Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Beyond Happy: Korea Winter Photo Contest

Last December, a colleague of mine gave a piece of article from Philippine Star Newspaper. It was about the Korea Winter Photo Contest. She kept the article because she saw that I just visited Korea and she loved our photos from our recent trip. I felt really touched with her gesture and encouraging words. 

I was hesitant at first to join because the theme was about "winter" and during our visit it still looked like autumn season. But our travel dates were a part of the contest's time frame. I was really unsure what photo entry I can submit to depict "winter season'. But still I gave it a shot. 

I got really nervous because it was my first time to join a "photo contest" like this one. Oh well, aside from the mini contest held during my high school years. Nevertheless, I got too excited as well because I've always loved photography. I love taking pictures and cameras really fascinate me.I used a Nikon D3000 with an 18-55mm stock lens. Is it a sign to upgrade my lens? haha 

I passed my entry on the 6th of December and it was so hard for me to choose which entry. I was able to narrow down my choices into two. I asked some friends to help me  pick my final entry. And thankfully, my photo entry was accepted after so many revisions due to strict requirements.

On January 9, 2014, I received an email from the Korea Tourism Organization, Manila stating that my photo was chosen on the Top 40 list. I felt really happy that they were able to appreciate my photo. It was truly an unexpected surprise for me. The best part of the email was; "Your photo will be exhibited in the Korean Cultural Center. You will receive a separate notification if your entry is included in the Best 5 photos." Honestly, The photo exhibition itself was enough to make my heart oh-so-happy. I got so giddy with the thought that I will be seeing a blown-up picture of my work on Display. 

I didn't expect more and I felt really blessed already with the news that I've received. 
On the following day, I got another email from them stating that my photo was part of the Top 5, Silver Award. 
It was one "BEYOND HAPPY" moment for me. It was a surreal feeling at first. All smiles to know that other people get to appreciate the thing that you love doing. I call my Korea trip, a lucky one. I got to enjoy the place and their culture, do my passion: photography and travel, and lastly got some really good perks out of my trip (gift cards, glass trophy, LG mobile printer, be part of the photo exhibition). It was definitely oh so worth it. Now my passion for photography, travel and culture fueled a lot more. 
I got a thankful and a blissful heart for all the blessings. Definitely an EPIC way to start my 2014. Can't wait for more travels and unexpected surprises (hopefully my luck doesn't end here.) 

Thank you Korea Tourism Organization Manila for the opportunity and for appreciating my work. Thank you as well to Korea Cultural Center Manila for the photo exhibition chance. I am really amazed on how the Koreans really preserve and share their culture. So many more places to explore in Korea. 

I am such a Happy Lass! 
A photo together with my entry and awards last  January 20, 2014.  I wanted to caption it: "Love and Pray: Locking Love Promises and Wishes at the Love Tower (N Seoul Tower) and Saying a Heartfelt Prayet that they may come True (Temple). 
Gamsahabnida KTO and KCC!

Photo Exhibition: "Remembrance of the bygone days" at the Korea Cultural Center. January 20-27, 2014. 

Because I missed the Hanbok fitting during my stay in Korea. The closest to wearing it is a picture together with Korea's Traditional Dress.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Biking Destinations Around Asia

I love biking ever since I was a kid. It really gives me that ecstatic kind of feeling after every ride. 
I can still vividly recall my hard work, wounds and accidents back in my childhood years just so I can pedal a bike, balance and go further. And yes, all those battle scars were worth it. 
Until now, my love for biking never fades. Biking always gives me a different perspective about life and the places i see. It gives me an opportunity to slow down, see the world in an open space, savor every moment and lastly, provides a good exercise to the heart. These i believe contribute to the state of euphoria I am in after every biking experience. 

Every time I travel, I always try to check if I can go biking in my chosen destination. And luckily I was able to bike even away from home. Each biking trip I had was really unique and different. I compiled places around Asia where you can go biking with a group or even solo. I am hoping that I can add more to this list.

1. Singapore
 I had my first biking experience away from home during my solo travel in Pulau Ubin, Singapore.
Contrary to the Busy Singapore, this part is very laid back. It's a small island located North East of Singapore and also known as the last "kampong" village, imagine Singapore years back before tall buildings and busy streets sprouted. Biking in Pulua Ubin was like a scene in the famous "Back to the Future" film.

Bike Rental Cost: $6-$12/ whole day rental

Sights to See:

One of my favorite spots and it was really breathtaking. I called this the "Blue Lake". 

It was so hard to say goodbye to this Island and view. I am grateful to have witnessed this spectacular view. 

Well, a picture with my bike and travel shoes is a MUST. Thankful for my mini-tripod. 

You can read more about my adventure: Biking Around Singapore

 2. Thailand
Remember the famous "Temple Run" game? I call this next biking experience, "Temple Biking". Yes, it was like a temple run experience but on a bike. Can you guess what you'll see in this place? 
Ayutthaya, Thailand has a very rich culture. It is considered as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Biking in Ayutthaya is a bit challenging and risky compared to Pulau Ubin. In here, you'll bike around busy streets meaning 8 lane roads, hello monster buses and gentle giants. I was glad I braved and survived one hell crazy biking adventure.

Bike Rental Cost: 20 baht/ whole day

Sights to see:

One of the Temples (Wat), you'll see during the trip. Temples were everywhere. 

The famous "Buddha in the Tree". 
Another MUST photo with my bike and travel shoes. Oh hello there Dumbos! 

You can read more about my adventure: Biking Around Thailand.
3. Korea
Being born and raised in a tropical country where there are only 2 seasons, this biking trip really made me so exhilarated. I was able to explore and bike around Nami Island, South Korea during Autumn Season. I felt blessed to have witnessed another impressively beautiful nature. 
Nami Island is a small half-moon shaped Island. It became a popular tourist attraction because it showcases different scenes every season and also the shooting location of the famous Korean Drama Series, Winter Sonata. 

Bike Rental Cost: KRW 6,000/ 30 minutes. (The bike rental was expensive compared to the others but you can tour the whole island by 30 minutes. However, capturing photos will take your time because every spot is great for picture taking.)

Sights to see:

Showcase of colors. Let your eyes feast.
Because Winter Sonata became so sensational, a monument of the lead characters was built. Welcome to "The Island of Love". 
Every corner of the place was picture perfect so I  grabbed the opportunity. I am forever grateful that I can see and travel. 
Bike, travel shoes and Autumn= Beyond Happy Moment. 

Where to go biking next?