10 portraits from my travels

It’s no secret that I’ve been bitten by the travel bug and have been to a lot of fascinating places. I won’t say the number of countries whose stamp I’ve had marking my passport, because to me it’s not about the number, but about the experience and memories there. Hence, I’ve gone to Thailand four or five times, Japan also four or five, Vietnam – three, Hong Kong -twice and Malaysia also twice or three times.

Along the way, I’ve met a lot of intriguing people, who inspired me to keep exploring, to keep smiling and to keep my head up no matter how many bed bug bites I start scratching on in the morning. Other travelers and locals are what makes traveling exciting for me, because you never know who you’re going to meet and how many degrees of separation you’ll have in between, when they announce being from your state, hometown, or speak your native tongue.

Here are a few memorable folks that my husband and I’ve encountered as told by my pictures. Some of them are complete strangers, while others took their time to get to know us and we – them. Through images like these our fascination with other cultures stays alive, our memories of those locations are rekindled and we’re thankful for having had the opportunity to visit, explore and in turn – grow!

The performers of this Cambodian traditional dance show were so beautiful and talented that it was difficult to believe that they almost lost this part of the culture due to the brutal killings of the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s.

Today people who have fled Cambodia are coming back in order to restore and reinvigorate the arts and share them with the world. 

While this woman’s face is obscured, I love this portrait of a Hoi An native. During the day, they go back and forth on this narrow river running through the historic and very quaint city of Hoi An, Vietnam. At night, this simple scene gets transformed as thousands of tourists request boat rides along the river and to set off a small lantern, which make this city even more picturesque. The crowds are real, but the amount of lanterns that decorate Hoi An, make it one of the most romantic cities I’ve been to in SE Asia.

This Ukrainian man, who looks like a character from an old Folk tale or a Soviet cartoon, wasn’t too pleased with having his picture taken by passerbies without a purchase. Does everything have to cost money these days?

I know nothing about this woman – is she a local or a tourist (trying on this traditional Austrian dress)? But she descended the stairs during my guided tour and I could’t be in more awe of the beautiful contrast of the pink tones against the aged, concrete, fortress-like building.  She makes me wish I also resided in Austria with a daily requirement to wear such feminine and colorful outfits.

Taken through a car’s window on a rainy Balinese day, this woman filled my frame with color and non-gloomy ambiance with her calm demeanor, yet very vibrant and stylish personal style. In a country where most of my students prefer subdued colors of Black, Grey and Navy, I enjoyed capturing Bali, Indonesia on a Sunday when everyone was dressed to the nines. Sadly, Korean people only select bright textiles for children and in their elderly age.

While this is just one of the many portraits taken at the Karen long necked tribe village in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I like this image for its innocence and simplicity. This tribe member is very young, maybe even the youngest one we’ve met that day, but she looks absolutely beautiful in her accessories, surrounded by the colorful textiles she or others have created.  I always wonder what was she thinking…?

A sucker for anything cultural, I felt so fortunate to have convinced my husband to attend a Chinese Opera Performance in Taipei, Taiwan. No one was disappointed to have spent 2 hours watching the colorful performance, which included strikingly beautiful costumes, martial arts, singing (with subtitles of course) and so much make up on both men and women to last one – a lifetime!

While traveling in Hong Kong, our plans were slightly derailed by a protest that shut down some areas of public transportation. Sure, one can feel upset at the situation, but on the other hand, freedom of speech is and should be a universal right and good for the people of HK to frequently speak out. And hey, we could use a walk anyway!

This 200 year old man (nah, just kidding) was one of the performers at our Mekong Delta all day trip while in Ho Chi Minh City with the in laws this past February. I wonder if my lack of any musical skills could master this instrument. How hard can one string be? But then again, maybe I’ll need the next 168 years to practice 😛

Taken in a fascinating country of Malaysia, this couple is ascending the 272  stairs to Batu Caves and to one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India.  While I would opt out to leave my shoes on (monkeys, feces, etc), I admired their bright clothing against the colorful steps. I think the shoes also help to tell the story and lead the viewer through this photograph.

Bonus portrait!

While failing to locate a certain American rodeo picture (failed drives, lost pictures – the story of most photographers), I did come across another cool portrait. This is my father in law, doing some welding work for us, while utilizing his 30 years of experience in this field. We couldn’t have done half of the things we’ve accomplished in Montana without his and my mom in law’s help. Thanks guys!!!


Traveling and photographing has been my favorite pastime for the past few years (check out my other images from other Asian or European destinations) and I hope that these portraits inspire you to see the world and explore other cultures, cuisines and meet the locals!

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#taiwan #hongkong #localportraits #indonesia #vietnam #karentribe #chiangmai #usa #thailand #travelportraits #malaysia

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