The Art of Travel: Wanderable Chooses the Winning Twenty20 Photo

Drumroll please… The winner of the Wanderable/Twenty20 Photo Contest is: Steven Potter!

First of all may we say how in awe we are of everyone who submitted photos to our Wanderable/Twenty20 contest. The photos we saw truly moved us and made us want to crawl in your suitcase and go everywhere with you! The winner (who gets to enjoy a Wanderable trip to Napa, California) was ultimately Seattle-based Steven Potter, with this photo of a seaside Seattle cove at dusk:

romance photo by @steven_potter  The winning Twenty20/Wanderable Photo by Steven Potter

The reason why we fell in love with this photo? It has an original point of view: Steven took the photo through a piece of driftwood. He’s on the outside looking in on a moment between two people. Wanderable is all about helping couples share memorable experiences together, and Steven’s point of view is a great allegory for helping couples craft & capture moments. It tells a story: This couple is exploring an unknown location, and their appearance and body language tells us they’re adventuring.  One is in the stereotypical explorer stance with one hand above the brow. We feel like this really captures everything we’re about: people, traveling, exploring, etc., and for his a reward he’ll travel to Napa and indulge in a vacation, on us.

Moss

To learn more about this emerging artist…be sure to check out his galleries of photos HERE, and here’s Steven in his own words: “Since I was very young I can remember being fascinated with photography.  My father had a 35 MM camera that was strictly off limits to us kids.  In 1987,when I was about 18, he went on a business trip and had left his camera on the kitchen table.  My creative side got the better of me and I used his camera to take some photos of a squirrel playing outside our window.  I put the camera back and forgot all about it until he had the photos developed.  I remember him saying that they were great photos but he didn’t remember taking them.  It wasn’t until I had my first photography show that I finally fessed up to my dad that I was the one to take those photos.  I figured by then, I was 30 years old and so much time had passed that he wouldn’t get angry!  He took it very well and said that he was very proud of my work.”

Bridge

For more Whimsical, Wanderable-esque moments, be sure to also check out Steven’s Instagram and Twitter. And read on for some more background on this fascinating photographer, and how he found himself unwittingly immersed in art.

Wanderable: When did you fall in love with photography?

Steven Potter: I first truly got into photography when I bought my first digital camera for a trip to New York City in 2001.  Soon after I returned, I decided to do a coffee table book as a Christmas gift for my housemate of his beautiful home that I was sharing with him that was built in 1902.  My goal was to make even simple features seem beautiful, unique & artistic.  My housemate, at that time, owned a wine bar here in Seattle and would feature a local artist each month.  He loved my coffee table book gift and asked me to show my work at his wine bar. It took some convincing, but I accepted his invitation and had my first exhibit. It was at that show that I told my father about those squirrel photos.

Staircase

W: What is your favorite thing to shoot?

S: Although I truly enjoy all types of photography, I have to say my favorite subject is nature photography.  It’s not a clear favorite, however, as I love taking still life, portrait, travel & architecture photos to name a few.

W: Where did you get the idea for your winning photo?

S: Regarding my winning photograph.  It happened organically.  I had hiked to a secluded beach on the Washington coast to take some photos during a foggy morning.  I loved the unique piece of driftwood that had the hole in it.  I was checking it out to see if I could get any unique shots when I noticed the couple walking along the beach.  I composed the shot I wanted and waited for the right timing to snap the photo as they passed by.

Island

W: What is your favorite place to photograph?

S: Honestly, that’s a tough one.  I love anywhere that has natural beauty, unique architecture, historical value, etc and find something special and unique about everywhere I go.

W: Selfishly we must know…if you could have any Wanderable experience, what would it be?

S: If I could take pictures on any of your Wanderable Experiences it would be the Imagine Asia: Bankok, Koh Samui package. My brother and his wife recently were in Thailand and tell me often that I would love going there to do photography.  It would be amazing to experience some of the scenic coast, tropical forests, ancient temples and modern cities.  Not to mention the food.

Well done, and well deserved, sir.

#WanderOn

#WanderableGypset: The Broke Backpacker

Camel

Will, the Broke Backpacker, is a self-described “wandering adventurer, travel writer and amateur photographer.” Although, judging from his photos below, we’d like to call his bluff on the “amateur.” He starts his bio on his well-trafficked site by saying, “I like to get muddy, naked and painted.” He has lived in India for a year, worked on bars in Vietnam, herded goats in the Holy Land and conquered the highest navigable pass in the world armed with a poorly drawn map and a packet of ritz crackers. Will insists that if you know how to travel cheap, you really can travel forever, and his beautiful blog generously teaches you the tricks of his trade. We had to interview him for our Gypset series, for obvious reasons, and he graciously obliged.

broke backpacker

Wanderable: Walk me through an average day in your un-average life.

Broke Backpacker (Will): Pretty hard to do to be honest as every day is totally different. Sometimes, I wake up early, do a bit of a workout and then hit the town / mountain / beach or jungle to explore for the day! Other times, I have work to do and end up spending most of the day on my laptop… but I try to avoid that!

W: How did you come to lead such a life? Did you always want to be a traveler, or did you just fall into this?

Jodhpur

BB: I’ve always wanted to travel, I like maps… since I was a kid I have been obsessed with putting pins in maps and collecting National Geographics. I first started travelling when I was 18 and although there has been the odd hiccup I would not change it for the world…

W: Which Wanderable Experience would you most love to try ?

BB: Wow! These look pretty awesome – Ok, I guess I would have to go for one of the Hawaii experiences, I have never been there– it looks likes an amazing place to be.

W: What pays the bills?

BB: I make some money off my website but I also write articles for a few travel companies on a freelance basis – this is what keeps me travelling and pays for flights!

W: What do you miss about “home” (where you’re originally from)?

BB: Crossfit. I am obsessed. My biggest complaint about travelling is I miss out on my workouts… I actually wrote an article about the 7 things I miss about home just last week.

Will

W: If you could bring anything/anyone from home, what/who would that be?

BB: I miss a couple of my friends particularly badly – we’re like brothers. I also miss my actual Brother! But I am heading to the Philippines with him in a few months 🙂

W: Advice for aspiring backpackers? Go.

BB: The best advice I can give anyone who want’s this kind of lifestyle is make the transition, make an active decision to get out there and explore on your own. Don’t wait for the perfect time, the perfect flight or the perfect travel buddy – none of these things will ever align, just grab your pack and hit the road.

India

 W: What location is on your bucket list, and why?

BB: Iran – I’ve heard the people are amazingly friendly and I’m a mountain junkie… there’s a lot of mountains. I would also love to explore Papau New Guinea, it’s raw, untamed and largely unexplored by the backpacker crowds.

W: What are your go-to travel essentials?

BB: I never travel anywhere without my Morakniv Knife. My iPod Touch is also super useful, I can write entire articles on a super bumpy bus!

How to Choose

W: What was the best thing you recently ate?

BB: Just today, I found one of the best ice-cream parlours I have ever visited… in the middle of a tiny fishing village in the middle of nowhere.

#WanderOn

Secret Retreats: Ancient Kingdoms in Indonesia, Cambodia & Laos

Where luxury meets tradition: 7 unique hotels that will evoke a sense of wonder

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Like a strong espresso on an early morning walk, reading about Secret Retreats has us awakened the dreamer and doer in us. We have never encountered such a luxurious approach to traveling in Asia, so we had to partner with these guys so you could reap the benefits! Secret Retreats prides itself on being fuller than full service, offering melt-worthy accommodations, off-beat activities, rejuvenating spa services, and idyllic excursions.  Here are seven exclusive properties for our Wanderable couples where incredible luxury meets tradition. You can thank us later.

1. TUGU BALI(Indonesia): Following the coast of Bali along Canggu Beach, this resort is a dream for the still at heart. Get lost on the walkways of a wild garden, where winds are rumored to whisper of Balinese spirits.

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2. TUGU LOMBOK (Indonesia): Periwinkle waters mirror the sunrise over Mount Rinjani, fixed with plunge pools, tropical gardens, and bamboo bungalows. This hotel evokes ancient Hindu times, an honest oasis from the daily grind.

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3. MISOOL ECO RESORT (Indonesia): A sustainable paradise for the urban treehugger, this exclusive hotel and conservation center is located on a private island just south of the equator and holds only a maximum of 32 guests. Suffice it to say, what happens in Misool stays in Misool.

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4. THE SAMAR VILLAS & SPA RESORT (Cambodia): A haven of well-being, the Samar Villas envelop you in a cloud of peacefulness and offer the richness of fantastic archeological ruins and ancient temples for the culturally curious daytripper.

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5. BALI JIWA VILLA(Indonesia): These lavish modern villas offer the royal treatment. In true Balinese style, politeness and minimalism are paired with indulgence and luxury in nonchalant conversation.

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6. JEEVA BELOAM BEACH CAMP (Indonesia): A beachfront “glamping” experience on a secluded cove with white sand beaches, this is an untouched gem that can center and stun even the most jaded traveler.

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7. SATRI HOUSE (Laos): Here you’ll taste sumptuous homemade dinners and soak in the gorgeous colonial Laotian architecture. Immersed in the city’s heart, you can enjoy quiet moments with your lover and unwind while observing the everyday life of locals from your balcony. People-watching is our favorite sport.

Secret Retreats quotes the Buddha on their website, saying “when the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”  So clear your mind while you experience ultimate relaxation, grab a drink with the one you love and sit back while all your needs are met.  We promise, your joy will never, ever want to leave. Secret Retreats: you deserve it.

#WanderOn

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ImagineAsia: A Hidden Gem Situation

ImagineAsia and Wanderable have created four customized itineraries, just for you.

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Have you ever been gotten lost in your own city, wandered down a cobblestone alley and ended up in a little shop? It has no sign on it, but you see intriguing jewels in the window, so you head in and end up finding the necklace that will soon become your everyday staple; your good- luck charm.

Well, ImagineAsia is the travel equivalent of this little daydream. A complete white-glove luxury service, they plan your entire trip, tailored to the vibe and focus you want. Every moment of your travels, espeically its energy and aesthetic, is tailored to your desires.  The thing that’s magical about ImagineAsia is “ ‘forty-five minutes here and back on the bus’ is not part of [their] vernacular, nor will it be part of your travel experience.”

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For the nervous traveler, they leave absolutely nothing to chance: the company is off-the-beaten-path and small enough that they care about each traveler on a human level. They have no social media presence, and we only found them ourselves through word-of-mouth raving of their stellar approach and attitude. We also love their hipster mentality of traveling: “Our experts have lived and traveled throughout Asia since 1982. We know where to go years before the crowds arrive.”

Their guides are cool locals, not wannabe ex-pats, and they travel with you as much or as little as you desire. It’s a new thing for us to offer a complete pre-designed trip, rather than relying on you to be your own honeymoon architect. It’s because we really trust and love these guys.

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Together, we have designed four gorgeous trips for you, and they are all in the Kingdom of Thailand (a.k.a. paradise).

The first is Bangkok, Chiang Mai, & Phuket, where you can gaze at Buddhist temples, adopt an elephant, and learn how to cook like a Thai Nigella Lawson.

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The second trip is Bangkok Golden Triangle & Phuket, with focus on roaming city streets after a stop at the mythical Emerald Buddha.

The third is Bangkok & Koh Samui, a chance to catch up on some history…and then hop back into the present, shopping for keepsakes & snorkeling in lagoons.

The fourth option is Bangkok & Khao Lak, where you’ll indulge in a culinary taste fest then hop on a boat for Thai music & dancing. ImagineAsia appeals to the different travelers within each of us…the student-at-heart, the food lover, the art groupie, and the overworked A-type.

Eleven days of bliss tending to each of these hungry parts of my heart, and I think I’d feel like a brave new human. Which of these trips appeals to you most? Leave your musings in the comments section below, and let’s continue the conversation.

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