Epic Photo Location: The Banaue Rice Terraces

Of all the places in the Philippines, I think it was Banaue that I was most looking forward to. The images of the landscapes and rice terraces are all over the social media and marketing for The Philippines. I couldn’t wait to get my lens on them, and head out and explore them as well. But, as the jeepney I caught from Sagada rolled towards town it poured rain. At times, I’m sure the driver couldn’t see more than 10 meters in front of him because of the fog. But, somehow the ride was still a lot of fun. I should have known it would be a bit of foreshadowing for my next couple days in Banaue. The forecast was showers, with a chance of occasional brilliance. Wandering the Villages around Banaue With heavy fog in the air my first morning in Banaue, I slept in a little bit. Later in the morning, I headed out to do a village trek in the area. I started with a visit to a village called Tam-an. Just outside of Banaue, this little village is perched on a hill’s edge with incredible views of the valley. I stopped there, pulled out the drone, and took a flight to get an overview of the area. It was fun, not only because the views were beautiful, but because the drone served as such a nice ice-breaker into conversations with the locals. They all came out to chat. Then, I pushed on towards the village of Poitan. However, I managed to get totally lost on the way there and found myself wandering aimlessly through some rice terraces. By the time I found the trail down to Poitan, I was covered in mud all the way to my waist. Again, the hike down to Poitan was stunning. It cut across some rice terraces, but also carved along the cliff-side lending to some beautiful views of the area. By the afternoon, the rain rolled back in and cut into my dreams of shooting photos from the classic view of the rice terraces. No Batad, Bad Brendan! I had plans of catching a ride out to an area called Batad. The terraces out that way are meant to be the most beautiful in all The Philippines. However, it poured rain the whole day. And, if I’m being honest with you, I probably should have just fought through it anyways. Of course, the weather could have been better that way – although, to be fair to myself, it probably wasn’t. I hiked up to the viewpoint for sunrise, but struck out. Then, in the afternoon, I hiked up again...

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Beyond the beach, getting in touch with Dom Rep’s wild side
Feb15

Beyond the beach, getting in touch with Dom Rep’s wild side

It’s no secret to anyone that the Dominican Republic is mostly famous for its popular beach resorts, sprawling beaches and fine selection of all-inclusive resorts. Yet, that’s not all there is to a holiday in Dom Rep, neither should you stop at beach-basking and forgo the opportunity of immersing in the nation’s wildest side. If you’ve got a thirst for adventure and discovery, the Dominican Republic has plenty to offer, probably more than you imagined. Here we proceed to list five incredible adventures for experiencing the Dominican Republic’s rawest, most beautifully natural and wild side. For true nature lovers or adventurers at hearts, the places mentioned below will provide a fresh break from beachside monotony (and all-inclusive gluttony). So, if you can bear (or are desperate to) tear yourself away from the beach during your Dominican Republic holiday; these are your options. The last two attractions on this list are close to coastal towns, which means you can combine a relaxing stay on the beach, digging your toes in the fine Caribbean sands and working on your suntan before kicking it up a notch with some livelier, action-packed pursuits. Jarabacoa The first in our list is not a single attraction per se, but a variety of them contained in one single place – the beautiful town of Jarabacoa, the second largest municipality in the province of La Vega, surrounded by misty mountains in the heart of the Cordillera Central mountain range (also home to Pico Duarte, the next attraction in our list). It´s home to Dom Rep´s tallest peak (we´ll get to that one in a minute) and is the complete antithesis to the typical Caribbean holiday, the very reason that makes it a very special place to take a break from sun and sand. Take in the verdant countryside ambience, soak up the laidback charm and enjoy the scenic beauty of the “City of Eternal Spring”, one that has attracted hundreds of locals to set up holiday homes here. Choose from a variety of invigorating and engaging activities: hiking, canyoning, biking, river-rafting or horse riding. Or, take it easy and explore rural life at your own leisure. Pico Duarte This is not just Dominican Republic’s highest mountain, it is the Caribbean’s highest peak, simply no other mountain in the region quite compares in all of the region, making it a very special and challenging peak to climb for both advanced hikers and beginners alike. There are several routes to make your way to the top and conquer its admirable height, ranging in various levels of difficulty, from the most accessible, easier trails to follow to more strenuous (yet...

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A Day in the Life of a YouTube Star
Dec20

A Day in the Life of a YouTube Star

I’ve been running this series on my vlog called “A Day in the Life…”. And, if I’m being honest, I was kind of running out of styles of photography. However, this trip gave me an idea: I don’t have to be the host, every time! So, on this episode, I handed my GoPro over to YouTube star vlogger Claudia Ayuso. The girl is a ball of energy and is straight up crazy. I think she even managed to take her energy to the next level in this vlog. A massive thanks to Claudia for taking over the vlog for a day! It’s funny, I created this series to show you the work that goes behind certain types of jobs that people see as kind of glamourous. I wanted to show the behind the scenes editing, computer work, pitching, etc. that happens. However, Claudia is the type who doesn’t want her experiences interrupted by work. So, she really just drinks in the experiences and waits until she gets home to do all the video editing and office work. But, still, it was so funny to watch her run around India wild. I think it was also fun to see myself on the other end of the camera while she vlogged. I find Claudia to be absolutely hilarious, so I hope that through my edit and her craziness I was able to capture that. What’s Next? While in India, I did a Q&A for the viewers of my travel vlog. Rather than business and work questions, I made this a personal Q&A and answered the burning personal questions that many people have including “what happened to...

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Africa is My Therapy
Nov01

Africa is My Therapy

When lost in life, I’ve often looked to travel to be my therapy. I did so on my East Coast roadtrip through the US recently, and it just didn’t seem to really work. Then, I decided that maybe I needed a bit of Africa. I was right. In particular, Lesotho has been the best therapy. From the second I rolled across the border from South Africa into Lesotho I knew I was going to love it. The ruggedness, the wild attitude, the fierce mountains; it’s just stunning. On my first day in the country, I pushed towards a place called Bokong Nature Reserve. The reserve is over this incredible mountain pass where you drive over 3200m above sea level and through some of the most spectacular scenery. Unfortunately for me, the reserve is closed – and seems to have been closed for a little while. I’m told that they are doing maintenance to the park infrastructure. It’s a shame, because the views from there are special. I would have loved to have been able to sit up there and shoot some images. Instead, I drove back an hour to one of the few guesthouses in this part of Lesotho. The following day was a bit of an adventure. When going back down the other side of the pass near Bokong, I smashed into a large rock and bent the rim of my wheel. In doing so, I got a flat tire. Thankfully, the only tourists I’d seen in all of Lesotho thus far happened to pass by. They lent a hand changing the tire, and I headed off to a bush mechanic to try to repair it. Thankfully, I found a great bush mechanic at a gas station in basically the middle of nowhere. He hammered the rim back somewhat into shape, and I carried on. Finally, I ended my day in Semonkong where I made a short hike out to a waterfall called Maletsunyane which may be Lesotho’s tourism calling card. It is stunning. I can’t wait to come back out and photograph it in coming days. Some Photos from the Hike I’ll show you Melatsunyane Falls on the next post since I have a dedicated post about them. But, for now, here are some more images from the hike out there and back. What’s Next I’ve got at least a full day here in Semonkong, and I plan on spending it with a mix of work, relaxation, and then a hike out to the waterfall again. Then, I’ve got a couple more days here in Lesotho to...

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Off to Europe
Oct08

Off to Europe

Since I started this job 7 years ago, I don’t think I’ve ever been so ready to jump in a plane and head off to work as I was when I left for this trip. This past month was really heavy. It was a tough emotional month. And, if felt like it just dragged on and on. I’m really thankful for this month, too, though. It’s been a bit eye-opening. I think it’s pulled me back to being the person I really am; and made me realize what I want moving forward. I’m really grateful for all the challenges of this past month because they brought me to a better place personally. But, it was definitely a slog. My trip to Europe was a bit of a roundabout because I had no idea what projects were going to happen, or where I needed to be. So, a while ago, I just booked a flight to Paris. It was cheap as chips. I paid 120usd from Toronto to Paris. Like, how does that even happen? Sketchy Landing On my quick layover in Iceland I was reminded of how wild it can be there. When we were landing, the wind was blowing so hard it nearly knocked the plane out of the air. It felt like we were drifting into the landing. Honestly, it was so sketchy I was sure the pilot was going to bail on landing and pull up. But, these pilots always amaze me. Despite us seemingly flying sideways, they managed to put the plane on the ground so smoothly we hardly felt the plane touch the tarmac. To give you an idea how windy it was, our plane was rocking so hard after we landed that you almost couldn’t safely stand up. It was so windy, they couldn’t use the air-bridge to link us to the airport. We had to walk off the plane and down the runway. The wind was so wild, that I saw a lady get knocked clean off her feet on the walk, and the same almost happened to me. Jet Lag! In general, I’m pretty good at avoiding jet lag. But, for whatever reason it hit me like a tonne of bricks on this trip. I landed in Paris at about noon, and fought to stay awake until about 10pm. It was a real battle. Then, after falling asleep, I woke up again at midnight and couldn’t get back to it. By 7am, when I was meant to be on the move to the airport again, I was ready to crawl back into bed. Just how jet lagged was I? In the...

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