos Nat Geo-worthy. Pretending I know their standards, however, then I would choose this one photo to be it. The photo was taken on the seventh day of our trek to the base camp of the 10th highest mountain in the world, Annapurna I. The base camp is located in the middle of a valley surrounded by the snowy peaks of the high Himalayas, a 360-degree view of white mountains. Hence, the name of the trek: the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek. After seven back-breaking and knee-shaking days of climbing up and down the trail, we had finally entered the sanctuary towards our final stop for the trek. It was a beautiful, beautiful moment, made even more so by the views we were rewarded with.

See Related Posts:
Trek to the Annapurna Himalayas in Nepal: The Trek (Part 1)
Trek to the Annapurna Himalayas in Nepal: The Trek (Part 2)
Trek to the Annapurna Himalayas in Nepal: Preparations

There you have it: my Seven Super Shots. At this point, the game says I have to nominate five people. And what better people, I think, to share their travel photos than these awesome fellow Pinoy travelers:

Flip of
Nina of
Marky of
Gay of
Lois & Chichi of

Have I chosen the right photos for this game, you think? Any particular photo that struck you the same way it did me?

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