My favourite travel memories

I took my first photo at age 2. Haven't stopped since! :-)

I took my first photo at age 2. Haven’t stopped since! 🙂

I was bitten by the travel bug at a very young age. My first overseas trip was at age 7 (to Hong Kong) and the tally now stands at 87 countries (as at November 2018) across six continents. That equals quite a few terabytes of memory I guess! The breadth and depth of the travel memories I’ve amassed through the years have been amazing and I cherish them more than anything (well, almost!). From sailing around the Whitsunday Islands in Australia to hiking around the lunar landscapes of the Atacama desert, swimming with sharks in Malaysia, meeting the world’s greatest chef, floating in a frozen lake in Finnish Lapland or witnessing a breathtaking sunset at Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro.

Feeling a bit nostalgic, I decided to compile a photo essay of some of my favourite travel memories. Scroll down to view them and click on any image to read more about the experience(s) – the quotes in the captions are excerpts from the related blog post. Oh, and there’s a special ‘blast from the past’ treat for those who scroll down to the end. 😉

This photo brings back many fond memories. It was taken during the first leg (Amsterdam to Hong Kong) of my five-month round-the-world trip in 2008 as the plane flew past the coast of Estonia. I’ve called this photo “The Moment” because it symbolises the start of a life-changing journey that began in 2008 and which has led me onto a new and exciting path as a travel blogger.

This photo brings back many fond memories. It was taken during the first leg (Amsterdam to Hong Kong) of my five-month round-the-world trip in 2008 as the plane flew past the coast of Estonia. I’ve called this photo “The Moment” because it symbolises the start of a life-changing journey that began in 2008 and which led me onto a new and exciting path as a travel blogger.

Read about the trip that changed my life.

My first and only skydive!

My first and only skydive! “I used to have nightmares involving an endless fall into an abyss. This was exactly what it felt like. The adrenaline rushed through my body in waves and I felt numb.”

Read about my skydive in Costa Brava.

whitehaven-beach-australia-photo

Whitehaven Beach in Australia’s Whitsunday Islands. “The beach is a wide arc with an inlet on one end, with sand so white, I needed my sunnies to protect my eyes from the glare. The sea was an astounding spectrum of turquoise and blue.”

Read about my adventures in the Whitsunday Islands.

petra-treasury-night-candles-photo

The Treasury in Petra, Jordan (image courtesy of Jordan Tourism). “In the square directly in front of the Treasury, hundreds of candles cast a warm glow on the faces of the people who had come to experience Petra by night and to listen to a Bedouin musical performance. The crowd’s excited chatter quickly dissipated when a Bedouin man appeared. He took out a flute from his pocket and within moments mesmerised the crowd with his hypnotic tunes.”

Read about my mesmerising visit to Petra at night.

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Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro. “The beaches in Rio like Copacabana and Ipanema are famous the world over. Any city that has such gorgeous beaches at its doorstep has a big plus in my book! And Rio is absolutely blessed in this respect. The beaches are fabulous and the people-watching is unparalleled.”

Check out my photos of Rio de Janeiro.

ice-floating-yllas-lapland-finland-photo

Floating in an icy pool in a frozen lake in Finnish Lapland. “I closed my eyes. Tiny snowflakes drifted onto my face. I tried to register a sound but there were none. Just silence. My body felt weightless, like I was hovering in mid-air, yet I knew I wasn’t. It was a strangely soothing feeling as I felt my muscles quite literally unwind, from my fingers right down to my toes. The sensation of total relaxation surprised me, considering where I was at that very moment..”

Read about my ice-floating experience in Finnish Lapland.

easter-island-statues-photo

“It still is very much a mystery why these statues were built [on Easter Island] and how the locals managed to erect such huge statues (the largest are more than 20 meters long) and haul them many miles from the quarry to the ahu. Various theories were introduced during the next few days but I like the one that says that aliens created them during their stay on Earth.”

Read about the Mysteries of Easter Island.

wadi-rum-mountains-panorama-photo

Wadi Rum, Jordan. “The balloon rose quickly to a height of 3,000 feet and I was stunned! The scenery that unfolded was absolutely breathtaking! Strangely enough, I didn’t experience any fear (like I usually would from great heights). The surreal landscapes below and the soft breeze in my face kept me occupied I guess and I felt perfectly safe.”

Read about my hot-air balloon flight over Wadi Rum.

Swimming with sharks at Lang Tengah island, Malaysia. "I was out snorkelling on my own and a single barracuda and some parrot fish kept me company throughout. I got to see the big shark – it swam past, just five meters or so away, and strangely, I just stared and enjoyed the moment."

Swimming with sharks at Lang Tengah island, Malaysia. “I was out snorkelling on my own and a single barracuda and some parrot fish kept me company throughout. I got to see the big shark – it swam past, just five meters or so away, and strangely, I just stared and enjoyed the moment.”

Read about my trip to Lang Tengah island.

Hiking through the Valle de la Luna in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.

Valle de la Luna in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. “The colourful valley spread out below us while the Andes formed an impressive backdrop. As the sun slowly dipped below the horizon, the colours of the valley changed from ochre to a bright orangy-red. The shadows of the Salt mountains grew longer and soon enveloped the valley and reached the feet of the Andes. From there, the shadows rose up the flanks of the Andes. It was so magical and so surreal that I had to pinch myself to convince myself that I was actually witnessing this spectacle.”

Read about my trip to the Atacama Desert.

keith-jenkins-ferran-adria-el-bulli-photo

Meeting (arguably) the world’s greatest chef, Ferran Adria at his restaurant, El Bulli. “He single-handedly transformed the culinary landscape in Spain and introduced a multi-sensory culinary experience that was unique anywhere in the world. People from around the world flocked to this idyllically-situated restaurant on the hill-side overlooking the cove of Cala Montjoi.”

Read about my meeting with Ferran Adria.

bora-bora-view-photo

Bora Bora, French Polynesia. “Bora Bora is everything I thought it would be… and more. I’ve seen pictures of it in countless publications, documentaries and travel programmes but it’s not till you’re actually here that you begin to fathom just how magical this place is.”

Read about my stay in Bora Bora.

mauritius-southern-coast-photo

Seeing Mauritius from a private heli. “We flew over turquoise lagoons and green islets, sparkling white beaches and coral reefs, fishermen in their boats, people snorkelling … it was mesmerising!”

See my photos of this helicopter tour in Mauritius.

Crossing the Andes by boat, Chile-Argentina. "Funny how fear has us in its grip in so many ways but when we let it go for just a bit and explore that unknown, we then realise how silly we were to harbour that particular fear in the first place."

Crossing the Andes by boat, Chile-Argentina. “Funny how fear has us in its grip in so many ways but when we let it go for just a bit and explore that unknown, we then realise how silly we were to harbour that particular fear in the first place.”

Read about crossing the Andes by boat.

aerial-view-cape-town-south-africa-photo

The pilot circled around Table Bay and we could see Robben Island, before heading south along Green Point. The views of Cape Town were awe-inspiring! I was speechless!

Read about my helicopter tour of Cape Town.

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On board the Rocky Mountaineer train from Jasper to Vancouver. “The train pulled out from the station just as the sun’s rays illuminated the mountain tops. As the sun rose higher, the fall colours of the forests we passed came to life. The tracks led us past gushing rivers, snowcapped peaks, lush green pastures and mile after mile of gorgeous trees. The scenery was simply bewildering.”

Read about my trip on the Rocky Mountaineer.

sea-lion-gardner-bay-galapagos-photo

Galapagos Islands. “It was an unnerving experience to watch a sea lion swim towards me at top speed – I could see his eyes trained on me – before making a swift turn just a foot away from me! I started talking to it and it returned several times. Haha! It certainly was the most extraordinary meeting in my life!”

Read about my Galapagos Islands cruise.

velvet-escape-dead-sea-photo

“I looked at the changing colours of the sky and the lake as the sun set. The sky was illuminated with shades of crimson and orange whilst the lake turned to a shimmering gold. Across the lake, I could see the twinkling lights of Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Jericho in Israel. The scenery was bewitching. Floating in the Dead Sea at sunset is a magical experience that no one will easily forget.”

Read about my experience floating in the Dead Sea.

bayon-temple-photo

The Bayon temple in the Angkor temple complex. “At that moment, I didn’t care that I was completely drenched and that my shoes were flooded up and covered in thick mud. The view of the misty, jungle-covered hillsides, the broad plains below with their mosaic-like rice fields and the majestic towers of Angkor Wat just breaking through the tree-tops was simply breathtaking.”

Read about my trip to Angkor Wat.

piton-des-neiges-reunion-flight-tour-photo

A majestic view of Piton de Neiges on Reunion Island from a micro-light. “The pilot offered to show me how to open the door… “when we’re up in the air, you can open the door for better photos”, he added. I shook my head nervously. “Errr, no thanks!”

Read about my flight over Reunion Island or things to do in Reunion Island.

iguassu-falls-cataratas-photo

Iguassu Falls on the Brazil/Argentina border. “Massive curtains of water plunged down the jungle-clad cliffs, producing a giant cloud of spray that could be seen from miles away. At the foot of the cliffs, gorgeous rainbows formed, seemingly stretching from the edges of the falls and disappearing into the thick jungle canopy. The volume of water that plunged down the cliffs and its sheer force were totally mind-blowing.”

Read about my visit to the Iguazu Falls and things to do at Iguazu Falls.

Witnessing the majesty of the Perito Merino glacier in Patagonia, Argentina.

The Perito Merino glacier in Patagonia, Argentina. “The most bewildering thing about this glacier: you can hear it move!! It doesn’t creak or squeak, when it makes a move (you can hear something every few minutes), it releases a thunderous roar that you can hear from miles away.”

Read about my trip to Patagonia.

northern-lights-lapland-photo

Seeing the Aurora borealis or northern lights in Finnish Lapland (image courtesy of Visit Finland). “The northern lights danced in the night sky above me, with their rhythmic and expressive movements. It seemed like they were performing the tango right before me in the dark, Laplandic sky: a quick swirl, then a sensual embrace; small steps followed by long, elegant steps; lifts and drops.”

Read about my Northern Lights experience.

wine-blending-middelvlei-wines-photo

Blending my very own wine at Middelvlei Wines in Stellenbosch. “Ben and Jeanneret tasted it and nodded their heads in agreement – this wine is classy! I beamed from ear-to-ear!

Read about how I created my own wine.

mausoleo-galla-placidia-photo

The Mausoleo di Galla Placidia in Ravenna, Italy. “UNESCO describes this mausoleum as one of the best-preserved mosaic monuments, and rightfully so. The intricate mosaics, stunning depictions and striking colours are jaw-dropping beautiful.”

Read about things to do in Ravenna.

victoria-falls-panorama-photo

The Victoria Falls in Zambia/Zimbabwe. “Locals call it Mosi-oa-Tunya – the ‘smoke that thunders’. No other name describes the Victoria Falls better. Straddling the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Victoria Falls are one of the most impressive falls in the world, spanning more than a mile.”

Read about my visit to the Victoria Falls.

sunset-grootbos-photo

Grootbos, South Africa. “There’s just something magical about the hilly fynbos-covered landscapes that end abruptly at dramatic cliffs or large swathes of blinding white sand, the seemingly ‘airbrushed’ clouds and the sparkling ocean.”

Read about my visit to Grootbos.

bologna-bubbles-photo

The Fountain of Neptune in Bologna, Italy. “I love Sundays in Bologna‘s historic centre. With the streets empty of traffic, pedestrians and cyclists reign supreme on the ancient cobblestones. Locals come out in full force to shop, eat and wander around the markets.”

Read about Sundays in Bologna and things to do in Bologna.

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San Telmo in Buenos Aires. “In the evening, the mats are rolled out in a section of the square, the speakers are installed and a DJ takes his place on a rickety wooden stool. Mesmerising tango and flamenco music quickly fills the square and the locals jump to their feet.”

Read about Sundays in San Telmo.

zambezi-queen-top-deck-photo

Cruising the Zambezi River on the Zambezi Queen! “The grunts of hippos and birds chirping outside my window woke me up every morning. In the early evening, I would sit back with a glass of wine and simply marvel at the scenery and the spectacular sunsets.”

Read about my Zambezi Queen cruise.

kuala-lumpur-panoramic-sunset-view-photo

“It was a very cloudy day so I wasn’t expecting much in terms of the sunset but as the sun retreated below the horizon, the colours changed gradually, and then dramatically. The result was a surreal urban landscape, with a plethora of towers framed by a blazing red sky! The lights from the surrounding buildings, streets and traffic below looked like a sea of shimmering gems. It was perhaps the most incredible view of Kuala Lumpur I’d ever seen!”

Read about my visit to Vertigo Bar in Kuala Lumpur.

mount-everest-view-plane-window-photo

“There were various peaks in view and the flight attendant pointed at the lone peak sticking out above the clouds. “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, THAT is Mount Everest!”, she announced. I pinched myself again. It was undoubtedly one of the most majestic mountain views I’d ever seen!”

Read about my flight to Everest.

kwena-lodge-gondwana-game-reserve-zebras-photo

“Silence reigned as the dust settled. I surveyed the surrounding bushes before turning my gaze to the mountains, bathed in a soft pink light, in the far distance. We sat in silence when suddenly, we heard the crack of a twig. He came, slowly but surely, into view and we gasped in awe. The lion casually strolled past us, seemingly without a care in the world. Watching this majestic cat was one of the highlights of my safari …”

Read about my stay at Gondwana Game Reserve in South Africa.

matera-night-photo

“I walked up the cobble-stoned road towards the Cathedral square. Ahead of me, I could see the towering Cathedral, cloaked in the warm, pinkish glow of the setting sun. Several people stood at the edge of the road, staring ahead in silence. Curious, I stopped to look at what they were staring at. As soon as my mind could register what I was seeing, I gasped. My audible reaction was met with smiles by the others standing there. In front of me was one of the most extraordinary towns I’ve ever laid my eyes on: Matera.”

Read about my visit to Matera.

monaco-port-photo

“Taking the helicopter transfer from Nice Airport to Monaco is a great way to enjoy the views of the French Riviera coastline and avoid the notorious traffic jams. After a short wait, I was ushered into a van which brought me to the helipad. It was a swift seven-minute flight but the views were stunning and while I sat in the helicopter, I chuckled at the thought of arriving in Monaco like a rock star!”

Read about my short stay in Monaco.

moscato-di-scanzo-photo

“I swirled the wine in the glass and marvelled at its silky texture and rich ruby-red colour. Despite its dark appearance, I noticed a wondrous clarity in the liquid. I lifted the glass to my nose and in an instant, my nose was filled with aromas of plums and cherries, and a whiff of rosehip and sage. The bouquet was incredibly well-balanced: sweet, fruity with herb and chocolate undertones. I closed my eyes as I took my first sip. It was an astonishing, almost religious experience.”

Read about my Moscato di Scanzo wine-tasting.

And a few awesome travel memories from my teenage years. 🙂

My first ever solo trip, at age 14, from Sydney to Melbourne. This photo was taken in Canberra.

My first ever solo trip, at age 14, from Sydney to Melbourne. It was my first big travel adventure, one which I will never forget! This photo was taken in Canberra.

Cuddling a koala in Australia. :-)

Cuddling a koala in Australia. 🙂

Another awesome solo trip, at age 17, in Japan.

Another awesome solo trip, at age 17, in Japan. Armed with a phrasebook, I travelled by bus and hitch-hiked across the Alps of Central Japan. Gosh, the hair! 😉

And finally, my first European solo trip - to London. I was 19 at this point.

And finally, my first European solo trip – to London, and you have to pose with a bobby on your first London trip! I was 19 at this point.

I hope you enjoyed this selection of some of my favourite travel memories. What are your fondest travel memories?

Related: A Celebration of Friendships.

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20 Responses to “My favourite travel memories”

  1. Esther Iris 19/06/2016 4:56 pm
    #

    A great collection of photos and memories! I’m so jealous that you got to hold a koala!

    Asia has been a dream destination of mine and last fall, I did it! I went to China, including Hong Kong. What a breathtaking city. It was an incredible trip. We went to Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an before Hong Kong. I loved it. The pollution is bad but the sights, the food, the people were all wonderful. I felt so energetic!

  2. Mister Brazil 21/05/2016 8:10 pm
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    Wow, its amazing how you travel a lot. I visited about 16 countries and i see that i have a long way to go. But, its awesome that we can see good example and helps us to set a goal and motivation. I love that you love Ipanema Beach in Rio, I’m from Rio.
    Thank you for the inspiration.
    MB

  3. Keith Jenkins 21/12/2015 6:18 pm
    #

    Aww, thanks Jay! Really happy you enjoyed the post and the photos! 🙂

  4. jay 17/12/2015 12:26 pm
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    Great travel post, Images you share with us are just awesome. I really enjoyed your post. For me this is the best travel post I have ever read.

  5. Keith Jenkins 17/11/2015 9:11 pm
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    Hello Datuk,
    Wow, your comment is a very pleasant surprise! I must’ve been a small child the last time we saw each other. My Mum has often spoken about you fondly through the years. I’m so happy that you found her number and got in touch. That truly is amazing! I hope you’re in good health. Where are you these days? I hope you and my Mum will have the opportunity to meet and catch up.

    Best regards,
    Keith

  6. Datuk Onn ariffin 17/11/2015 6:59 pm
    #

    Hi Keith, I m very proud of you. At your age you travel to many parts of the world and seen them from your prospective. Thank you for sharing your experience. Your mum, pass me your website. You would probably remember me. Only today i got yr mum’s contact number after years of wondering how have you all been. All the best and kind regards

  7. Keith Jenkins 07/11/2015 12:36 pm
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    Thank you Rashid!

  8. Keith Jenkins 07/11/2015 12:30 pm
    #

    Thanks Bo! Was great to meet you (albeit briefly) at WTM. 🙂

    Cheers,
    Keith

  9. Bo 05/11/2015 11:50 pm
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    Hi Keith

    Wow How many trips and experiencies. Congrats.

    Cheers,

    Bo

  10. Rashid Al Ruhi 02/11/2015 11:51 am
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    HI Keith Jenkins,

    I read your shared memories & got overwhelmed. It’s a very nice article.

  11. Keith Jenkins 29/10/2015 11:17 am
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    Hehe, thanks Victoria! 🙂

  12. Victoria@ The British Berliner 29/10/2015 8:59 am
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    What a great story and fantastic memories. I love that you put in some of your childhood photos. You looked so cute! Well done!

  13. Keith Jenkins 22/10/2015 6:45 pm
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    Haha, thanks for your comment Joseph! Oh, go ahead! Pull out those teenage pics! 🙂

    Cheers,
    Keith

  14. Joseph Kiely | travelscapism.com 19/10/2015 5:28 pm
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    Love this – goes to show you travel lust runs deep in you my friend! Maybe I can be brave enough to pull out all my old photos of my awkward teenage years and post for the world to see 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!

  15. Keith Jenkins 19/10/2015 5:01 pm
    #

    Hehe, leuk eh? 😉

  16. Nienke 16/10/2015 11:25 pm
    #

    Ahhhh die koala foto! Te schattig (allebei :))

  17. Keith Jenkins 16/10/2015 9:18 pm
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    Hi Audrey,

    Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂 It was really cool to go through those photos – sometimes, it’s just special to pause and look back. Happy travels!

    Cheers,
    Keith

  18. Audrey 16/10/2015 6:27 pm
    #

    That’s an impressive collection of memories and bucket-list destinations, Keith! I’m looking at your photos and getting some inspiration for places that I still want to visit – San Pedro de Atacama, the Perito Moreno Glacier, Finnish Lapland in the wintertime…there are so many places still left to see!

    P.S. Loving all these blast from the past shots! 😉

  19. Keith Jenkins 16/10/2015 4:19 pm
    #

    Awww, thanks Rob! 🙂 Going through these photos sure made me realise how blessed I am, to be able to travel the world and to have such great and supportive friends and family in my life.

    Hugs,
    Keith

  20. Rob Hermans 16/10/2015 2:52 pm
    #

    What a super collection of all these pics, and such a cute start.. 🙂

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