Top 10 Travel Photos of 2014 #1

2014 was my most traveled year yet.  I had the good fortune to bring in the New Year in the Philippines before returning to my job in South Korea.  Summer vacation was spent backpacking Vietnam and Chuseok (Korean thanksgiving) brought me to Japan.  I ventured to Shanghai before heading back to America for the end of the year holidays and all along these crazy adventures my camera followed me.  Tens of thousands of pictures were narrowed down to roughly 30 finalists before I selected my top 10 travel photos of 2014!

#1 brings us back to Son Doong, the world’s largest cave, the deep in the jungles of Phong Nha Quang Binh National Park, Vietnam!   Its no surprise that my favorite photo of 2014 comes from the most amazing adventure I’ve ever taken.  The photo comes from deep within Son Doong in a section of the cave known as Watch out for Dinosaurs; a doline (collapsed ceiling) allowing light to pour in resulting in the spectacular jungle.  Cave formations are covered a splendor that can only be found in Son Doong are seen in the distance as the jungle’s heat mixing with cool cave air generates the cloud just slightly obscuring the far wall.

I hope you enjoyed these travel shots!  Stay tuned for some honorable mentions that barely missed the top 10!

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What is your favorite one of my photos from 2014?  How about your own favorite shot?

 Check out #2 here!

 For the best of 2013 go here!

Top 10 Travel Photos of 2014 #4

2014 was my most traveled year yet.  I had the good fortune to bring in the New Year in the Philippines before returning to my job in South Korea.  Summer vacation was spent backpacking Vietnam and Chuseok (Korean thanksgiving) brought me to Japan.  I ventured to Shanghai before heading back to America for the end of the year holidays and all along these crazy adventures my camera followed me.  Tens of thousands of pictures were narrowed down to roughly 30 finalists before I selected my top 10 travel photos of 2014!

#4 comes from Hang En’s glorious campsite.  After a half day trekking through the jungles of Phong Nha Quang Binh National Park in Vietnam we came to the entrance of the world’s 3rd largest cave.  The following day we would make it to the world’s largest cave, Son Doong but first it was time to relax in these lush pools and enjoy some rice wine!  If you ever have the good fortune of visiting Vietnam be sure to check out Oxalis Adventure Tours and this world class adventure.

 

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Check out #3 here!
Check out #5 here!

Top 10 Travel Photos of 2014 #6

2014 was my most traveled year yet.  I had the good fortune to bring in the New Year in the Philippines before returning to my job in South Korea.  Summer vacation was spent backpacking Vietnam and Chuseok (Korean thanksgiving) brought me to Japan.  I ventured to Shanghai before heading back to America for the end of the year holidays and all along these crazy adventures my camera followed me.  Tens of thousands of pictures were narrowed down to roughly 30 finalists before I selected my top 10 travel photos of 2014!

#6 comes from Son Doong, the world’s largest cave, the deep in the jungles of Phong Nha Quang Binh National Park, Vietnam!   This muddy trench was aptly named Passchendaele and can only be visited after trekking for 2 days and camping in Hang En with Oxalis Adventure Tours.  I was lucky enough to be among the first 200 people to enter this natural masterpiece and worked with intrepid explorer Howard Limbert to capture this stunning shot.  He was as excited as me to be the first group with the right camera gear and a team that reached this point quickly enough to pose for the picture and illuminate this stunning cavern!

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 Check out #5 here!

Check out # 7 here!

“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done…” – Dalai Lama XIV

“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.”
Dalai Lama XIV

Such a strong and incredibly true statement about life.  I love the adventures I went on yesterday (and the day,  month, year before that)  As evidenced by my perpetual Facebooking & blogging about trips but one thing is certain; without following the Dalai Lama’s advice I never would have made it on 99% of those excursions.  If I sat around thinking about what awesome things I’ve already done (climbing waterfalls, exploring caves or summiting mountains) I’d never make it to the next one.

If I spent my days daydreaming about the next big adventure my future holds (Granted I do often do this in my leisure time.  See below.) that expedition would never come to fruition.  I never would have gotten off my butt in New Jersey and moved to Seoul, explored Son Doong (the world’s largest cave) floated in the dead sea or countless other unforgettable trips.

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Floating in The Dead Sea

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Son Doong, World’s Largest Cave

One of the reasons my posts have been sparse the last few weeks is I just started up a new language exchange.  Every Tuesday night from 7:30-9:00 I convince a bunch of Koreans & foreigners to sit down and chat.  We take half the time to speak in Korean and half to speak in English.  We’re up to 16 members in just 5 weeks and everyone is enjoying this FREE opportunity to learn language and bridge cultural gaps.  We’ve been negotiating contracts at my current school and its not confirmed but it looks like I’m gonna stay on board for another year, I’m even a candidate for the promotion to team leader!

That means I can’t wait to plan for my next BIG adventures (since I’ll have about 8 weeks of vacation to play with next year).  I’ll be in Shanghai for 2 days in December before returning to NJ for the holidays (December 27th. Shindig at my parents place.  Save the date!).  I’m looking forward to a warm holiday in February (Thailand’s looking pretty enticing right now) and researching a Nepal trek to the Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camps for as early as next summer.  But I’m not just looking at the future I’m working TODAY to make that happen in some unforeseen tomorrow.  I’m always looking for new opportunities to a)travel and b)make some extra money (just finished a flyer for English tutoring that I’m going to have some Korean friends proofread at tonight’s exchange!)

I try to be as productive as possible and I don’t like wasting time.  Sure I take breaks, everyone needs trashy TV binges, HALO/Call Of Duty marathons, your occasional buzzfeed article or Sunday recoveries from questionable Saturday decisions.  The trick is to strive to make them the exception rather than the norm.  Budget leisure time just like you would a paycheck and you will quickly find that you are prepared for more and doing more.  You will find new opportunities to save money through a little elbow grease and I’d be surprised if you can’t put your mind towards a new opportunity for some cash flow making tomorrow’s dreams even more likely.

Yesterday is in the past, tomorrow’s in the future, so remember that “today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live!”  Whether that means learning something new, saying hello to a stranger, falling in love, calling an old friend or simply getting up and getting started you’re the one that’s in charge so do it today!

P.S. One last update for my family, friends and other followers!  I’ve been getting back into shape with a sober September, promoting men’s health for Movember by hitting the gym, sharing advice, cooking as much (and healthy) as possible and of course growing a mean ‘stache.  Can’t forget how epic Saturday night was my first 1920’s murder mystery!  (p.s happy birthday Erin!)1920's murder mystery

 

Son Doong Day 4 – Great Wall of Vietnam

Rising early I enjoyed some hot tea while listening to Son Doong’s morning chorus of insects filled with an avian duet, buzzing beetles and the occasional hooting owl.  I hoped to hear a monkey or spot some of this magnificent wildlife, perhaps even the fabled flying foxes Howard mentioned.  Sipping my tea I settled for the best that nature would give me and enjoyed the serenade as our camp flickered into life with rays of morning light gleaming through the misty jungle from the aptly named doline, Garden of Edam.

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A hearty breakfast of fresh fruit and veggie filled ramen topped with eggs came out as my traveling partners emerged from their tents.  Today’s journey would take us o the mud filled trench named after WWI’s Passchendaele, a battle that claimed 310,000 Allied lives for a measly 5 mile gain.  After sloshing through the trenches we hoped to watch Deb rappel down the Great Wall of Vietnam, a 200 foot cliff, with the head of national parks and our tour company._DSC7864

Donning a grimy set of clothes we left our porters behind.  After trekking to the wall wee would return to camp for lunch before beginning our 3 day journey back to town.  As the campsite grew smaller so did our window into the sky.  We stopped for a gorgeous silhouette photo making good use of the 2nd doline’s green aperture.  Hanging right between 2 massive stalagmites the cave eyt again showed how monstrous it was.  This massive chamber wound around rock formations in rooms larger than my house when suddenly a slithering snake greeted us.

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Son Doong

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Mr. Ky shined his light warning us with a swift “No!” before backing away.  There was no translation for this jungle creature’s name other than “very dangerous,” and lets not forget that we are a 3 day journey from the road.  The meter-long serpent probably eats bats according to Thanh, who helped me keep a safe distance as I photographed the beast.

 

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Son Doong

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