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My 10 best travel pictures (and why)

by Emiel Van Den Boomen

Recently I was asked about my single best travel picture. Come on, I told him, I cannot answer that! I take thousands of pictures every year. How on earth can I pick the best one? On top of that, what makes a good travel picture? It’s about quality and composition, sure. But for me, good travel pictures are the ones that carry an important personal story.

When thinking again about his question later on, my mind started wandering from our very first big trip (India) to our most recent one (Brazil). Beautiful travel pictures popped into my head and suddenly I decided to take up the challenge: I was going to select my 10 best travel pictures!

I truly hope you like my collection. If you do, please share this blog but (of course) only after you have left a comment indicating the picture you actually like the most. Thanks a lot, and for now: Enjoy!

1. Three girls in India

Best Travel Pictures
It’s 1998. We are traveling India with a group of people and visit remote villages on our route from Jaipur to Varanasi. We encounter a lot of poverty but the smile on the faces of these three girls is sincere and promising. This picture is from the analog era but means a lot to me and my wife. It shows how much fun the girls had while looking at the strange group of foreigners that just entered their village….and we enjoyed the moment with them. With the recent growth in tourism and communication I wonder how many of these places are still left. What do you think?

2. The jumping kid in Battambang

The city of Battambang, Cambodia. A city where you understand what slow travel is all about. Renting a bike, we went out to discover the backlands of Battambang. After having followed the river for a couple of miles we came across a small village where local kids challenged themselves to perform the best jump ever. Ready, set, go!

3. Watch out for elephants crossing the street!

Best Travel Pictures
I picked this one because we had so much fun taking this picture. In the Netherlands we have rabbits, cats and birds crossing the street….but elephants?! We just had to show this to our family back home. The picture was taken in Angkor Wat back in 2013. A trip that made an impact because of Cambodian history and the beauty of the Angkor temple complex.

4. Safari in South Africa

South Africa Kruger Park new
Our trip to South Africa has been a true gem; what a beautiful and inspirational country! We went on a couple of safaris and this one in Kruger Park made the most impact. Only 5 minutes after starting our afternoon trip, these buffalos blocked the road. We all went silent and just watched them. I took dozens of pictures but this one I love the most.

5. Bus station in Monywa, Myanmar

Daily life at bus station Monywa
This one is my personal favorite. There is so much happening on this picture. Look at how the bus in the background is being loaded with goods. The man in purple is trying to figure out all the stuff still needs to be added…. including the big white bag that the young monk is using as a podium. The other two boys (monks) are performing a play for me, showing who is the strongest. The boy on the left (with a plate on his head) was trying to sell snacks to waiting passengers. He was overlooking the scene, proud to show us how things work in his country. This makes waiting at the bus station in Monywa a pleasure!

6. Monks in Myanmar

Best Travel Pictures
Another one from Myanmar, such a photogenic country! This wooden monastery is famous for its large, oval windows. The monks should pay attention to their teacher, but of course the young ones are quickly distracted by what is happening on the street. Myanmar was not visited that much by tourists yet, so we were as much of an attraction to these boys as they were to us.

7. Smile from the Killing Fields in Cambodia

Best Travel Pictures
This picture is taking through a fence, where the wire is totally out of focus. We are on the grounds of the Killing Fields, a horrendous place but a must-visit when in Cambodia. During our tour we listened to many gruesome stories of what happened many years ago. This young girl was selling water bottles right through the fence and her smile was so uplifting. To me she was the personification of Cambodia’s future: promising, friendly and peaceful.

8. Authentic Italy in Bologna

Best Travel Pictures
Bologna is a beautiful Italian city, with churches, porticoes and medieval towers. All impressive structures so why did I choose this picture of a fish shop to be included in my list of 10 best travel pictures? I experienced Bologna as an authentic Italian city with a rough edge. Not discovered by the majority of tourists (yet), it has all the charm you are looking for when traveling outside of the Big 3 (Florence, Venice, Rome). Authentic with a raw edge. Go to Bologna because you will not be disappointed.

9. The Indian hairdresser

Best Travel Pictures
This man is hairdresser on the streets of New Delhi, India. Look at him leaning on his chair, waiting for his next customer. Axe shampoo ready to be used. While I was focusing my camera, suddenly the cow moved into my frame. I waited one or two seconds until both of them looked my way. Click.

10. Thank you, India

Best Travel Pictures
We would love to go back to India someday, if only to watch the diversity of people. This girl was selling bracelets. We were almost at the end of our impressive trip where we met so many colorful and different people. When the girl looked into my camera I immediately knew this picture would be awesome. After returning home I had my films developed (were talking 1998). Upon collection of the photos her eyes caught me again carrying an important message to me and my wife: “Thank you for visiting us in India and make sure to come again!” And we will. No doubt.

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