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A boy and his bicycle

sigiriya sri lanka

Do you ever want to know the full story behind a photo?

Sometimes I see a picture that well and truly captivates me and gets me thinking. If there isn’t a caption or written feature to go along with it, I oftentimes find myself wondering what happened to lead up to that moment in time when the photographer was able to click and capture magic.

Know what I mean?

Whether I am perusing National Geographic or Instagram, it’s undeniable that sometimes photos just speak to you. This past year I have been slowly but surely working on improving my photography. I’m entirely self-taught and strive to take better photos each time I travel. That being said, I’m not THAT motivated – for example you rarely will see my up and about for sunrise whereas some of my professional photographer friends live for it. Sunrise is at like 5:30 right now in Wanaka – um hell no.

On that note, let me tell you the story behind my favorite photos from Sri Lanka.

sigiriya sri lanka

Recognize any of these characters?

I was lucky enough to be chosen to go on a scenic flight around Sigiriya with Cinnamon Air on my latest trip to Sri Lanka organized by my friend Laurence from Finding the Universe. Packed on the plane with a bunch of award-winning photographers and videomakers, I was a bit shy but also excited to be inspired by some of the best in travel blogging. Not intimidating at all.

On our way back to the hotel we were driving along backcountry roads, baked red in the sun and surrounded by dense green jungle under blue skies. Thrilled by the contrast, I poked the guide in the back of the head and asked if we could stop for a second so I could get a road shot. I love road shots – and this farm lane somehow made me think of quintessential Sri Lanka. Red and green. Everyone else was still chatting about cameras and the scenic flight.

I hopped out by myself in the hot sun to grab my shot, when I noticed a barefoot guy coming down the road on a bicycle. Deciding this could be a magical moment, I snapped his photo and waited for him to pass by. As I turned my head after he passed the other way, I noticed a young boy clinging to the back of the man riding the bike staring at me. He was so small I didn’t even notice him at first.

sigiriya sri lanka

Looking at me like I had grown two heads, I eventually smiled and gave him a little wave. His face cracked into a wide grin with big white teeth and he enthusiastically waved back at me as they peddled off. I took one shot of them riding off through the red dirt and climbed back into the van smiling as big as the little boy.

I wonder what his name is, what his story is and where he lives. Was the barefoot man his dad? Where were they off to? I wonder if he was as curious about the random blonde girl standing in middle of the road in between farmland in rural Sri Lanka wearing hot pink sneakers and Lululemon leggings and sweating like a pig.

Probably not, but one can hope.

Until then here’s to little moments on the road and waving to strangers.

sigiriya sri lanka

Thanks to Cinnamon Hotels and the PTBA for hosting me in Sri Lanka – like always I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own, like you could expect less from me.

50 Responses to A boy and his bicycle

  1. Kate January 16, 2015 at 11:51 pm #

    Love this post. Very inspiring.

    • Liz January 17, 2015 at 5:16 pm #

      Thank you!

  2. Amy - Toothbrush Travels January 17, 2015 at 12:53 am #

    I completely agree, sometimes i just want to run along side them and see where their story goes, but then i realise that’s a little bit stalker-y and i probably shouldn’t. That’s the beauty of this world though – it’s bathed in so much mystery.

    • Liz January 17, 2015 at 5:17 pm #

      Beautifully put!

  3. Emma January 17, 2015 at 1:10 am #

    A great photo you took there! Beautiful colours and personality. My favourite photos are always ones that are spontaneous and just come together by accident.

    • Liz January 17, 2015 at 5:17 pm #

      That’s exactly what this was!

  4. Miles of Happiness - Marie January 17, 2015 at 2:40 am #

    Stunning colors. Sri Lanka looks amazing. I’m a bit afraid of the weather though (sooo hot!). How was it?

    • Liz January 17, 2015 at 5:17 pm #

      it was soooooo hot!

  5. Julie @ A Life Exotic January 17, 2015 at 3:19 am #

    Sometimes, when I’m in a big city, I start realizing how many millions of people are walking by me and that they all have an entire life… it’s interesting to wonder about everyone else’s stories. Btw this photo would make a great book cover, just sayin’! 🙂

    • Liz January 17, 2015 at 5:18 pm #

      Haha I totally agree xx

  6. Olivia Welch January 17, 2015 at 5:33 am #

    I think waving to strangers, especially kids, sometimes makes their day, just like getting that shot probably made yours 🙂

    • Liz January 17, 2015 at 5:18 pm #

      I hope it did!

  7. The Lousy Traveler January 17, 2015 at 5:57 am #

    I love road shots too! (And, well, rails shots even a tad more. Is *that* weird?) I always feel super self-conscious about it – a voice in my head snickers that there is nothing more obvious and more cheesy than a photograph of a road. The metaphor is just laid out there, naive and ostentatious, for everyone to grab.
    Anyways, now that I know I’m not alone I might feel that much better about it!

    • Liz January 17, 2015 at 5:18 pm #

      rail shots are the best!

  8. Katie @ Second-Hand Hedgehog January 17, 2015 at 7:54 am #

    Great photo Liz, and a beautiful story to accompany it. Like the photo, the story is like a little snippet of time which you’ve preserved and shared. Makes me feel as though I was there with you!

    (On a separate note: hot pink sneakers are definitely what it’s all about.)

    • Liz January 17, 2015 at 5:18 pm #

      haha thanks they were the cheapest ones when I was last in the US

  9. Emily January 17, 2015 at 11:09 am #

    I often get lost in wondering the story behind those I come across, whether it’s in my travels or at home.

    I love the shot of the boy waving at you!

    • Liz January 17, 2015 at 5:19 pm #


  10. Britt January 17, 2015 at 9:34 pm #

    Super cute! I live for these moments when I travel- meeting people or having the smallest interaction with local people can be the best!

    It looks like you had a wonderful time in Sri Lanka

    • Liz January 18, 2015 at 2:15 pm #

      They are the best moments aren’t they?

  11. Rahman @ Iran Tours January 18, 2015 at 4:42 am #

    I completely understand your point and agree with that. I’ve noticed that when you crack the ice between yourself and someone else, through a simple smile, like you did, the entire story changes and a new door is opened. You made someone happy, you sent him/her a positive signal that you’re a friend … This is worth a world to many who see strangers! Great story.

  12. Sabine @ The Travelling Chilli January 18, 2015 at 5:04 am #

    What you describe is so true, mostly we don’t think enough about the photos we take. And every photo has a story. But sometimes it is also nice to make up our own story behind it 🙂
    Nice photo by the way 🙂

    • Liz January 18, 2015 at 2:16 pm #

      Thank you!

  13. Alexis Kensey January 18, 2015 at 2:51 pm #

    Such a great story- I agree sometimes the story behind the photo makes it even better! We all have photos we take that we love because of the story around them!

    • Liz January 18, 2015 at 10:06 pm #

      Thank you!

  14. Katie @ The World on my Necklace January 18, 2015 at 9:35 pm #

    Yep I do that too, sometimes anyway. I love the colours in the photo, it is so vibrant and alive. The boy looks like a character

    • Liz January 18, 2015 at 10:07 pm #

      That’s what I thought!

  15. Neysha January 19, 2015 at 1:32 am #

    I love this. I’ve also been trying to put more ‘story’ into my pictures… or rather, think before I snap. What am I really capturing?

    • Liz January 19, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

      that’s a good question to ask yourself while shooting

  16. Matteo January 19, 2015 at 6:59 am #

    Nice stories. Having grown up between South America and West Africa, my observation is that traveling is a luxury of wealthy westerners, and blogging is their way of putting themselves in the spotlight.

    • Liz January 19, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

      Traveling is a luxury for most of the world but I couldn’t disagree more about blogging. You have no idea.

  17. De'Jav January 19, 2015 at 11:43 am #

    Nice pic it is one of those that definitely has you thinking about what the story is behind it.

    • Liz January 19, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

      thank you!

  18. Abu shakil January 19, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

    Amazing story 🙂

    • Liz January 19, 2015 at 6:14 pm #

      Thank you!

  19. Dana (@WantedAdventure) January 21, 2015 at 3:27 am #

    Thanks for this thought-provoking post! I’m there with you on the sunrise front — My head prefers the pillow far too much 😀 Happy travels!

    • Liz January 21, 2015 at 9:35 am #

      haha same!

  20. Christine @thetraveloguer January 21, 2015 at 10:32 pm #

    Both photos are brilliant Liz! I loved reading the background of the shot, it made the photos even more interesting. 🙂

    • Liz January 22, 2015 at 7:22 pm #

      Thank you!

  21. solomon January 24, 2015 at 2:09 am #

    The photos are amazing and indeed leave one thinking deeply about the lives other people live, what they are thinking, the freedom they enjoy and fun they have. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country with lovely people and the images says it all

    • Liz January 24, 2015 at 8:54 am #

      totally agree!

  22. Bcfamilytour January 27, 2015 at 8:46 pm #

    I was born in Viet Nam. I remember that when I was small, my father usually cycling like that picture. He works very hard. Now we have motorbike but in many poor provinces in my country, the children don’t have bicycle, they must walk about 6-10 kilometers to go to school.
    I really hope that oneday, you and your friends can come Viet Nam to volunteer with us, bring the children better lives.
    this is my website, we help people when they visit Viet Nam

  23. nick traveler January 29, 2015 at 7:29 pm #

    Good photo

    • Liz January 30, 2015 at 4:16 pm #


  24. Katelyn @ Diaries of a Wandering Lobster February 1, 2015 at 4:01 am #

    Were you the only girl?! Hehe 🙂

    I’m new to photography too. I purchased my first DSLR last March and I been learning bits and pieces on how to use it outside of the settings. The more I use it the better I think I’m getting. I just took a photography seminar a few weeks ago with a local photographer and that helped immensely! I learned the different settings and how to set my camera up! Now I want a new lense!

    And you take beautiful pictures, especially your iPhone photos! It always amazes me how powerful those little guys are!

    • Liz February 1, 2015 at 4:18 pm #

      thanks! yeah only girl haha

  25. Laura March 3, 2015 at 7:53 pm #

    Love this post, it happens to me a lot!
    You make touching pictures

  26. Chamintha J November 3, 2015 at 7:24 pm #

    We often get chances to take these images Liz cos we travel on these rural dirt roads in Sri Lanka frequently. And like you, I always wonder what the story behind each smile is…but more often than not, we stop to actually talk with them. And their stories can be so touching. Lovely image!

  27. The Untourists December 24, 2015 at 3:55 pm #

    Just for fun I imaged the little boy runs his own blog and wrote about this 🙂

    • Liz December 27, 2015 at 4:34 am #

      Hahah I love that!

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