For folks who don’t know the Photoparade yet: The best travel pictures from the 2nd half of 2017 will be presented in a short article in 11 categories:
- Black & White
- Colour Contrast
- Best Photo
This is my second participation and most of my pictures were taken in Vietnam and Cambodia this time. I was already on my way to Southeast Asia in the first week of December – but thanks to the volcanic eruption on Bali I was not able to get to Lombok and Flores as originally planned. Since the selection of the best pictures was not easy for me, there is also an alternative to my first selection.
Let's just get started: Serendipity Beach in Sihanoukville is not exactly the most beautiful beach. Sihanoukville itself is not exactly the most beautiful city. In fact it is just a place you have to get to to visit the islands in the bay of Kompong Som. But although the beach is loud and annoying during the day (and especially at night), you will find a pleasant, quiet place for 1-2 hours shortly before sunrise.
As part of a Mekong Delta Tour we visited the pagoda "Vinh Trang". While I was absentminded humming the Streetfighter-Sagat-Stage-Melody (by the way, lying Buddas symbolize the past, standing Buddas the present and laughing Buddas the future) in the forecourt, there was a quite pleasant, quiet atmosphere inside the pagoda despite numerous visitors. Some rays of light entered the interior through several hatches and the incense was illuminated. By the way, I think that in Saigon you should probably simply search Google Maps for "Pagoda" and choose the nearest ones in the area for a visit (check beforehand that they are not on Tripadvisor): Except for a few locals you will be by yourself in the buildings.
Category "Black & White"
Saigon is an extremely exhausting city. If you think that you won't have a (small ?) breakdown or a day in which you are totally worn out and fall into bed, you will surely have a surprise. Nevertheless you can find plenty of photo motives of all kinds here. I'm not a big fan of portrait photography - I'm more interested in photographing people's activities: Some workers of a factory at the river in District 5 have gathered here and have a break.
As mentioned above, the most interesting pagodas in Saigon are those that are not listed in Tripadvisor or similar sites. You can find some interesting temples in the south of Ben Thanh-Market in direction to the river. In one temple a small dog was excited about every visitor, and in this picture the temple cat is having a little nap.
If you are looking for pepper, Kampot in Cambodia is a good choice. In addition to the round pepper varieties, the well-known "long red pepper" is also cultivated here, which also seems to attract some ants...
This is one of the first pictures on one of the SD cards that I took with me to Southeast Asia this year. Despite the fact that both in Cambodia and in Vietnam people decorate almost way too exaggerated for Christmas, you probably won't find any Christmas market there. This picture was taken in Heidelberg, my hometown, 2-3 days before departure - so this year we made it to the Christmas market . The strange Bokeh is produced from an adapted old Helios44-2 lens.
Once again Saigon: Markets, alleyways - even within the large blocks of houses - are not uncommon. It seems as if every square metre here is in use.
Category "Color Contrast"
On the way from Saigon to the Mekong Delta you will see wide green areas full of rice - the splashes of colour here are some workers who seize the early morning hours.
Kampot is well-known for its pepper, but every evening you can experience the famous "fishing boat race" downstream at sunset. From the promenade along the river, every tourist has certainly seen the typical turquoise fishing boats. But in the morning? The fish market opens its gates several hours before sunrise and soon the fishermen come from the south with their catch and the buyers from the north from the city. Fortunately, our accommodation in Kampot was not situated centrally, but only a stone's throw away from the market.
Bokor Mountain is one of the highlights on a trip through Cambodia: Starting from Kampot you can rent a scooter or a motorcycle and drive into the nature reserve. Although Chinese investors seem to be in the process of expanding a hotel/casino (much to the dismay of the monks in the neighbouring monastery), most of the time you can appreciate untouched nature. Behind the abandoned old catholic church next to the Bokor Hill Station you can enjoy a view of the whole coast - even the island Phu Quoc in the neighbouring country Vietnam can be seen from here.
Category "Best Photo"
"Ena & the Lights". Or something like that. In Siem Reap you can find the Pub-Street with some adjoining night markets, but in the long run Verena and I found it too exhausting - the bar owners seem to compete by turning up their sound systems. At a night market located further off we were able to do some quiet shopping and went out for a meal. Ps: I love the retro look of the old Sovjet lens .
Starting from Sihanoukville it is possible to visit the islands Koh Rong, Koh Rong Sanloem and Koh Ta Kiev. Although Koh Rong could best be described as the "party island" of all these destinations, you can easily relax here if you like. Visually, the sea in front of the beaches in front of Koh Rongs could also be a lake: I have never seen such shallow waves before.
If you visit Saigon, you will surely not skip visiting a rooftop bar. The higher the building, the more salted the prices of the cocktails. The building where we had cocktails in our first night in Vietnam wasn't that high but the view of the skyline was great - including the Avengers-Tower (if you have been to Saigon you know what I am talking about) and it created a great bokeh .
Category "Black & White"
Whether the flags are always waving in Saigon or were only attached there for New Year's Eve, they immediately stood out. On the selection wheel of my camera I had set "selective Color" on a free slot just for fun before the trip. In my pocket the wheel jumped into this exact position. As I wanted to take the photo, I was pleasantly surprised and took the shot without changing the settings.
There is no Asia trip without monkeys. The Wat Leu Pagoda in Sihanoukville is worth a visit. For its architecture, for the view of the city, but also for the tree in the middle of the monastery, which is full of macaques.
Beng Mealea is one of the least restored temples in Cambodia. A good example of how nature can retake everything. Compared to the temples around Angkor Wat this place is less visited. At least by western tourists. Huge Chinese tourist groups seem to account for 99% of all visitors. All in all, our expectations of a less visited, hardly restored temple that had been taken back by nature were somewhat overcast.
After two disappointing dives on Koh Rong Sanloem we decided to throw in the towel and book a 2-day liveboard to Koh Pring via a dive center in Sihanoukville. Unfortunately the plans had to be changed due to remnants of a typhoon coming from the Philippines into Koh Tang (we were still happy to be able to dive despite everything). "Sunset with tank" or something like that.
There are some districts in Saigon, which are photographically interesting, but far away from the tourist centre. The railway crossing in the east end is one of them. I was quite surprised by the conductor, who managed the traffic on her own and operated the barriers by hand - and the stoic calm in which she looked out for the next train for several minutes.
Category "Color Contrast"
Mui Ne in Vietnam is known for kitesurfing and its dunes. Nobody expects a "desert landscape" in Vietnam. While we visited the dunes we noticed many carelessly thrown away plastic bottles. Great for this photo, but certainly not sustainable for the environment.
When visiting Vietnam's south, you can't get around trying Cocos-candy. The dessert is almost exclusively made from ripe coconuts, but in some variations it gets additional flavours like chocolate, coffee or pandan.
No, this is not a Budda with boobs! The huge statue of the patron saint Lok Yeay Mao in the mountains of Bokor has many local visitors daily who bring offerings (mostly bananas). Thanks to good visibility I was able to take a picture from the old catholic church at Bokor Hill Station.
Category "Best Photo"
A photo of the Surfing Stormtroopers should not be missing. Koh Rong at sunrise !
You want more great photos? Take a look at the Alternative selection-Tab above
You still don’t have enough? A lot of travel bloggers take part in the photo parade. Have a look at Michael’s photo parade page !