Thursday, January 01, 2015

Looking back at 2014 with 70 travel photos

2014 was another fantastic year! Although I've been unable to explore as much as before due to many commitments at home, I was still lucky to see and experience quite a number of destinations this year. Here are seventy travel photos I took last year.

Masjid Raya Al-Mashun is a landmark of Medan, Indonesia & the largest mosque in North Sumatra. It was built by Sultan Makmun Al Rasyid in 1906, designed in Amsterdam by Dengimans.
Huta Siallagan is a well-preserved traditional Batak community in Ambarita Village, Samosir Island, an island in the center of Lake Toba, North Sumatra, Indonesia.
Neon signs are another Hong Kong icon. And you'll definitely see plenty while night shopping in Mong Kok.
Man Mo Temple 文武廟 is the oldest temple in Mui Wo, Lantau Island, Hong Kong. We had to hike up to Pak Ngan Heung to get to the 400-year old temple.
Largo do Senado (Senado Square) in the Historic Centre of Macao, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Did an early morning shot of the square to start my day. No tourists!
I spent a few hours in transit in Singapore in the wee hours of the morning. Of course I had hawker food! This is Teochew Noodle in Pasir Ris, Singapore. That was a yummy midnight snack!
Bandos Island, Maldives is surrounded by a lagoon and a coral reef, perfect for snorkeling! And don't be surprised if you see baby sharks. I saw two of them swimming near the shore!
Nice white sand beaches, a lagoon and coral reefs around Bandos Island, Maldives
Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple in Trivandrum, Kerala, India dates back to the 7th century. But it is believed to be as old as 5000 years old. The current structure was built in 1731. It is said to be the richest temple in the world owing to its vast collection of gold, silver & precious stones offered by many generations of the Travancore royal family.
Tamil locals on the narrow street leading to Padmanabhapuram Palace in Thuckalay, Tamil Nadu. Although we crossed over to the state of Tamil Nadu, the palace is a property of Kerala.
Kathakali is a classical dance drama from Kerala, India known for the colorful make-up, elaborate costumes, detailed gestures and well-defined body movements.
Vembanad Lake is the largest lake in Kerala & the longest in India. We stayed overnight in a houseboat in the backwaters of Alappuzha (Alleppey).
This is what we saw at the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala, India! Wild elephants! 
Kerala's tea plantations in Munnar with the Western Ghats as a backdrop are so picturesque! Every turn was another beautiful scene to enjoy! Indeed this is God's own country!
We visited Fort Kochi & Mattancherry, the oldest parts of Kochi (Cochin) in Kerala, India this morning. It was an area colonized by the Portuguese, Dutch & finally the British. India's oldest European church, the St. Francis Church, is in Fort Kochi. Vasco da Gama was buried there from 1524 until his remains were transferred to Lisbon; but the tombstone is still in the church.
Pulau Redang is a popular resort island in Terengganu, Malaysia. The island is part of a protected marine park. We had lunch and spent the afternoon at Laguna Redang Island Resort.
Masjid Kristal (Crystal Mosque) is a grand mosque in Terengganu, Malaysia constructed in 2008 at the Islamic Heritage Park on Pulau Wan Man. The mosque is made of steel, glass & crystal.
Old shophouses line the main street of Kampung Cina (Chinatown) in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia
Ho Ann Kiong Temple in Kampung Cina (Chinatown), Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia is a Taoist temple built in 1801. It burned down in 2010 and was reconstructed following the original design.
View of Mayon Volcano from my hotel. Magayon! Marhay na aga, Legazpi!
Bulusan Lake at the Bulusan Volcano Natural Park in Sorsogon
Bulusan Volcano towers over the town of Irosin, Sorsogon
The former mausoleum of Tandang Sora at Himlayang Pilipino in Quezon City. Her remains were transferred to the Tandang Sora Shrine in Banlat a few kilometers away.
Viva San Isidro Labrador! The Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon starts with the morning procession of the images of San Isidro and his wife Santa María de la Cabeza (Blessed Maria Torribia) around the town. Houses along the route are decorated with fresh produce, native materials & kiping (brightly-colored, leaf-shaped wafers made of rice paste).
The Cortes Church sustained heavy damage during the earthquake that struck Bohol on October 15, 2013. The church is a National Cultural Treasure.
Fort San Pedro in Cebu City
One last look at the Rizal Monument before it gets photobombed. DMCI's Torre de Manila is slowly rising behind the monument, on the right. It's depressing just looking at those cranes!
No one gets tired of this view of Taal Volcano from Tagaytay City, Philippines
San Sebastian Basilica is the only all-steel church in Asia. The prefabricated steel sections were manufactured in Belgium and shipped to the Philippines in 1888. It was completed in 1891. The basilica is a National Cultural Treasure.
Traditional Philippine houses built during the Spanish colonial period in Cabuyao, Laguna.
Main altar of the Jimenez Church in Misamis Occidental. The patron of the parish is San Juan Bautista.
No, it's not Chinese New Year. This was a colorful temple procession (tsut sun) in Binondo, Manila, complete with lion and dragon dances, to celebrate the birthday of the Taoist deity Siong Hong Kong. Beautiful community event with no commercial advertising! 
Calle Real is the old downtown of Iloilo City. The district is being revitalized by the local government & private sector. Prewar buildings recently received a fresh coat of paint.
Flinders Street Station in Melbourne, Australia was completed in 1910. In the late 1920s, it was said to be the busiest passenger station in the world. There was talk in the 1960s to demolish the station and replace it with a new one. But Victorians fought for the preservation of this cultural icon.
St. Paul's Cathedral at the corner of Swanston and Flinders Streets in downtown Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne General Post Office is now a branch of H&M. It was designed in 1859, completed in 1887, damaged by fire in 2001 & redeveloped by adaptive reuse in 2004.
Crayfish boats & cruisers at Victoria Dock in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, with the famous Mures Fish Centre on the right.
The Tasmanian devil is the largest carnivorous marsupial. They grow to about 2 feet in length.
Up close and personal with kangaroos & wallabies at the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park
Port Arthur Historic Site is one of the Australian Convict Sites, a World Heritage Property. It is a reminder of the large-scale convict transportation to Australia in the 19th century.
Bright and sunny day in Sydney, Australia! Fantastic view of Sydney Harbour and the Opera House, a World Heritage Site, from Mrs Macquaries Point (Yurong Precint).
The Three Sisters is an eroded ridge formation in the Greater Blue Mountains Area of New South Wales, Australia, a World Heritage Site. The formation has profound spiritual significance for Aboriginal people.
Sydney Opera House on a Friday night. There are lots of bars & restaurants around Circular Quay with fantastic views of Sydney Harbour.
Winter morning at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia
Fantastic day at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia! It was raining when we arrived. But the sun suddenly came out, so I had to take this photo again!
There's a great view of the Sydney CBD and Sydney Harbour from Watsons Bay. The harbourside suburbs of Sydney are very picturesque.
Macquarie Lighthouse, Australia's first lighthouse, began operating in 1818
A local bus makes its way through Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea
The Joint Security Area of the DMZ is the only place in the DPRK where visitors can take photos of soldiers from the Korean People's Army, the fourth largest in the world after China, the US & India.
Kaesong City in North Korea was not bombed by the US. So its historical buildings survived the Korean War, several of which are World Heritage Sites.
View of downtown Pyongyang, North Korea from my room at the Yanggakdo Hotel. I must say I was impressed — wide tree-lined avenues, grand monuments & institutional buildings, very walkable, well-planned and extremely clean!
Beside the statues of the DPRK leaders at Mansu Hill in Pyongyang are two memorials 22.5m high & 50m long. They depict the Anti-Japanese Revolutionary Struggle and Socialist Revolution.
Thousands of North Koreans pay their respects at the Mansudae Grand Monument on National Day (September 9), the anniversary of the founding of the DPRK in 1948.
Juche Tower in Pyongyang, DPRK was completed in 1982 for the 70th birthday of Kim Il-Sung. Built to celebrate his Juche idea, the tower is 170m high. In front of the tower are statues of a worker, farmer & intellectual, symbolizing the spirit of the Korean people.
Students from Pyongyang universities wait for the start of a mass dance activity. Mass dances are held during every DPRK national holiday and serve as a social activity for the city's youth.
The Forbidden City in Beijing, China has too many visitors!
The Great Wall of China at Juyongguan (Juyong Pass). See that long line of people climbing up!
Look who we met at the Beijing Zoo!
Masbate is now promoting ranch tourism as owners open their ranches to visitors. And they're definitely proud of their cattle! We dropped by Sese Brahmans Ranch in Balud.
A Badjao woman weaves a mat or banig made from pandan leaves at the Ayuda Badjao Livelihood Center in Zamboanga City
A Yakan girl at the Yakan Weaving Village in Zamboanga City
Vintas at Great Sta. Cruz Island in Zamboanga City
The sandbar of Little Sta. Cruz Island in Zamboanga City. The island is not open to the public though.
This set of bas reliefs behind the sacristy of the Loboc Church in Bohol survived the earthquake. This used to be the entrance of the Jesuit House which explains why San Ignacio de Loyola is featured in the wooden relief.
Fantastic scenery at the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary. We visited Sitio Panlabuhan in Loreto, Agusan del Sur to begin consultations for a community-based  cultural tourism program.
Sitio Panlabuhan is a Manobo floating village at the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary in Loreto, Agusan del Sur, Philippines. They even have a floating primary school. Visitors are welcome to stay here to enjoy the exceptional scenery and experience daily life at the marsh.
La Inmaculada Concepcion Church in Culion, Palawan was part of an old fort built by the Augustinian Recollects in 1740. It was reconstructed by the Jesuits in 1933.
Malcapuya Island, Coron, Palawan, Philippines
Luna Watchtower in Luna, La Union was declared a National Cultural Treasure, together with watchtowers in Bacnotan, Balaoan, San Fernando and San Juan.

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