Sunday, January 5, 2014

21 Memorable Travel Photos from 2013

All this time, I kept thinking 2013 was a mellow year for me in terms of the amount of travels that I did. Really, for the better part of the year, I mostly just stayed put, working (well, more like trying) to build a career in travel writing and to earn a living in freelancing. Only now when I look back on all of my photos from 2013 do I realize that I had it all wrong. I traveled a surprising amount still. That's good, right?

Here are my top picks for 2013, the most memorable photos I took in the year that was.

Mount Pulag, Philippines
Having trekked to above 2,900 meters above sea level and having withstood near freezing winds, I witnessed the sunrise in the Philippines' third highest peak: Mount Pulag.

Related Post: Mount Pulag and the Joys of Trekking

Big Lagoon, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
It is easy to see why the Big Lagoon in El Nido, Palawan is often found in tourism billboards and posters promoting the Philippines. It is the perfect picture of tropical paradise.

Related Post: Guide to Traveling to El Nido, Philippines

View from above Matinloc Shrine, El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
A highlight of my trip to El Nido, Palawan is climbing up the few steps to a precipitous clifftop to get this view of Matinloc Island and Tapiutan Strait.

Related Post: Seven Travel Highlights of El Nido, Philippines

Calatagan, Batangas
Two things. One, after a long time, my family (extended family at that) finally mustered the will to forgo our usual summer vacation spot in Silang, Cavite and head to the beach in Calatagan, Batangas. Two, I did not realize how beautiful Calatagan was, and it is only three-hour drive from the chaos and congestion of Manila!

Busacalan, Kalinga, Philippine Cordilleras
At 93, Whang Od is the last in the Kalinga hill tribes who practices the ancient art of batok (tattooing). She lives in the relatively remote village of Buscalan in the Kalinga highlands of the Philippine Cordilleras.

Related Post: A Day in the Village of the Last Tattoo Artist of the Kalinga

Busacalan, Kalinga, Philippine Cordilleras
Enduring buses, jeepneys, and mountain trails, we finally reached the village of Buscalan to see Whang Od. We also saw a whole different world, seemingly unchanged for years, in the remote mountains of Kalinga.

Related Post: Dangerous Roads and Chicken Buses in the Philippine Cordilleras

Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Sagada, Philippine Cordilleras
The Church of St. Mary the Virgin is a Protestant Church in Sagada, a small town in the Philippine Cordilleras that is popular with adventure-seeking tourists.

Related Post: Photos from the Mountain Town of Sagada in the Philippine Cordilleras

Binondo, Manila's Chinatown, Philippines
Dōng běi dumplings are boiled, a cooking method from China's northeast (dōng běi in Mandarin), the historic Manchuria region. The dish is a curious and delicious discovery in my own city's Chinatown: Binondo.

Related Post: Food Tour of Manila Chinatown

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
By mid-2013, I finally traveled outside of my country again. I transited in Singapore (no surprises there) and made a bee line for its newest impressive attraction: the Supertrees of the Gardens by the Bay.

Chai Tow Kway (Carrot Cake), Singapore
Singapore's chai tow kway, or carrot cake, is made from coagulated rice flour and radish, minced, and stir-fried with soy sauce. I was introduced to this delicious dish by a friend I visited in Singapore and I am so grateful.

Related Post: Where I Do a 180 and Declare My Love for Singapore and My New Singapore Food Favorites

Istiqlal Mosque, Central Jakarta, Indonesia
Located in the center of the Indonesian capital Jakarta, the Istiqlal Mosque is the largest mosque in Southeast Asia, a huge structure befitting the largest Muslim country in the world.

Related Post: Jakarta: Where First Impressions Do Not Last

Kawah Putih, Bandung, West Java, Indonesia
The eerie, teal-colored crater lake of Kawah Putih located south of Bandung in West Java, Indonesia.

Related Post: A Photographers' Trek to the Eerie Crater Lake of Kawah Putih

Borobudur, Magelang, Indonesia
The sun rises over the volcanic peaks of Central Java, the cultural heartland of the Javanese, where the ancient Buddhist temple of Borobudur is found. As glorious as sunrises get.

Related Post: Catching the Sunrise in the Ancient Temple of Borobudur

Malang, East Java, Indonesia
Malang is a breezy old Dutch colonial outpost surrounded by the mountains of East Java, Indonesia. It has that unhurried, laid back feel no longer present in many of Indonesia's chaotic cities.

Related Post: Photos from the Breezy and Laidback City of Malang in East Java

Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, Indonesia
The vast crater of the Tengger Massif contains a volcanic system which includes the constantly smoldering Mount Bromo. The trip up here was one of my best memories of 2013.

Related Post: The Road Less Traveled to Mount Bromo from Malang

People spill out onto the streets outside the mosque on Idul Fitri (End of Ramadan) in Bondowoso, Indonesia
People spill out onto the streets outside the central mosque in Bondowoso, East Java. Witnessing and taking part in the End of Ramadan celebrations is an experience I will always be grateful to have had.

Related Post: Ramadan and Celebrating the Breaking of the Fast in the Largest Muslim Country in the World

Kawah Ijen, East Java, Indonesia
The open sulfur mines of Kawah Ijen crater lake in East Java, Indonesia burn bright blue at night.

Related Post: The Amount of Crazy to Get to the Blue Flames of Kawah Ijen

Uluwatu Beach, Bali, Indonesia
A relaxing late afternoon is best spent doing nothing in Uluwatu Beach in Bali, Indonesia.

Related Post: Photos from That One Beautiful Day in Bali

Aside from the destinations above, I also traveled to a couple of places last year, places I have yet to write about in this travel blog. I will, of course, in the first few months of this new year, in fact. As a teaser though, here are a few of my favorite photos from those two trips.

Lebuh Chulia Night Market, Penang, Malaysia
The nightly food market along Lebuh Chulia in foodie wonderland Penang, Malaysia features delicious Penang staples like curry noodles (pictured), wanton noodles, satay, and many others.

Penang, Malaysia
The old colonial structures of Penang, Malaysia light up during the golden hour. The setting of the tropical sun here is nothing short of magical really.

Huangshan, Anhui, China
My most memorable trip of 2013 actually took place in the final days of that year and it happened to coincide with my birthday. Quite the sight, isn't it? That is Huangshan in Anhui, China. Story and photos soon!

What are your most memorable trips of 2013?

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