Category: Photography

Our Around The World Trip Statistics

By , June 20, 2011 7:11 am

On March 17th 2010, we left our beloved city of San Francisco with the hopes of seeking new adventures while circling the globe. After 384 days (1 year and 19 days) of doing exactly that, we finished on April 5th, 2011 with our arrival into France. We want to THANK YOU, our readers and supporters, for following us along the way on our amazing journey that had us circling the globe 2.4 times! And while we completed our first “world trip”, we are never going to be done with traveling so when you are in need of an escape, MeAndFrenchie will be here as we still have lots to share.

around the world trip statistics

Here are some of our atw trip statistics:

around the world glove » Days gone:  384
» Countries visited:  17 [USA, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, China, Vietnam, France, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, India]
around the world glove » Fights occurred between Me & Frenchie:  80
» Nights spent apart:  0
around the world camera » Photos taken:  7512 [MuiMui],  27280 [Boris]
» Photos kept:  7512 [MuiMui],  3382 [Boris]
» Average photos taken per day:  20 [MuiMui],  71 [Boris]
around the world pen » Posts written:  153 x 2 [English and French]
around the world backpack » Total weight of bags at start:  24 + 10 pounds  [for large + small bag each person; weight lessened along the way as we started to donate things we did not need like clothing]
» Total weight of bags at end:  35 + 10 pounds  [because of souvenirs]
around the world lock » Stolen goods:  0
» Lost or broken goods:  2 [MuiMui lost one camera and then broke another]
around the world people » People we already knew before and met along the way:  28[Big shout outs to the following people: Holly, Megan F., Anthony, Matthieu, Damien, Noel, Sam, Michael, Kin, Tony, Megan Y., Amy, Damien M., Coralie, Marie-Hélène, Gerard, Zhi, Uyen, Leon, Caellum, Aleki, Ben, Daveena, Tai, Shan, Lia, Nolan, Kaylene]
around the world lodging
  • » Sleeping arrangements …
  • Hotels+guesthouses:  303
  • Friends+family:  45
  • Airport:  1
  • Plane:  3
  • Boat:  9
  • Bus:  4
  • Caravan:  12
  • Train:  7
» Best paid accommodation:  House rental  [aka White House] in Koh Samui, Thailand
» Worst paid accommodation:  Guesthouse in Chiang Khong, Thailand [before crossing border to Laos]
around the world sick » Days Sick:  6 [MuiMui],  5 [Boris] from local food and ice
around the world diving » Scuba dives:  14 [Boris]
» Best dive:  Manta Ray in Komodo National Park, Indonesia
around the world animals
  • » Chased by …
  • 1 alpha male Sea Lion in The Galapagos
  • 1 female Komodo Dragon in Indonesia
around the world crime » Crime experienced:  0
» Kidnapping stories heard in Peru:  4
» Crime heard in Colombia:  0
around the world jetsetter » Flights flown:  40
» Flight hours:  146 [over 6 days]
» Miles flown:  60,193 [over 2.4 times around the globe]
» Free hotel nights due To flight cancellations:  2 [at 5 star hotels!!]
around the world elevation » Highest elevation:  16,000 feet  [Peru]
around the world moments » Favorite country to visit overall:  Thailand
» Least favorite country to visit overall:  Indonesia
» Most visited country:  Thailand [3 times]
around the world likes » Favorite place to live:  France [MuiMui], USA or anywhere in South America [Boris]
» Least favorite place to live:  Cambodia [not entirely fair as we spent the least time here]
around the world surprise » Country with the greatest culture shock:  India
» Country with the least culture shock:  Singapore [if you don’t include the life of Singaporean housewives]
around the world gear » Most useful item: silk mummy sheetsaround the world sheets [MuiMui],  siliconized storage bagsaround the world bags [Boris]
» Least used item:  compassaround the world compass and emergency aluminized blanketaround the world emergency
» Favorite travel item:  iXpenseIt app [MuiMui],  Camera Canon T2iaround the world iXpenseIt [Boris]
around the world wifi » Best wifi:  Buenos Aires, Argentina  [free]
» Worst wifi:  China [does not exist],  New Zealand [rare and expensive]
around the world food » Best local dish:  foie gras in Paris [MuiMui],   chicken tikka masala + naan in Kolkatta, India  [Boris]
» Worst local dish:  Vegemitearound the world vegemite in Australia
» Strangest dish:  coconut worm in Amazon, Ecuador
around the world coffee » Best coffee:  Colombia
» Worst coffee:  Indonesia [taste bad and not filtered]
» Best non-alcoholic drink:  Sugar cane juice with a little bit of lemon or orange
» Best alcoholic drink:  Pisco Sour in Peru
around the world durian » Tastiest fruit:  mangosteen
» Smelliest fruit:  durian [tip: pinch your nose before and while eating it]
around the world flag » Most overrated town:  Vang Vieng, Laos  [beautiful but spoiled by tourism]
» Most underrated town:  Salento, Colombia
» Worst border crossing:  Laos
around the world moments » Most inspiring moment:  Meeting a family who is biking through Southeast Asia for 1 year with their 1 & 4 year old children
» Most frustrated moment:  Trying to find transportation to Mt. Bromo
» Funniest moment:  Watching a waitress hang out inside a large glass freezer because it was so hot and the restaurant had no air conditioner in Vientiane, Laos
around the world bugs » Worst bugs:  sun flies in the Amazon [luckily we were not bitten by a botfly]
around the world skill » Best skill learned:  Flipping over roaches[Full story: In one of the hotels we stayed in Cambodia, we encountered the biggest roaches we had ever seen. Before going to sleep, we try to sweep them out of our room, but they would come right back. Instead, we put them upside down during the night and flipped them back up during the day.]

France: Lunar Eclipse On June 15th 2011

By , June 17, 2011 5:51 am
Lunar Eclipse - June 15th 2011

Lunar Eclipse - June 15th 2011

“A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes behind the earth so that the earth blocks the sun’s rays from striking the moon. This can occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are aligned exactly, or very closely so, with the Earth in the middle. Hence, a lunar eclipse can only occur the night of a full moon.” Source: Wikipedia.

Two days ago, on June 15th 2011, a total lunar eclipse was visible from South America, Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe. In France, the total eclipse was visible between the hours of 10pm and 11:30pm. At 10:20pm, we went outside to look for the moon, but had no luck. It was so dark that it took us about 20 minutes to get our first glimpse of the moon. Only around 11pm when the moon started to be a little brighter that I was able to take some half-decent shots.

Here is how I did it:
1. I used my Tamron 70-300mm at 300mm to get as close as possible to the moon.
2. Since I don’t own a tripod, I had to put the camera on a pile of clothes to get the right angle.
3. With the moon being very dark, I had to manually expose (ISO 800, f/5.6, 1.3 sec) and focus, taking and reviewing photos on the LCD to correct the exposure and focus.
4. Disabled Image Stabilization (IS) because it causes blur on long exposure shots.
5. Set delayed shot to 2 seconds to avoid vibration when clicking the button.
6. Shot many times (70 shots total) making tiny focus adjustments to get the moon as clear as possible.

Lunar Eclipse - June 15th 2011

Lunar Eclipse - June 15th 2011

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Couple Of The Week: Yours Truly

By , May 11, 2011 4:52 pm

I hope we don’t need any introductions. The couple of the week is Boris and MuiMui. While we were interviewing couples for our weekly couple section, we actually got asked to answer a few questions for Holly, who will be starting her travels in a few months. You can read the original interview on her blog.

MeAndFrenchie

Boris And MuiMui

Relationship Status: | Attached to the hip.
How long have you been together? | Over 3 years.
How long have you been traveling? | 13 months.
How long is your total planned trip? | 12 to 18 months.

What attracted you to traveling in the first place and how did it become a reality?
Boris: I grew up in France and have always been attracted to the US. I finally went there for an internship and loved it. Once I graduated, I immediately found a job in San Francisco. I loved the city so much that I was disappointed to have ended up there before seeing more of the world. One year before our world tour, I told MuiMui that I wanted to move abroad and experience life in a different country. She replied that if she had to leave everything, she wanted to see more of the world. We agreed to go on a world tour together.

MuiMui: My desire for travel grew from loving parents who worked all the time and basically from their lack of travel. In college, I snatched every chance I had to travel outside of the US. Then when I joined the corporate world, travel became my yearly escape. When I met my Boris, he would challenge me whenever I would say, “I wish I could …” so here we are, circling the globe.

How is traveling different from taking a two week holiday?
Boris: Traveling has nothing to with going on holiday. First, you always have to look at your budget to make you can make it to the end of your travel and that you don’t have a bad impact on the populations. Second, traveling is, for us, more oriented towards meeting people and learning cultures than just sightseeing. Last, I would say that when you travel you have to give yourself time to rest and reenergize.

MuiMui: The two do not have to be so different but as a typical American, my short and infrequent holidays seem to dictate how I traveled initially, so I would automatically try to maximize my experience by seeing as much as I can and within the western comforts I am use to. It was when I went to Vietnam for the first time on holiday and explored the small villages and did away with my usual comforts that made me realize how much I was missing out on.

How do you organize world travel among the both of you?
Boris: Before entering a new country we will both do 1 or 2 hours of research and then compare our results. Then with the information, we will try to make an itinerary that would allow us to see most of it within our allocated time frame. Once we arrive in a city, we will start looking together for a place to stay and I usually get tired and let MuiMui find the best deal in town.

MuiMui: A world trip is a lot to take in so with some planning, it makes things a little easier for us and more efficient. We split up the work by who wants to do what. Two things we learned not to do is over plan, leave out some of the small details to be explored together, and for each country, it is good if the both of you read up a little about it as you enjoy a place more if you know more about it.

What did you learn about each other?
Boris: She is extremely good at bargaining and finding deals. She can be very cheap and will get extremely upset if she finds out somebody else got a better deal. No matter how hard it is, if she has decided to go somewhere, she will find a way to get there (and without getting ripped off).

MuiMui: I did not necessarily learn something new about Boris, but the small details I looked passed before the trip were more apparent during the trip. For example, I know he is a nice guy, but I found at times he was being too nice and polite to a stranger in a situation that I did not feel comfortable being in.

Would you do it again? What would you change?
Boris: Yes but after a little break. I would do more research beforehand and visit fewer countries. I would also try to dedicate more time for personal activities like photography walks with locals, cooking lessons, or Spanish classes.

MuiMui: Yes! I feel like this past year was just a taste of more to come. I have more ideas for future trips such as becoming fluent in another language and staying longer in one place.

Any scary stories or low points?!
Boris: Nothing really scary as we never got robbed but if I have to choose a low point, it would be our experience in Indonesia on the road to Mount Bromo: A driver tried to rip us off and then a group of youngsters on motorbikes “saved” us, which was all an organized scam. We were in the middle on nowhere with no other tourists or public transportation around. It took us 3 hours to get out of there.

MuiMui: When we arrived in Arequipa and was looking around for a hotel, we met a female traveler who just experienced an attempted taxi kidnapping the evening before. She was still trembling and emotional and that woke me up how we always have to be careful in any country and as much as we are, shit still happens when there are bad people.

What was your most recurrent disagreement?
Boris: First money, second transportation.

MuiMui: We had one big recurring disagreement which was about when/how to book transportation. We both liked different styles and in the beginning, I would throw tantrums, not knowing I was, when I couldn’t get him to agree with me.

What are your top three tips for anyone thinking about traveling?
Both:
1: Go.
2: Meet as many people as you can.
3: Be open-minded and never reject something because it is different from what you are used to.
4: Always be aware of your surroundings.

Do you have any tips for traveling with your partner?
Boris: One laptop each or no laptop at all. Find some activities that you can do alone (photography, diving, etc). Even if it is easier to stay in your room, try to go out and engage with other people as much as you can; the experience you share is invaluable and not written in any guidebook.

MuiMui: Traveling to new places is both fun and stressful. Doing it with someone else can be even more challenging so work together instead of trying to be right all the time. There is no right or wrong when it comes to saving $0.50. Be more open minded while being safe and meet fellow travelers.

Any do’s and don’ts?
Both:
DO follow your instincts and change your plans.
DO NOT leave your stuff unattended even for a second. When riding on trains or buses, make sure your things are attached to you at all times. It just takes one second of snoozing for your things to be stolen.
DO learn the local language or at least use basic phrases or words.
DO NOT dress up like you would at home when visiting India. Not only will you shock the people, you may encounter constant harassment.
DO try local cuisine away from tourist areas if possible.

Is your traveling experience any different to how you imagined it would be?
Both: Traveling is more tiring than what we thought. It felt like a full time job at times. People are very different from one country to the other. Usually, the less money they have, the more giving they are and the more interested they are to meet you.

What was your favorite country you visited? Why?
Boris: Hard to say but I have 3 places that stand out:
Thailand because we had a marvelous time there. We met extremely nice people and no matter what kind of experience you are looking for (beach, history, culture, food, city, trekking, mountains, villages, etc), Thailand has it all!
Colombia because we went there with some apprehensions and no positive expectations, but the kindness of the people blew us away. Trust me, Colombia is one of the safest countries we’ve been to and you will love both the landscapes and the people.
Galapagos because it is 100% unique. Everyday we would wake up seeing something that you can only see on TV: Giant Turtles, Endemic birds, penguins, iguanas, and etc. Plus walking on islands made of fresh lava (only a few hundred years old) is quite something.

MuiMui: It’s so difficult to pick a favorite as there is something great (and bad) about each country we went to. I think the country that wins for overall ease of travel, variety of things to see and eat, pleasantness of the people and culture, something for everyone, is Thailand. But I will never forget about how wonderful the people in Colombia were, or how out of this world the animals were in the Galapagos, or the penguins hopping onto the beaches of New Zealand, or the colors and sites of India, and … the gastronomy culture and way of life in the south of France.

Finally what’s the best thing about traveling?
Both: We always think that the best thing is to see beautiful and famous places. After coming back, I don’t think that is true anymore. Learning is the best thing that happens when you travel. Meeting people from different cultures will open your eyes on the world and your own life. This is, in our opinion, an invaluable experience.

India: Meeting Photographer Vikas Dutt In Delhi

By , May 9, 2011 12:00 am
Photographers Vikas Dutt & Vishal Arora

Photographers Vikas Dutt & Vishal Arora

Before I started this world tour, I decided that it would be a great opportunity for me to learn photography. I purchased a DSLR, a couple decent lenses, and accessories. Then from reading blogs, I learned the basics of photography. Months later, I believe my pictures got a little better but I still felt like there was a lot to learn and why not from people that are better than me.

With this goal in mind, I started to search for professional photographers in India. Only one caught my eye and it was photographer, Vikas Dutt, from New Delhi. I immediately sent him an e-mail asking if he would meet with me to discuss photography and maybe go on a photowalk together. To my surprise, Vikas Dutt replied to me and after a few e-mail exchanges, I had an appointment to meet with him in New Delhi.

I was ecstatic at the idea of spending some time with a famous photographer. On top of that, his talented colleague, Vishal Arora, joins us. We meet at a coffee shop and discuss photography and traveling. Then they take me on a 2-hour photowalk through two of the most visually interesting places in Delhi.

Our first stop is at Jantar Mantar, one of the 5 astronomical observatories built in India during the 18th century. It is composed of enormous sculptures that are actually scientific instruments that measure the movement of the sun and other planets. The red color and the various shapes are perfect to try the techniques I learn from Vikas Dutt. The main advice I will always remember is: “When taking a picture, I try to imagine what people usually shoot and I need to make sure my photo is nothing like that.”

As much as possible, I try to apply these tips and my pictures turn out to be much different from what I would have gotten on my own. In my post-processing, I also try to be a little more creative. You will tell me what you think.

Staircase

Staircase

Astrological Structure

Astrological Structure

Astrological Measuring Tool

Astrological Measuring Tool

Perspective

Perspective

To The Sun

To The Sun

Stairway To Heaven

Stairway To Heaven

Next, we go to a beautiful spot hidden from the tourists. Agrasen Ki Baoli is an ancient well that is now a hangout spot for youngsters. This is where I get to practice the second valuable advice from Vikas Dutt: “When I go take architecture pictures, I always spend a few minutes trying to understand what was in the designer’s mind. Once I think I got it, I try to capture the details that were important to the designer and what other people don’t always catch.”

Agrasen Ki Baoli

Agrasen Ki Baoli

Ancient Well

Ancient Well

Couple Hanging Out

Couple Hanging Out

Light Inside Agrasen Ki Baoli

Light Inside Agrasen Ki Baoli

Dry Cleaner Ironing

Dry Cleaner Ironing

Clothesline

Clothesline

Grandmother & Granddaughter

Grandmother & Granddaughter

I can’t thank Vikas Dutt and Vishal Arora enough for being so nice to me, spending time showing me around, and sharing with me their experience and tips. I am hoping this will help improve my skills and creativity, but most of all, I am very happy to have met the two of you. Hopefully, our paths will cross again, either in India, in Europe or in the United States.

Admire the work of Vikas Dutt on his website: http://www.vikasdutt.com

New Lens: Tamron SP 70-300mm F4-5.6 Di VC USD

By , January 21, 2011 7:04 am
Tamron SP 70-300mm F4-5.6 Di VC USD

Tamron SP 70-300mm F4-5.6 Di VC USD

After spending five days in the Amazon jungle then 10 days in the Galapagos to observe animals, I finally made a decision: I need a big zoom.

I did not want something too heavy or too expensive while I was traveling, so no Canon 70-200mm F/2.8 IS II. But on the other hand, I did not want to degrade the quality of photos by buying something too cheap. For the first time, I decided to go with non-Canon lens for two main reasons. The first reason was because of cost. The Tamron lens was $150 less than the equivalent Canon. Secondly, even if auto-focus of the Tamron lens is not as fast as the Canon lens, the glass is of higher quality, image stabilization is more efficient (4 vs 2 stops for Canon), and the finish is much better (the Canon is from 2003 whereas the Tamron lens just came out in 2010).

When we arrived in the North Island of New Zealand, I added a new lens to my collection, a Tamron SP 70-300mm F4-5.6 Di VC USD.

My new Tamron lens:
Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 SP Di VC USD XLD for Canon Digital SLR Cameras

The Canon equivalent:
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens for Canon EOS SLR Cameras

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