I shall keep this brief – for photography should sing louder than literature, if only in this instance.

2013 has been quite a year for me. I could quantify the number of countries I’ve visited, or cities where I’ve laid my foot, yet mere numbers can’t amass the sheer amount of stories, encounters and sensory exposures I’ve collected this year alone. I may even be somewhat attached to it that, hailing 2014, will leave quite a scar of nostalgia when time finally severs me from it.

2013 has also been a year where I’ve truly received my awakening in the arts of photography. Never have I hazarded as much – including one nasty fall as early as January, actually – than this incumbent annual to pursue angles, objects, sunrises and sunsets, shouldering camera equipments in months shooting images for mere seconds – if only to transfer my impressions of visual beauty from immediate eyesight to pixels. And I’ve learned so much.

In memoriam of a year soon in passing, I’ve compiled some 33 photos – out of thousands I’ve taken this year alone – that best summarise my year of travelling, spanning Asia, North America and my home continent, Europe. I hope, through my eyes and lens, you’ll share with me my gratitude for just how enchanting this world – and year – we’ve lived in.

*

#1 Wat Kaew, Thailand
Awaking from a celebratory stupor, this temple in Krabi was one of the first things I’d seen in 2013 – and, indeed, on new year’s day. The streets were almost devoid of people that afternoon; only children loitered these staircases of spirituality, kicking around a plastic ball in the courtyard.

~

#2 Longtail boat, Thailand
A longtail boat appearing as though smeared with orange luminescent paint along its bow, reflecting whatever sunlight dusk was gradually robbing of Koh Phi Phi’s coastline. The bow-tied ribbon is considered an appeasement to sea-dwelling spirits.

~

#3 Street food hawker, Malaysia
The raucous street in Penang, adjacent to my guesthouse, was robust with clatters of cast-iron woks and vocal enticements. I couldn’t help but capture, whereas photography doesn’t depict aromas and flavours, the intensity of merchandising in the Asian street food scene.

~

#4 Jalan Petaling, Malaysia
It was nearing Chinese New Year, and the full flamboyance of festive ornamentation were strung above Petaling Street, otherwise known as Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown. I was there solely for a food pilgrimage – that didn’t stop me from occasionally gawking at the merchandise.

~

#5 A façade of the Imperial City, Vietnam
Faded gates, once conjoined to conceal and isolate the clandestine royal life, still dotted the old city of Hue, once the imperial capital city of the Ngyuen Dynasty. Built and decorated in true sino-mimicking fashion, it’s also one my rickshaw driver insisted that I snap a photo of.

~

#6 Shopkeeper of a snail restaurant, Vietnam
The blank stare penetrating a interval in the never-ceasing fluidity of motorbike traffic, in District 3 of Ho Chi Minh City. I was squatting on a low stool opposite, among a company of eaters on the Saigon ‘Snail Street’ food tour – while under the intent observation of our attending waiter.

~

#7 Secret lakeside spot, Cambodia
The location of this place, occupied only by local Khmers save myself and our small company of Westerners, remains a mystery to me in my geographic recollection – I may well have been blindfolded on the tuk tuk from Siem Reap. But then, I’m not at liberty to divulge too much.

~

#8 Tourists in Bayon, Cambodia
The lithic complexes of Angkor Wat were already flocking with tardy stampedes of visitors; Jai and I had not only to navigate between the labyrinthine Bayon Temple, but also bodies in opposing currents. At least I consoled myself with seldom inspections of craftsmanship.

~

#9 Skeleton of West Pier, United Kingdom
A spectre, I’d imagine, compared to its formative years, the skeleton of West Pier still haunted Brighton beach. I took this snapshot while leading a photo-walk in the aftermath of Traverse, a travel bloggers conference held during a spring-sprung weekend.

~

#10 Pebble mosaic courtyard, Spain
An artistic display of geometric design paving a corridor, hidden away in the little-frequented township of Almuñécar on the southern coast of Spain – less-visited yet, in a secluded residential area. In stark contrast to the mosaic greyscale, floral bloom adjourn the courtyard.

~

#11 Aerial view of Salobreña Castle, Spain
Camera pressed against glass, I pulled the trigger as blades whirled above my head, as deafening as we were high above the courtyard of Salobreña Castle – I could imagine gazing up from there, just as when I visited it the day before. I glanced back at my past self and returned to the scenery.

~

#12 Stunt troupe mid-performance, United States of America
“We’re here to entertain!” the ensemble chanted in unison. The three ‘volunteers’, bent like mannequins, leaked anxiety. I got drawn into the spectating crowd outside of Manhattan Town Hall, where, suspense-enraptured, one man alone stole my breath in the final, injury-defying act.

~

#13 Brooklyn Arts Studio kitchen, United States of America
An Avalon vintage trailer converted into a bedroom, in the grungy surrounding of scrapheaps supplying a furniture designer in his Brooklyn industrial artists’ workshop? I simply couldn’t resist the tout. I ended up staying there in June – my room aside, I adored the common room setup.

~

#14 Sunset over St Mary’s River, Canada
Plumes rose from manufacturing Michigan as I peered from the banks of the US-Canada division, as sunset spilt its palette and tinted the skies above. We had a full day of fly-fishing in this very river, though, exhausted as we were, we took a stroll to admire these heavenly colours.

~

#15 Catching a trout, Canada
The ecstatic face of one who waited – and caught his prey. Chris, with a cigar wedged between the toothy grin, posed for the camera to flaunt the metaphoric wolf he hauled out of the river in, I must confess, a lengthy game of wits and tremendous patience.

~

#16 Boston Marathon bombing memorial, United States of America
Shoes dotted this one corner of Copley Square, amidst symbolic donations of running gear and slogans of “Boston Strong”; but this pair, angelic in winglike ornament and coiled, ‘unified’ laces, struck me the most with poignancy, Behind, images of victims of the bombing.

~

#17 Ruins in the Foro Romano, Italy
Fresh, adolescent blossom in contrast with a baring relic of antiquity, eroded under the tides of millennia and upheaval of contemporary architectural might. The rest of the site, once pinnacle of Ancient Roman democracy, shared a similar fate of dereliction. Yet its legacies remain.

~

#18 Chianti in Parco Savello, Italy
Recommended to me by a Roman friend as the best viewpoint of the city, and one of its best kept secrets, I brought with me to Parco Savello a friend I managed to purchase for €4. My other friend, Hannah, met me at the top, where we sipped the wine in front of an unrivalled panorama.

~

#19 Ceiling of Basilica di San Marco, Italy
Photography may capture – or at least loosely replicate – a visual imprint of St Mark’s; yet no imagery alone would describe this embezzlement of words, upon gazing up and attesting for a ceiling of majesty, from its vivid frescoes to concave auroral semblance.

~

#20 Spire-top panorama of Venice, Italy
Off the main island, opposite Piazza San Marco, the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore towered over the lower terracotta ceilings draping the Venice landscape. Clambering – taking the elevator – to the top of the church tower, I was rewarded with the best view of the floating city – and beyond.

~

#21 Outside the window of Blogville apartment, Italy
I gazed out of this window regularly; it was a charming ritual, a brief recess from the interior – and swift scrutinies of lives milling about in Bologna, as though magnifying on a populace microscopically accumulating to a city’s psyche. Blogville wasn’t a bad people-watching spot at all.

~

#22 The Blue Lagoon, Iceland
From a terrace atop the restaurant, I took my occasional respites between courses of the evening meal. This observatory didn’t only visualise one of Iceland’s most iconic sites, but exhibited its coming to be: from the geothermal power plants to the namesake therapeutic pool.

~

#23 Arctic fox and harnesses, Iceland
Flame, an orphaned arctic fox adopted and named by the crew of Inside the Volcano, ‘inspected’ the equipment – those who wore the sturdy hardhats and waist straps would be then hoisted into the magma chamber of Thrihnukagigur, a dormant volcano outside of Reykjavik.

~

#24 Tomato-picking in Villa Ferraia’s vegetable patches, Italy
Ripen tomatoes for the picking, we descended into the patches geared with judgments of vegetative maturity. The fruits were for pomodoro sauce, yet a preservation technique for summer produces destined to wither – though, on this warm day, winter still seemed far away.

~

#25 Forest path in Dunkrel Hermitage, Scotland (United Kingdom)
The path appeared mystic, eerie even; the forest that enveloped it flickered under waning sunlight – its leaves were swaying and buckling in the chillier draft, some already donning their autumnal attire. All appeared tranquil, chatter amongst ourselves as hushed as old trees rustled.

~

#26 Faded church in Glendalough, Republic of Ireland
Inspecting each weathered engraving, Kristin pondered which gravestone was the oldest within the ruins of a yet erected Irish church – we discovered one dated back to as early as the 12th century, while all around us, beneath our feet, lied the final resting places from a millennium.

~

#27 Coastline of Bari at night, Italy
See how it glistened upon the watery reflection? The coastal outline may not have imprinted its silhouette on the choppier Adriatic Sea, one battered by storm that very evening; yet, given a long photographic exposure, the columnar gleams still arose from the waters surrounding Bari.

~

#28 Lech-am-Arlberg and the starry skies, Austria
Stumbling onto the hotel balcony, stomach churning and intoxicating from an abundance of schnapps, my sobriety returned for an instant – only solely from alpine breeze, but a sheer magnificence as though manifesting from within a canvas.

~

#29 Skier in motion, Austria
Some decelerated as they descended the final stretch of the piste; others preferred an abrupt halt, an enthralment of adrenaline lasting till the very end – they were who I looked out for, camera-armed, as split seconds of swashbuckling against snow were worth freezing mid-action.

~

#30 Mechanical reindeer at Winter Wonderland, United Kingdom
Could I resist? Perhaps not. Promptly, I hurried to the token booth and returned with the fairground’s recognised currency. Scaling the mindless beast, it frolicked with the idea of my presence; then, as though it grew irritated and agonised, it manically flung until it shook me off.

~

#31 Ferris wheel at Edinburgh’s Christmas, Scotland
An alternative ant’s view of the star attraction of Edinburgh’s Christmas market, after Sophie and I rode the Big Wheel and revelled in the hawk’s perspective over East Princes Street Gardens and the whole of Edinburgh below – and filmed the swooping rotation.

~

#32 Torchlight procession of Edinburgh Hogmanay, Scotland
The ethereal trail of flaming wax rods snaking around North Bank Street, in midst of illuminated trees and camera backlights; the congregation would accumulate to 30,000 in head count, a penultimate farewell to 2013 in a pagan fashion true to the ritual’s roots – and that of the Scots.

~

#33 New Year’s fireworks over Stirling Castle, Scotland
One final eruption; if the changing of years were a transitional overlap, then it’d be this very moment when 2013 inhaled and sighed its last breath: the stifling aroma of gunpowder, condensing and sinking, in an enshrouding haze penetrated by the threads shooting up into the heavens, bearing every hue in the spectrum. And never – this close to its source – have I heard louder an exclamation of departure.

Nor have I ever received a more boisterous, more spirited declaration of entrance – and as the loud bang dissipated, 2014 was truly upon us.

~

Now, which photos above do you like the most? Leave a comment below to let us know which ones are your favourites!