“My travel photos are awesome but why don’t I get many likes?”

So you have great travel photos that you want to share on your social media, for example, Instagram. You shared them on daily basis but they only have at most 20 likes and you’re wondering what’s wrong. You probably thought that at this point, your photos aren’t good enough for the viewers, while your photos are actually great. I mean actually GREAT. There is probably something wrong in the way you are sharing those photos.
Unless you don’t want likes or followers, you can ignore this post.

1. Knowing WHEN to upload.
Most people will scroll for photos online during snoozy working hours; lunch time, after lunch, in the car on the way back from work while getting stuck in traffic and at night before bed time, when the kids are already sleeping. It is kind of a big deal to upload your photos during these hours as these people will focus on uploaded photos rather than them uploading photos. That’s why knowing the right time is important. You don’t go uploading photos in the middle of the night, usually between 2am-5am, exceptionally, many youngsters usually are staying up till 1-2am. Depends on who your viewers are and where they come from, you should assess their patterns. Also, you have to consider time zones. Many of my viewers are from Malaysia, while I am living in the US, I have to upload photos and post updates at weird hours, which is nonetheless good and it is something that I had been doing for a while.

People will scroll down your feed everyday if you do these, do as I say.

2. Knowing what your viewers would be interested in and focus on that.
Some of us upload photos with descriptions of the places, while some of us upload photos with motivational thoughts. Depends on the viewers, some of them would love to actually know about places you’ve been to. As for me, my audience loves descriptive photos. My audience loves asking questions about these places and I figured it is the best for me to write the information down. It is also good for their and your future references. This is also another way for you to blog, almost micro-blogging, and if you use Instagram, it is actually a great platform to do it, easy.

3. Know the right hashtags to be used and don’t hesitate in using them correctly.
This would be unnecessary to some, consider using the right hashtags. Using the right hashtags not only brings traffic to your page, but also recognitions by already-established platforms. This is how I am reached by pages like Matador Networks and being featured couple of times because I use the right tag on my photos. Audience will probably gets annoyed if you used tags like #spamforspam or #likesforlikes on your fantastic photos, just because it doesn’t sound professional or that you are not into what you are doing, in this case, wanting people to know you have great travel photos and that you want to be recognized. Don’t be afraid to use tags like #travel, #beautifuldestinations and such, as long as the tags are legit and making sense.

Straighten the horizon!

Straighten the horizon!

4. Knowing that it doesn’t matter what kind of camera you use, even if you have only phone camera, you can make it work.
I travel with my iPhone 5s and GoPro. Many people asked me what kind of camera I used since my photos are great according to them. Although you are using only your phone to take photos, you can apply the photography rules while capturing your shots. Like the “rule of third”, when you stand at the third end in your photo so you won’t be blocking the view and usually it is used to compare how grand the view is in terms of its scale to your body. Also, if you take landscape shots, remember to straighten them before uploading because that matters. Like I said, you don’t have to own fancy camera, as long as you know what to do and that you study the rules, you’ll soon be gaining hundreds of followers. I did it!

When the subject is so grand, try not to be in the middle of it.

When the subject is so grand, try not to be in the middle of it.

5. Knowing HOW to upload photos.
You went to the beach and probably captured 100 photos at the beach alone. It annoys people when you immediately upload all those photos and in sequence even! Give the beach photos a break by uploading photos from different events in between. Varying uploads works wonders! Even if you have to do a #throwback then be it. People love the mixtures, and with mixtures in uploads, your timeline will be colorful.

So, do you know what you did wrong now?

“So which one is your favorite country/state?”

I found this question difficult to be answered accordingly. Although to date I only was in 20 countries, I love every country that I went to. I dubbed Thailand as my second home after the USA(not counting Malaysia because it is already in my blood) because I’ve had lived in Thailand long enough to understand the culture and know it like the back of my hand. I love Bangkok specifically, if any of you had been in either Bangkok or New York City, you can relate. And therefore New York City is my favorite and preferred city to live in because it’s like Bangkok, only bigger! As for the rest, I loved all 34 states in the US that I recently explored with my permanent traveling partner. I only have 16 states more to go and I am sure I will love them too.

NYC=Bangkok=awesome! 


When I am not in the US, I will park myself in Bangkok or be in Bali, Indonesia. I’ve been to Bali 4 times to date and although it is not a favorite getaway island to some, Bali to me is a great place to undergo emotional therapy. “What? Kuta is like the worst place on Earth!” That 18,000 Indonesian Rupiah early-morning-dolphins-sighting ride in Northern Bali is awesome, do you know that? As someone who doesn’t drink or party, I have successfully made the best out of all famous party spots in South East Asia that I’ve been to. You know you’re THE traveler when you are enjoying what you’re doing regardless the condition or hype of the places! I can’t help you if you are THAT picky traveler.

 Bali is pretty cool for your soul.

I guess that’s why it’s hard for me to choose, because all these places that I’ve had been to are so significant to me. I met the nicest people while in Romania, I’ve had the best home-cooked meal in Italy, I’ve experienced the best horseback riding in the US, I’ve had the best underwater experience in Indonesia. This is how I answer this question! Next time you ask me, it’ll still be the same. I love the whole world!

 Montana’s countryside with horses.

I am in love with Earth and for as long as I live, I will try not to stop loving this planet and everything in it, except Venice in the summer and Paris metro.

So, do you have any favorite country/state?

What do I use to take my travel photos?

Answer:

My iPhone 5s and GoPro Hero 4 Black.

It will be a waste if you have a nice phone in your hands but you use them only to take selfies. Selfie-wise, I am not a fan, only sometimes when I have an awesome view behind me that I want to include in my selfie, which in that case, I usually use my GoPro.

I love traveling light, that includes not having to carry heavy SLR. Couple of years ago I have got my hands on it, but I never grow fond of it. Over the years with smartphones, I can now call myself an iPhone expert photographer.

Have you looked at what is in your hands right now? That expensive phone can finally do you good, you know.

Is this really from iPhone? Yes it is.

Is this really from iPhone? Yes it is.


Monument Valley

Monument Valley; The Mitten Buttes, with my iPhone.


Lipe.

Sunset in Koh Lipe, also with my iPhone.

Do good, and share it with friends and I am not talking about selfies.

No longer secrets

I think the secrets will be safe with you guys!

Travel Secrets You Need To Know

1. Forget your charger?

Ask at a hostel or hotel desk, they may have chargers that guests left behind.

2. When is the right time to book your flight?

The cheapest time depends on where you’re going;

Domestic: 3-7 weeks out

Europe: 8-10 months out

Asia: 9-10 months out

Africa: 3-5 weeks out

3. Need foreign currency?

Always use the ATM. They usually have the best conversion rates and lowest fees.

4. Visiting tourist attractions

If you are going to popular attractions, go at noon. There’ll be fewer people, the rest will be at lunch.

5. Hidden city ticketing

If flying from City A to City B is expensive, try booking a cheaper flight from City A to City C with a layover in City B. Then just get off in City B!

6. Eat like locals

Wake up early in the morning, go to local morning markets. You’ll see so many new things, therefore you can get to try so many new things too, especially what locals eat for breakfast!

March 2014

I have never owned a fancy camera. I traveled with my phone with just 3mp camera, and when I am with JF or friends, they will take pictures for me with their better camera phones. My point is, you don’t need fancy cameras to make memories.

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Viewpoint, Koh Chang, Thailand

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However this would make you feel.

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I came up with this photo idea, my friend took it with his phone camera.

You can always make money but not memories. Go out and sail, be away from the safe harbor.

Why not the macaques?

ImageNot amused.

I grew up with macaques and orang-utans being just in the jungle near my childhood’s little house. The macaques are never amusing to me because I know that they are diseased and should be avoided at any cost. But to most of you out there, you are still very delighted to get to see the macaques in the wild. I saw this macaque after my breakfast on day 3 in Koh Chang, Thailand. My friend immediately took out his phone to take this photo. I was dead sick seeing it walking through the cables looking for pieces of food. I wasn’t sure whether I should feel bad or happy. Koh Chang is beautiful but it is too populated on one side thus the environment gets dirtier and very welcoming especially for the macaques. When I was there for 5 days, I tried to look on the beautiful side, just. I managed to forget how disturbing to see monkeys all the way.

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This looks like Argentinian coastline. 

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I was jumping waves, I swear that was the greatest wave jumping.

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At the end of the stay, I thought I’ll never want to leave.

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 It was a perfect sunset at White Sand Beach.

A mini bus trip from Bangkok to Koh Chang will cost you around B300 ( USD 10 as in March 2014) and it will get you there in 5-6 hours. Bear in mind that the ride will be thrilling. Thai mini bus drivers are among the most reckless and notorious drivers in the world(I am not joking), ones who actually traveled Thailand this way knew exactly how it feels.

When I was on the island, I went on a quad trip with my friends through lush greens of Koh Chang. The trip was incredible, though I paid B2500(USD80) for supposedly 1 1/2 hour trip, we were on the wheels for 2 hours. That was to me, the greatest way to see Koh Chang on the quieter side.

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The ATV Salakphet Adventure team, they rock! That’s my German friend, Torsten.

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No mosquitoes nor malaria for me.

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Quite a happy ending, an isolated beach at Salak Phet.

It was a great escape. I’ve seen all of Thailand for more than 5 times.

Alone?

When I am not traveling wit JF, I will usually continue traveling alone. I had lived alone in Bangkok for 3 months and now I am back here alone too. Traveling alone is always a concern to some. I’ve talked to so many people who have dreams to travel but most of them prefer to travel with their partners. Safety-wise, I’ve been asked about how I survived being alone in Bangkok alone while Bangkok is dubbed as a dangerous city to be at on your own. It is true, it takes time to gather courage to travel alone.

Traveling solo has its pros and cons. After some time, it always more pros than cons to me. There are so many people you can meet while traveling alone, and yes you can also enjoy the fun of having temporary traveling partner while you are alone. You can always travel at your own pace, do whatever you want to do, eat wherever you want to eat and choose to stay wherever you want to stay. You don’t have to wait for your partner to get ready, you don’t have to wait for your partner to finish packing, and you never need to argue of which way to take when both of you are lost in the city. When you are on your own, you are so much more independent and in control.

Among reasons why many refused to travel alone is because they cannot take it having to eat alone. Yes, it is a sad imagination but it is not bad as it you think it would be. Single traveler is easier to be approached by other single traveler and the next thing you know is the two of you sitting at the same table, laughing for hours, beer after beer. But then, if you must eat alone, bring a book. Read, and maybe this is a good time to learn foreign language. Keep yourself busy. Own a journal and write.

Of course, traveling with your partner will benefits in terms of sharing the cost of hotel/hostel room, taxi ride, everything will become cheaper when you split the costs. This is definitely the downside of traveling alone.

It is so much easier to experience stranger’s kindness when you are alone. You are definitely more approachable. There is nothing scary about this too. See? You eventually are not really alone. How not to become lonely? Stop feeling alone. Think that you’ll always stumble upon other travelers, because you’ll always be. Choose to travel during peak season so you won’t feel as empty. Some of my friends use Couchsurfing and they know with that they’ll always have some company. Be bold and confident and ask if someone wants to go out and have dinner with you. Chances are they will always say yes. Meeting new people is always fun and this often happens when you are alone. I cannot help you if you are very shy but don’t complain!

I have made so many temporary traveling partners while I was alone in Bangkok for 3 months. It was all great and I’ve made wonderful memories with them. Even though it was just temporary fun, fun is always going to be FUN. Single travelers that I met while I travel alone were all very independent, sounded and acted very educated and they are the most fun partners that you could ever enjoy being with.

So go ahead, don’t be afraid. Alone? It won’t suck that much.

Break on break-ation

How artsy the horse is in Margit Island, Budapest

How artsy the horse is in Margit Island, Budapest

I was really amused by this one. I asked the pet store owner to flip him back, she did. Great success!

I was really amused by this one. I asked the pet store owner to flip him back, she did. Great success!

Yes, a break on your break-ation. At some point, you’ll get tired of scaling the cities by visiting all the monuments they have to offer. Some would take a break by doing some shopping, but you can always do that when you got home. I took breaks on break-ation by simply going to the river, see some swans, going to the park, see some ducks, going to pet stores, or going to the zoo. No, if you think all zoos are the same, they are not because you have to understand why there are zoos and why there should be zoos.

Never forget, human and animal interactions is proven to help you cope with stress. Have you taken your break on your break-ation? Go pat some sloths or feed some swans!

Peeking Lemur at Budapest Zoo

Peeking Lemur at Budapest Zoo

Snoozy sloth at Budapest Zoo

Snoozy sloth at Budapest Zoo

I adopted a huge swan in Prague, Czech Republic

I adopted a huge swan in Prague, Czech Republic

Yes, you can pat the sloth at Budapest Zoo

Yes, you can pat the sloth at Budapest Zoo

Grand Circus, Budapest

Grand Circus, Budapest

Very adorable red oanda at Paris Zoo

Very adorable red panda at Paris Zoo

A polar bear's butt at Prague Zoo, Czech Republic

A polar bear’s butt at Prague Zoo, Czech Republic

The funny pigeon interruption at Notre-dame, Paris

The funny pigeon interruption at Notre-dame, Paris

I was busy feeding these 3 hungry birds in Vltava, Prague, Czech Republic

I was busy feeding these 3 hungry birds in Vltava, Prague, Czech Republic

Wall Cat in Brasov, Romania

Wall Cat in Brasov, Romania

Ditch your guide book, make and be your own guide

Before I started traveling, I always imagined myself walking around a city, searching for a place to stay, with a guide book in my hand. But in reality, after my first trip to Thailand in 2011, I found out that guide is such a hassle. I thought I’d look cool, I looked stupid instead. Hidden agendas of a guide book : to make you feel like you are not doing enough as suggested, or to make you feel that you are restricted to only those suggestions. A guide book is heavy, hard to read and actually very confusing, because if you ever held a guide book and actually read it (from first page to last page,you’ll fall asleep at page 5), you’ll know. The writings are too small (I am already with 4 eyes, be 6 if I have to de dependent on guide book). When you travel, you’ll have your personal preferences of what you really will like. Write them down, take some pictures and write some notes about them. A guide book is based on, at least, the writer’s preferences. There are so many people in this world and simply there are too many suggestions to be followed. So, why do you travel anyways? It is for you to discover one place and all the things about that place by any kind of method you can think of, like asking locals for their suggestions instead. That is more fun, and that is the time when you can actually learn some foreign language. I always think that the writer of a guide book may have not done some of the things he or she had written. Many asked : But how do we know about things we must see, do and eat? Make your own research, like highlighting the major attraction, make a big circle and start from there.

The fact that I too, hate being told what to do makes me feel like I shouldn’t follow a guide book. It’s like that. Quoting my another favorite travel writer, Robert : “By balancing a travel schedule that incorporates sightseeing, cultural experiences and relaxation, you’ll return from your trip enriched, educated and rejuvenated. You’ll be ready to face whatever challenges come your way – but you’ll also be eager to travel again!” 

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I found my own “Maldives”, Karimunjawa, Central Java, Indonesia in May 2012