Photo: Selling flowers in Hoi An, Vietnam

I spotted this woman selling flowers in the market in Hoi An, Vietnam and was instantly attracted to the colours in the scene. She knew I was taking her photo, as did all of the other women nearby who insisted I do her the favour of buying some of her flowers, which I did. I then found myself standing there with a massive bouquet of flowers I didn’t need. Not far away was a restaurant where I had eaten the day before where I gave them to a server who was particularly friendly to us. She seemed puzzled by the sudden gift, but at least it kept my hands free to take more photos.

Photo: Standing by the road in Morocco

I took this photo in 2001 on a trip in Morocco. We were driving to the coastal city of Essaouira and stopped en route to take some photos of the desert-like landscape. These curious girls who lived nearby came to see what we were doing. I snapped their photo and it was better than any of the landscape photos I took in that spot.

Photo: Watching the polar bears

Being ferried out in a tundra buggy in Churchill, Manitoba is one way to see polar bears, but a more thrilling way is to do it on foot.

You can do it with Churchill Wild, an outfit that manages Nanuk Lodge in in Wapusk National Park. It’s on the shores of Hudson Bay in northern Manitoba, not far from York Factory. Guests fly in from Gillam and stay in the lodge which is surrounded by a tall fence to keep the bears out.

It doesn’t take long to spot bears. In fact, they tend to wander to the edge of the lodge’s fence, attracted by the cooking smells from the kitchen. When it’s time to head out on the land to get a closer look at the bears in their natural habitat, guests are ferried out on ATVs to scour the landscape to see how many they can find.

We saw bears just about every day we were there and found this fellow on our last day. The weather had cleared a bit and he was one of maybe a dozen which were within view in the vast, flat landscape. He came close to us. Sat down for a while, then wandered on, not paying too much attention to us, but definitely scoping us out.

We had bears come a lot to closer to us, as I wrote back in 2010.

Photo: Enter the Galapagos land iguana

About a meter long, this beefy Galapagos land iguana pretty much ignored us as we stumbled upon him during our visit to Santa Cruz Island. That was pretty much the case for every bird and animal we encountered in the Galapagos.

Wildlife is abundant on the islands and is oblivious to the humans that come to visit. That makes it easy to take spectacular closeup photographs which would be impossible elsewhere.

Almost as remarkable to me were the prickly pear cactus trees on this island that resembled something from a Dr. Seuss story.

The Galapagos is one of those places that lives up to the hype and is worthy of inclusion on every traveller’s bucket list.

Photo: Inside Surprise Cave in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

On a cruise aboard the luxurious Emeraude in Ha Long Bay, we stopped at Bo Hon Island to visit Surprise Cave.

The cave is aptly named. As you approach what appears to be an unremarkable opening in the limestone cliffs, you enter a sprawling underground chamber festooned with a dizzying display of stalactites and stalagmites. Coloured lights designed to highlight the cave’s features only add to the spectacle. That’s the surprise that awaits visitors not expecting much as they approach from the outside.

One of the best parts about visiting the cave is that the air is deliciously cool compared to the outside which can be staggeringly hot.

Photo: Along the banks of the Tsiribihana River in Madagascar

The sun had just risen and we were eating breakfast along the shore of the Tsiribihana River in southern Madagascar when a fisherman and his son approached with their catch.

Our guide bargained with the father to buy some fish to supplement our rations. I took advantage of their haggling to snap some photos of the son as he waited.

Later, we would set off in our pirogue, a sort of dugout canoe, to complete our three-day journey along the river. My companions were an unlikely pair of Frenchmen who worked in a daycare back in France and our steadfast guide who cheerfully steered our route.

It was a highlight in a trip to a beautiful country that was filled with highlights.

Photo: The mosque in Ghardaia, Algeria

Now that the world has gone crazy, Algeria is one of those amazing countries that many people don’t visit anymore.

This photo is from a 1991 trip I took to see the Grand Erg Occidental, also known as the Western Sand Sea, in the Sahara Desert in Algeria. It is of a mosque on the top of the hill in the town of Ghardaia. I had just arrived after taking a 600-kilometre taxi ride from the southern town of Timimoun.

I had been stuck forever trying to get a bus ride out of Beni Abbes, but kept missing the through bus which had a schedule that was apparently random. It might arrive in the day, it might arrive at night. Whatever.

I finally caught the bus after three days of waiting and had to stand the entire night as we drove through the moonlit desert. I slept on my feet, hanging on to the overhead rack to keep from falling down and hallucinated much of the ride.

Eventually, I descended at Timimoun, tired and cranky from the bus trip. I decided that dusty town wasn’t worth spending any time in. Since there was no telling when the next bus out of town was, I looked at other options. A shared taxi was one of them.

I found a driver heading to Ghardaia, but he wouldn’t leave until the car was full. I sat in the shade of date palms at the taxi stand to stay out of the hot sun. Some of the trees were short enough that I could nibble on dates as I waited.

Hours passed, but no other riders turned up. Tired of waiting, I offered to pay the fares for the missing riders, which amounted to only a few dollars. The driver agreed and we headed out on an 8-hour drive along the lonely stretch of highway north. We passed wild camels and road crews clearing blowing sand off the roads using equipment I associate with snow clearing.

It was probably the most memorable taxi ride of my life.

Photo: About to fly over Kluane in the winter

In February 2011, I was fortunate to travel to the Yukon for Hockey Day in Canada. I had been to the northern territory in the summer so to explore it in the winter was a treat.

One of the highlights of the trip was a flight-seeing tour of Kluane National Park, one of the country’s most magnificent wilderness areas.

I snapped this shot of one of the airplanes operated by Kluane Glacial Air Tours with the park’s mountains in the background.

The views of mountains, glaciers, forests and frozen lakes were unforgettable. Seeing the park from that perspective gives you a better understanding of just how vast it is and how beautiful Canada is in the sunshine of winter.

Photo: Entering China the hard way

I don’t imagine a lot of people are travelling the Karakoram Highway in this post 9/11 world, but back in 1995 it was relatively easy to traverse this route between Pakistan and China.

This photo was taken on May 2 at the China-Pakistan border. We had hoped to cross the frontier on May 1, the first day the road, which is the highest paved international road in the world, was open for the season, but because May Day is a holiday in China, we had to stay in Pakistan another night.

When we did make the crossing, we were high in the mountains and the only indication of the border was a painted line on the road and this marker. There was no one there, but a herd of yaks. It was cold, windy and snowing as we snapped this shot marking our milestone.

We drove several more kilometres down the road until we found a lonely border outpost where baby-faced Chinese soldiers who were barely 18 didn’t know what to make of a group of shaggy foreigners entering their country.

The soldiers searched our jeep and our bags then waved us on and we continued our drive to Tashkurgan where we didn’t actually get our passports stamped until the following afternoon.