A Slice of Life | Backpacking Stories

Taking a break from wedding photos and letting you guys know more about me. Before I became a professional photographer, I already had a passion for traveling. I’d go to places with my friends (or sometimes alone) and just go crazy taking photos. I love the experience of seeing and experiencing new things. Encountering different races and having new friends along the way is exciting for me. It was then a dream to be able to travel while having photography as a profession. I really didn’t expect that eventually, it will come true. Shooting weddings and visiting new places at once is indeed an awesome thing. At present, my goal is to visit all countries in South East Asia. So far, I’ve been to 5 out of 11. However, when I go to a country, I’m not a tourist and I just document the days as they go. There are touristy photos but this is more of a document of my travels.

Anyway, last Friday we asked the followers of our Facebook Page to choose what they want to see among the two long travels which I did. Both of which are 10 days long but I can say the two are incomparable. The one back in 2010 was a Vietnam to Cambodia to Thailand tour. Sadly, I had to skip Laos because it didn’t fit my schedule. I traveled alone and it was the most satisfying trip I’ve ever had. I found it thrilling not being part of an organized tour and getting lost in a foreign country. It is different going away alone, the only problem is I don’t have a photo of myself except for some mirror and shadow images. Almost a year later, I went on another trip but this time to Hong Kong where I met with some friends.  After a few days, I flew to Singapore for an amazing engagement session and also spent some time with my brother from Britain. This recent trip was equally fun but had a different meaning and feel to it.

So what are the results of the poll? Surprisingly, a lot of people don’t wanna leave out my recent trip. It is already a give away that the Indochina countries will win but I guess our followers would love to see HK and SG too. It was a tie between featuring the exotic ones and posting both trips. Since more people are looking forward to this, it’s what we’re posting and the Hong Kong – Singapore will be for next time. I’ll just update this by then. So here we go, after sorting through more than a thousand photos, here’s Mekong Memoirs. Prepare your coffee and a small snack for this quite long (yet entertaining) blog post of one of my favorite hobbies, backpacking. Feast your eyes and enjoy!

 

Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam’s biggest city was my first destination.

Tried the local pho, the ones here are definitely incomparable to commercialized pho restaurants.

In this part of the world, there are more motorbikes than cars. Automobiles here are very expensive.

Buddhism is widely practiced by the Vietnamese people. Temples are scattered across the city.

Incense spirals fill up this Buddhist temple. These are also known as Joss sticks.

The Ao Dai, Vietnam’s traditional dress for women, is still used in some schools.

One of the regular side walk snacks that is regularly seen around here is the Banh Mi.

Riding a cab here is quite pricey. I decided to hop on a bike and take photos at the same time.

In this temple, the monks let me roam the grounds. Fruits and other food are offered.

Relics and photographs from the Vietnam War are still displayed. Reminders of those dark years.

The Communist Party of Vietnam is the only legal political party in the country.

A lot of businesses from the West are starting to pop up around this district.

See the sign and the soldier looking at me? Guess what happened next?

Vietnam is slowly progressing. Foreign investors are continuously entering this former French colony.

I took a bus to Phnom Penh, Cambodia where I was welcomed by intricately designed Tuk-tuks.

Tuolsleng was a prison during the Khmer Rouge. It is the most haunting place I’ve ever photographed.

Torture chambers and the accessories for brutal acts are on display.

By just looking at these photos, you’ll get a feel of how gloomy and sad this place is.

The morning after, I visited the royal palace and some temples.

The painting on the wall to the left is a complete depiction of the Ramayana, an ancient Sanskrit epic.

Took a bike to the local market. Theirs was filled with a lot of people and stories.

Gold, silver and precious stones. Jewelers line up this part of the market.

Silk is one of the popular products of Cambodia.

People with missing limbs is no strange sight. After the Khmer Rouge, thousands of mines were left unfound.

Got the chance to feed an elephant with fruits and bread. Another check on my bucket list.

By sunset, I rented a boat which took me around the Mekong Delta. An important source of livelihood.

The next day, a long travel by land took me to my most awaited place, Siem Reap.

I arrived just in time for sunset. Capturing this beautiful silhouette of Angkor Wat.

I got the chance to have a short chat with a monk. He refused to give his name but it was enlightening.

Wall carvings are still preserved and protected. A lot of parts are still undergoing preservation work.

Monkeys are some of the friendly local residents of Angkor Wat.

There was a phase when heads of the idols were cut off. During the Khmer Rouge too if I’m not mistaken.

Getting lost was a fun part. Crossed a bunch of rubble and slid through small passages to find myself here.

Artists are everywhere. Painting is a local craft that they are really proud of.

The Bayon Temple. Still inside the Angkor complex, there is a total of 216 carved faces here.

Some kids playing around. Local residents flock the temple grounds to sell products to tourists.

Riding a bike is another fun way of going around the complex. Especially if time is not an issue.

By sunset, most people converge here at Phnom Bakeng, a temple mountain.

It was a like a melting pot of the world’s races. This is where the East meets West.

Fortunately, the restaurant where I had dinner had some traditional performances being presented.

This is Pub Street, filled with restaurants, bars and other fun stuff for visitors.

He is Meng, one of the friends I made. I promised to come back and buy one of his paintings.

Finally, the last country, Thailand. I arrived at Bangkok, the country’s capital. Traffic was really heavy.

Food was on top of my list here. Local Pad Thai, sticky rice, and as you can see above, insects!

An English woman and a French guy were my roomies, dinner and shared about our countries over beer.

I rode tuk-tuks but I wouldn’t suggest that you guys avail of it. Take cabs or boat, much faster.

Prayers of people are written on paper and are pasted on these wood.

An overlooking view from the Golden Mountain. See the contrast between the old and new?

The reclining Buddha, I was amazed by the size of this monument. It was astounding.

I was fortunate enough to capture the monks during prayer. It was a very intimate moment.

I’ll close this off with an amazing shot of Wat Arun. I bet this is unlike anything you’ve seen before.

I’ll update this soon with Hongkong and Singapore. So for those who voted these countries, watch out! What do you guys wanna see on our next non-wedding post? Feel free to drop some comments or suggestions below. Also, show some love by liking our Facebook Page. Next week we’ll be posting an engagement session featuring a couple from Japan! Wait for it. :]

  • Joan Manalastas - Inspiring.
    Thanks for sharing your experience, Benjie. :)

  • madel - excellent job

  • nikka - benjie!!! your photos never fail to amaze me! nag level-up ka na ha!
    ‘edgy, funny, yummy, captivating, awesome, breathtaking, sweet, lovely, romantic, majestic, inspiring …’ ironically, your photos are so beautiful they’re indescribable (can’t fight the right words to describe all of your photos).
    It’s like I’m viewing pics from an international magazine!
    I’m very happy for you..(gimme more eye candy, ok! hehe) take care always, God Bless!

  • bernardo neri - You’re one of the gifted photographers I’ve known. Showered with great sights on details, animating it to tell stories and making them ALIVE!!! Big Ups to you, Benjie! Clients will be happy to hire you as their wedding photographer. Good luck!

  • marisol - wow..your so great sir..two thumps up for you..galing galing!!

  • Benjie - Wow! I’m really glad a lot of you enjoyed viewing the photos. I’ll be posting more of my travels soon! :]

  • Cam - Awesome pictures Benj! Hong Kong pictures!! Hahahaha! :)

  • marga - benjie!!!wow! really great pictures! continue to inspire! Godbless! :)

  • Kirsten Stewart Little - You’re such an awesome and brilliant photographer,. I want to be like you., Different cultures is also the best subject for photoshoots!! That’s my dream.,., sana makasama ako haha.,., galing nung sa bike ha one hand lang!!! sana next time kasama ka na sa photos!! Nice flower shoot unique na unique!! Keep it up and good day!!!!

  • Jenn - Loveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee <3 <3 <3

  • bim alejandro - you travelling is envious enough, but angkor wat and local pad thai made me more green with envy! :) your shots never fail to amaze me! excellent job and keep it up! :)

  • Benjie - Hey Shake! Thank you. I personally had problems sorting out which photos to post. I wanted to still remove some from this but it’s so hard!

  • Benjie - Thanks Jel! Research first before you leave. Update me about it. :]

  • Aleyn Comprendio - Benjie, please don’t make me pick a favorite from these pictures for it would take me longer than 24 hours to just narrow it down to 10 haha but seriously, these are beyond amazing! No words :)

  • Jel Lagman - Amazing Pictures Jie! :) I so envy you. Am planning to go to Vietnam on my birthday. Wish me luck :)

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