Posts Tagged photography

Unpacking Denver with Nigel Barker

When I was just a teen living in Manila, my brother and I loved watching the show America’s Next Top Model.  It was a big hit in the Philippines at the time, which was surprising considering how far it was from the US.  We would catch it on TV every Friday afternoon, and my brother and I would cheer for our own favorite contestants. It was from that show that I first heard about Nigel Barker, one of the permanent judges on the show alongside Jay Alexander and Tyra Banks.

Fast forward 10 or more years later, my husband tells me one evening that there’s an auction through Marriott Hotel’s reward programs, for a chance to get a private tour led by Nigel Barker himself. Before I could even decide if I wanted to go to Denver, my husband starts bidding on the auction, and two days later we found out we were the winners.

Unfortunately, my hubby couldn’t make it.  But luckily one of my friends was down to join me for the trip.  I had a great time “unpacking” Denver, plus the chance to meet and learn a few things from Nigel Barker was priceless. 

Exploring Montreal & Quebec

I finally got a glimpse of some really nice cities in Canada, during my recent visit.  Although I only saw Montreal & Quebec during my trip, both cities were among the most recommended to me by locals, along with Toronto.  Canada has such an interesting history and landscape, the rest of the country deserves another visit, especially the rockies and the countryside.

Images from the Slot Canyons

Last week I had posted a short video from my unexpected trip through Canyon X.  During the same journey and prior to Canyon X, I had visited the lower Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona, and captured the images you’ll see below of the stunning rock formations which have become what they are today through billions of years of transformation.

To give you an idea, there are two types of slot canyons in Page – the lower and the upper canyons.  What makes them different is that the upper is on the ground or upper level, while the lower canyons are under ground level. By definition, slot canyons are narrow canyons formed by the wear of water rushing through rocks over time.  And they are significantly deeper than they are wide.  In some canyons the drop could be more than 30 meters (100 ft or similar to a 10-storey building) to the floor of the canyon.

Although they are very beautiful, it’s always important to check flash flood warnings prior to hiking.  If it rains in any surrounding area, the probability of water from anywhere upstream flowing down to the canyons can be very dangerous, and in most slot canyons, it could be miles before you find the nearest exit.  In the image below, you will see behind the girl and before the slopes are interesting patterns on the ground.  These are the surface areas of the lower canyons. The gaps on the surface let light come through, and you will see in the photos that follow what they look like when you’re inside the canyons.

Travel in Morocco…of a Time Past

Looking outside the moving car window one day during our journey in Morocco, I couldn’t help but feel like being transported back to another age, that of decades ago when digital wasn’t even a concept yet.  As the sun was setting and turning a mellow pink and purple, teenage children were coming out of schools like sheep out of a cage, some of them in groups and most of them looking happily content and talking to each other.  It made me realize how different kids are here in another world, where gadgets are in closer proximity to their faces than real human interactions.

Though there certainly were mobile carriers and data connectivity almost everywhere we went in Morocco, I did not find the urge to look at my phone either, even probably spending the entire day outside without needing to check my phone.  There was a certain peacefulness to the place, even in Marrakech in the midst of the chaotic souk.  Or perhaps it’s because the country is brimming with so much art and color that the people didn’t need to distract themselves from the otherwise gray drudgeries of our familiar world.  I would like to believe that rather than think that the country’s technology has been lagging compared to other first world countries.

If you ask me what I think of Morocco, I would never deny that it is beautiful.  It’s natural rustic beauty is so inviting that I would not mind staying there for a few months just to explore the towns and absorb the culture.  With it’s expansive farms sprawling with olives and sweet oranges, you can tell that nature has been kind to the locals in giving them great harvests, never having to withstand severe winters that take away dear life out of plants.

If you scroll down below, you’ll see some of the photos I had taken from our route from Marrakech to Essaouira.  And if you pass through the goats picture, it’s true – they do climb trees to get some of their favorite olive skins.

Opulence and Grandeur of Moroccan Architecture

Over the Christmas holidays I had the chance to bond with my mom and my brother, and visit Morocco for the first time.  I came without any expectations, and left with awe at how beautiful it was.

We flew in to Casablanca, the financial capital, and then proceeded on our journey to Marrakech, Ouarzazate, and Essaouira.  The weather was quite cold at night at 8 deg C on the average, and in the daytime perhaps around 12, so coming in December was not such a bad idea.  It was perfect – much better than coming during the scorching summer.

Most of the Casablanca that we saw was a little dusty, except for the Hassan II mosque that the locals take great pride in, and the Royal Palace.  These two monuments that we came to visit were impeccable, with ornately designed architecture that screams opulence and wealth.  You’ll see their photos below.

Among all of Casablanca’s sights, my favorite must have been the old medina at sunrise, just as the mist was rising.  Being a gated neighborhood, it’s almost empty except for a few older men or women who start their days early.  If you’ve ever seen Casablanca, you’ll probably remember Rick’s Cafe, the cafe made famous by the classic film.  We saw the actual cafe, although according to our guide they never really shot the film in Casablanca…so the cafe now is just an imitation from the film.