The Iceland waterfall hunt

Before I’d even dreamt of planning a trip to Iceland, I’d came across a million photos of this alien land on Instagram with some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes I’d ever seen. One feature besides its landscapes stood out – the waterfalls. 

When I found out that I was indeed going to visit Iceland, I looked up the places of these natural beauties. As expected, my version of the itinerary was mostly waterfalls. And even though I had pretty high expectations from all the photos I’d seen, experiencing them in person brought about another level of awe. 

So I thought I’d compile a quick guide to visiting as many waterfalls as you can for a week’s trip to Iceland. 

One quick tip before I start: 

It sounds obvious, but many of us didn’t seem to realise that visiting a waterfall meant getting wet. That being said, it does depend on how close you want to get to the fall, but most of the time, to fully experience it (like the one with a cave that you could walk through behind it) meant going as close as you could.

So bring a good raincoat or wear a waterproof coat. Your shoes will most likely get wet too, so if you can, buy a good pair of waterproof/water resistant hiking boots.  A change of clothes in the car would be good too. And if possible, try to schedule the waterfall visits towards the end of the day, so if you did get wet, you wouldn’t have to remain uncomfortable for the next few stops. 

I visited Iceland in the height of summer and even then, it was around 10 degrees Celcius and being wet meant you felt a lot colder. Don’t let that spoil your trip. 

Now let’s start with the fun stuff. 

The map above provides a summary of the waterfalls I visited. 

We scheduled our trip around two main cities – Reykjavik (Iceland’s capital) and Akureyri (the biggest town in North Iceland). These were the two places where we had booked our accommodation and made day trips out from. 

We spent the first five nights in Reykjavik. On our first day out, we drove all the way to the black sand beach at Vik, making a few pit stops at scenic areas along the way. This included two waterfalls: Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss.

Seljalandsfoss 

A total mouthful, especially for those of us who don’t speak Icelandic, and also one of the most unique waterfalls in the world as it has a cave behind it that you can actually walk through. Which meant that you had the chance of seeing the back of the waterfall without being crushed to oblivion. 

We made the mistake of visiting it first, because (1) it was honestly my most favourite waterfall of the trip and in the whole world and (2) walking through that cave was drenching business which left us all mostly damp throughout the rest of the day. 


After Seljalandsfoss, we headed to arguably one of the most popular waterfalls in Iceland: 

Skogafoss

Known for the ground of pitch black sand below it, it also meant that other tourists standing in their brightly coloured coats stood out like sore thumbs. Which probably explains why I hardly took any photos there. I’ve seen so many fantastic photos taken at Skogafoss by photographers I admire that it seemed weird that I felt oddly uninspired at this particular one.  


Gullfoss 

Using the weather forecast as reference, we scheduled the Golden Circle for the second day. In short, the Golden Circle is the most popular sightseeing route in Iceland, especially for those with limited time. Having said that, it is also the most touristy part of Iceland. 

Our waterfall of the day was Gullfoss. Apparently it’s well-known for the rainbows created from the spray, but our day was gloomy as evident in the photos below, so there were no rainbows for us. 

Besides Gullfoss, we actually had another waterfall planned out for our Golden Circle route – Bruarfoss. We made our way there, driving through narrow, pothole-ridden dirt roads, parked our car and walked a little way to find nothing until we met a couple who informed us that the bridge to get to Bruarfoss had fallen. So it was back through the bumpy, dusty roads onto the next location for us. 

   

Akureyri 

We had split our Iceland trip into two parts; the second part being living in its largest town up north for a few (absolutely dreamiest) nights. 

From Akureyri, we also had the pleasure of visiting three waterfalls. 

Godafoss

According to modern myth, the lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði decided to give up their pagan religion in favour of Christianity in the year 1000. Having done so, he returned and threw his statues of the Norse gods into the waterfall, thus giving it the name “the waterfall of the gods”. This was one of my favourite back stories, more so because it was interesting rather than my agreement of his decision. 

But look at those falls! 

And then, there was  

Dettifoss 

If you made it to here, I’m glad you enjoyed this post because it was impossible for me to get sick of seeing more waterfalls. Each waterfall, although they seemed to be more or less the same, held up their own strength and magnificence. But Dettifoss – Dettifoss is officially known as the most powerful waterfall in Europe. And the people who gave it that title weren’t kidding when they named it. 

Notice the scale of the people on the opposite bank.

This short clip gives you a glimpse at the power of Dettifoss: 


Selfoss 

Selfoss was the baby we visited right after the giant of Dettifoss, mostly because it was within walking distance. We had to cross some rocky, moon-like terrain to get there, but there were proper trails so that was fine. 

Not such a big deal after all the previous ones, isn’t it? 


And that concludes my post on the waterfall hunt. 

A quick note before I end. If you have been planning to visit Iceland, you may have read that despite its beauty, certain places as well as its weather can be pretty dangerous at times. That is, death has happened because of carelessness or unwillingness of tourists to obey safety precautions. I personally witness tourists walking out of designated trails to the edge of dangerous sites; one girl slipped under the string that acted as a border to sit on a slippery rock at the very edge of Dettifoss, causing me to panic internally on her behalf. She returned safely, but a slight slip of the foot could have sent her hundreds of feet down into that treacherous, pounding water – refer to the video clip I attached again! 

I may sound longwinded now and you might say it’s just all for a good bit of fun, but please don’t be that idiot that falls and dies, which then causes local authorities to block future visitors from seeing an otherwise beautiful place. Be respectful and enjoy the view from a safe place. 


That’s it. I hope you enjoyed the photos and the read! 

For more photos, visit #miniversetravels on Instagram :) 


20 hours to Galway

I had always wanted to see the Cliffs of Moher. It may seem strange, how we humans can be fascinated by some rocks by the sea, but I believe that it’s the grandeur in it that draws us there.  

However, I was also on a tight budget and so I coaxed myself into thinking it wasn’t necessary. I was going into Belfast, and would be visiting Iceland after that – surely that would be enough? But when I looked up bus tickets from Belfast to Galway, I found that it would only cost around £30. I had to transit in Dublin, but the price tag had me convinced. 

It was a mad journey. I woke up at 3am in Malaysia on the 29th of June, took an hour’s flight to KLIA, then boarded another 13+ hour one to London. I stayed in Heathrow Airport for the night before taking the earliest flight to Belfast the next morning. It was 9am when I arrived at my boyfriend’s place to drop my luggages. By 11am, I was at the bus station with some packed food and began another 5 hour bus ride to Galway. 

The Cliffs of Moher

Windy country roads

Streets of Galway

Sunset in the countryside

As you can see from the photos, I made it there in one piece. It was the longest journey I’d ever made so far and I surprised myself by being totally okay with it. 

My boyfriend picked me up with his parents in Galway. In the car they’d rented, we visited several Irish towns. I was slightly concerned that when I saw the Cliffs of Moher, they would just be some rocky cliffs and I’d wonder why I had made such a long journey for it, but that never happened. The wind whipped our hair around till our coats were all we could use for identification, but the cliffs stood straight and tall in their unassuming grandeur. 

After a full day out, we then headed to an Irish pub for dinner. Till this day, my bf’s mum still swears that Guinness never tastes as good as that in Ireland. 


30 days of black & white – part ii

Ahhh, it took me a few weeks to hit publish on this because life happens. But here’s the second part of my 30 days of Black and White series.  

Hunstanton beach

Marble Hall, Norwich

Big City

The Pantheon, Paris

Looking up in The Pantheon, Paris

Cow Bell shed, Switzerland

Details, Paris

Dutch Cheese-Making Farm, Holland

Cows are friends

The Hive in Kew Gardens, London

Crypts, Paris

Looking up in The Pantheon, Paris

See them on Instagram


30 days of black & white – part i

Cliffs of Moher from the cafe (Ireland)

Titanic Museum (Belfast)

View of the habour from a cruise ship (Penang)

Queen’s University (Belfast)

Skogafoss (Iceland)

Streets of Galway (Ireland)

Seljalandsfoss (Iceland)

Hallgrímskirkja (Iceland)

Flowers in the city (Iceland)

Spiral staircase in Perlan (Iceland)

Specimens (Iceland)

Dettifoss (Iceland)

Gullfoss (Iceland)

Corridor of centuries (Norwich)

Textures upon textures and a ship in the distance (Iceland)

Abandoned pizza place (Norfolk)

Somewhere towards the end of June, Syam and I were talking and just spontaneously decided to do a photo challenge. We decided that black and white photos would give us the flexibility and 30 days was an ideal length. And so it began. 

I happened to be travelling during the month of July, which made it both a blessing and a curse; the blessing being able to take a variety of photos – even knowing that the whole point of the challenge was to find something interesting in everyday’s mundane, but being on the move certainly helped – and the curse being the effort to keep up with posting everyday. 

But enough talking. If you haven’t seen it on Instagram, I’m sharing it in 2 parts here. Enjoy! 


quiet love

My love is honey tongue.
Dandelion wine in a pitcher.
Thirsty love. 
My love licks it’s fingers
before it has even fed.
My love is peach juice 
dripping down the neck.
Too much sugar love.
Cavity love. Toothache,
tummy ache love.
Soft hands holding the
jaw open love.
Summer love. Sticky sweet,
sticky sweat love.
My love can’t ride a bike.
My love walks everywhere.
Wanders through the river.
Feeds the fish, skips the stones.
Barefoot love.
My love stretches itself out on
the grass, kisses a nectarine.
My love is never waiting.
My love is a traveller,
a fruit-eater, a holder.
My love is alive. Warm.
It lives.
It breathes.
 

— Caitlyn SiehlWarm after  “Love, Gravity, and Other Forces” by Anita Ofokansi


-♡- 


Darlings in love: Claire and Zac (also as @islandears on Instagram) 

Let me shoot your engagement! Drop me a message here


Sweet Cili Boutique Hotel

Looking very Kinfolk-inspired

Urban Spice cafe

Last year, a friend of mine opened two boutique hotels and a cafe in the middle of George Town, Penang. The place was quite simple but with little rustic details, which was nice. Being in George Town itself meant that it was just a few minutes walk away from most of the attractions, the closest being the popular street art. 

After shooting, I had lunch at their cafe – Urban Spice cafe. It’s a pleasant, air-conditioned place (a must in our Malaysian weather) with decent food. Now, this post is not a sponsored one. I’d wanted to share the images but was never sure where would be the most appropriate to place them, so now that I have this website-linked-blog, I thought it’d be nice to have them here. 


Film Director’s Showcases - GTF 2015

I was part of the organising team in George Town Festival 2015 and was lucky enough to meet some world class directors and covered their film showcases as a photographer.  

Screening of “New York, I Love You”

Q&A session

Emmanuel Benbihy of the “Cities of Love” series at the screening and director’s showcase at Hin Bus Depot. 

Meeting fans and autograph session

Film director Sanif Olek, at the screening of his Oscar entry film, “Sayang Disayang” and sharing his experiences of the production of the film. 

– 

For inquiries regarding photography coverage of small events, drop me a message here!



Golden days

It was Charlotte’s first time in Malaysia. I visited her in KL, the big city, a few months ago, and when she finally had a long weekend off, she decided to make a trip to Penang. 

Coming on a long weekend was a mistake. What she expected to be a 4 hour bus ride turned out to be an 11 hour one. She arrived starving with an almost dead phone. The first thing I took her to was for a meal – and it wasn’t just because of Penang’s fame for food. 

We visited the usual touristy sights, with the biggest struggle being parking. We also ate non-stop – the itinerary was something like: sightseeing, food, sightseeing, food, sightseeing, food, dessert. I said we burnt it off from the distance we had to walk, as I normally had to park my car much further from where we were going. 

I’d said I would show her the beach, but when I looked up the route on Waze, the traffic was a crawling, blood-red vein. We ended up going to a nearer, smaller and more peaceful one, and there, we shot some photos. Just like old days.


Cromer Pier

I met Lucy over the summer. She’d come, flown thousands of miles across the globe, to the island that is my hometown for an internship. We find out that she goes to the same university in England as my sister. 

Half a year later, I pack my bags and visit my sister at her campus. Lucy and I are ecstatic to meet again – it almost feels unreal. It’s a typically rainy day but still she drives both my sister and I to a nearby beach town. The pier remains statuesque in the gloom. 

We wander for a bit, drink some tea in a cafe before heading back to town. 

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