The Backstories Behind My 9 Best Travel Instagrams
1. Monk’s best friend
While touring Thailand I had the unique opportunity to hang out with a monk for a day. I befriended our hotel host who took me along while he ran errands with Luang Pee Fon, a local Monk.
On our way back to the temple we made a sudden stop and Luang Pee Fon hopped out. I asked Matt where we were. We had stopped at a friend of Luang Pee Fon’s who had taken in his dog when he became a monk. Man’s best friend is considered a possession and he had to give up his pet in order to peruse his vows.
I grabbed my camera and climbed out. The dog sheepishly came out of hiding, head down and tail tucked between her legs. Once she saw who had come to visit, her tail began waving feverishly and she whined in excitement. For most of the day, Luang Pee Fon had been quite stern and a bit reserved. That is until his pooch jumped into his arms. The absolute joy and love between dog and man were radiant.
This was one of my favorite moments from my world trip.
2. Sunset and sand castles in Bali
This was taken with an ice cold Bintang in hand. A couple of things to note: one, I can be pretty lazy when it comes to photography; and two, I am horrible at taking photos of local people. I am working on these. While lounging in a bean bag chair in one of Kuta beaches’ many pop-up bars, I noticed kids building a sand castle. Behind them was a gorgeous sunset. Without having to move from my seat, I grabbed my trusty Olympus camera and 150mm zoom lens to capture the moment, just as a big wave washed away their sandy creation. They cheerfully began rebuilding and I began snapping.
3. All alone on Preikestolen
Hiking Preikestolen in the Stavanger Region of Norway is a popular destination for many. There are often large crowds on the 600-meter high rocky shelf and on most days, long lines just to get a picture on it.
This photograph is a consequence of timing and sheer luck. I was visiting in early November and the weather decided to cooperate, leaving me with this beautiful day all to myself. While enjoying celebratory beers at the bottom, the wait staff let me know that the day before had been madness. The next day after my lucky shot, I woke up to white-out conditions.
4. Kangaroos are not food
I will try anything once. I’m the type of traveler who makes it a point to eat and drink local. This has meant overindulging on vodka in Warsaw (and paying for it) and eating springbok, South Africa’s national animal, while in Cape Town. On my first visit to Australia, I was keen to try kangaroo. That all changed when I met this old soul. While visiting the Cleland Wildlife Park in Adelaide, an amazing wildlife park where you can interact with Australia’s cuddliest creatures, I fell in love with kangaroos — one in particular. While other “roos” hopped around doing kangaroo things this elder would not leave my side. Sure, I had pockets full of feed but I seriously felt like we connected and I think this Instagram photo captures just that. How could I ever eat kangaroo after this?
5. On with the (ladyboy) Show
Thailand is known for its beautiful beaches, incredible food, and ladyboys. I decided to check out the popular Moulin Rouge on Koh Samui. The show was highlighted by this performer who split gender down the middle, literally. It was the oddest and most beautiful performance I have ever seen.
6. Monkey see
If you’ve been to the Ubud Monkey Forest in Bali, you know that these guys are as crafty as they are cute. Before this photo was taken I had witnessed monkeys stealing other visitors’ food, jewelry, and water bottles — and a horrified girl screamed while a monkey pulled at her hair. By the point this photo was taken I had my guard up. This monkey, however, was anything but mean. Still monkey, I have my eye on you.
7. The highs and lows
One of the coolest things I have done on my travels is when I took a balloon ride in Cappadocia, Turkey. My girlfriend (who’s also my travel partner) has a slight fear of heights. In the moments leading up to take off, she was not having it. I took the low road and we fought about it. She walked off in anger while I stewed in the thought that she was ruining a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Just then a balloon appeared, seemingly out of the ground, and I captured this shot. In the end, she overcame her fears and I stopped being a jerk. The day is an incredible memory for both of us as well as a relationship building experience neither of us will forget.
8. Cappadocia kitten stretch
While in Cappadocia, my girlfriend and I were also lucky enough to sleep in the Kale Konak Cave Hotel. What really sets this property above all other cave hotels in the region is the owner. Abdullah gives the Dos Equis man a run for the title of most interesting man alive. He rescues and cares for animals. There are kittens who roam free in the garden area and dogs who loyally follow Abdullah everywhere he goes. And there was this cat who was enjoying the surprisingly sunny February morning. He gave a big stretch while bravely walking the wall separating the hotel and the valley below.
9. Alive on Lions Head
I arrived in Cape Town overweight and out of shape. I had spent 3-months eating American-sized portions while road tripping through the States and then was pampered on safaris in Africa. Living in Cape Town was my time to get back in shape — hiking was to play a big part of that. The locals downplayed the intensity of hiking Lions Head so I thought that was a good place to start. I huffed my way up and was in pain at the top. What this photo does not capture is how close I was to throwing up on the Capetonians some 660 meters below.