This is such a self-indulgent article but I couldn’t help myself! I have been looking through albums and albums of snaps I’ve taken from various travels around the world, and started to wonder if I could ever choose a top 10!
Well, I’ve risen to my own challenge, and this is the result…(although there’s no way I could put them in order of favourite!)
1. Primary school children in China
Although I mainly taught at middle and high schools in China, I did spend one day a week teaching at a primary school in Tang Shan. This is one of the classes from the youngest year group, and I can’t help but smile every time I see it, as there are so many cheeky faces on this photo!
If you’ve never been to China, you might not be aware of the toilet situation. Basically, not only do you have to squat over a hole in the ground, there are no private cubicles, just rows of holes. And teachers go in front of their pupils.
But not this teacher. The one time I tried to go sneakily before the children were let out of class, I was halfway through squatting and peeing and a whole class of little ones came swarming in! I’ve never had my pants up quicker!
2. The ruins at Chichen Itza, Mexico
I spent 6 weeks in Mexico teaching English as a volunteer and got to see a bit of the local area, which, to my delight, included Chichen Itza, one of the modern 7 Wonders of the World.
This is me and the other volunteers at the ruins; I’m the third post in!
Chichen Itza is impressive but, given that it’s one of the Must See things in Mexico, is overrun with tourists and, naturally, local sellers. This certainly doesn’t ruin the beauty of the place, and in fact gives it a lively, buzzing atmosphere, but I’d highly recommend a trip to Uxmal, another ancient Mayan city in the area for a totally different experience.
Unless it’s changed, Uxmal is not only stunning, but less crowded and is very peaceful. I felt like Lara Croft exploring the city, and, at times, was completely isolated.
3. Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
I’m at number 3 and I’ve already cheated! I’ve thrown in 2 pics as I couldn’t decide on my fave for this one; I think both convey the absolute beauty of the place.
There are literally a thousand tours and operators you can choose from if you fancy exploring Ha Long Bay, and if you’re planning a trip to Vietnam, I would highly recommend you pay it a visit. It isn’t a UNESCO World Heritage Site for nothing!
Oh, and there’s no better way to get up-close-and-personal with the bay than via kayak!
4. Vietnamese girls
I took this in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. This cheeky pair were so amusing, hiding behind the lamppost and peeking out, I couldn’t resist photographing them.
5. The Elephant Valley Project, Sen Monorom, Cambodia
I have thousands of pictures of elephants from the time I spent at the Elephant Valley Project, walking with and washing the elephants, but I love the line up of these three.
They really are gentle giants, and I loved the EVP because they work to rescue elephants from manual labour and ill-treatment; the elephants we saw were all rescuees now living peaceful lives. They only hardship they have to endure is a daily wash from tourists and believe me, elephants are a lot more willing when it comes to bath time than most children I know!
6. The Killing Fields, Cambodia
This is an incredibly somber picture, but one that, I feel, is quite poignant.
On the site of the Killing Fields is the Killing Tree. Babies and young children would be held by the feet and have their heads slammed against the tree by the Khmer Rouge “soldiers”. There aren’t many things I’ve heard that are more horrendous and barbaric than that.
I’ve added this to my list because the photo always sends a chill down my spine. As horrific as it is, it’s important that we remember events like this, just as we do the horrors of Auschwitz.
7. The Temples of Angkor, Cambodia
Another UNECO World Heritage Site, if you visit Cambodia you have to visit Siem Reap and explore the temples of Angkor. Although Angkor Wat is perhaps the most popular, and is indeed stunning, I loved the lesser-known temples and ruins.
You cant get a more authentic Lara Croft experience than visiting the actual location where the first Tomb Raider movie was filmed!
8. Cycling in Yangshuo, China
The town of Yangshuo (near Guilin) is a gorgeous little place, very lively, incredibly popular with backpackers, and one of my favourite places ever.
My Swedish friend Johanna and I rented bikes for a cycle during our stay there and encountered nothing but stunning scenery; idyllic countryside, mountains, tiny villages. One of the most perfect days!
9. The Bamboo Railway, Cambodia
This photo almost encapsulates how funny this experience in Cambodia was! The bamboo railway consists of carts like the one in the photo that is used to transport goods or livestock (or people in this case!) but, as it runs on a single track, one cart has to be dismantled and reassembled to allow the other to pass!
10. The Gargoyles of Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
This chap was the most photogenic of them all! I love the Gothic architecture of the cathedral, as well as Victor Hugo’s fabulous novel, and this photo from my first trip to Paris is a personal favourite.