This year, I arrived at country 30 on my travel list, returned to remote parts of China as part of my long-term fascination with my birth country, and moved to Toronto Canada. As I wrap up another exciting year traveling and photographing amazing destinations around the world, I wanted to share my top 12 travel and photo experiences from 2012. Here’s to another year of photographing the world!
1. Fjords, Norway
In June 2012, I spent 10 days in Norway, road tripping through the entire country from Oslo to Bergen and stopping midway in the Fjords. It was such a stunning sight that I couldn’t tear myself away. This experience tops my list and I highly recommend the fjords to anybody considering a trip to Scandinavia.
I have been dying to visit Cuba ever since I saw Dirty Dancing Havana Nights. I finally realized that dream in March when I got to spend a week on the Caribbean island. I got to swim around in a cave, go snorkeling with beautiful tropical fish, and fall in love with Havana. In particular, I was struck by the juxtaposition of poverty and pure happiness and joy in Cuba.
3. The Great Wall, China
While I am no stranger to hiking the Great Wall of China, I can’t recall a time when I arrived at the Great Wall to find less than hundred other people there. Even though my plan to avoid other visitors called for waking up at 6am, it was my favourite visit to the Great Wall. The silence in the mountains and the cool breeze of the early morning was perfect for reflecting on the magnificence of this World Wonder.
4. Los Angeles, USA
In January 2012, I embarked on a small road trip with my mother. We drove down the coast of California through Malibu, LA, and all the way down to San Diego. I remember sitting in the car as we drove through Sunset Boulevard, the sky was turned pink and orange from the sunset and I snapped this picture from the passenger seat of the car.
5. Jostedalsbreen, Norway
2012 marked my first time on a glacier, the largest glacier on continental Europe in fact. My 4 hour hike on Jostedalsbreen – Jostedal glacier – gave me a new perspective on mother nature, adventure, and, best of all, beautiful Norway.
6. Musuo Tribe, China
A long time ago, a friend of mine told me about a matriarchal tribe in southern China. It is said that this is the last matriarchal society left in the world. I visited the tribe this summer and I couldn’t believe the stunning settlement they live in, nor the the intriguing family life they lead. This is one of the first times in my travels that I have come across a culture so vastly different from the rest of the world I’ve seen.
7. Copenhagen, Denmark
This year, I spent an entire month traveling through the nooks and crannies of Scandinavia. My favourite place was Copenhagen Denmark. I loved the coffees, the canals, and the bikes! If I had to pick one place in Scandinavia to call home, Copenhagen would be it.
8. Napa Valley, California, USA
I travelled to San Francisco extensively in 2012, but it was the first time that I had gone to Napa Valley. I sampled wine nonstop, learned about grapes, photographed wineries and even enjoyed a mud bath spa. Trust me when I say that Napa was like a dream.
9. Tallinn, Estonia
Unlike a lot of other places on this list, Tallinn wasn’t on my radar originally. But at Alex’s request for me to stop by his birth country, I visited Estonia. The capital combined elements of medieval periods with old Soviet Union. It was an interesting comparison that left me wanting to visit all the other previous Soviet Union countries.
10. ZhangJiaJie, China
In 2009, a movie about humans invading the Na’vi settlement on the moon Pandora grossed over $370 million dollars in theatres. What most movie goers don’t know is that this animated film was shot in the mountains of China, in a remote national park filled with mountains that – although not floating – stand tall and skinny, filled with greenery. I went to ZhangJiaJie national park to photograph these mountains on my month-long trip in China. I’ve never been more gorgeous mountains than those in ZhangJiaJie.
11. New Orleans, USA
The city surprised me with its pastel colors, European influences, and fine cuisine. I hadn’t anticipated that I would enjoy my time there as much as I did. For anyone passing through, I highly recommend getting to know the French Quarter and spending some time in Lafayette Cemetery No. 1.
12. Stockholm Royal Palace, Sweden
Whilst in Stockholm, I photographed the changing of the guards at the Royal Palace. I particularly liked the crisp white uniforms of the marching band and was surprised by the large number of visitors attending the ceremony. Watching the guards brought me back to the much larger changing of the guards at Buckingham palace, and back to memories of 2011 when I lived in Europe.