CLOSE
Travel2Unlimited
Travel2Unlimited

10 Stunning Travel Photos From a Former Bond Trader

Travel2Unlimited
Travel2Unlimited

Whenever we encounter an incredible place, who isn't compelled to take a photo beside it, if only to prove to everyone (and occasionally ourselves) that we were actually there? I asked uber-traveler Rus Margolin of Travel2Unlimited, a former bond trader turned world traveler, to send me his most epic photo ops and be our stand-in at extraordinary places we might not ordinarily go.

1. The Wave, Coyote Buttes, USA

Near the Arizona-Utah border is a remarkable sandstone formation known as the Wave. Located in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, access is extremely limited: you can win one of only 20 daily permits either through an online lottery or just showing up early in the morning. “Then it’s a 12 mile return hike without a trail or a map. 50% of those attempting usually get lost without getting to the Wave,” says Rus. Get your permit, find your way, and prepare for an Epic. Photo. Op.

2. Kamchatka, Russia

Here’s an outdoor paradise located 8 time zones east of Moscow, with over 300 volcanoes, half of them active. “Climb Avachinsky volcano and peer in the active caldera, or walk into Mutnovsky caldera and see nature in action – steam, fumaroles, sulphur, gases and boiling mud,” says Rus. To get there you‘ll have to fly to Moscow and take a long flight to Petropavlovsk, but the photo ops are priceless.

3. Jellyfish Lake, Palau

Located in the Western Pacific, Palau offers some of the world’s best snorkeling, scuba diving, and underwater photo ops. Flying in from Tokyo or Guam, you can rent your own island for the day, hike in the tropical jungles, or float with millions of golden jellyfish in a bottomless lake. The jellies, rotating counter-clockwise as they float to the surface, are harmless. “You feel like you are on a different alien planet," says Rus.

4. Camping in Antarctica

To get this photo among thousands of Emperor penguins, Rus spent several days camping on an ice shelf off the coast of Antarctica. “You can spend hours watching them feed their chicks.” Emperor penguins are the largest of the penguin species. For this photo op, you’ll need to get on a 5-hour charter flight from Chile, and hop on another 4-hour small prop plane to the penguin ground. “It’s a once in a lifetime,” adds Rus.

5. The Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

The world’s largest salt desert makes for epic photo ops, especially when you play around with perspective on the snow-white salt landscape. Create optical illusions (like Rus holding the 4x4 Land Rover), take huge jump photos, and snaps of you dipping in the bright red and green mineral lakes. “You may need to acclimate to the air at 15,000 feet before you go jumping ,” says Rus. To get to the Salar de Uyuni, either take the train from La Paz, or cross over the Atacama to Bolivia with a tour company from Chile’s San Pedro de Atacama.

6. The Door to Hell, Turkmenistan

A place name as epic as “The Door to Hell” demands an epic photo op. Located hundreds of miles from the nearest village in the middle of Turkmenistan’s Karakum Desert, the door is actually a large crater caused by an ill-fated drill for natural gas. When the drilling rig collapsed into an underground cavern, it sparked a huge fire fed by unlimited quantities of gas. “The crater has been burning since 1971, “ says Rus. “It wasn’t easy to get here, but it was worth seeing the night light up by the burning hot inferno.”

7. Hang gliding in Rio

There are few cities as beautiful as Rio, and few experiences as epic as hang gliding. Hunky tandem instructors hang out at the beach in Sao Conrado, taking tourists up the mountain into Pedra Bonita national park for the flight of a lifetime. Launching off a wooden platform into thin air, you’ll be too busy gawking at the view below you to think about taking any photos. Fortunately, the instructors tape a remote-controlled camera to the wing for epic shots like these.

8. Somerset Island, Canada

When the midnight sun burns during summer in the high Arctic, it’s nigh on impossible not to take epic photos. “This is unadulterated, pure raw nature and you are part of it,” says Rus. We met each other at Arctic Watch, the most northerly eco-lodge in the world, where we hiked the tundra with muskox, watched thousands of beluga whales, and swam in crystal waterfalls like this one. Epic all the way.

9. Sossusvlei, Namibia

Sossusvlei sits inside Namib-Naukluft Desert National Park, an alien landscape of bright red and yellow dunes and semi-petrified trees. “Surreal would be a perfect word to describe it,” says Rus. Arriving late in the afternoon, watch the sun cast shadows on the dunes, some of which rise as high as 100 metres. “You can also hear the dunes moving if you stand still,” adds Rus. Another epic location, for an epic photo op.

10. Easter Island

Watching the sun rise or set over the mysterious moai statues in Easter Island has to belong on a list of epic photo ops. Most of the statues, located throughout the island, have fallen over, but some still stand upright. “Ahu Tongariki has the most moai for sunrise, and Ahu Hanga Roa is perfect for sunset,” says Rus. Nobody quite knows what prompted the islanders to erect the statues, and effectively wreck their civilization doing so. In the meantime, we’ll hop in the photo for another snap of a lifetime.

Follow Rus and his incredible journey around the world at Travel2Unlimited. 

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
holidays
10 Things You Might Not Know About Chinese New Year
iStock
iStock

Some celebrants call it the Spring Festival, a stretch of time that signals the progression of the lunisolar Chinese calendar; others know it as the Chinese New Year. For a 15-day period beginning February 16, China will welcome the Year of the Dog, one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac table.

Sound unfamiliar? No need to worry: Check out 10 facts about how one-sixth of the world's total population rings in the new year.

1. THE HOLIDAY WAS ORIGINALLY MEANT TO SCARE OFF A MONSTER.

Nian at Chinese New Year
iStock

As legend would have it, many of the trademarks of the Chinese New Year are rooted in an ancient fear of Nian, a ferocious monster who would wait until the first day of the year to terrorize villagers. Acting on the advice of a wise old sage, the townspeople used loud noises from drums, fireworks, and the color red to scare him off—all remain components of the celebration today.

2. A LOT OF FAMILIES USE IT AS MOTIVATION TO CLEAN THE HOUSE.

woman ready to clean a home
iStock

While the methods of honoring the Chinese New Year have varied over the years, it originally began as an opportunity for households to cleanse their quarters of "huiqi," or the breaths of those that lingered in the area. Families performed meticulous cleaning rituals to honor deities that they believed would pay them visits. The holiday is still used as a time to get cleaning supplies out, although the work is supposed to be done before it officially begins.

3. IT WILL PROMPT BILLIONS OF TRIPS.

Man waiting for a train.
iStock

Because the Chinese New Year places emphasis on family ties, hundreds of millions of people will use the Lunar period to make the trip home. Accounting for cars, trains, planes, and other methods of transport, the holiday is estimated to prompt nearly three billion trips over the 15-day timeframe.

4. IT INVOLVES A LOT OF SUPERSTITIONS.

Colorful pills and medications
iStock

While not all revelers subscribe to embedded beliefs about what not to do during the Chinese New Year, others try their best to observe some very particular prohibitions. Visiting a hospital or taking medicine is believed to invite ill health; lending or borrowing money will promote debt; crying children can bring about bad luck.

5. SOME PEOPLE RENT BOYFRIENDS OR GIRLFRIENDS TO SOOTHE PARENTS.

Young Asian couple smiling
iStock

In China, it's sometimes frowned upon to remain single as you enter your thirties. When singles return home to visit their parents, some will opt to hire a person to pose as their significant other in order to make it appear like they're in a relationship and avoid parental scolding. Rent-a-boyfriends or girlfriends can get an average of $145 a day.

6. RED ENVELOPES ARE EVERYWHERE.

a person accepting a red envelope
iStock

An often-observed tradition during Spring Festival is to give gifts of red envelopes containing money. (The color red symbolizes energy and fortune.) New bills are expected; old, wrinkled cash is a sign of laziness. People sometimes walk around with cash-stuffed envelopes in case they run into someone they need to give a gift to. If someone offers you an envelope, it's best to accept it with both hands and open it in private.

7. IT CAN CREATE RECORD LEVELS OF SMOG.

fireworks over Beijing's Forbidden City
iStock

Fireworks are a staple of Spring Festival in China, but there's more danger associated with the tradition than explosive mishaps. Cities like Beijing can experience a 15-fold increase in particulate pollution. In 2016, Shanghai banned the lighting of fireworks within the metropolitan area.

8. BLACK CLOTHES ARE A BAD OMEN.

toddler dressed up for Chinese New Year
iStock

So are white clothes. In China, both black and white apparel is traditionally associated with mourning and are to be avoided during the Lunar month. The red, colorful clothes favored for the holiday symbolize good fortune.

9. IT LEADS TO PLANES BEING STUFFED FULL OF CHERRIES.

Bowl of cherries
iStock

Cherries are such a popular food during the Festival that suppliers need to go to extremes in order to meet demand—last year Singapore Airlines flew four chartered jets to Southeast and North Asian areas. More than 300 tons were being delivered in time for the festivities.

10. PANDA EXPRESS IS HOPING IT'LL CATCH ON IN THE STATES.

Box of takeout Chinese food from Panda Express
domandtrey, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Although their Chinese food menu runs more along the lines of Americanized fare, the franchise Panda Express is still hoping the U.S. will get more involved in the festival. The chain is promoting the holiday in its locations by running ad spots and giving away a red envelope containing a gift: a coupon for free food. Aside from a boost in business, Panda Express hopes to raise awareness about the popular holiday in North America.

A version of this story originally ran in 2017.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Michael Vadon, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0
arrow
travel
For the First Time, You Can Spend the Night on New York's Governors Island This Summer
Michael Vadon, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0
Michael Vadon, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

Soon, you'll be able to camp out on a 172-acre historical island without straying too far from the conveniences of a slightly bigger island: Manhattan.

This summer, visitors will be able to sleep under the stars on Governors Island in New York City's harbor for the first time, Lonely Planet reports. Collective Retreats will offer a glamping package that includes luxury tents, farm-to-table dining, and activities, which may include live music, culinary classes, wellness sessions, thought leadership seminars, or yoga.

Located a 10-minute ferry ride from the southern end of Manhattan, Governors Island served as a military base beginning in 1755, and was used most recently by the United States Coast Guard from 1966 until 1996. That year, it was designated as a historical district, and by 2006, the island had opened to the public as a car-free green space. These days, visitors can wander among 19th-century buildings, lounge in a hammock on a grassy lawn, tour two historical forts, rent bikes, and see public art.

Collective Retreats offers a premium tent starting at $150 per night. Or, you can spring for a luxury tent at $500 per night. That rate gets you a private bath with full-flush toilets and rain-style hot showers, complimentary breakfast and s'mores, and personal concierge services. Plus, your tent is stocked with a supply of filtered water, a mini library of travel and fiction books, Pendleton blankets, a chandelier, and outlets for your tech stuff. On select nights, you can take advantage of discounted rates and book a night in a premium tent for $75.

The glampsite can accommodate about 100 overnight guests total, and stays are available from May to October, when Governors Island closes for the season. To get to the island, all you need to do is catch a ferry from Manhattan or Brooklyn: rides are even free on Saturdays and Sundays until 11:30 a.m.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios