Captured Moments: Our 50 Favorite Photos of 2013

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.

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.

SingaporeThe 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.
Melaka, MalaysiaOne of our favorite cities in Malaysia, the scenery in Melaka is almost as good as the food.
Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaA little girl in her family’s stall in Pudu wet market, an oasis of calm amidst the hubbub of the market.
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.
Bandar Seri Begawan, BruneiSultan Omar Saifuddin Mosque is one example of the many stunningly ornate mosques scattered throughout Brunei’s capital.
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.
Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaThean Hou Temple for Chinese New Year. So. Much. Red!
Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaHow do you take an interesting shot of such an iconic building? Try shooting the Petronas Twin Towers from below.
George Town, MalaysiaA driver, in his colorful trishaw, prowls the historic back alleys of George Town.
Koh Yao Noi, ThailandAt low tide, Steph walks across the beach towards the bay full of limestone islands.
Bangkok, ThailandA woman working a stall in Khlong Toei, Bangkok’s largest fresh market.
Hoa Binh, VietnamA 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!
Sapa, VietnamSome 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!
Dong Van, VietnamLocals 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.
Near Meo Vac, VietnamA 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.
Hoi An, VietnamOne 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.
Phan Rang, VietnamThe best bowl of soup we’ve ever had. Ever.
Phnom Penh, CambodiaA mysterious monk in Cambodia’s capital city.
Kampot, CambodiaAcross 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.
Kampot, CambodiaA young monk poses in his wat (temple) after giving us a tour and showing Steph how to correctly pray to Buddha.
Kep, CambodiaA crab fisherman bringing in his cages at the end of the day stops to admire the sunset.
Kampong Cham, CambodiaA monk’s bicycle in the local temple.
Siem Reap, CambodiaPreah Khan temple. Just one of the many temples we saw during our three-day exploration of the massive Angkor complex.
Ayutthaya, ThailandSometimes 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.
Chiang Mai, ThailandBathing the elephants at the Elephant Nature Park. This elephant let his mahout inspect his teeth on one condition: open mouth, insert bananas.
Chiang Rai, ThailandThe glitzy, gaudy, glorious White Temple.
Sukhothai, ThailandThe famous “gold nail-polish” Buddha. Nice manicure, no?
Bali, IndonesiaHarvesting 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.
Bali, IndonesiaDoes the floating temple rest on the water or in the clouds?
Bali, IndonesiaAn evening of traditional Balinese dance.
Flores, IndonesiaA small island off the coast of Flores. It’s real name is “Kanawa”, but we call it “paradise”.
Komodo National Park, IndonesiaA 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 National Park, IndonesiaOne 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.
Ruteng, Flores, IndonesiaRice terraces blanket the landscape as far as the eye can see near Ruteng.
Flores, IndonesiaAn overland adventure took us past a small picturesque village on the way to Ende.
Moni, Flores, IndonesiaOne of the colorful crater lakes of Kelimutu. It’s hard to believe that water that color can exist in nature!
Yogyakarta, Java, IndonesiaSeeking some solitude at the top of Borobudur temple.
Kathmandu, NepalOne of the many fake sadhus (itinerant holy men) who pose for a small “donation.”
Kathmandu, NepalPigeons are EVERYWHERE in Kathmandu, and this back-alley temple was no exception.
Kathmandu, NepalA small child in the back streets of Thamel district. She was VERY excited to meet us and have her picture taken.
Bhaktapur, NepalThe main square in the early hours of the morning when, just for a moment, the locals outnumber tourists.
Bhaktapur, NepalPeople lighting candles for the last day of diwali (festival of lights).
Pokhara, NepalA drastic change of pace from Kathmandu, the “Lakeside” near the tourist area of Pokhara is almost idyllic.
Annapurna Conservation Area, NepalTony conquering his fears and the first of many suspension bridges on the Annapurna Circuit.
Annapurna Conservation Area, NepalA gompa near Ngawal. In our more fanciful moments, we almost believed this gompa was as old as the surrounding mountains.
Annapurna Conservation Area, NepalThe view over Braga, near Manang. Vistas don’t get much better than this! It almost makes up for how very cold it was. Almost…
Bangkok, ThailandA ferry on the Chao Praya river. Even the boats display the fanciful peaked roofs so common in Thailand.
Bangkok, ThailandOne of our few brushes with Myanmar this year (we’ll make it there one day): us with a Burmese Python at the Snake Farm.
Ho Chi Minh City, VietnamYan 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!

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42 comments Leave a comment

  1. 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 🙂

    Dec. 30 2013 @ 11:54 pm
    1. Sonali Chauhan author

      Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the post!

      Jan. 4 2014 @ 10:43 pm
  2. 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. 🙂

    Dec. 31 2013 @ 3:50 am
    1. Franca author

      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! 🙂

      Jan. 4 2014 @ 10:46 pm
  3. 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.

    Dec. 31 2013 @ 10:57 am
    1. Kellie author

      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!

      Jan. 4 2014 @ 10:49 pm
  4. They are all so beautiful! I especially love the one with the elephant. I hope you have a fantastic 2014!

    Jan. 1 2014 @ 6:08 am
    1. Jackie (Farm Lane Books) author

      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!

      Jan. 4 2014 @ 10:50 pm
  5. 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!

    Jan. 1 2014 @ 8:56 am
    1. Casey @ A Cruising Couple author

      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!

      Jan. 4 2014 @ 10:52 pm
  6. 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!

    Jan. 1 2014 @ 9:42 am
    1. Heather author

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

      Jan. 4 2014 @ 10:52 pm
  7. 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!!

    Jan. 2 2014 @ 4:51 am
    1. Zara @ Backpack ME author

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

      Jan. 4 2014 @ 10:53 pm
  8. WOW! I can’t wait to get there! Such amazing photos 🙂

    My favourite is Preah Khan temple!

    Jan. 2 2014 @ 5:36 am
    1. Jimmy Dau author

      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!

      Jan. 4 2014 @ 11:54 pm
  9. 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!

    Jan. 2 2014 @ 5:46 am
    1. Agness author

      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.

      Jan. 5 2014 @ 12:16 am
  10. 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. 🙂

    Jan. 2 2014 @ 8:06 am
    1. Amanda author

      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!

      Jan. 5 2014 @ 12:34 am
  11. wow. amazing photos.

    Jan. 2 2014 @ 1:47 pm
    1. Hogga author

      Thank you!

      Jan. 5 2014 @ 12:37 am
  12. 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! 🙂

    Jan. 5 2014 @ 6:47 pm
    1. Chanel @ La Viajera Morena author

      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 🙂

      Jan. 6 2014 @ 3:45 am
  13. 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! 🙂

    Jan. 10 2014 @ 12:09 am
    1. kay author

      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!

      Jan. 10 2014 @ 1:03 am
  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! 🙂

    Jan. 10 2014 @ 9:04 pm
    1. Marisol@TravelingSolemates author

      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! 🙂

      Jan. 11 2014 @ 7:31 am
  15. 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!

    Jan. 11 2014 @ 3:58 am
    1. Corinne author

      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!

      Jan. 11 2014 @ 7:33 am
  16. 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!

    Jan. 11 2014 @ 8:24 am
    1. Alex Cardo @ Traveling Myself author

      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!

      Aug. 14 2014 @ 12:25 am
  17. Bryant

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

    Jan. 11 2014 @ 7:42 pm
    1. Bryant author

      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!

      Aug. 14 2014 @ 12:26 am
  18. 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?

    Jan. 12 2014 @ 12:09 am
    1. Andrew author

      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!

      Aug. 14 2014 @ 12:27 am
  19. 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.

    Jan. 29 2014 @ 1:24 pm
    1. Joanne Joseph author

      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!

      Aug. 14 2014 @ 12:29 am
  20. AMAZING PHOTOS!!!!!!

    Jun. 2 2014 @ 12:23 pm
    1. Jennifer O'Leary author

      Thank you so much!

      Aug. 14 2014 @ 12:29 am
  21. Ingrid

    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!

    Aug. 12 2014 @ 9:28 pm
    1. 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! 🙂

      Aug. 13 2014 @ 8:34 am

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