Panama City, Panama - September 2014

I can’t believe Panama City isn’t a bigger tourist destination… 6-7 hour flight, less then $800 r/t, they use the dollar, and it’s a modern city with good amenities but you still feel like you are on an adventure. And within an hour’s drive you can see a legit rainforest and a modern wonder of the world. We stayed in a modern skyscraper but spent most of our days and nights wander old town Panama. In general, it’s an incredible mix of old and new. 

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Bocas Del Toro, Panama - September 2014

Bocas is unexpected…  The town (not to be confused with the Province as a whole) is a Reggae-surf-Carribean-backpacker town with a very, very mellow vibe. Locals and surfers wander the streets and ex-pats run bars and shops all along the main drag. It manages to maintain some authenticity and even though there is plenty of foreign influence,  most of it maintains the eclectic, laid back vibe similar to that of the locals. For example, I met some fellow UCSD grads running a place called Taco Surf specializing in Carne Asada fries and California burritos. We were only there as jumping off point to the islands, but we managed to spend nearly a full day exploring. 

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Cartagena, Colombia - August 2014

My new travel camera (Fuji X-pro) has some cool panorama functionality and what better place to test it out than Cartagena. From the conquistador-built old city to the Miami Beach-esque skyline, this city has it all. We mostly just wandered the town and explored the old Spanish forts, but we also spent a day lounging in the islands offshore. Not a bad way to start our trip.

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Crissy Field, San Francisco - July, 2014

My good friends Jenna and Dom are getting married and they asked me to shoot some engagement photos, which I’d never done before. I think they turned out ok. They really only need 1 photo to use on their save-the-date, hopefully they have a hard time picking… 

These are a few of my favorites. Not necessarily  based on whether they’d actually be good ‘engagement photos’, I just like these ones.

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Mt Popa, Myanmar - April, 2013

If you didn’t know, monkeys are scary. Real scary. And mean.

We were the first people of the day to climb the thousands of steps up Mt Popa to catch sunrise from Burma’s most famous viewpoint. We must have been early and caught the monkeys sleeping because at first there were none, and our first glimpse of one brought the standard oohs and aws that normally come with monkey sightings. The stairs to the top of the mountain are covered in thin tin roofs and before long the pitter of monkey footsteps turned into a thunderous cascade. Monkeys literally started falling out the sky, hustling to get the best begging and hissing vantage points for the droves of Burmese tourists that would inevitably be making the pilgrimage to the temple at the top throughout the day. As the first ones up (and the only non-Burmese, lacking standard monkey defense skills) I think we got the worst of it.

By the time we made it to the top we had had our fill and I had taken 10,000 monkey close-ups. Here are my favorites with some landscapes mixed so you can see just how epic this place is, Monkey’s aside.

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Bagan, Myanmar - April, 2013

Bagan is similar to Angkor Wat in a Cambodia in terms of awe-inspiring beauty and size. Thousands of temples and stupas sprawl for miles in every direction. Unlike Angkor Wat, which is shrouded in jungle, Bagan is a desert that allows one to look off in any direction and visualize the size and scope in real time. Also unlike Angkor, with it’s ticket booths and swarms of western tourists, Bagan felt like we had it to ourselves. You get off the bus in ‘town’ and a random guy collects $10 and gives you a illegible slip of paper.

What Bagan lacks in infrastructure it makes up for in heat. Especially in late April. Unbearable, unrelenting, take a nap in a Temple because the sand outside hurts to walk on, heat. And of course everything is sacred which means no shoes and lots of calluses.

Sam, my new Israeli friend, and I made due by sporting longyis, traditional men’s Burmese skirts that allow for great airflow. I tried to bring the style back to the States but it just wouldn’t stick…

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Yangon, Myanmar - April, 2013

Myanmar is super different than anywhere else in Asia and Yangon is as Myanmar as it gets… ALL the men wear skirts (called longyi), everyone’s teeth are stained red from chewing betel nut, wide palm-lined avenues spotted crumbling French colonial architecture and massive gold stupas are the norm, and everyone wants to talk about the USA (but in a good way!).

I arrived halfway thru Burmese New Years, otherwise known as Thingyan, otherwise known as the Water Festival; which basically means 4-day water fight then the whole city goes to the Pagoda to celebrate.

Similar to almost everywhere else in Asia, the people in Yangon were extra cool, always friendly, and fascinating beyond words. Next post will be the people of Yangon. Stay tuned.

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