Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Why I Travel: Year 2012 in Photos

It's the first day of 2013 and it seems right to start a new tradition of rounding up my favorite photos from the year that was. Besides, I have already written a rather passionate and, some would say, heartfelt year-end post, which coincidentally is also a birthday post: Why I Travel and Why I Traveled This 2012. I thought I deserved to have it easy on this one and present each month of the past year in photos, photos which categorically and oftentimes colorfully told me why I travel.

January: Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

Taken in the prettiest little town in Southeast Asia that is Hoi An, this portrait, my favorite one of all, reminds me of the sweet and gentle ways of the people of Central Vietnam. Special thanks to Monette of Flip'n Travels who had to buy a souvenir item from this Vietnamese lady for me to be able to have a minute with her and her sweet smile.

February: Yunnan, Southwest China

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Yunnan, China

It is when geology and geography intersect with the history and cultures of human civilizations that I am most amazed at the world. Yunnan province in Southwest China showed me exactly that. That is why it is the one highlight of my 2012 travels. The photo is that of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain viewed from the high trail of the Tiger Leaping Gorge. I shall be blogging about this place in the coming weeks. Finally!

March: Malacca

Malacca, Malacca

Though I loved the cool, temperate climes of Southwest China in February, it was time to head back to the tropics. Upon landing in Malaysia, I adapted quickly to the humid heat while exploring the Red Square and beautiful old town of Malacca. How could I not? The place is historic, colorful, and laid-back. Perfect combination in my book.

April: Songkran

Songkran 2012 in Chiang Mai, Thailand

The Songkran Water Festival is the first of the two festivals in Thailand I was to attend in 2012. I celebrated it in the city I chose to get serious with my digital nomad life. Chiang Mai in northern Thailand became my chosen base last year and as a welcome, the city exploded in an all-out water war.

May: Calaguas Island

Calaguas, Camarines Norte

I returned back home for the summer and it ain't summer in the Philippines without a trip to the beach. And for better or worse, Filipino travelers have very high standards for what makes a perfect beach. Fortunately, we have virgin beaches like the ones in Calaguas Island. Throw in good friends and fresh fish cooked in an open pit and you have yourself a winning summer.

June: Life in Chiang Mai

Digital Nomad Life, Thailand

Though it may not win any photography contests, this is one of my favorite photos from last year. Taken on the balcony, which often served as my office, right outside my apartment in Chiang Mai, this photo marked the beginning of something I had been aiming for—a travel-filled lifestyle with a career as a digital nomad.

July: Sticky Waterfalls

Capture the Colour: Green at the Sticky Waterfall, Thailand

The opportunity to meet new people and make new friends is one of the advantages of living in a new city. In the case of Chiang Mai, this also means getting to explore some pretty scenic spots in Northern Thailand. This spot in particular is the Sticky Waterfall found a few hours outside Chiang Mai. It's sticky because the rocks here have a bit of traction from the minerals deposited by the water.

August: Wandering in Wats

Wat Lok Molee, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Living anywhere in Thailand, you will not be able to escape these beautifully designed temples dotting every street corner. One of my favorites wats in Chiang Mai is Wat Lok Molee. It's historic, containing relics from the family of the great King Mengrai of the Lanna Kingdom, and particularly lovely at night.

September: Neo-Gothic Philippines

San Sebastian Basilica, Manila, Philippines

I was back home again and this time to see two good old friends finally tie the knot. Beautiful wedding set in a beautiful neo-gothic steel church. The Basilica of Saint Sebastian was built in 1891 with designs from famous architect Gustav Eiffel himself as well as Spanish architect, Genaro Palacios.

October: Halong Bay, Part Deux

Halong Bay, Vietnam

It was a very sad time for the family as we had unexpectedly lost one of ours. It's never easy, but life does move on. I continued my travels in Northern Vietnam, my second time in the region. Weather was a lot better and though Halong Bay may not be to my absolute liking, I cannot deny that beautiful photographs are easy to create in a place as picturesque.

November: Yi Peng Lanna Lantern Festival

Yi Peng Lantern Festival 2012, Chiang Mai, Thailand

The annual simultaneous release of sky lanterns during the Yi Peng Lanna Lantern Festival moves people to tears. It almost did me. It was one of the most magical nights I have ever had in my life. I am very glad to have witnessed the Yi Peng and Loy Krathong Festivals first-hand. I reckon it will not be the last ones I attend.

December: Mae Hong Son

Mae Hong Son Mountains, Thailand

The year was winding down and I was heading home yet again for the holidays. Not without one jaunt into the mountains of Northern Thailand. I went deeper this time to a small place called Pang Mapha, which has quickly become my most favorite spot in all of Thailand. The place has mountains, ethnic peoples, the clearest night sky, and cozy mountain lodges. To me, it does not get any better than that. (Photos and stories to come!)

The year that was 2012 was very good to me. Sure. There were rough times, times when I really thought I will not be able to pull things off, times when I came this close to packing up and heading home. But I powered through them and tried my darnest to establish the digital nomad life I had long wanted. And here I am still. Goals for this digital nomad career and for this travel-filled lifestyle have been set. I am claiming it: this year, 2013, is going to be way even better.

Care to share the best photos you took in 2012? Where did you take them?

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