My great escapes: Mena Gobran

Egyptian-American travel photographer Mena Gobran, who is based in California, shares the stories behind some of his most double-tapped Instagram snaps


1. Sunrise at Shwedagon Pagoda. One of my most special travel experiences has to be sunrise at the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar. Considered by many as the oldest Buddhist stupa in the world, there is no real way to describe the energy and sense of calm you feel as you enter the temple at 5am. I sat near this monk for 20 minutes taking in the morning light and watching people make their way around.



2. Roaming the streets Old Havana in Cuba was like being transported back in time. Classic American cars line the streets, the sound of Latin music emanates from people’s homes and the colourful buildings add even more character.



3. Discovering El Salto del Limon. As we walked up to this iconic waterfall in the Dominican Republic I was lucky enough to capture one of the locals scaling the face of the falls. He made it look so easy and, from about 50ft high, he took a dive into the pool below. It was an amazing sight to behold.



4. Camping at Lake Tahoe. While on a solo camping trip in Lake Tahoe in California I spent one evening exploring the lake and shooting the Milky Way. There’s no better feeling as a photographer then fully immersing yourself in the night’s sky and imagining the possibilities. At that moment, time stood still.


5. Exploring the Royal Gardens of Kandy. In 2017 I spent six months travelling to seven countries in Asia. Sri Lanka had to be one of my favourites, especially the small mountain town of Kandy. Although Kandy is famed for its many sacred Buddhist sites, I particularly enjoyed the Royal Botanical Garden where you can find scenes like this, of an Asian macaque peeking through the bush.


6. Vietnamese Floating villages. I’d been wanting to photograph the floating villages off the coast of Cát Bà island in Vietnam for some time. Hundreds of families have been fishing and living on these self-contained floating villages for years. It was a remarkable sight, and I was especially excited to get this unique bird’s-eye perspective.