#NoFilter: The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos

The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos - Vang Vieng

I love me a bit of Instagram, but I also love me a bit of truth. I feel like it’s very easy to get sucked into the #FOMO caused by social media. I’m very aware that I’m only showing and seeing the highlight reel, not the full story. So, here I thought I’d share the truth behind my Instagram photos.

There’s no ‘big reveal’ here – I’m pretty upfront about my experiences travelling, that I’m a serial user of filters (no #NoFilter here!) and I use an editing app to make my photos pretty. Because duh – I’m no professional photographer and I don’t have a big fancy camera.

So, here’s the truth behind my Instagram photos:

Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos - Manarola
The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos – Manarola

It rained all day. All the walking paths were closed, so I couldn’t walk or hike between the villages and I got soaked. Manarola was the fourth Cinque Terre stop of the day and the skies had *just* begun to clear, thank goodness!

For the third village, Corniglia, I had to take off my shoes and socks and wade in water that went up above my knees, it was so flooded.

Doha, Qatar

The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos - Doha
The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos – Doha

I really enjoyed visiting Qatar, even though I was only in the city for a brief visit on a layover with Qatar Airways. I had 20 hours to spend in Doha, though I was really tired and pretty emotional after leaving Hong Kong for good.

Rob and I couldn’t get a hotel room to sleep in because we aren’t married. Plus, there are no luggage lockers in the airport Arrivals Hall. So, I spent 20 hours in Doha with 10kg of a backpack on my back.

The souq was gorgeous and I wanted to buy everything, but it was so frustrating because I literally had no luggage space and also no money! All the more reason to go back one day?

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos - Ubud
The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos – Ubud

You might think I’m turning away from the camera because I think I look sexy. To the contrary, I’m just sparing you from my sunburned, peeling, sweaty face.

Lovina, Bali, Indonesia

The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos - Lovina
The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos – Lovina

Watching these dolphins jump out of the water at sunrise was a beautiful experience, but one I’m not sure I’d recommend. There were around 50 boats literally chasing the animals, filled with tourists with phones and cameras ready. I took this short clip to remember and then put my phone away to enjoy the moment.

I couldn’t find any information about whether this is actually harmful to the wildlife, but it made me feel uncomfortable.

Also, as part of the tour I was picked up from my hostel on a scooter and I burnt my leg on the exhaust pipe, which really spoilt my trip. It meant I couldn’t surf and that was exactly what I had come to Bali to do, so I was super-pissed.

Lovina, Bali, Indonesia

The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos - Lovina
The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos – Lovina

I absolutely loved staying in this little jungle tree house at Santhika Bed & Breakfast, which was literally a little bed and those curtains. However, for all it’s prettiness, there were downsides. There was no air con or room for a fan, so it got hot very quickly, and there was no protection from noise.

The couple who owned the hostel, who were lovely, had a baby with a working set of lungs. There was also a funeral taking place at the local mosque, so there was singing and chanting over the loudspeaker both evenings I stayed there until gone midnight.

As lovely a bedroom as it was, I didn’t get much sleep in it!

Siem Reap, Cambodia

The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos - Siem Reap
The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos – Siem Reap

Oh my god, I was so ruined (get it?) from my real life temple run around Angkor the previous day that I could literally do nothing. It was effort enough to get out of bed and I only did that because the electricity shut off at my hostel during the day.

I went to the most hipster cafe I could find in Siem Reap and sat there for about 10 hours, reading my book, sipping on this ridiculous hipster coffee and eating hipster food like smashed avo on toast. I felt absolutely wrecked.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos - Angkor
The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos – Angkor

Speaking of Angkor, here is my photo of Angkor Wat at sunrise. What you don’t see (or really, can kinda see) is that this place is super-crowded. The sunrise may be beautiful, but you will literally be enjoying it with thousands and thousands of other tourists.

Vang Vieng, Laos

The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos - Vang Vieng
The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos – Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng was another place that I visited for natural beauty, not realising just how touristy the place was. That includes the Blue Lagoon, which was absolutely packed when I arrived. The crowd was mostly Korean tourists in life jackets and western girls in thong bikinis.

Luckily, they all packed up on their tours after 5pm, so I was finally able to get this picture, with less than a hundred people in it.


The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos - Macau
The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos – Macau

After being apart for the summer, Rob booked us both a weekend stay at the luxurious Sheraton Grand Macau Hotel in Macau. It was a lovely romantic gesture, except that we both got ill from a bug that was going round and spent most of the weekend in the hotel room watching crap on TV and being ill.

When we finally felt well enough to use the pool, it was cloudy and rainy and actually quite cold. Hence why we had it all to ourselves!

Hong Kong

The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos - Hong Kong
The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos – Hong Kong

When one of my best friends came to visit me in HK, we had to do the Big Buddha. Of course, the best way the get there is by cable car. I don’t really need to explain what the weather was like, but what’s not pictured in this image is the fear on our faces as the cars swung and creaked in the wind…

Tokyo, Japan

The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos - Tokyo
The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos – Tokyo

The truth is I have absolutely no idea why this man is dressed as a centaur-unicorn and it’s driving me crazy.

The truth about my Instagram photos

So, the truth is that I had an awesome time and I shared a picture. I love looking back over my Instagram feed because it reminds me of the adventures I’ve had and the places I’ve explored.

The danger is when we start comparing our lives to each others. Something that I know that I am definitely guilty of.

I’m not that girl with the perfect abs, who looks flawless posing on the beach. Neither am I wearing a maxi dress and an over-sized hat, trying too hard to look candid in some picturesque doorway. Not that there’s anything wrong with that if it’s what you want to do, but it’s just not me.

It’s good to remind ourselves (and to remind myself) that my life is not picture-perfect. Travelling is not picture-perfect. And that’s part of the reason why I love it. Something the stories and truth behind the photos are as interesting as the images themselves.



Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a (really) small amount of commission if you make a purchase using this link, should you choose to. I’m only choosing to do this to try and grow this site, so I can eventually write full-time. Affiliate links in no way affect the genuine opinions I have stated above. 

12 thoughts on “#NoFilter: The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos

  1. Loved this article! It was so fun to read the stories behind the experience! I feel like those are the parts we never forget, and good or bad it’s cool to look back on it someday!

    1. Hey, thank you so much and thank you for reading! Yeah, it’s important to remember the good and the bad (and the bad makes for the best stories anyway). Haha! Exactly. Photography is exactly that – being able to look back on a moment in time.

  2. Hahahahaha I love how honest you are here. I often think twice about my Instagram photos and also use an editing app. But the truth is, we are all humans with imperfect lives.

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you liked it. Yeah, I think we all believe we can only put our best selves on social media – but, like you say, we’re all imperfect and sometimes it’s good to remember that!

  3. This was a great post! Thanks for being honest. Pictures never reflect the whole truth that’s for sure but they do make for great memories of all your experiences!

    1. Exactly! Thanks for reading. I love looking back through my Instagram feed to relive those memories. That’s what photography is for!

  4. I love this post. I was thinking about doing a “behind the scenes” for my travel photos too! I blog over at Adventure & Chill. Thanks for being honest, as it makes me want to be that too. Your photos are beautiful, too.

    If you care to check out my work, IG is @adventure_chill

    1. Hey, thanks for reading! You should – I feel like it’s a weight off my chest! There’s so much pressure for everyone – not just travellers or travel bloggers – to have ‘perfect’ photos. I just do it for me and I don’t care about sharing the worst of it too.

    1. Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Haha! I know right? I feel like some people get really antsy about editing photos. Maybe if I was a professional photographer then it would be different, but I only have my cracked-screened iphone5 and I want to remember how pretty these places were! Let me use my filters! Haha!

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