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Beyond Angkor Wat – A Photography Tour

Journeys Within is now offering Photography Tours with professional photographer, Chris Cusick.

By Narla Phay

Taking photos is one of my favorite pass times in Siem Reap, whether I am using my DSLR camera or my iPhone. I don’t have a great deal of time to practice but I take the opportunity to head out on photography days whenever I have the chance. In the last few months I have spent some time with my younger Cambodian friends learning all about my DSLR, but spending the day with our pro-photographer, Chris Cusick really gave me the chance to increase my photography skill level.

On our photography tour, we visited 3 main locations around Siem Reap including Phsar Leu (Siem Reap’s largest local market) & Wat Bo Pagoda in the morning and in the afternoon we visited Kompong Phluk stilted village. Of course, I have visited all of these places before, but visiting them on a photography tour is different. You start to look closer at the small happenings around you, trying to choose the perfect moment to take the shot. Chris helped me to understand a little more about photographing people and taught me all about what moments and the best angles to look for.

This was especially helpful to me since I have always had more of a focus on portrait photography, but spending the day with Chris I learned more about photographing life and landscapes. One of the biggest things I had learned on this day is,  what is happening in the background is sometimes just as important as what is going on in front of you. Chris worked with me on some of the more technical settings on my camera, which really helped me to achieve the kind of images I had in my mind.

Spending the day on a photography tour is a really interesting way to observe the local culture. I really think that seeing life through a lens puts a new spin on things. Spending a day as a photographer really shows you the value of the culture around you through the images you go away with and I would highly recommend this as a fun and different way to spend a day in Siem Reap!

Guest Review from Adam and Heidi’s Honeymoon in Thailand

A open letter to April Cole, our Journeys Within-Honeymoon specialist!
Dear April,
What a trip! Physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Heidi and my two week Honeymoon to Thailand was beyond our wildest expectations. The culture, food, scenery, history, and most importantly people were all amazing.
And none of it would have been possible without Journeys Within. Heidi and I enjoy big cities, but we tend to get overwhelmed when we don’t know what we’re doing. But thanks to your fantastic activities and B’s knowledge (she was the best), we embraced Bangkok for the wild, crazy, and fascinating city it is. I liked the durian fruit a little more than Heidi did; she liked the bike ride through Ayuthaiya more than I. But we could both agree on a cocktail at the pool bar at Sofitel after a fun day of exploring!

 We both liked Chiang Mai more than we anticipated. Hotel Marndadee was a nice change of pace from the hustle of Bangkok. And many of our favorite activities came from these days: Patara Elephant Farm (don’t ask me how many pictures Heidi posted to Facebook on this day), alms giving and conversing with a monk, the Thai cooking class, and the hike exploration through the countryside. After the week of exploring, it was great to kick back and enjoy Koh Phangan. The villa and location was incredibly romantic; we felt like the world had given us this secret location just for us. And lastly, The Four Seasons on Koh Samui was paradise. The extravagance, beauty, and service was a hell of a way to end our perfect two weeks with a bang.

I often heard you use the word “magical” to describe different places and events in Thailand. As my friends and family have inevitably asked me “How was your trip?”, I have begun by describing it the same way: magical.
There were absolutely no hiccups logistically in the two weeks of travelling – an incredible feat! But even if there were, I knew that Journeys Within was always just within reach to help us out of any bind. That level of comfort was exactly what we needed for our first trip to Asia.
And more specifically, April, your personal touches in listening to how we wanted to spend our trip, combined with the utmost professionalism and knowledge, made a milestone event incredibly memorable. Thank you again for a flawless and truly once-in-a-lifetime journey.
With full hearts,
Adam and Heidi

Markets of Myanmar: A photo essay

Words and photos by Edna Kornberg

Fruit seller
Many exotic fruits are available.

The best way to know a country is through its people. Visiting the daily markets that each town has opens worlds. Myanmar was no exception.

Everything is sold from all types of foods (some of which Westerners would find extremely exotic, like fried ants!) to the basic vegetables, meats, fish and poultry. Colorful spices abound as well as a multitude of grains.

friend ants
Ready for a snack? How about some friend ants?

You could furnish a gourmet kitchen from all types and sizes of pots and pans, utensils, silverware, and drinkware.

The people (sellers as well as buyers) interact with each other as well as with the tourists which makes this a first class social event as well. It is a way of life that has been going on for decades even centuries.

The color and spirit and the din of everyone talking at the same time is infectious. The friendliness, warmth and humility of these people is contagious and so inviting.

Click here to view the photo gallery if not embedded below.

Ready to see Myanmar for yourself? Click here to have a Journeys Within regional specialist contact you, or call toll-free (877) 454-3672

How to incorporate your travel photos into your home décor

By Virginia Munsterman of Aspen Leaf Interiors

You’ve just arrived home from a fantastic vacation and your camera’s memory card is positively brimming with photos. If you’re like most people, you might post a few on a social networking site and upload the rest to the cloud or Dropbox, where they’ll more than likely sit unseen indefinitely.

Projects-Photo Display Rack 1
Photo by Jerry and Pat Donaho, Flickr

It’s easy for these images to be uploaded and forgotten, but in fact there really is no reason why these photos should not become a part of your home decor.

Perhaps the most important piece of advice for incorporating travel photos into a space is to focus on some element of congruity. When a similar element is repeated throughout a set of photographs, it pulls them together. And rather than having a disjointed array of images on your wall, the photos appear crafted into a tasteful collection.

Here a few ideas for finding congruity amongst your photographs:

Focus on a common color
You’ll always be able to find a background with some blues or yellows or pinks in your travels. Pick a color that you’re fond of or one that you’ll find often on your trip and turn that into a point of commonality. (See the photo above for a great example of color tying all the photos together.)

Black and white or sepia
If the color isn’t an option for you, another way to bring your photos together is to print them in Sepia tones or Black and White. This way, the visual chaos that can come from too many colors is removed, and what you’re left with is a pleasing, calm series of photos that draws your eye inward.

Framed !
Photo by Craig Sunter, Flickr

Print a variety of sizes of photos and don’t be afraid to mix up the frames to add interest. But again, focus on keeping a sense of congruity through these images, whether through color or theme.

Hallway - After
Photo by Kathleen, Flickr

Pick one, and make it a good one
The last and best piece of advice for travel photography is a bit more complicated, but results in a lovely arrangement. It requires a bit of planning beforehand:

  • Choose your composition: Before your trip, practice taking photographs using a certain specific composition of your choosing.
  • Take your photo carefully: Locate a striking scene on your trip and utilize your composition style. (Make an effort to ensure that the photograph is ideal – everyone’s eyes are open, the exposure is good, the composition is appealing and the photo is taken on your camera’s highest quality setting.)
  • Choose wisely: Pick a single image from each trip that has this similar composition.

Once you have enough of these photos, you can create a collage that highlights each image without feeling overwhelmed.

My Life In Pictures - 10th Nov, 6pm
Photo by Kris Williams, Flickr

About Aspen Leaf Interiors
Aspen Leaf Interiors is a full-service interior design firm with over 15 years of experience designing luxury residences in Lake Tahoe and Northern California. Our creativity, coupled with collaboration, puts our award-winning design team at the leading edge of exceptional interior design. Our style is influenced by architecture, as a firm believer that the structure and program will hint at what it wants to become. The inspiration for the different solutions we use in design comes from collaboration with the design team, traveling and exploration of arts and all forms of design.

We believe in designing spaces that reflect the lives of the people who will live in them. We are driven to create extraordinary designs that are personal and distinct, environments that inspire and delight you with detail, and rooms that envelop you in luxury and beauty. In our firm, we value showing up every day inspired and full of ideas, ready to explore and expand our resources, and eager to create unique design solutions for each challenge. We believe in listening closely to the client’s requirements, and then listening to the structure and programming, looking for hints at what it wants to become.

Make the most of your Thanksgiving holiday at Thailand’s Loi Krathong Festival

The Thai festival of Loi Krathong is celebrated annually on the evening of the full moon during the twelfth month of the Thai lunar calendar – corresponding to Nov. 25, 2015 this year.

Loi Krathong Festival

The name Loi Krathong essentially means “to float a basket,” and comes from the tradition of floating beautifully decorated baskets (krathongs) on a river, with participants making a wish and giving thanks as they release their basket.

During the festival, expect to see thousands of elaborately decorated krathongs floating down the waterways of Thailand – a sight that must be seen first-hand to be appreciated. And in the bigger cities, beauty pageants and even fireworks shows are common during the Loi Krathong festival.

At the same time as the Loi Krathong festival this year, another traditional Thai celebration – Yi Peng – will be celebrated. Also scheduled around the full moon, the Yi Peng festival features swarms of sky lanterns (khom loi), which float gently into the sky like luminous miniature hot-air balloons.

The khom loi are made from thin fabric, such as rice paper, stretched over a lightweight bamboo or wire frame, with a candle below the opening at the bottom. When the candle is lit, the warm air produced by the flame is enough to lift the khom loi into the sky.

Floating lanterns
Photo courtesy of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

In addition to the floating marvel of thousands of candle-lit khom loi, Thais also decorate their homes, gardens and temples during the Yi Peng Festival with elaborate paper lanterns which add to the amazing beauty of the countryside during this special time.

Best places to experience the festivities

Chiang Mai – a history city in the mountainous region of northern Thailand – is where we normally recommend people experience the Loi Krathong festival due to the unique history of the festival in this locale.

The ancient Thai capital city of Sukothai is another great bet for guests who have been to Thailand before and wish to experience the festival in a less touristy area.

Finally, there are celebrations in Bangkok, in the beach towns, and throughout the country if neither of the locations above works with your planned itinerary. The festivals will include events from Nov. 24 – 26 in 2015.

Journeys Within always send our guests with a guide who can explain the historical significance of the festivals, help navigate the crowds, aid in building krathongs and lanterns, and find the best locations to experience the festivities. Due to the popularity of these festivals in Thailand, travelers can expect large crowds – especially in the urban areas – however, it’s worth putting up with the crowds to be a part of such a magical time.

Book now to ensure the best accommodations for these unique festivals

Given the popularity of the Loi Krathong and Yi Peng festivals in Thailand, and the fact that they fall over the convenient Thanksgiving holiday break for U.S. travelers this year, we recommend booking your tour ASAP to ensure the best experience.

Our expert tour planners can plan the perfect itinerary around experiencing these two amazing Thai festivals, while also incorporating cultural excursions in smaller Thai villages, shopping trips to Bangkok, or relaxing days on the white-sand beaches Thailand is famous for.

Call our Thailand experts at (877) 454-3672, or submit an inquiry here to start planning your Thai festival tour today.

Preview the Loi Krathong and Yi Peng festivals