south america


First stop, Bogota, Colombia.

Landing in Bogota, Colombia and getting my passport stamped officially brought me to my sixth continent. I can also now claim that I have been to all of the “habitable continents” in the world. This just leaves Antarctica…but that is for another story.

Like I mentioned, this was the first stop in my four-country South American adventure. Bogota also turns out to be the homeland of two of my co-workers. Prior to leaving Toronto, they gave a handful of useful tips for my short stay there. However, even before the journey started, a little problem became fully realized. I could not communicate with locals! Out of all the places I have been to in the world, this was the first time where neither I nor the people I went with spoke the native language. The first hurdle came just right out of the airport trying to get a taxi. Luckily, with enough hand gestures and some makeshift Spanglish going on, I was able to find a kind airport staff woman who spoke Spanish, English and Russian and helped translate with the taxis.

With that out of the way, we headed towards La Candelaria. This city is rustic, colorful and charming. It has this old colonial Spanish architecture that is absolutely stunning. I quickly found out that it is really hard to not take any good photographs here. One building would have deep red walls, another would have a bright yellow roof, a little house would have bold blue doors and hundreds of beautiful graffiti art are scatted around the city everywhere.

The Museo Botero (or Botero Museum) is well, a museum featuring the art works of Fernando Botero. He is a famous and world-renowned for his paintings and sculptures of “chubby” people and animals. Best of all, it is an exhibit that is free to the public.

Another great thing about Colombia is their food and more notably, their coffee. I got my much needed caffeine fix from Juan Valdez, which is pretty much the county’s most iconic international figure. On the street, I picked up a bag of the most delicious fried plantain chips I ever had. It had a salty crunch to die for.

Photographing people was one of the major goals for this trip. Things are very different in South America than somewhere like New York City, where some would probably try to sue you for snapping shots of them. The people are very friendly and quite photogenic. As with anyone in a public area, I always hold my camera up to make sure that it gets acknowledged. If I see them really try to shoo me away, then I just won’t got for it. However, I didn’t get any of that because I remained respectful to them and their space.

Even though this first stop was just a long layover, I really enjoyed the vibe I received. The locals were friendly and I felt relatively safe regardless of what others had told me before. Like any new place one visits, you should always be cautious and aware of your surroundings. Bogota was a great place for me to break into the South American mentality and Colombia is definitely a location I want to revisit again for a longer amount of time in the future.

If you would like to see the full photo gallery of Bogota, Colombia, please feel free to visit my archive.

Inspirational, Travels

Back from South America and Inspiration

The above is an episode of Travel+Escapes’ original web series called “New Nomads” featuring blogs such as PlanetD.com and FoxNoMad.com! 

It’s been a few weeks since my last update but I am back from my trip to South America. Over the next month or two, I will be posting regular weekly posts about all the places I was fortunate enough to explore. Overall, I took over 8,000 RAW photos! So much so, that I just purchased a new 15TB Synology NAS unit to store my entire archive into (review coming soon).

The reason why I included a web episode of “New Nomads” here is because on my trip, I met so many of them! I met year-long backpackers from Austria and Sweden just to name a few. As a matter of fact, two of my friends from university are backpacking across the world as we speak. You can follow Ted and Jen at RoadMapsToHappiness.com. One thing that I really enjoy about traveling and especially this adventure is making new connections. I believe this is the first time I’ve ever been to places where I really could not fluently and directly communicate with the locals. However, what I found is that there is definitely more good than bad in this world. Pretty much everyone I encounter was friendly, helpful and kind. There was a lot of Spanglish, notepad writing and hand gestures going on, but at the end of the day, I was able to get around just fine.

South America is officially my 6th continent covered and only Antarctica remains. In a way, I can say that I’ve now travelled to all of the habitable continents on Earth. So, before the onslaught of my in-depth posts comes about, I will just give you a quick overview of the places I went to. The first stop was a long layover in Bogota, Colombia, then Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, then both Brazilian and Argentinian sides of Iguazu Falls, then to Cusco and Machu Picchu, Peru and then finally Lima, Peru.

I cannot wait to show all of your my photographs and tell you about my travels to South America!



Photography, Travels

Happy New Year, NEW Image Gallery and South America

Photo taken by Sean Chin at www.SeanChin.com.

Taken at “Songs of the Sea” performance in Sentosa, Singapore in 2007.

First of all, let me just say Happy New Year! I hope all of you have a fantastic 2013.

I want to take this moment to give you all a little gift from myself. Over the last 3 months, I have been secretly and feverishly been going through my entire photographic archive since 2005 and re-mastering all of my favorite images. This portfolio includes four main categories: travels, concerts, special events and sports. I really hope that you take some time to go through it and please do leave me some comments as I enjoy reading your feedback and constructive criticism. For the longest time, I’ve been tired and sick of using “social” sharing portfolios such as Smugmug, Zenfolio, Flickr just to name a few. There are just way too many privacy, pricing and copyright insecurities that I no longer have the patience to worry about. After many hours of research, I stumbled upon an amazing new platform called Piwigo. It is a software that you can install on your own server, which means that I am in full control of my work. I never have to worry about a company like Flickr closing down and then losing all of my comments.

As many of my readers know, I LOVE traveling and plan to continue my bucket list of exploring all seven continents before I am 30. In just a few weeks, I will be leaving on a journey to South America. More specifically, Columbia, Brazil, Argentina and Peru. I really look forward to visiting Rio, Iguazu Falls and of course Machu Picchu. In the next week, I will be writing a “what’s in my bag” featuring what gear I’ll be carrying for this trip.

Again, all the best in 2013!

Update December 9, 2013: I am now using the “New Smugmug”. Many of the photographers I follow use the new service with great pleasure. So, I decided to take the plunge along with the Black Friday 40% off discount for the year. 

Update January 3, 2013: Many thanks to Pierrick Le Gall, creator of Piwigo, for working directly working one on one with me for the last few days to customize my image gallery!