Welcome to Thailand! On this trip, we take the Phuket Ferry to the Phi Phi Islands, a magical group of islands about two hours off the coast. The beaches include Koh Phi Phi Don and Koh Phi Phi Leh islands, which have turquoise waters, sheer green cliffs, and some of the best snorkeling in the world. It looks like paradise. Here's how to photograph these beautiful islands.
Behind the scenes vlog:
First, we board the ferry around 9am which takes us on a scenic ride to the Phi Phi Islands. We dock off coast of Monkey Beach off of Ko Phi Phi Don to go snorkeling. Our boat provided the snorkel gear and I brought my GoPro. We dive into the underwater adventure and see the best coral reefs and sea life, like parrot fish.
Here's what to bring to get those amazing underwater and aerial shots:
View of the longtail boats from monkey beach:
Time to dive in! View from the waters of Phi Phi Islands:
Next, we go to Monkey Beach where we see mischievous monkeys grabbing tourist's items, like sunglasses, beer, and more! Here is the view from the water looking towards Monkey Beach (shot with GoPro).
We get back on the boat to visit Krabi beach, where we go swimming in the warm waters. Then it's time to head back to Phuket!
Phuket Ferry Schedule:
Phi Phi Island Boat Tour:
What are your favorite places in Thailand to go snorkeling? Comment below!
Welcome to Angkor Wat! In this travel vlog, we take a guided tour of the ancient temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia and photograph the temple. Like most magnificent sights, we were not the only ones there. In fact, crowds can reach the thousands during this time. So be sure to come prepared. Here is how to photograph the temple like a pro.
Behind the scenes video:
When to go:
September or March, which are the vernal and autumnal equinoxes. At this time, the sun lines up directly above the central pinnacle of Angkor Wat, a estimate to the genius architecture.
First, we get up at 4:45 am to buy our ticket to the temple, which is $36 for a one day pass and $62 for a three day pass. At 5 am, we reach the temple. You can get to the temple via tuk tuk, taxi, or bike.
Here is the scene when we arrived:
Camera Set Up:
First, make sure your DSLR lens does not fog from the humidity. It took me about 15 minutes for the humidity on my lens to dissipate. I set up my tripod and filmed a time-lapse photo of the glorious sunrise. Be sure to get in the front row for optimal viewing.
Where to set up your camera:
Set your camera up on the west or north sides of the temple next to the outer moat (see pin drops below). You can also cross the moat and set up next to the "Libraries" where you will find an interior reflective pool. This area is much more crowded, so be sure to get there early.
View from the West side of the outer moat. The temple looks more distant, but I got an unobstructed view with no people or scaffolding in the shot.
View from the interior pool near the "Libraries". The temple is closer in view and the colors change every few minutes.
Here is what to bring:
I just returned from a whirlwind trip to Indonesia. It was my first time to Southeast Asia and I wasn't sure what to expect. My interest in Indonesia started when I saw photos of Borobudur. It looked as grandiose as Bagan or Angkor Wat, although I had never met anyone who had actually been there. It looked so exotic - the largest Buddhist temple in the middle of a jungle landscape filled with volcanoes. Where else in the world can you experience something like that? When I saw a travel deal to go during the less touristy "rainy season", I knew I had to jump on it.
In this tour we visit central Java in the city of Yogyakarta (often called “Jogja”) to see Borobudur and Prambanan, two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We saw all this on a day trip from Bali with Bali Agung Tours.
When we landed in Jogja, it was clear that we were in an entirely different place than Bali. Same country, yet so different. First off, the airport had a mix of Western and Asian toilets, which if you haven't seen before, they are basically porcelain holes in the ground. When I exited the airport, I saw motor scooters buzzing about the streets, one of which was carrying a pack of raw chickens hanging off the bike. The call to prayer echoed throughout the streets at different times in the day. Welcome to Java!
Visiting Bali and Jogja are like visiting two countries in one - the cultures are completely different. Unfortunately, many tourists only visit Bali and miss this unique cultural opportunity. Indonesia's oldest religions are Hinduism and Buddhism, however only Bali remained predominantly Hindu and the rest of the country is predominantly Muslim. Instead of Hindu temples, Jogja has mosques. And instead of beachwear and Hindu sarongs, there are colorful hijabs. Also, Jogja is recognizably less "Western" - although I did spot a Dunkin' Donuts and a McDonalds. In addition, Java has its own cuisine, traditions and customs.
We start at Prambanan, the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia dating back to the 10th Century. It contains temples dedicated to the three main Gods of the Hindu Trinity - Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The carvings on the outer part of the temple depict the love story of Rama and Sita.
Outside the temple, we saw many school children who came up to us to say hi and practice English. It was clear that we were the only English speaking tourists at the site. They were so friendly and sweet, and their English was great. We took selfies with them - many, many selfies.
Next we head to the Sultan's Palace where we see a glimpse into the Indonesian heritage and customs passed down through history. The Sultan is famous for traditionally having many wives, whose pictures were adorned throughout the grounds. In fact, our guide mentioned that he chooses his wives during a dance performance by pointing at the girl that he likes.
We watch the Wayang, or Shadow Puppet performance, which is an Javanese art form listed with UNESCO. The puppets are etched in intricate designs and the stories are accompanied by the traditional gamelan music, which is a gentle gong/percussion sounding music.
We visit a batik art shop to watch how this unique Javanese art form is created using wax and color on cloth and silk. This is a significant art form for the Indonesian culture. The batik technique is also applied to clothing in Indonesia. We went home with two batik paintings for our walls.
Next we try the local cuisine including snake fruit. This fruit is found in Southeast Asia and has a skin similar to a snakeskin, which you peel to reveal fruit that looks like garlic cloves. It tastes similar to a pineapple or Asian pear.
Finally, we reach Borobudur, one of the top three temples in Southeast Asia. Built in the 9th Century, it is was built as a monument to educate about Buddhism. It is the largest Buddhist temple complete with nine levels topped by a central dome, making it 10, a number signifying perfection. There are 504 Buddha statues, each in different positions ranging from meditation, teaching, to enlightenment.
The ground level of Borobudur is filled with motifs and carvings depicting temptation and as you walk clockwise, it tells the story of the Buddha's life. When you reach the top, all desire has been controlled and you reach enlightenment, or the heavens. At the top, you walk clockwise three times for good luck, as well as view the stupas (or bells) and take selfies with the locals.
Central Java was a dream come true. In fact, I have never seen such a unique country filled with so many friendly people. I hope that you get the chance to travel there soon. Comment below on your favorite destination in Indonesia! Terima Kasih!
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