Chaweng Noi Beach

Copyright: bloodua

Thailand is one of only three countries which I have visited more than once, and I will always carry a fondness for its culture, its food, and its incredibly gracious people. I visited Thailand a second time in September of 2022, and ended up staying in the same regions as I had in 2018: Chiang Mai, Koh Samui, and Bangkok. While on Koh Samui, I had a strong desire to go to the beach, but my cousin and I had only three days to fully explore the island, so I wasn’t sure if we could squeeze in a beach day. In addition, there was a bit of rain which, pun intended, put a damper on our beach plans for the first two days.

Then on our third and final full day on Samui, the weather cleared up, and we decided to spend the day at Chaweng Noi Beach, the beach which was a stone’s throw from the resort at which we were staying. We ended up ordering lunch right on the beach, and also managed to polish off a couple of bottles of wine over the course of several hours. When we felt ourselves overheating, we decided to go into the Gulf of Thailand’s waters, and were rewarded with crystal clear water which was the temperature of a perfect bath. We had also discovered that some previous hotel patrons had left two pool floats there for other patrons to use, so we grabbed them and went back into the water, atop which we floated for a good hour or more.

Whenever I return to Thailand, and specifically find myself on Koh Samui, I plan to visit Chaweng Noi Beach to experience the same perfect beach day that I had been so fortunate to have experienced in 2022.

My Final Night In Porto

A nice sunset shot from my final evening in Porto, Portugal

During the spring of 2022, I traveled to Spain and Portugal on a bold solo trip which had its share of frustrations and glitches, but I was very proud of myself for enduring all the problems. Since I speak a decent amount of Spanish, Spain presented no language issues for me, but it was an entirely different story when I was in Portugal, because I only know a few Portuguese words. Nevertheless, I was bound and determined to enjoy my stay in Vila Nova de Gaia and Porto.

I stayed at a lovely AirBnB in Vila Nova de Gaia which had a beautiful view of the Douro River and the town of Porto across the river. For four days straight, I would explore the wine caves on Vila Nova de Gaia (VNdG) side, walk all over VNdG and Porto, visit the grocery store to get authentic Portuguese food items, and dine in various restaurants in VNdG. I was completely free to do whatever struck my fancy, and I loved the entire experience so much that it was hard to leave and move on to Lisbon, which I didn’t enjoy nearly as much.

On my final night in VNdG, I decided to stay out as late as possible so that I could absorb as much of the sensory stimuli as I could. That final night turned out to be extraordinary, punctuated by a fantastic meal at a riverside restaurant, some lovely vinho verde, and fun conversations with other travelers. The sun began to set around 8:20, which was incredibly late for that time of the year. Even after the sun had completely set around 8:50 pm, the sky was a very vivid cobalt blue.

Another beautiful image from that magical night…

Live music was playing at a couple of restaurants, the river water was glistening, the crisp air was refreshing, and my heart felt so full while taking it all in. That night, I honestly fell in love with VNdG and Porto, and resolved to visit again. At some point, I will definitely return to VNdG and Porto, hopefully with a romantic interest in tow, because the area is so replete with romantic energy.

One more image from one of my favorite evenings of my life…

If you are looking for an absolutely gorgeous place to visit which has plenty of fresh seafood, great wines, and interesting culture, consider visiting VNdG and Porto.

Budapest 7 pm

I traveled to Budapest, Hungary in September 2014 and spent a week taking in the sights, struggling with the Hungarian language, and consuming Hungarian cuisine. I was very fortunate to have connected with two photographers in Budapest shortly before I left the U.S., and I was able to schedule photo shoots with both. The first photographer was extremely hospitable and took me for a city tour of Budapest the day before our planned shoot. The next day, I got even more of a tour of the city since the photographer and his girlfriend were so enthusiastic about showing me certain parts of the city.

About midway through my stay in Budapest, I shot for an entire day with the second photographer, and though I became a bit fatigued after traveling and shooting all over Pest side, I looked forward to shooting on Buda side as well. We didn’t reach Buda side until early evening, and since the temperature was starting to drop, I quickly changed into my final look for the last set of the day, a black minidress with black heels. The photographer set up in such a way that Hungarian Parliament would be in the background of each image in the set. If you haven’t seen the Hungarian Parliament building, it is an architectural marvel, and it is especially dazzling at night because the entire building is illuminated.

The photographer asked me to stand near the Danube River so that he could check exposure and framing, so I walked over to the designated spot. As soon as I did so, a very fine rain mist started falling, and though I was in a sleeveless minidress, the drizzle and the air felt refreshing. We began shooting, and the church which the photographer was standing in front of chimed 7 times, marking the 7 o’clock hour. I will never forget the church chimes, the light rain, the crisp air, and the glow of the illuminated Hungarian Parliament building. It was a beautiful, magical moment.