Home DESTINATION My Top 15 Travel Photos for 2015 (A year ender post)

My Top 15 Travel Photos for 2015 (A year ender post)

by Simon Gonzaga January 24, 2016 0 comment
15for2015

 

Just when everybody’s done with their first trip for 2016 and on the planning stage for the next one, here I am just about to finish my year-end post for 2015. For people asking why it’s been months since I had my last post, here’s your answer – I’ve been on a serious hiatus the last quarter of last year, travel wise, weekend parties, and meetups on the metro which led me to leave my “blogger” hat behind and just lazed around on my free time. In short, I’m just being a lazy couch potato.

But all is good, I assume. I’m working on the travel backlogs so I can feature them soon, some new ideas and big plans for this year and I’m really hoping to beef up this little virtual space with quality photos and helpful posts, hopefully. One of my goals is not to be my “2015-self” in terms of being a virtual ambassador of travel, so I’ll be focusing on transforming this page to an extra notch in the next couple of months.

So to finally bring this little brainchild of mine back to life, here’s to relieving 2015 on a different way compared to my past year-ender posts of travel stats and destination listecle. I’ve curated 15 of my favorite travel photos from last year with a little bit of story telling as a caption. To be honest, 2015 isn’t my most traveled year. But the experiences, the people I met, the second times, the reunions, and the new countries made it a special one, a year that’s definitely worth remembering.

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(JJ’s Backpacker, San Juan, Siquijor) This backpacker hostel is one of my favorites in terms of location. I mean, for the price of a double room of 10USD, this is definitely a steal, right? There’s nothing spectacular about the hostel itself, a fan room on a bamboo hut, with limited showers for the guests, wifi isn’t free and the list goes on. But for obvious reasons, the stunning beachfront totally made it for us. It was the paradise I was expecting to experience in Siquijor after a day of driving with our mopeds around the island. I was so drawn into the hammock in between two tall palm tree which also turned out to be the one of the best places to spend your time doing nothing aside from gazing through the visually appealing and tempting clear waters. The vibe is too perfect for me to think about anything, we just lazed around for days like a topnotch Rastafarian who got his days off from the corporate race.

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(Inle Lake, Myanmar) Inle lake brought a different flavor to our almost 2-week excursion in Burma. Some of you have read about our experience, that we only stayed on this region literally for 12 hours. We arrived early in the morning, had our breakfast at the guesthouse with a view of a misty flat land of greens on the distance, got ourselves a boat guide and zoomed in to start the lake tour. Inle lake is famous for the Fisherman’s distinct style of fishing, I’ve taken a couple of snaps but this one, for some reason, became my favorite. The lake itself isn’t stunning, it was misty yet the breeze was cold until it became too hot after a couple of hours. We visited all the major tourist hotspot on the lake, met a Filipina solo traveler on one of the floating restaurants, and basically zoomed our way from one stop to another. 

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(U-Bein Bridge, Mandalay, Myanmar)  I remember our driver asked us if we wanted to visit the U-Bein bridge after spending a day through the mountain region of Northern Myanmar. Being a sucker for sundown sessions, we said yes even if it involves additional payment for the car rental. We arrived in the area on a perfect time before the sun goes out. It was packed destination, as you’re surrounded by an array of sense evoking experiences. Visiting this place on summer time will be hard if you’re the kind of person who needs to find your own packet of solace before you fully enjoy the experience. The countless cars parked, the crowd of multinational travelers crossing the bridge, the local touts on all areas, the trance feeling of the traditional dance music that’s being played while a local performs infront a herd of curious tourists, they’re all part of the spectacle on a peak season for this destination. But we found our own place, below the bridge, where the sun perfectly sets and makes the human silhouettes as it fold into darkness. This shot is a perfect representation of that moment where we found our own space, just to observe everything, for everything needs to sink in.

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(El Nido, Palawan)  El Nido is my happy place, a real life paradise for wandering humans, a landscape like no other where nights are spent on a sea side reggae bar and mornings on island excursions or rough rode moped trips. This shot was taken during the island hopping, somewhere in the middle of two tropical kissed islands where we had our short stop probably for lunch or a snorkeling session. It’s worth mentioning that that I took hundreds of burst shots to get five of these ‘half’ shots. This one perfectly sums up that day on the island, that transparent calm ocean that’s amazing to swim in, and that clear blue sky across the peninsula. Such a day.

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(Kyaukme Station, Myanmar) It was that day when we decided to experience the creaking sound of the train, the slow ass motion on dry curves overlooking the vast land on a summer season. There’s nothing to do on the train berth, the carts are old, the seats are covered in plastic, and gazing over the scenery became your soul reliever of boredom. The sole reason why we decided to undergo this ride is to see the one of the famous gems of Myanmar – the Gokteik Viaduct. As for the girl on the photo, when we’re about to cross the bridge, we passed by a tunnel which caused a few seconds of rambling in darkness. I  was already on my feet when we entered the tunnel so I scrambled trying to hold on headrests so I won’t stumble. But after a few steps, I touched a girls head instead of a headrest. I was able to reach my seat before the light came back but then the girl’s already looking for the person who touched her. The “big time” guy seated on the opposite row told the girl I was the one. She just stared at me for a bit and laugh. I smiled and said sorry as well.

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(New Bagan, Bagan, Myanmar) Right after experiencing one of the most stunning sunrises I’ve seen, we rode our electric bikes and find our way to a local place to eat. Maggie, a Malaysian lady who’s working at the hostel decided to lead the way on finding a place to get our breakfast. We stumbled on a small hut beside the road, surrounded by trees and a couple of pagodas, with a couple of families sitting and having their breakfast. It turned out to be a really local experience. It was a typical small eatery that serves noodles, hot instant coffee, and a fresh coconut juice on the side. During the meal, we saw a line of young monks heading towards the eatery. I knew it was the daily alms ritual, a Buddhism ritual that I’ve first seen in Luang Prabang Laos. 

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(Lazi, Siquijor) We were heading back to the hostel after our surprise visit at the small clinic in the town of Lazi when we passed by an area where a vast rice field on the right and towering palm trees on the left. I was driving the scooter that time, a friend’s riding with me at the back while 2 of our unfortunate friends who got into an accident  who can no longer ride the scooter were in the tricycle before us. I decided to stop by for some snaps. This one of the reasons why I love siquijor, it’s a small quirky town blessed with a handful of natural spots often skipped by local and foreign travelers due to the hearsay about the island’s black magic history. The perfect way to discover the island is to rent your own scooters, plan your day driving around the island on a long flat road sandwiched by tropical sceneries on both sides,

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(Nawnpeng Station, Myanmar) The thing that fascinates me about this leg, aside from the totally surreal train crossing experience, is the time we spent during train stops. Somehow, the stops turned out to be picture perfect destinations, with some pretty interesting sights focusing on local commuter’s day to day living. It gave us the time to go out of the train, interact with the locals, and soak up the moment. A stop over in Nawnpeng Station left us with some really interesting photographs. There were a lot of sellers walking past through both trains, waiting patiently for travelers on the windows to ask for their items. I went out, stood in the middle of two old train carts, and waited for scenarios that are worth taking.

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(El Nido, Philippines) Being able to do the same exact island hopping excursion on El nido is something that still interests me to this date. It was the same islands, the same tourqouise waters and the same karst landscapes. However, like what happens on the road, the group of people that I’ve met and traveled with totally changed the experience. That trip became a starting point to achieve my goals, that conversation on the beach made me to become reflective of my thoughts, that connection I had with strangers are like the icing on that trip. It was that time that I’ve found the most amazing set of human beings on the road. The people who I’m looking forward to meet again, the people that I felt the hunger to learn more, and the people that made the two way connection so damn worth it. 

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(Schwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar) As I said on my post about Yangon, grand is an understatement on how beautiful this place is. The massive structure is definitely stunning, the outer covering of gold, diamonds and rubies add up to the glamour for this religious structure. The area is full of Monks, Buddhists, devotees, local and foreign travelers wandering on the compound with heavy cameras strapped on their neck  After spending quite a good time wandering on the area, you’ll find yourself sitting somewhere, beside a monk, a local family, or perhaps another tourist also waiting for the Pagoda to light up and glitters itself to gold. The entire experience is definitely one for the books, the though t of having to visit one of the world’s best is already worth it.

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(San Juan, Siquijior) It was our second day on the island, we decided to finally do the rounds  on the island with our trusty mopeds. Me with my friend were the first ones to arrived on Salagdoong beach together with Claudio(The Swiss guy we met at the hostel) and Claudio(Swiss guy). We were checking out the spots, the cliff dive spot to be specific, when I got a call from our friends. It was a bad news. They got into an accident and needed to go to the nearest clinic on the next town. Nothing serious happened aside from the scratches, cuts and scrapes on lots of parts of their body. It turned out to be a bloody afternoon. We decided to head back to the hostel to clean up the wounds, freshen up, and wait for the sunset. “Never waste any amount of time doing anything important when there is a sunset outside that you should be sitting under!” – This quote perfectly represent this photo after a long day of small town clinic visits and seeing your friend scream from pain. We were able to cope up that day with the help of beers and the view you’re seeing on the photo. I saw my friend smiling while he waits for the sunset, with a bottle of san miguel on the left hand, and an arm full of bandages on the other one. 

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(Bagan, Myanmar) One of those rare moments when the simplicity of a natural occurrence blows you away. A trip to an ancient town of Bagan isn’t complete without catching a glimpse of the first rays of the sun over the golden land that houses the ancient pagodas. We woke up late that morning, I remember. A Malaysian fellow joined us to climb one of the hidden spots for witnessing such stunner. It was a rather slow and mishap-full trip going to our chosen spot, accidents were involved, flat tires, and first-time-to-ride-a-bike kind of situations. But It didn’t bother us, even though we ran our asses off to the top of the Pagoda while blood flows on a fellow’s knee. It was pure adrenaline, excitement and whatnot. And then we arrived at the top, it was stunning. It’s a view that will literally blow you away. One of those times where such tranquility can make you tear up, perhaps it’ll arise your reflective thinking while you stare at the hot air balloon on the horizon, slowly crossing  your direct vision of the sunrise making a silhouette on the sky. I’ve taken a few hundred shots for this occasion, yet I chose this one. this might not be the best shot I have but probably one of my favorite from that trip.

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(U-Story Guesthouse, Siquijor) We stumbled upon this shangrila on the end of a dirt road in Siquijor. I discovered this place online, wanting to checkout several new restaurants on the island that has popped out since my last visit 2 years ago. After the flat driveway, we turned left to a dirt road, anxiously thinking whether the place is worth it or not. When we arrived, we immediately found our own scoop of relaxation on bean bags and soft cushions around the restaurant. It was the homiest restaurant I’ve been too, rustic and the food’s a bit past on the cheap side but definitely good. Few steps would bring you to the million dollar spot, a couple of sunbeds scattered on the cliff side overlooking the horizon with stunning hues of blues and greens. It was a worth it destination, there were only us and another trio travelers who doesn’t want to get out on the sun so technically, we had the whole outdoor area to ourselves. It was the perfect spot to laze your ass down, grab your rhum-cola, play some tropical beats and wait for the sundown. Such a bliss!

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(Bagan, Myanmar) The blazing temperature mornings in Bagan, made 4’oclock in the afternoon a perfect time to roam on the vast land without being burnt too much. After countless discoveries, we found ourselves, yet again, on the top of another Pagoda in front of the most visited pagoda where we saw a full packed view point. We also spotted, on the distance, some several little pagodas where small groups of people also decided to watch the sunset. And yes, we found our own place too, together with several strangers, we’re all united on finding our own area of peace with a perfect sight of the main event on a touristy place like Bagan. After seeing this shot, I remembered why this is one of my favorites from the trip. The last few rays of the sun splashed a stunning hues of Red and gold on the area making it an awesome scenario to end the day.

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(Batad Rice Terraces, Banaue) I joined my friend my friend for a sudden weekend trip up north. Our destination was Batad, we left the crazy Manila-Friday traffic past 10 that night on a 10 hour ride to the Banaue. Since I’ve started traveling last 2012, I’ve been on the Mountain Province for 3 times yet never setting a foot in Batad. We usually spent a few hours in Banaue, got ourselves some breakfast before we head on a 3 hour windy ride to Sagada. The place is definitely satisfying to the eyes, it may not be the harvest season where sprouts of green are on display, but the view that welcomed us is stunning. Having to see it for the first time brought back the feeling of being stunned by the sheer beauty of such destination. The guy on this photo is our guide. Before we got into the van, he politely asked me if he can squeeze in as he’s also heading to Batad, only to find out that he’s a local himself. I asked the people from the van and we all agreed to let him join us as there are still some places left for him to sit. Few conversations after, we decided to get him as our guide for the day. He’s a good old fella, a true blue local preservationist who just happen to welcome tourists and impart knowledge and northern wisdom to all travelers. 

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