Category Vacation

Adventures in Bavaria

We are hoping all of our friends, families, and lovely couples are having a safe and productive time staying at home, whether you’re catching up on favorite shows, finding new hobbies or learning new skills. We’ve been catching up on editing, especially our back log of travel videos from the past year.

We flew to Ukraine last year for a wedding, and with our points we were able to book a week stopover for free in Germany. We spent our week in Bavaria hopping from lake to lake, drinking radler and eating lots of wursts and pretzels. The water was an incredible turquoise blue situated in front of the magnificent snow capped Alps. It felt like we were always in front of a perfect landscape canvas. The country is truly as beautiful as the film. Every square meter of the country is practically manicured ready for photos or video.

If you ever get a chance to visit Germany, I highly recommend driving through Bavaria and dip your toes into all the amazing lakes from Neuschwanstein Castle to Salzburg, Austria.

Visit Ukraine

When I think of places around the world my friends need to visit, I often think of Ukraine. I would have never included Ukraine on my travel list before getting married, since it isn’t a popular destination spot nor do most Americans even know where Ukraine is! I’ve had the privilege of visiting my wife’s birth country with her family to get a real experience of a country that has such fascinating history as well as sharing such a similar story to that of Taiwan, my birth country.

The reason for being a highly recommended country to visit is because of the lack of tourism. You can visit the most famous cities of Kiev or Lviv, standing with centuries old architecture and old Soviet era cars, and never see another international tourist during your stay. Even with the extreme old world charm, there is still a lot of progress in the area of tourism that helps attract us back year after year.

If this video peaks your interest in visiting the beautiful country of Ukraine, we would be happy to be your personal guides!

Our Budget Trip to LA

We travel a lot for photography work and we usually attach a mini vacation along with the trip, however this usually ends up being a struggle lugging all our gear along with personal luggage. I think it still surprises us that my gadgets always ends up taking more luggage than my wife’s clothing, makeup, and shoes combined. We decided this one time to try traveling as light as possible, a budget oriented vacay. My wife’s deal hunting skills got us round trip flights to Los Angeles for $133 each on Spirit Airlines, with a personal item only (no carry-on) – it was whatever we could fit under the seat. Challenge accepted! We had the luxury of staying at my brother’s beautiful home by View Park, LA and he graciously let us borrow his Tesla Model 3. With our personal bags packed and our TSA PreCheck and Priority Pass ready, we hit up Newark Airport like we owned the joint. The only camera gear I brought was the Olympus Mirrorless system, which allowed me to fit all my lens and body into the personal bag. I specifically wanted to try out the Lumix 7-14mm lens to see if it’s a useful lens when traveling. This came at a perfect time since the new iPhone 11 also announced their new super-wide lens which is exactly as wide as this Lumix. So is it worth bringing a similar lens if the cameraphone can get the same focal length? The short answer is, a tiny fingernail sized sensor will never compete with a larger sensor. It all boils down to how compact do you really need your camera versus quality. For most people, the new third lens on the smartphone will be sufficient.

This trip is also a brief review on a lens, car, and food. Just the way I like it.

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Vacation in the Bavarian Alps

Our latest adventure took us to Germany, for the main reason that we were going to Ukraine for a family wedding event. Ukraine is somewhere we go often, and I highly recommend visiting the large historic city of Lviv someday. So why Germany? United flights allow a free stop-over when booking your flight with points, so after careful consideration of which EU country to visit, we finally chose Munich. I’ve been there once in the past for an engagement session (and a few laps on the Nurburgring!), so a personal vacation there with my wife would be an extremely different experience and more memorable.

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Curacao

Our first family trip to the Caribbeans was Aruba. This time, we went for the “C” in the ABC islands, Curacao. It’s a slightly larger island, although you can still get from one end to the other and back in a car on the same day. We stayed at an Airbnb which meant we cooked most of our meals. The most exciting part of our trips are the snorkeling, and fishing. I am terrible with sea sickness, so the majority of the fishing trip I was knocked out. Good thing Olya took over the filming while I was unconscious! Just like Aruba, Curacao is extremely windy which is wonderful for keeping the bugs away. I was hesitant at first trying to fly my Mavic Pro in such windy conditions, but after a few test flights I felt confident enough that it could hold steady and not get dragged out to sea. I really enjoyed all the ocean shots, and none of the beach goers had any issues, and a bunch of locals came up to me out of curiosity and we held some interesting conversations. What a friendly and happy island. Next trip will be “B” for Bonaire!

Disneyland!

This was my wife and my first time at Disneyland! It was an awesome experience to save this trip for my fun and adorable wife who loves adventures and who allows me to be a kid on the inside and out. I think a trip to Disney World is in order. With all my new video gear like drone and heavy duty gimbal, I am leaning towards going back to a more personal perspective on video for our trips. Ultra smooth video feels high production and less like I’m actually there. I did handheld non-stabilized video with the Canon 5D Mark III on a Sigma 24mm f1.4 Art Lens in 1080p. Almost unheard of nowadays with newer video technology being so affordable. This may be one of my favorite videos so far!

Greece Vacation Video

Greece was the first international country we visited where I had a chance to fly my Mavic Pro. There was some nervousness when bringing a drone to a country where I wasn’t familiar with the culture or local laws, but as soon as we got into our rental car and drove around the city within the first hour I felt pretty comfortable. I don’t know if it’s the culture or the economic status, or a combination of both, but everything about the Greece felt laid back, it felt like I could do no wrong here as a tourist, especially during the low season in March.

We have plenty of photos in our previous blog posts Part 1 and Part 2. It was nice being able to film with minimal people in the shots and it also helps to start filming early in the day before the bus loads of tourists converge. There were no signs anywhere in the city of Athens that prohibited drone flying, even around the ancient ruins. I took off from outside the perimeter of the sites and made sure not to get too close. I definitely don’t want to be responsible for any damages or injuries. The only place in Greece I noticed “No drone” signs was in Santorini. I can only imagine how it would be a prime spot for all pilots to fly. Of course, I did fly mine too only because it was low season and I thought the impact to the handful of tourists would be negligible. I made sure to stay away from residences and hotels, just a few overhead shots over the water.

Some of my favorite shots were Olya driving the car while I chased us with the drone at full speed. It really shows how important our drives are during our vacations, being able to stop anywhere and see the sights that aren’t on the tour bus agendas. However, sometimes we would arrive at a spot only to be followed immediately by a bus full of Chinese tourists! This literally happens in every country.

Please like the video if you enjoyed it!

4 Seasons 4 Months 4 Countries

Earlier in 2018 we spent a lot of time traveling between multiple countries around the world. I was fortunate to be able to bring my DJI Mavic Pro everywhere with me and flew without any issues. With the array of topography and hemispheres, we drove through all 4 seasons within the 4 month travel period. When I finally arrived back home and found this awesome new song that I was inspired to make this video. The video includes scenes from back home in the U.S., Greece, Ukraine, and South Africa.

Universal Studios Florida VIP Experience

We were lucky to have such good friends who won VIP tickets for Universal Studios invite my wife and I. We loved our tour guide Kendall who made our experience very smooth and efficient navigating through a huge park and doing everything we were interested in within our two day trip. Now we can never go back without a VIP pass to a theme park. Thanks for spoiling us Gregg!

The whole trip was filmed with GoPro HERO5 on a Zhiyun Smooth-Q gimbal.

Greece South to Santorini

After the first half of our Greece trip going north, we headed south towards our next destination, Santorini! On our way down, we stopped by The Rhion Fortress with a great view of the Rion-Antirion Bridge, and thanks to Google, we found a little restaurant along the way called Fast Food Pitta Bomb. The drive there was slightly suspicious as the mini island town looked a little run down and empty. We have to remember it was low season so it didn’t feel like a popular destination, but the ratings were good so we gave it a go. At roughly $2 per gyro, it was one of the best we’ve had so far! Olya said she could’ve eaten two. With our tummies happy, we were ready to get back to Athens.

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Greece North to Metsovo

Our trip to Greece was made possible by my wife finding a great deal through The Points Guy. She purchased the tickets last year for our March trip, which is low season for Greece. We planned to stay on the mainland for most of the time, and a few nights on Santorini island. My initial hesitation came from not being too excited about Greek food or knowing what the sights would be like – I’m not much for archeology and manmade sights. I was excited, however, about flying my DJI Mavic Pro outside of the country for the first time after a few months of practice.

We did our research for flights to Santorini from Athens, and decided to purchase through Ryanair. They are one of the most popular budget commuter airlines in Europe, and everything goes smoothly as long as you do your due diligence reading the restrictions – or prepare to pay hefty fees. We learned the hard way with our first budget airline experience with WOW Air going to Iceland. Make sure your personal or carry-on meets the exact size requirements to the millimeter, and it’s worth paying extra for the priority boarding and carry-on bag. Boarding passes must also be printed out on your own – they charge extra for e-tickets issued on your mobile!

Our experience in Greece was not what we had expected, although we did not have much to expect at all. The first item on the itinerary on any trip is to pick up our rental car, a BMW 1 series diesel. Efficient and comfortable little guy with solid driving dynamics compared to the cheap econoboxes we usually get. We reserved this car for 4 days at a whopping $83 USD. That was the first clue that this trip could end up pretty inexpensive! Except for the hotels in Santorini that were pre-booked, we would book all of our accomodations in Greece last minute so we could drive and explore wherever my little drone would take us.

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13 Days in Taiwan with GoPro

This is a shorter version of our 13 day foodie trip in Taiwan. Filmed with a GoPro Hero4 Black on Zhiyun Smooth Q gimbal. Please enjoy in full 2K (1440p) in the settings!

Taiwan: Hsinchu & Taichung

Part two of our Taiwan trip visits Hsinchu and Taichung. Hsinchu is my birthplace and where my grandma and relatives still live, so we visited them during our stay, not to mention they also know where some of the best places to eat are. Almost every morning we would go to my grandma’s favorite breakfast hole-in-the-wall where they start preparing food at 4am for lines of customers during breakfast. They are famous for the typical Taiwanese breakfast of soy milk, fried dough sticks, egg pancake, turnip cake and vegetable buns. All of them were absolutely delicious and perhaps some of the best in Taiwan.

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Taiwan: Taipei

This is the first of a two part blog post on our trip to Taiwan in January of 2018. We decided last minute to purchase flights because the tickets were under $500 per person round trip! Unlike our previous Taiwan adventure, we decided to rely on public transportation and not rent a car like we usually do. Using public transportation required staying within the city, and we really enjoyed using the High Speed Rail, Metro and U-Bike rentals. Instead of sightseeing on this trip, it would be centered around food exploration.

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West Coast 2017

Welcome to our third trip to the West Coast together! We “planned” a trip in early December of 2017 to photograph Yoom and Jeff’s beautiful wedding in San Jose. We usually extend our stay in the West Coast because we really enjoy traveling, new sights and new food. I quote the word planned because we decided to try something different this time around. While I usually plan a detailed spreadsheet for our trips, we decided this time around to rent a campervan and just see where the road takes us day to day. Always having somewhere to sleep allowed us maximum freedom in exploring outside the city area.

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Ukraine Round Two

We went to Ukraine for the second time to celebrate the 80th birthday of my grandfather-in-law, or “dido” (dee-doh) in Ukraine. I was even more excited this time because of my high anticipation for cheap delicious food, and experiencing the Summer weather instead of Winter. It was a very special trip, being Olya’s husband, I am also family now. We had a full house of everyone from the States visiting and staying together, there was never a dull moment.

This time we would arrive in the capital Kiev, over 8 hours away from Olya’s home village. The highway was fast and easy, perfectly paved surfaces that looked like any other European highway with English translation of city names. However once you got closer to the village, the local roads start looking like swiss cheese, pot hole filled craters that slow downed the driving to a crawl. Once we got to settle in the house, it was family visits, enjoying food from family or eating out for dirt cheap, shopping, and oh… rescuing a puppy too.

Don’t you wish your home far away from home is just a drive away behind an imaginary border that you can visit whenever you miss it? I would replace New York State with Taiwan, and Pennsylvania with Ukraine.

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France Honeymoon

Is there a rule where one shouldn’t share their honeymoon photos? Well what do you expect from two photographers who just got married and both want their own cameras? We planned our trip to France pretty much last minute after our wedding since it was a convenient stop on the way to Ukraine to celebrate Olya’s grandfather’s 80th birthday. We booked one week in France with a car and was excited to drive outside of Paris. Perhaps France is overhyped by those who are already biased to their culture or food, or the perception that it’s the most romantic place to be, I’d have to say it was by far our least favorite country to visit. I will admit that we didn’t know a lick of French, but this is just my opinion coming from an American tourist. We usually prefer the smaller towns and countryside far away from major cities to visit, but surprisingly in Europe, the closer in the city with tourists, the easier it is. Yes, we need English to help us get around. We did our best to enjoy what France had to offer and took photos of things we loved, and even some things we didn’t. In the end, I am happy we can say as a married couple that we went to Paris together. My favorite part of Paris was taking photos of my wife in her wedding dress. Yes, we lugged that thing in a dedicated suitcase.

One important advice when visiting France, they are extremely strict with their eating schedule. If you are not the type to follow such schedule, you may find yourself going hungry as most restaurants close in between meals and you’ll have to find a brasserie for a light meal or snack.

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Mount Washington

One of my favorite annual traditions is to organize a seasonal drive, either Spring or Fall (Summer is too hot for convertibles, and winter does not cater to summer tires). The drives have always been a short 2 hour drive at most, take some photos, grab a meal, and head home. We took a gamble this past Fall with a 6 hour drive to Mount Washington in New Hampshire, along with our puppies! The Mount Washington Auto Road is famous for its beautiful drive up 4,600 feet in elevation. Our group planned for the best foliage time, booked a beautiful cabin from Airbnb, and planned to bring some of our own food for sandwiches, among planning to eat some lobsters. This was the first time our group made a weekend trip together and it was nice to know that we could hang out all weekend and not want to kill each other. The advantage of going on a road trip in our group is the amount of time we cut from our trip with our spirited, maybe competitive driving. Our initial planned day to drive up the mountain was met with ice cold rain and overcast, so the tour was closed. We had one day left and we got really lucky with clear blue skies. As you ascend up the mountain the climate changes into a winter frost, and eventually snow. I had a fear that my summer tires would slide us off the cliff, but we made it to the top to a breathtaking view. This was my favorite group drive ever, I’m not sure how we’re going to top it this year!

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Eureka! Our Second West Coast Trip

Our first trip to California was a long drive from San Francisco down to San Diego. This second time around we decided to go north, with no itinerary, no spreadsheet, just drive. As we learned in previous trips, we like to see where the day takes us, and find a hotel last minute. This time our photos are taken with Canon DSLRs since we brought them for the wedding. I don’t think you’ll notice any difference from the other travel photos taken with a micro four third.

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