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Friday, 20 December 2013

PROVENCE: THE RELAXING COUNTRYSIDE

Friday, 20 December 2013 - 0 Comments

Provence - Pont du Gard
This entry is part of "France: From Paris to the Riviera" series...

We kicked off our honeymoon in the romance capital of the world (Paris), we then traveled to the middle of France and found ourselves immersed in a completely different atmosphere...

Friday, 6 December 2013

PARIS: LOVE, LIGHTS, MEMORIES (PART 2)

Friday, 6 December 2013 - 0 Comments

Paris - Arc de Triomphe
This entry is part of "France: From Paris to the Riviera" series...

Paris has long been considered the romance capital of the world... so what better place to kick off our honeymoon?

Due to the amount of pictures/words this entry is posted in 2 parts


Friday, 4 October 2013

PARIS: LOVE, LIGHTS, MEMORIES (PART 1)

Friday, 4 October 2013 - 0 Comments

Paris - Eiffel Tower
This entry is part of "France: From Paris to the Riviera" series...

Paris has long been considered the romance capital of the world... so what better place to kick off our honeymoon?

Due to the amount of pictures/words this entry is posted in 2 parts


Thursday, 26 September 2013

FRANCE: FROM PARIS TO THE RIVIERA

Thursday, 26 September 2013 - 0 Comments

Paris - Eiffel Tower at Night Introduction:

Two years after getting married my wife and I finally found time to go on a proper honeymoon! The decision to choose France as our honeymoon destination came naturally as France offered everything we would appreciate in an adventure: Legendary cuisine, excellent variety of photographic opportunities, and of course being the romance capital of the world (I know it’s a clichĂ©, but why not go for the gold?).

On our 16-day adventure we wanted to spend at least a week in Paris since this was our first time visiting France, and spend the rest of our time “sampling” different parts of France at a relatively leisure pace (we wanted to smell the roses too!). Cote d’Azur (French Riviera) emerged as an ideal second destination because it combined relaxation with an excellent public transport system. Upon departure our itinerary looked like this: Paris (7 days) -> Avignon area (2.5 days) -> Nice (5 days) -> return to Paris for our flight home (we did not have a daily itinerary because getting lost had led to many amazing surprises throughout our travels in the past).  Unlike our trip to China, my wife's semi-fluent French turned out to be an extremely important asset.

AND… For the first time ever instead of staying at hotels we rented private apartments for both Paris and Nice… as for Provence… we opted to let fate decide our fortunes.


Sunday, 1 September 2013

SEATTLE: SPARKLING NORTHWEST GEM

Sunday, 1 September 2013 - 0 Comments

Minion in Seattle 1 day whirlwind visit in August

I have always considered Seattle as Vancouver's twin because these two cities are so close geographically from each other (~2 hours by car excluding the border wait).  In typical northwest fashion Seattleites are polite, laid-back, and generally fit (who can blame them? Northwest's natural beauty = outdoor activities).

I have been to/through Seattle many times before but I have never "toured" around the city (like many Vancouverites, Seattle's existence was purely for cross-border shopping... until now).  With the entire northwest enjoying a history-setting fantastic summer, and the Toronto Blue Jays coming to Seattle... Seattle here I come!


Monday, 26 August 2013

PERSIED'S METEOR SHOWER

Monday, 26 August 2013 - 0 Comments

The annual Persied's Meteor shower was all over the news and since I didn't have to work the next day I decided to try photographing the meteors! To be completely honest I have never been a fan of night photography because 1) I don't get to sleep, 2) A dark piece of sky is required (need to go somewhere far away?), 3) It requires a lot of post-processing...

It turns out there is a nice piece of real estate called Porteau Cove (only 45 minutes from Vancouver) that is popular amongst night photographers.  When I arrived there were SO many photographers... It was tough getting a spot!

The light pollution at the bottom right is from the town of Squamish (near the Stawamus Chief!), and the Sea-to-Sky highway traffic could be seen from the bottom right as well.


Persied's Meteor from Porteau Cove

Thursday, 22 August 2013

HOT DOG: ICELAND'S NATIONAL FOOD

Thursday, 22 August 2013 - 0 Comments

Icelandic Hot Dog + Skyr Most popular hot dog stand in Iceland
There are no ifs, ands, or buts when it comes to dining out in Iceland... it is bank breaking expensive (unintentional pun alert lol!).  One of the reason to why dining out is so costly (aside from key ingredients being imported) around Iceland is because Icelanders take their food seriously... dining out = fine dining experience.

Ironically when I asked for food recommendations in Reykjavik I was referred to this inconspicuous "dumpy" hot dog stand close to the waterfront (near the conference center).  Each hot dog costed ~ $3 CAD and I would've paid triple that price because it was simply the best hot dog I've ever tasted (Japadog in Vancouver comes second).

Hot dogs (or "pylsur" in Icelandic) can be found everywhere... in gas stations, convenience stores, etc... and they seem to be loved by locals and tourists alike.  This particular hot dog stand (Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur) in Reykjavik is undoubtedly the most frequented eatery in Iceland, and was selected as the best hot dog stand in Europe by the Guardian.  Unlike regular hot dogs in North America, these delicious gems are made with a blend of beef, pork, and lamb... and tasted like actual meat.  The meat itself is good, but it is the combination of unique condiments that elevates this hot dog to its king status.  A stripe of ketchup, followed by a stripe of mayonnaise-based remoulade, and finally... a stripe of sweet spiced brown mustard (onions are suggested but optional... I don't eat raw onions so I skipped it).

Due to its sheer deliciousness I would recommend ordering two hotdogs from the get go so you don't have to wait in the queue for a second serving (the queue does move fast however)... because your taste buds WILL crave this orgasmic flavors again.  You may decide to pair the hotdog with Coca-Cola (you can get it at the stand) or you may decide to enjoy it with Skyr (Icelandic yogurt) from a nearby convenience store.  Aside: Skyr = best yogurt I've ever tasted and I have been trying to find them in Canada ever since (apparently it is considered as un-pasturized cheese thus importing is next to impossible... yes I liked it so much I actually tried to import it myself haha)... PLEASE LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW IF YOU KNOW HOW TO GET SKYR IN CANADA!

Did I just write a post about hot dogs???  Yes it was this delicious.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Bucket List

Friday, 16 August 2013 - 0 Comments


TO SEE:
1. See a wombat in the wild
2. See a porcupine in the wild
3. See (and hopefully touch) a penguin in the wild (Antarctica)
4. See a polar bear from a safe distance
5. Experience the northernlights (completed Sept 17, 2012)
6. Attend a “Cirque du Soleil” performance (completed Aug 4, 2010 Kooza)
7. Be surrounded by fireflies in the wild
8. Tondabayashi firework (Aug – largest fireworks show in the world) (Jul 10)

TO VISIT:
9. Visit all 7 continents (Asia, Europe [Sept 12, 2012], N & S America, Australia, Antarctica, Africa)
13. Scuba dive at the Great Barrier Reef
14. Explore the Safari and experience various animal encounters
15. See the pyramids and sphinx
16. Visit Antarctica
17. Explore Iceland (fire and ice!) (completed Sept 11, 2012)
18. Drive across Canada and visit all 10 provinces
19. Visit all 50 states
20. Visit Banff National Park  (completed Aug 30, 2009)
21. Visit Yosemite National Park
22. Visit Yellowstone National Park
23. See Niagra Falls (and night light show)
24. Hike the Alps and visit Switzerland
25. Experience Tibet (via railway)
26. Visit Grand Canyon (completed Dec 14, 2010)
27. Visit Las Vegas (completed Feb 18, 2008)
28. Visit Alaska via cruise
29. Explore Islands of Hawaii

TO DO:
31. Drive a motorcycle
32. Watch a romantic sunset with my love one in isolation
33. Learn to drive manual transmission
34. Ride in a Ferrari
35. Try snowboarding
36. Perform a stunt in a half-pipe course (Feb 10)
37. Go skydiving (completed Sept 14, 2008)
38. Experience zip-lining in the treetops (Mount Verde - Costa Rica)
39. Win a photography contest
40. Eat a kiwi in New Zealand
41. Pick a mango fresh off a tree and eat it
42. Be able to run 10km in one go
43. Complete Grouse Grind in 45 minutes
44. Take a hot air balloon ride
45. Fly business/first class on a flight > 5 hours
46. Go Sailing
47. Go on a spontaneous trip
48. Fly a plane (March 22,10)
49. Fly in a helicopter
50. Fly in a jet plane at Mach speed (Mar 22,10)
51. Fire a gun (March 22,10) (completed Dec 16, 2010)
52. Go Kite-surfing

TO BECOME:
53. A parent  (completed May 20, 2014)
54. A husband (completed Nov 11, 2011)
55. Financially independent (completed June 21, 2010)

TO PHOTOGRAPH:
56. Horseshoe Bend, Page Arizona USA
57. Antelope Canyon, Page Arizona USA
58. Salt flats (Utah or South America)




Favorite Photos

This page houses my favorite pictures through my camera lens.  Even though these pictures will most likely not win any awards, they are my favorite memories (usually because they are on my Bucket List).  Most of these pictures are displayed on my wall in my own home.




Oregon Coast - Thor's Well

Bucket list item #30!
I stumbled upon a picture of this place on Flickr while planning my Oregon Coast road trip, and I quickly realized that I must visit this place. This was taken along the Oregon Coast at a place near Cape Perpetua. "Thor's Well" is actually a geographic "blow hole" where it is under water most of the time when the tide is high, and it is only visible when the tide is low with waves coming on-shore. When the wave comes in through the underground channel it jets out "Thor's well" like a geyser... be careful because if you are pulled into this cave you'll be coming back out in pieces with the next wave!

I actually visited this place the day before this picture was taken but the weather was so windy/rainy that it was a little bit too dangerous for my taste (actually since I was traveling with my girlfriend at the time (wife now) I didn't want her to worry. Even when I took this picture the conditions were a little dicey...

Saturday, 10 August 2013

CELEBRATION OF LIGHT

Saturday, 10 August 2013 - 0 Comments


The annual fireworks competition was upon Vancouver again!  This annual multi-day Vancouver festival takes place around late July-early August and this year we were blessed with fantastic weather (a historic record of no rain for the entire month of July!).  For best views of the fireworks one may want to consider heading to English Bay (I have only been there once for fireworks... but go there a few hours early!), but there are many alternative locations to enjoy the fireworks around town as well (I have personally been to Jericho beach, Kitsilano beach, Vanier Point, and on the bridges connecting downtown to the rest of Vancouver).

At 9:15 PM (looking at North Shore)
At 9:30 (left corner... people walking toward Vanier Point)
The reason why I rarely travel to English Bay to watch the show is: 1) Laziness (waiting for hours to secure a spot on the beach), 2) Traffic (parking downtown is prohibitively expensive + leaving downtown after the show is a nightmare), 3) Not that interesting for photography (no background!).  I am only able to attend 1 show this year due to work and other commitments, and since I promised I would try to visit all of the bridges connecting Vancouver to downtown from an earlier post... these fireworks pictures were taken from the Burrard St. Bridge! (I have now completed my promise!).  I arrived with my trusty tripod at around 9:20 PM (fireworks started at 10 PM) and there were still plenty of room for me to setup along the bridge (of course the "prime" bridge locations were already taken by other photographers).  Plenty of free parking could be had along residential streets (7th to 15th ave) if you don't mind walking for 10-15 minutes.

Without further ado...

And a bonus panorama! (Comments or questions? Leave a message below!)

Monday, 5 August 2013

ANCIENT CHINA IN MODERN BEIJING

Monday, 5 August 2013 - 0 Comments

Beijing - Temple of the Heavenly Adventures of two bananas in the Capital

Last time I visited Beijing I was 4 years old and I ran off in Tiananmen Square looking for bullet holes (which led to homemade personal locating devices attached to me for the reminder of the trip... aka little bells around my wrist).  Oh yeah, I also "spoke" Chinese back then.

From my recollection Beijing was a sterile and oppressive city (possibly because my parents and I visited not too long after the infamous Tiananmen Square incident).  My memories of Beijing consisted of endless bicycle traffic with occasional motorbikes (cars and buses were few and far between); ice-sledding/tobogganing on a frozen lake (courtesy of nice Beijing locals); climbing the Badaling great wall in tears but got a “Great Wall conqueror” certificate; and my first encounter with snow.

Fast forward 20ish years my Chinese language skills remained atrocious (shameful would be another word that would describe my Mandarin), and this time I took my wife with me to hike the Great Wall of China.  My wife, a third-generation Chinese-Canadian who is fluent in English and French, turned out to be less useful in communicating with the locals than I had hoped.  So during our 5-day trip to the Capital we were essentially two bananas traveling in Beijing where everybody expected us to converse in Chinese – which led to some memorable experiences.  (banana: yellow outside, white inside)


Thursday, 1 August 2013

VANCOUVER SKYLINE

Thursday, 1 August 2013 - 0 Comments


Vancouver has been enjoying fantastic sunny weather of late, and it would be a crime to leave my camera in its case.  There are plenty of pictures online depicting Vancouver's downtown skyline (the commercial district), however we must also appreciate the city's residential beauties as well! 


Walking on the Cambie St Bridge, towards downtown
View from the Bridge
There are three bridges that connect the city of Vancouver with the mini-peninsula where Vancouver's downtown is situated: The Burrard St Bridge, the Granville St Bridge, and the Cambie St Bridge.  Each bridge offers an unique view of Vancouver and hopefully I will get a chance to document all three of them.

The south bank
The north bank

Saturday, 27 July 2013

CONQUERING THE STAWAMUS CHIEF

Saturday, 27 July 2013 - 0 Comments


The Stawamus Chief is an imposing mountain that cannot be missed on the Sea to Sky Highway located about halfway between Whistler and Vancouver (near a town called Squamish). The Stawamus Chief (more commonly referred to as "The Chief") is famous for its near-vertical granite cliffs and the breathtaking scenery from the top that attracts thousands of rock-climbers/hikers around the world to this site. Personally having done the Grouse Grind the day before and coming off of my second graveyard shift, I foolishly agreed to go on this adventure.

Large boulder halfway into the hike
Top of the peak!
Directions (from Vancouver): (~1 hour with no traffic)
Take Highway #1 westbound towards Horseshoe Bay (follow signs toward Whistler) and exit onto Highway #99 (Sea to Sky Highway). Continue for ~40 minutes and watch for signs indicating "Shannon Falls". Park in the Shannon Falls parking lot. (It could get busy during summer weekends, so go during the week if possible... if the parking lot is full don't worry, continue on the highway for ~1 km and use the Stawamus Chief parking lot instead.)

From the parking lot, we casually strolled through the paved trail towards Shannon Falls. From there we took a left turn onto a wide gravel trail (Lower Falls trail) that eventually led to a small wooden bridge. After crossing the creek, Lower Falls trail becomes the Chief Peaks Trail. For the next 30 minutes we found ourselves ascending large rocks/wooden stairs up a fairly steep gradient (in the shade.. under the protection of beautiful west coast foliage). About halfway up there was a large boulder and granite lookout (where we stopped for a couple pictures + water break). We continued our ascent towards the first peak and, shortly after the boulder, the trail divided in two (one for 1st/2nd peak and the other path towards the 3rd peak). This middle portion of the hike was much gentler than the beginning, until the foliage gave way to the gigantic granite dome that defines the Stawamus Chief. In order to reach the top of the first peak we had to climb a couple metal ladders and continue our ascent with the aid of metal chains bolted into the rock.  After an hour of sweat and burning muscles, we finally conquered the Chief and realized why this hike is widely believed to be one of the best hikes in beautiful British Columbia.

Top of the peak: Emerald green water... killer view!
We made it!
P.S. Bring lots of water, and prepare for sore knees the day after (the descend down the mountain was quite hard on the knees).

Happy Travels!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

JINSHANLING: ADDITIONAL PHOTOS

Wednesday, 17 July 2013 - 0 Comments

Additional photos of Jinshanling as promised (see the original article here!)... possibly the most beautiful portion of the Great Wall of China!  If you are visiting Beijing, why would you choose elsewhere?!

Without further ado, the rest of the pictures as promised...
Hiking east to west (~8-10 km), from the wild wall to the renovated portions (near the end)..

If you want even more photos, see them all on my Flickr page! If you like what you saw above, let me know in the comments below!
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Tuesday, 16 July 2013

ABOVE THE CLOUDS

Tuesday, 16 July 2013 - 0 Comments

We all know having clouds in the sky add another dimension to photographs... so what happens if the clouds are beneath you?!

I just returned from a inter-continental flight and I decided to do some photography that I rarely am able to do - Photograph from above!  These pictures were taken from the window of the airplane...

CAN YOU GUESS WHICH CITY I JUST RETURNED FROM? (Leave a message below!)


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