1. Dangerous beauty up close
Chiang Mai, Thailand – There are those few moments in life that you’ll never forget. Getting up close to a full grown tiger is definitely one of them. With their shiny fur, sleek movements and incredible power, tigers are among the most beautiful creatures on this planet. According to WWF, the number of wild tigers in Southeast Asia has declined at an alarming rate of 70% in 12 years due to habitat destruction and a growing demand for tiger parts in traditional medicine. Unfortunately, many institutions in Thailand abuse tigers, so if you decide to visit a center, make sure the animals are treated with great care before you book. Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai does not sedate tigers like many other places and the facilities are extremely clean.
2. A day in the life of a minority dog
Sapa, Vietnam – The mountains and valleys in Northern Vietnam are home to a multitude of ethnic minorities, including the Black H’mong, the Red Dao, the Tay, the Xa Pho or the Giay. The villagers which used to live in one of the most remotest parts of the country are now used to seeing visitors from all over the world. On a day trek from the popular hill station Sapa, you can explore some of the nearby tribes and learn about their history and traditions. The picture above was taken as I stopped for a delicious home cooked lunch at a villagers house.
3. A thief enjoying his treat
Battambang, Cambodia – I’ve been victim of theft twice while traveling Southeast Asia. Stolen items: a popsicle and a water bottle. Thieves: two sneaky temple monkeys. There’s only one advice I can give you. No matter how cute and innocent they look, THEY ARE NOT. Don’t get too close if you care about your belongings, because once they see something shiny, they will eventually get it. Mountain temples seem to be the main hunting ground for delicious treats. Above, you can find a mug shot of one of my aggressors.
4. A colorful companion
Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar – I found this pretty, little fellow in the botanical gardens of the former British hill station Pyin Oo Lwin. He or she followed me around for quite a while, give me cautious stares once in a while. After some research I was able to label it as a hornbill. Can we create a fan club for this bird already?
5. Two bros having the worst day of their lives
Siem Reap, Cambodia – Getting their heads shopped of first thing in the morning, that’s not how these two imagined their wake up call on this beautiful summer day. A visit to a Southeast Asian meat market requires a tough stomach. Hold your breath as you jog past countless stalls of chopped off animal parts, rotting away in the summer heat. Who’s in for a juicy burger?
6. Life’s too short for stress
Mawlamyine, Myanmar – Obstacles to buy lunch in remote Myanmar:
1. Find a place that looks like it serves food
2. Ask to see a menu
3. Ask to see a menu in English
4. Try to identify strangely sounding menu items
5. Give up and order what everyone else is having
6. Step over goat to access your prepared meal
7. Final Destination for these chicken
Sapa, Vietnam – Wondering what a butcher shop looks like in Vietnam’s mountains? Well this picture might give you an idea. I might actually reconsider this vegetarian lifestyle option….
8. Reborn as a huge Burmese python
Bago, Myanmar – This impressive Burmese python is supposed to be the reincarnation of a former abbot from Hsipaw. The snake, which is slithering freely through a large chamber (with personal swimming pool), is told to be over a century old and was last measured at just over five meters in length. It takes at least five monks to transport the serpent. Visiting devotees, or at least those who come close enough to touch the python, leave offerings for good luck. Don’t watch ‘Anaconda’ before your visit…
9. Lurking in the depth
Halong Bay, Vietnam – The waters of Halong Bay are not as inviting as you might hope for. This massive jelly fish surfaced just beside our canoe as we were paddling toward a small private bay. With up to 1m long tentacles, these beautiful creatures do tend to cause some nasty stings. That said, they are gorgeous to look at from afar.
10. Sunday is wellness day
Hsipaw, Myanmar – This adorable water buffalo taught me one of the best life hacks ever. In Asia’s tropical heat, a daily mud bath keeps you young and fresh. Do as the locals do, right? Although I do regret invading its privacy on a trek to a Palaung mountain tribe, the shot turned out to be one of my all-time favorites.
11. A safe home and new family
Chiang Mai, Thailand – This picture shows one of the most heartwarming moments I experienced on my travels. Elephant Nature Park is an elephant rescue and rehabilitation center in Northern Thailand where abused animals can find a safe haven. This is NOT your usual elephant tourist attraction, but rather a place where you can give back by volunteering and treating elephants ethically. Elephants are held in a natural environment and build new families that protect and care about each other. Please help maintain the sanctuary and save more of Thailand’s shrinking elephant population.
Note: All of the photos above have been taken with an iPhone 5S and cannot be used without prior permission.