As I suspect it was for most of you reading this, in one way or another, 2013 was a big year. For us it marked a full 12 months of the calendar that we spent devoting ourselves exclusively to travel. To that end, it took us to 7 new countries… though, as you’ll see, in some cases, one visit just wasn’t enough and we found ourselves returning to a few favorites several times over.

By the time 2013 rolled around, we had already been traveling for four months, but as anyone who has embarked on this type of journey (or really, any kind of big change) knows, those first few months have more than their fair share of growing pains. Even when you’re living your dream, it’s hard not to feel in those early moments that it might be more of a nightmare than anything else. But 2013 was, for us, the time when we really came into our own as travelers and really sunk deep into our adventure. We learned to let go of our preconceived notions of how we should travel, where we should go, and what we should do. We really started to listen to our hearts letting them lead us, and though the path they have taken us on may look like one of those convoluted Family Circus cartoons, what a journey it has been.

It is the curse of this time of year that bloggers and non-bloggers alike get introspective and retrospective and I suppose to some extent we are not immune to that. But it’s really impossible for us to summarize the past year—a year that has been so big, so full, so bursting with life—in any coherent way. Besides, that’s what our blog posts are for, and if they don’t exactly allow you to walk a mile in our shoes, then hopefully they at least let you walk alongside us for a little while before you head back to your own adventure.

So, I won’t try to quantify in words just how incredible and transformational this past year of traveling through Asia has been for us both as a couple and as individuals. Any time I attempt to write how these months in the world have changed me, it winds up sounding maudlin or trite and so for now I have to content myself with carrying that change in me rather than setting it down on paper (or a laptop screen as the case may be). Steph is the writer of this family, anyway, so I’ll stick with my first love and what I do best: photography. I’ve put together a collection of my favorite photos we’ve taken this year, which not only allows me to share some of our favorite moments from the last year, but it will also give all of you a little preview of what’s going to be featured on our site in the coming months.

Mostly, I’ve just gone through our photos and picked out the shots that I liked the best. Some are great moments, and some are just really pretty; it is my hope that they all tell a story in their own right while also being a piece of the larger puzzle that was 2013.

On that note, here are our favorite shots from all the places we visited this past year, in the order we experienced them.

Warning: this is an image-heavy post, so if your internet is slow, go make a sandwich or three while this loads.

Cloud Forest at night, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Singapore
The Cloud Forest in Singapore’s Gardens By The Bay was nothing short of spectacular. Which is exactly what you’d expect from a city like Singapore.

 

Historic district of Melaka, Malaysia at night

Melaka, Malaysia
One of our favorite cities in Malaysia, the scenery in Melaka is almost as good as the food.

 

Girl at Pudu Market, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
A little girl in her family’s stall in Pudu wet market, an oasis of calm amidst the hubbub of the market.

 

Wild orangutan at Sepilok, Sabah Province, Borneo

Sepilok, Malaysian Borneo (Sabah)
It’s getting harder and harder to see orangutans in the wild, even in Borneo, but we spotted some at the Orangutan Rehabilitation Center in Sepilok.

 

Sultan Omar Saifuddin Mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
Sultan Omar Saifuddin Mosque is one example of the many stunningly ornate mosques scattered throughout Brunei’s capital.

 

The largest cave in the world, Wind Cave, at Mulu National Park

Gunung Mulu National Park, Malaysian Borneo (Sarawak)
Wind Cave is part of the world’s largest cave complex. One of the caverns at Mulu is said to be large enough to accommodate 40 747 airplanes without overlapping their wings.

 

Thean Hou Temple at Chinese New Year, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Thean Hou Temple for Chinese New Year. So. Much. Red!

 

The Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
How do you take an interesting shot of such an iconic building? Try shooting the Petronas Twin Towers from below.

 

Man on a colorful trishaw in George Town, Penang

George Town, Malaysia
A driver, in his colorful trishaw, prowls the historic back alleys of George Town.

The limestone peaks of Ko Yao Noi, Thailand at low tide

Koh Yao Noi, Thailand
At low tide, Steph walks across the beach towards the bay full of limestone islands.

 

Friendly vendor at Khlong Toei Market in Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand
A woman working a stall in Khlong Toei, Bangkok’s largest fresh market.

 

Vietnamese man with pipe

Hoa Binh, Vietnam
A local mechanic who gave us directions, checked our motorcycle, offered me a smoke, gave us tea and drew us a map. And on top of all that, he was photogenic too!

 

Red Dao women of Sapa, Vietnam

Sapa, Vietnam
Some of the indigenous Red Dao people who live in the hills around Sapa. You’d better believe they tried to sell us something after this shot!

 

Minority ladies in colorful outfits at Dong Van market

Dong Van, Vietnam
Locals gossip at the Tuesday market. People come from miles around for this market every week, so it’s as much of a social event as it is a shopping destination.

 

Meo Vac countryside in northern Vietnam

Near Meo Vac, Vietnam
A stunning vista in the middle of nowhere in northern Vietnam. Just a few kilometers south of the Chinese border is some of the most stunning scenery we’ve ever encountered.

 

Photogenic old lady in conical hat in Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam
One of the many “aunties” of Hoi An. As old as the house she was sitting in front of, she spent the morning watching the hordes of people filter by.

 

Delicious Vietnamese soup, pho bo (beef soup)

Phan Rang, Vietnam
The best bowl of soup we’ve ever had. Ever.

 

Cambodian monk with a yellow umbrella in Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh, Cambodia
A mysterious monk in Cambodia’s capital city.

 

The salt flats of Kampot

Kampot, Cambodia
Across the river from Kampot lay yawning slat flats. It was the middle of the day and they were eerily abandoned, somehow making their beauty all the more striking.

 

Young monk in Cambodia

Kampot, Cambodia
A young monk poses in his wat (temple) after giving us a tour and showing Steph how to correctly pray to Buddha.

 

Fisherman with crab traps while the sun sets in Kep, Cambodia

Kep, Cambodia
A crab fisherman bringing in his cages at the end of the day stops to admire the sunset.

 

Bicycle at a temple in Kampong Cham, Cambodia

Kampong Cham, Cambodia
A monk’s bicycle in the local temple.

 

Preak Khan Temple at Siem Reap, Cambodia

Siem Reap, Cambodia
Preah Khan temple. Just one of the many temples we saw during our three-day exploration of the massive Angkor complex.

 

Sleeping kitten in the arms of a Buddha

Ayutthaya, Thailand
Sometimes as a photographer, serendipity strikes. When we saw this little cat sleeping in the palm of Buddha, we knew this was one of those times.

 

A hungry elephant gets a bath at Elepant Nature Park, Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai, Thailand
Bathing the elephants at the Elephant Nature Park. This elephant let his mahout inspect his teeth on one condition: open mouth, insert bananas.

 

The incredible White Temple of Chiang Rai, Thailand

Chiang Rai, Thailand
The glitzy, gaudy, glorious White Temple.

 

Buddha statue with gold nail polish at Sukhothai, Thailand

Sukhothai, Thailand
The famous “gold nail-polish” Buddha. Nice manicure, no?

 

Old lady harvesting in Bali, Indonesia

Bali, Indonesia
Harvesting palm leaves near Pura Tirtha, this woman had no idea why I wanted her photo, but wasn’t too worried about it in the end.

 

Ulundanu Temple, Bali's famous floating temple

Bali, Indonesia
Does the floating temple rest on the water or in the clouds?

 

Balinese dancer

Bali, Indonesia
An evening of traditional Balinese dance.

 

Blissful Kanawa island, off the coast of Flores, Indonesia

Flores, Indonesia
A small island off the coast of Flores. It’s real name is “Kanawa”, but we call it “paradise”.

 

Cuttlefish seen while diving at Komodo National Park

Komodo National Park, Indonesia
A coy yet curious cuttlefish in the waters off Labuan Bajo. This little guy interacted with us for almost 10 minutes before we left. He followed us for a bit, seeming almost sad to see us go.

 

Komodo dragon seen on Rinca

Komodo National Park, Indonesia
One of the famed Komodo dragons. The dragons we saw seemed relaxed and lazy, but the stout forked sticks and nervous expressions of the guides told us it was all a ruse.

 

The rice terraces of Ruteng

Ruteng, Flores, Indonesia
Rice terraces blanket the landscape as far as the eye can see near Ruteng.

 

Flores coastline near Ende

Flores, Indonesia
An overland adventure took us past a small picturesque village on the way to Ende.

 

The colorful lakes of Kelimutu

Moni, Flores, Indonesia
One of the colorful crater lakes of Kelimutu. It’s hard to believe that water that color can exist in nature!

 

At the top of Borobudur temple in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia
Seeking some solitude at the top of Borobudur temple.

 

Fake sadhu in Kathmandu, Nepal

Kathmandu, Nepal
One of the many fake sadhus (itinerant holy men) who pose for a small “donation.”

 

Kathmandu is full of pigeons

Kathmandu, Nepal
Pigeons are EVERYWHERE in Kathmandu, and this back-alley temple was no exception.

 

Little girl in Kathmandu, Nepal

Kathmandu, Nepal
A small child in the back streets of Thamel district. She was VERY excited to meet us and have her picture taken.

 

The main square of Bhaktapur

Bhaktapur, Nepal
The main square in the early hours of the morning when, just for a moment, the locals outnumber tourists.

 

Diwali candle-lighting ceremony, Bhaktapur

Bhaktapur, Nepal
People lighting candles for the last day of diwali (festival of lights).

 

The lake in Pokhara, Nepal

Pokhara, Nepal
A drastic change of pace from Kathmandu, the “Lakeside” near the tourist area of Pokhara is almost idyllic.

 

Suspension bridge on the Annapurna Circuit

Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal
Tony conquering his fears and the first of many suspension bridges on the Annapurna Circuit.

 

A gompa near Ngawal, Nepal

Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal
A gompa near Ngawal. In our more fanciful moments, we almost believed this gompa was as old as the surrounding mountains.

 

The view over Braga on the Annapurna Circuit trek

Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal
The view over Braga, near Manang. Vistas don’t get much better than this! It almost makes up for how very cold it was. Almost…

 

Ferry boat at night on the Chao Praya river

Bangkok, Thailand
A ferry on the Chao Praya river. Even the boats display the fanciful peaked roofs so common in Thailand.

 

Burmese python at the Bangkok Snake Farm

Bangkok, Thailand
One of our few brushes with Myanmar this year (we’ll make it there one day): us with a Burmese Python at the Snake Farm.

 

Martin Yan cooking demonstration

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Yan can cook, which is great because we can eat! Chef Martin Yan showing just how thin he can julienne at a cooking demonstration at one of the fanciest Chinese hotels in Saigon.

Whew. That was a lot of photos. I hope you enjoyed seeing them as much as we enjoyed taking them! We’re looking forward to sharing all the stories these shots (and many more!) are a part of in the coming months. Even though 50 photos seems like a lot, it’s only a taste of what’s to come! As always, for every one of you who has been a part of our odyssey this past year, whether it be as faithful readers and commenters or fellow travelers we’ve met along the way, we thank you for your company and your support.

Tell us: Which of these photos was your favorite? Did your travels in 2013 take you to any of the places we visited? Which of our adventures are you most excited to hear about? And, for bonus points, what new year’s resolutions have you made? We hope they involve some travel too!

Written by: Tony


As a designer by trade and a former professional photographer, there isn't much in the world of visual communication that I haven't worked on. From web projects, to museum interiors, to weddings and portraits, my career to this point has run the gamut of visual media. Born and raised in a sleepy town in southeast Minnesota, I moved to Nashville to pursue my education. I ended up meeting the love of my life and adopting the two best dogs this side of the Mason-Dixon line. I love two-wheeled transport, trying new food and am a bit of a gadget freak. I love a good book, and have music playing almost constantly. After over a decade in the same city, I'm quickly getting used to the idea of having no fixed address, and hope all of you enjoy my ramblings about our ramblings.

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Read comments (42)

  1. December 30, 2013 at 11:54 pm
    Dec. 30, '13

    Wow 🙂 Really this is wonderful and amazing pictures of 2013. I love all these pictures. It makes me crazy 🙂 but my favorite one picture is first one 🙂

    • January 4, 2014 at 10:43 pm
      Jan. 4, '14

      Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the post!

  2. December 31, 2013 at 3:50 am
    Dec. 31, '13

    My goodness! So many pictures and every single one is amazing, I’m not sure how you managed to pick these between the many you took during this year, we both know there are a lot of photos and they are all pretty good. I truly cannot choose my favourite, they are all stunning!

    Have a great NYE guys and especially another incredible year full of loads of traveling. 🙂
    Franca recently posted..How A Year of Travelling Changed Us For Good

    • January 4, 2014 at 10:46 pm
      Jan. 4, '14

      Thanks Franca! Hope you guys had great holidays as well. I did have to narrow it down a bit, as “our favorite 167 photos of the year” didn’t quite have the same ring to it! 🙂

  3. December 31, 2013 at 10:57 am
    Dec. 31, '13

    Such beautiful pictures, the landscapes and portrait are just stunning. I can’t imagine how difficult it was to get them down to just 50.

    Happy New Year to you both, may the travels long continue.

    • January 4, 2014 at 10:49 pm
      Jan. 4, '14

      Thanks so much! Obviously I’m pretty biased, but nonetheless it was quite a task! Especially considering that I had almost 40,000 shots to go through from the last year… So glad you enjoyed it, makes it worth the work!

  4. January 1, 2014 at 6:08 am
    Jan. 1, '14

    They are all so beautiful! I especially love the one with the elephant. I hope you have a fantastic 2014!
    Jackie (Farm Lane Books) recently posted..Farm Lane Book Awards 2013

    • January 4, 2014 at 10:50 pm
      Jan. 4, '14

      I like the elephant one a lot too, everything sort of came together for that shot, not to mention that it was a great day!

  5. January 1, 2014 at 8:56 am
    Jan. 1, '14

    WOW. Every single one of those is just stunning. I think my favorite one might be the photo with all the lanterns, though it is so difficult to choose! What a task that must have been to narrow down to just fifty!
    Casey @ A Cruising Couple recently posted..Going On A Family Holiday In A Motorhome?

    • January 4, 2014 at 10:52 pm
      Jan. 4, '14

      Thanks! So glad you enjoyed them! Seeing that temple was quite an experience. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make it back at night, which would have been really stunning!

  6. January 1, 2014 at 9:42 am
    Jan. 1, '14

    What an incredible collection! I don’t know how you were able to choose your favorites from all the stunning images you both have taken over the year. Your portraits are especially captivating. I can’t wait to see what moments you capture in the new year!

    • January 4, 2014 at 10:52 pm
      Jan. 4, '14

      Thanks so much! Portraits are still my favorite thing to shoot! I just love how interesting people are!

  7. January 2, 2014 at 4:51 am
    Jan. 2, '14

    Awesome photos – it’s images like these that make me stop for a second and realize that we live in an incredibly beautiful world!
    Such pretty landscapes and intense portraits.. your photos are really, really good!!
    Zara @ Backpack ME recently posted..Dim Sum Friends

    • January 4, 2014 at 10:53 pm
      Jan. 4, '14

      Thank you! The world really is beautiful, even in places you wouldn’t expect to find beauty! It’s everywhere!

  8. January 2, 2014 at 5:36 am
    Jan. 2, '14

    WOW! I can’t wait to get there! Such amazing photos 🙂

    My favourite is Preah Khan temple!
    Jimmy Dau recently posted..2014. It’s going to be a big one.

    • January 4, 2014 at 11:54 pm
      Jan. 4, '14

      Thanks! We’re excited to get the chance to tell all these stories too, even if it will take a while 🙂 Angkor was pretty amazing, narrowing those photos down was one of the hardest parts. I could have easily had twenty Angkor photos alone!

  9. January 2, 2014 at 5:46 am
    Jan. 2, '14

    I am really impressed by your photography skills. All of these photos mean the world to you and bring back amazing memories from the road, I believe. If I had to pick up one, I would definitely go for Thean Hou Temple for Chinese New Year. Yes, it’s all about red!

    • January 5, 2014 at 12:16 am
      Jan. 5, '14

      Thank you! I love the temple picture, and you’re not the only who likes here as well! Sometimes a shot just presents itself to you! It was quite a spectacle at the temple that day, that’s for sure.

  10. January 2, 2014 at 8:06 am
    Jan. 2, '14

    It has been months since I opened my feed reader, and I had to do the dreaded mark-as-read for all my blogs, with all the build-up. I’ve missed seeing your updates, so I was so happy you have this as a sort of mini-run-through of what I’ve missed! All those pictures of Indonesia!! Sooo jealous, haha. Such great photos here, that elephant!!!!! 😀 You know me. 🙂
    Amanda recently posted..A New Year, A New Beginning

    • January 5, 2014 at 12:34 am
      Jan. 5, '14

      Glad you checked in, and you’ll be happy to know that you haven’t missed any of this! We may have done it all over the last year, but we’ve yet to blog about it, so stay tuned!

  11. January 2, 2014 at 1:47 pm
    Jan. 2, '14

    wow. amazing photos.

    • January 5, 2014 at 12:37 am
      Jan. 5, '14

      Thank you!

  12. January 5, 2014 at 6:47 pm
    Jan. 5, '14

    Wow, just wow. What AMAZING pictures! My favorites were definitely all of the smiling faces that you captured during your travels. Cannot wait to keep reading in 2014! 🙂
    Chanel @ La Viajera Morena recently posted..KAWS in New York City

    • January 6, 2014 at 3:45 am
      Jan. 6, '14

      Thanks so much! I’m so glad you liked my shots, especially the portraits, they’re definitely my favorite thing to shoot! Looking forward to hearing from you more as we keep on writing 🙂

  13. January 10, 2014 at 12:09 am
    Jan. 10, '14

    What a gorgeous selection! I couldn’t pick a favorite : everything is so rich, detailed, moving, breathtaking. But I have to say I do love that gorgeous, smiling shot of you guys with the snake. Thanks again for sharing your beautiful adventure with us! 🙂
    kay recently posted..Mostly Wordless Wednesday – Knit Christmas Gifts 2013, Stuffed Edition

    • January 10, 2014 at 1:03 am
      Jan. 10, '14

      Thanks! There was a time when I probably would have thought twice about holding a snake like that. I guess being out in the world has lowered some of my barriers!

  14. January 10, 2014 at 9:04 pm
    Jan. 10, '14

    Hi Tony and Steph, this is an amazing series of really stunning photos. They look like Lonely Planet’s Photos of the Year collection. It’s hard to pin down favorites. Your landscape shots are absolutely breathtaking (your Annapurna shots made my jaws dropped) but I must say that your people shots are very powerful and they speak to me. Some of the photos brought back fond memories of my previous trips – Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Nepal. I look forward to see your post on Annapurna. Resolutions? To take more domestic road trips. And with your help, to create a bigger and better blog! 🙂
    Marisol@TravelingSolemates recently posted..Iceland: The Winter Glory of the Golden Circle

    • January 11, 2014 at 7:31 am
      Jan. 11, '14

      I really appreciate your words on my photos! I’m really proud of them (and the ones Steph shot!). It was a good year for us, that’s certain. Let’s hope all your resolutions come true! I know one of them is pretty certain! 🙂

  15. January 11, 2014 at 3:58 am
    Jan. 11, '14

    Love, love, love your photography. Wow! I love your story and photo of the cuttle fish…too darn cute! And the red lanterns are stunning…but then all of your photos are fantastic. We just recently went to the Gardens by the Bay, but we went in the daytime. The whole day, I was lamenting the fact I didn’t do it at night, but alas we had to catch the plane back to work. Beautiful!
    Corinne recently posted..Fishing Boats in Malta

    • January 11, 2014 at 7:33 am
      Jan. 11, '14

      Thanks so much! Gardens by the Bay would be pretty cool anytime, we started during the day and stayed through dark, it was pretty cool to see the transition. Still, it was good during the day too! I love a good cuttlefish, defnitely one of my favorites to run into under the water! Thanks for reading!

  16. January 11, 2014 at 8:24 am
    Jan. 11, '14

    Hey, Tony! Tell me please which camera did you use to make these photos? Especially I’m interested which lenses did you use? Your photos have a superb quality. I want to buy the same lenses and camera to make so beautiful photos in my travels!

    • August 14, 2014 at 12:25 am
      Aug. 14, '14

      Hey Alex! Wow, so I hope I’m not too late on this one, missed it completely somehow… yikes. So I shoot an Olympus OM-D EM-5, and love love love it, and my wife shoots a Panasonic GX-1, and it’s pretty good too. We use the Panasonic 20mm f 1.7, the Olympus 45mm f1.8 and the Panasonic 14mm f2.5 for the most part. All fantastic lenses! Thanks for your comment and thanks for reading! Good luck!

  17. Bryant
    January 11, 2014 at 7:42 pm
    Jan. 11, '14

    Amazing photos! I liked the first one too 🙂 Not a single photo from the Philippines?

    • August 14, 2014 at 12:26 am
      Aug. 14, '14

      Thanks so much! I wish we had some shots from the Philippines, but, sadly, we weren’t there in 2013. Breaks our hearts too, but we’ll be back one day!

  18. January 12, 2014 at 12:09 am
    Jan. 12, '14

    Amazing photos guys! It’s so difficult to choose a favourite. Perhaps the guy on the cyclo wizzing by. By the way, do you have any bad photos?
    Andrew recently posted..Video: Three Months in Thailand

    • August 14, 2014 at 12:27 am
      Aug. 14, '14

      Haha, thanks! We have bags of bad photos. This is 50 out of almost 25,000 we took in 2013…. so there were a few losers, yes! 🙂 But, somehow, we end up with a lot of keepers too!

  19. January 29, 2014 at 1:24 pm
    Jan. 29, '14

    What an amazing collection of photos! As an amateur photographer and budding travel blogger I was impressed with your selection and variety. We traveled to Thailand last November and are headed to India and Nepal in March so I was especially interested in those pictures. Thank you for further inspiring me.

    • August 14, 2014 at 12:29 am
      Aug. 14, '14

      You’re welcome! The best thing you can do is go out and shoot! Good luck, and keep clicking! Nepal is amazing for photographers, there is something beautiful or interesting (or both) happening at every turn. Kathmandu was especially nuts! Enjoy!

  20. June 2, 2014 at 12:23 pm
    Jun. 2, '14

    AMAZING PHOTOS!!!!!!

    • August 14, 2014 at 12:29 am
      Aug. 14, '14

      Thank you so much!

  21. Ingrid
    August 12, 2014 at 9:28 pm
    Aug. 12, '14

    What incredible photos! I’ll be leaving for my own epic journey in a year’s time and your website is certainly giving me heaps of inspiration (and itchy feet)!

    Think you should definitely start a section with some tips on how to capture the images you do (for people not as experienced) :p

    Great website guys. Keep it up!

    • August 13, 2014 at 8:34 am
      Aug. 13, '14

      Thanks for the kind words, Ingrid! We’re so happy to hear you are finding the site an inspiration and are excited that you’ll be heading out to see some of these places for yourself!

      Also, thanks for your feedback on content/series you would like to see on the site. If you do a search through the “tips & tricks” category archive on the site, you’ll see that Tony has written a few photography articles, and he does intend to write more. It’s good to know the interest is there… that might motivate him to get another one done sooner rather than later! 🙂

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