Cappadocia made me question my existence.

Have you ever had a moment in life, where it literally took your breath away, and all you could think is how beautiful this planet is, what is the reason for the existence of the human race, and what is the purpose of your existence? One such moment in my life was a when I took a trip to Cappadocia, Turkey, in Spring 2012.

I was doing a Greece-Turkey- Dubai trip with a good friend of mine. Due to our hectic work schedules, we had only 11 days including 2 travel days for Turkey and Greece before she would go back home and I would move on to Dubai. It was my first trip to all of the above countries and I was super excited. We knew we had to do the capitals for both countries, but we really also wanted to do Santorini (I always wanted to go there with a romantic partner, but since it hadn’t happened yet and looked like it wasn’t going to happen anytime soon back then, I decided to go ahead with my girlfriend!) and I also wanted to do Cappadocia and Pamukkale in Turkey.

Since our schedule was so tight, we could only fit in 4 places out of these 5, so we planned out this itinerary: Singapore—> Athens (3nights)—> Santorini (2nights)—> Cappadocia (1 night)—> Istanbul (3nights). My friend headed back to Singapore due to her work schedule while I headed to Dubai for 5 days before I headed back to Singapore. We made all our flight and accommodation bookings online while in Singapore.

While planning, I realised that there was no direct flight between Santorini and Cappodoccia. So this is how we went about it:

  • We left our Santorini hotel at 9am and headed to the airport. 
  • We took a flight from Santorini to Athens.
  • We then had to take a flight from Athens to Istanbuls Atatürk airport.
  • From Atatürk airport we had to take a 1.5 hr van journey to Istanbuls Sabiha Gökçen airport. (I was told it usually takes an hour but because there was midday traffic, we took longer.)
  • From Istanbuls Sabiha Gökçen airport we took a flight to Cappadocia. 
  • From Cappadocia airport we took a 1hr van journey to the town of Goreme where our hotel was located. 
  • We finally checked in at 11pm!

That’s 3 take offs, 3 landings, and 2 hour-long van journeys. 14hrs later, we arrived to an after-dark Cappadocia. There aren’t many street lamps, so hardly anything is visible at that hour. We checked in to our beautiful cave room. Since the hotel wasn’t full for the night, we were thankfully upgraded to a bigger room that accommodates 4 people. Our plan was to go to the rooftop and chill out with some wine, but we were too exhausted and hit the sack once we showered.

We had booked to go for the hot air balloon ride for the next morning. The arrangement was done via email through the hotel prior to our arrival. The balloon company was Royal Balloons. Pickup was at 5am, so we had to be up at 4am. The next morning, we quickly showered and munched on some biscuits before our pickup arrived. We picked up other tourists doing the hot air balloon ride. It was still dark so we didn’t see the beauty of Cappadocia yet. We drove to the Royal Balloons base and had a light breakfast with hot beverages there. We were then divided into groups and took the van to site of ‘take off’.

That is when the magic started. The Royal Balloon guys were preparing the balloon. They were very friendly and were showing us around and telling us what was happening. When the balloon is laid flat on the floor, you realise it is huge. I’ve seen them in movies and pictures, but you never really realise how big they are, until they’re laying there flat on the ground next to you! The guys started the fire and soon the balloon was ready to take its flight. We had opted for a 14 pax balloon as compared to the 24 pax balloon, as we preferred to have more space and less people so we could have a good spot to admire the beautiful view and capture these memories on camera. The cost difference at that time was 30E more per pax, which I thought was worth it, cos I really didn’t want to be pushed around and fight with other  passengers to have a good view.

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Prepping the balloon.

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Almost ready for take-off.

We hopped into the balloon basket, and up up away we went. The sun had just started to rise, and that is when Cappadocia finally revealed itself to us. That view, that landscape, that feeling, that air, that warm sunlight, EVERYTHING was magical. Words cannot describe that moment. Hundreds or more balloons were also taking their flight and the sky was filled with these colourful balloons.

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We couldn’t wait to go up, up, and away!

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Such beauty. 

It’s a surreal feeling. You are overlooking such a beautiful view in the most beautiful light; it’s simply mesmerising. My friend and I were just in awe, and the 2 of us were unusually quiet. No, it wasn’t because we were tired from the travelling the day before or the little sleep we had, it was because we were overwhelmed by such a breath-taking moment, we were just taking it all in. I turned to look at her a few times, and she just had her head rested in her hands on the basket, glowing with the warm light falling on her face; she looked beautiful and at peace. That moment is so magical, you can’t imagine that such beauty exists, and your mind starts to wonder and drift away…

It made me question how these rock formations developed. It made me question how people in the past lived. It made me question how the human race is connected. It made me question if the other 12 people in the balloon with me were feeling the same warm feeling I felt. It made me question our balloon riders feelings- if he has done this so many times that he doesn’t have any feelings, or does it still take his breath away everyday. It made me question the different cultures in the world. It made me question the existence of the human race. But more importantly, it made me question my life’s existence. It made me question how little I am compared to this planet, and what I mean to the world. It made me question who I really am, and who I really want to be.It was at that moment when I knew that the life I was living was good for me for then, but it wasn’t what I wanted in about 5 years. I knew in that moment that I had given away more control over my life to other factors (particularly my job) than I would have liked to. I knew that things had to change, slowly, but surely.

The balloon guys were haggling and pulling the rope below me so that we could land safely. We were welcomed back to land with champagne and a medal each for having completed the balloon ride. I loved that we had landed in a very quiet spot and it was only our group in sight. It was a vast land with just 1 tree in view. Champagne flutes clicked and everyone was in high spirits. We took pictures and helped ourselves to more bubbly. We were all laughing and joking around and I had that feeling of pure happiness from within. That happiness can’t be described with words, one can only feel it.

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The guys below ensuring we had a safe landing.

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Setting up for our lil champagne party at 7am!

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Getting my medal!

The Royal Balloon guys started rolling up the balloon on ground. One of them came up to my friend and I and said something in Turkish but were signalling taking pictures. I figured he wanted to help us take a picture. As I passed my camera to the guy to take a picture for us, the rest carried my friend and I and threw us in the rolled up balloon basket. It was such a random surprise. It totally made our hot air balloon ride experience a lot more complete. Everyone can experience the balloon ride, but not many have that experience of suddenly being lifted up by some strong, young, good looking Turkish men and then thrown onto a nice soft basket!

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After we both got thrown onto the rolled up balloon.

Next up for the day was a Green Tour that we had booked. I’ll leave that post to later, but for now, more pics below from our hot air balloon experience. Enjoy!

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It was such a surreal feeling to be there and see this.

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A Turkish flag kinda balloon.

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Hard to imagine but people once lived here.

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Nope, not getting paid to promote them, just so happens I like this shot.

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Laid flat, ready to get rolled up before it sets flight again the next day.

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Just a wilted tree through my bubbles.

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I can’t wait to go back again!

Indonesian Islands

I’m sorting out my travel wish list for 2015 and I really am not sure how I am going to check each one off my list! But I also believe when there is a will, there is a way! I will put up another post with the places I’d like to visit this year in a week or two, once I figure it all out.

One of the travel escapades on the wish list is to explore the Indonesian islands. It is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now. I have been to Bali 5 times now, and I have done all the main touristy stuff, visited some of the best beach bars, lazed on the beaches and trawled through all the shopping streets for countless hours. However, this time around, I’d like to explore further out from the main hustle and bustle of the island.

After some researching, I came across some really beautiful islands around Bali. I’ve heard from a few friends who have been there that these islands have some gorgeous beaches and are less commercialised, hence less crowded. The plan is to travel to Bali—> Nusa Lembongan—> Gili Islands—> Lombok or vice versa. The good thing is these places are very easily accessible by ferries that operate daily to and from most of these islands. They are reasonably priced so that’s great, but the downside is the journey might take a couple of hours. Sometimes, the weather may be bad which means bumpy waters which means chances of getting sea sick are high! Alternatively, there is a flight between Bali and Lombok which might be a better option if you aren’t too tight on budget.

The plan is to enjoy these places and at the same time do some photography work. I can’t imagine being in these beautiful places without my camera! My fingers start to itch and my mind gets all inspired to get creative and compose beautiful shots! Do you get that too? It’s like my mind is in an overdrive mode and my fingers follow suit.

I’m planning out my travel calendar for the next 6 months and am trying to figure out when is the best time to get there. If you have any suggestions, pls feel free to drop a comment. 🙂 In the meantime, below are some pictures I took in Oct 2013 on a trip to Bali. I took them at Kuta Beach, famous for its sunsets.

Enjoy!

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Locals and tourists taking a stroll on Kuta Beach as the sun starts to set.

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Everyone enjoying this fierce sunset.

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Some local kids play football as the sun sets over the horizon.

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I love how colourful the sky is.

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The kids drinking some water from a little water fountain after their game of football.

Fashion & Lifestyle Blogger Photo Shoot in Paris.

One of my first photography assignments in Paris was shooting Travel & Lifestyle blogger Virginia Anne. Virginia is originally from Denver, Colorado, and moved to Paris in late 2013.

I met Virginia in French language school and we hit it off immediately. I’m sharing pictures of the very first photo shoot I did with her below. Her focus was on her dress, sunnies, earrings and shoes. You may check out her post on this outfit at http://revivaldreamsparis.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/tuesday-paris-street-fashion-15/ .

We decided to take the photos in Champs de Mars, the huge park across from the very famous Eiffel Tower. We agreed that the mood should be very typical Paris for her first fashion post, and of course, there is no place better than right in front of the Eiffel Tower. Very cliche, but then again it’s as Paris as Paris can be!

Enjoy!

Xx,

V.

 

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Virginia is in focus while the background is out of focus, to give a bit of the dreamy Parisian summer effect. Her main focus in this shot were her sunnies and earrings.

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Long shot to show her full outfit.

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This shot was candidly taken. She was walking in front of me so we could get closer to the Eiffel Tower. I composed the shot and called out to her. She turned and flashed me her million dollar smile. Voila!

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Shoes! Shoes! Shoes! An outfit is not complete without the right pair of shoes!

 

Photowalk: Pont des Arts – ‘The Love Bridge’

In my opinion, Paris is all about the ‘air’. There is just something about the air. I’ve always felt that there is a certain romance and wonderlust that just floats around in every part of this beautiful city. One of the best ways to experience this city is by foot. Yes, wear comfy shoes so you can walk for hours and take in all that atmosphere. It’s hard to explain, but there’s just something about Paris!

One of my favourite places to photograph in Paris is Pont des Arts, also know as ‘The Love Bridge’. It’s one of the many bridges across the famous Seine. This bridge is just across from Louvre and the nearest Metro stations are Pont Neuf (Line 7) and Louvre-Rivoli (Line 1).

I enjoy taking a walk down this bridge and people watching. Many times, I’ve seen couples in action, locking their love and throwing the key into the river. They say that their love will last forever by doing so, though I’m not sure how true this is! Couples just tend to cuddle up a bit more, tourists seems to go crazy taking photos and the rest of the people just seem to have a warm glow on their faces.

Photography wise, I love that it’s so rich in colour. I love colour and I chose to photograph it despite the rain, as I love the contrast of the saturated colourful locks against the grey skies and gloomy atmosphere. You’ll see this contrast in the wider shot pictures below. Also, I feel the rain and grey skies add on to the already romantic atmosphere!

Enjoy!

Xx,

V.

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Thousands of locks- thousands of eternal love promises.

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Rain or shine, this couple is determined to lock their love. Notice how they stand out in the foreground despite them dressed in mostly black? It’s because of the richness of the colour in the middle ground and majority of the greyish washed out colour in the background.

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You see locks in all shapes, sizes and languages.

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You’ll also see quite a few miniature ‘Eiffel Towers’ hanging on the bridge too.

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For every kind of love- couples, friends, parent and child. Afterall, love is love. I believe the pink lock was locked by a mother and child.

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On most days, the whole bridge is filled with so many locks that there is barely any space left. Therefore people lock their locks on the other locks, and they tend to stick out a little bit more, like this red heart-shaped lock.

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Because it was a rainy day, all the locks have raindrops on them.

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On one side of the bridge is the Louve, on the other side is the Institut de France, which you can see in the far back of this picture. Don’t you think this grey atmosphere just adds to the romance!

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I just had to do a Black & White version. 🙂

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015!

Happy New Year folks! Hope you had a fantastic NYE celebration! I had a simple celebration with 2 friends watching fireworks, sipping wine and getting all kiddy with some sparkler fun!

Anyways, 2014 has had to be one of my favourite years. I did what I’ve always wanted to do:

1) Live in Paris

2) Learn French

3) Do photography professionally

4) Travel like crazy

I am sometimes in disbelief how I managed to achieve the above, and how everything fell into place so naturally and smoothly. I am so thankful for the amazing times I’ve had, and I couldn’t have asked for more. I felt like I was living in a dream in 2014!

So, what’s in store for 2015 for me? I super excited to find out too!

I usually don’t have resolutions as I seem to get too anxious and stressed and feel horrible when I am not able to achieve them, which has usually been the case! However, this year, I do have a wish list of certain things I want to achieve. I wouldn’t call it resolutions though, as I feel that people tend to associate resolutions with negativity for eg, “I’m so fat I need to lose 20kgs this year“. I think that itself is a negative start to the new year!

One of my top wishes for this year is to travel equally much as 2014, if not more. Including Singapore (home country), I managed to travel to 15 cities in 2014, same as I did in 2013.

Here’s a list of my 2014 travels:

  • Abu Dhabi
  • Amsterdam
  • Bali
  • Barcelona
  • Bath
  • Brussels
  • Copenhagen
  • Dubai
  • Geneva
  • Ibiza
  • London
  • Paris
  • Phuket
  • Singapore
  • Venice

If you ask me to pick my favourite, I can’t one city has each city has its own unique ‘flavour’ and I enjoyed them all!

Another wish is to be more active with my posts here! Hence, I’m starting the first day of the brand new year with this post! My plan is less wordy but more photographic posts about my travels and work I do.

I’m going to end this post with a picture that sums up my travels in 2014. I will post more about each city over the next few days.

In the meantime, enjoy and have a blessed year ahead!

Xx,

V.

2014 Travels