The stories behind my Instagram top 9

Instagram baffles me. Totally and completely. I don’t tend to let it bother me, but I do get mildly interested when things like the #2017bestnine pop up and I can indulge a little bit of my data nerd side. Then I found Rosie’s post on the stories behind her top 9, and I couldn’t resist. Data and anecdotes? What’s not to love?!

Some general observations first: like Rosie, my most liked were pre algorithm shakeup. They can mostly be characterised as tall buildings, trees, and fruit. An eclectic mix, I’ll give you that. It’s also probably quite obvious I don’t have an Instagram Theme, because that continues to baffle me.

Most photos came from our pre-pat trip, as I guess people like following along with travels in real time – but I’m surprised that none of my New Zealand pictures made the cut. Maybe that’s because they were post algorithm change, maybe people just didn’t enjoy the lakes-and-mountains spam quite as much as I did?? I don’t know how but hey ho. Things that also made no difference: whether I used my good camera or just my phone, whether I edited it using VSCO or not, putting my face in it. Apparently nobody likes my face. It’s fine, it’s fine…

So let’s not dwell on that and instead move on to what was going on behind the scenes of my most social media approved moments of the year.

Coming in at number nine is some fruit. Why, I don’t know. I do find the colours of the picture extremely pleasing, and I have to say the plums were even tastier than they looked. This was taken during the canal market tour portion of the excellent cooking class I attended in the slums of Bangkok. It was one of the best things we did in the city and I always recommend it to others travelling there – however the market trip portion was a bit confronting to say the least. For a start it was boiling hot despite being 8am, and I know that’s standard Bangkok but I never got used to it. I’m also not fabulous in the morning. I’m especially not fabulous in the morning when confronted with vast open market halls full of animal carcasses in various states of butchery, beetles, ants, and live animals for sale. Oh and some freshly skinned frogs, hearts partially removed, still twitching. You’re welcome.

It was a relief to make it to the fruit and veg section, let me tell you.

Exhale, exhale, exhale

A post shared by Rachel (@anestingnomad) on

Here at number eight is another reason Instagram baffles me so much. I almost didn’t post this one. I took it on my phone, extra zoomed in, and I wrote it off as super grainy and generally bad quality. An hour or so earlier I had dropped my beloved camera on the hard stone floor of this temple, utterly and irreversibly writing it off. When I took this photo I was still mad at myself for being so clumsy, and that’s probably what the caption refers to. Breathe out; let it go! What’s done is done. Also: The Prodigy.

At seven we begin with the tall buildings. I didn’t really get the fuss about the Petronas Towers until we saw them… but then I understood. They’re just very cool. Malaysia was the last stop on our prepat trip (apart from Accidental Singapore) and by the time we arrived we were pretty tired. But we only had 24 hours in the city so we dragged ourselves up out of bed to catch the hop on hop off bus that left from just outside our hotel. This photo was taken from said bus whilst stopped at a red light.

We were deliriously happy because it was actually a vaguely sensible temperature – like, mid twenties! – compared to the stifling heat we’d just come from in Indonesia. I fell hard for Kuala Lumpur that morning and I still keep going on about how much I want to go back..

I’m pretty sure the stuff I saw with my eyes and not my camera that I reference in the caption was our last full day of travel before we arrived in Sydney to start our brand new expat life. I am pretty sure it involved some delicious food court meals, some last minute stocking up on killer Asian skincare (especially sunscreen), and finding the what I can only describe as the Malaysian equivalent of Old Navy.

Who says England has the monopoly on beautiful gardens?! #thaigardensareprettytoo

A post shared by Rachel (@anestingnomad) on

Six just reminds me of happy times with friends, plain and simple. Our lovely friends Brian and Lydia took us out for a day in the Thai mountains when we visited them, and we ended up in this amazing cafe that had beautiful gardens, fish ponds, puppies (!!!) and an Instagram friendly swing. Just overall good times and good chats with good people.

The downside: bucket flush loos and no loo roll. Welcome to Thailand! At least there was a Western-style toilet option at all, that’s all I’m saying.

Five is probably my favourite out of all of these 9 pictures. In fact, it’s still my phone lock screen and background (what higher praise can there be these days). This photo represents the love affair with Adelaide I started in 2017 – it all began when I went there for work back in February. I don’t know what it is about the place, but I instantly felt at home there. It’s a bit on the quiet side, and often overlooked, but I am a big fan. I particularly enjoyed the Botanic Gardens, which I made sure to take S back to when we returned together later on in the year. This was taken in their giant greenhouse, which we had completely to ourselves as we walked through.

Sidenote: I took this photo on my phone, with absolutely no thought for composition or anything. I just pointed it up and snapped, and there you go.

That toes in pool life ✌🏻

A post shared by Rachel (@anestingnomad) on

Four gives me instant bliss just looking at it. It was taken at sunset in the rooftop pool of the Hotel Indigo in Bangkok, maybe my favourite hotel of all time. Maybe? I find this interesting because there’s no captivating caption, no fancy filter (that pink is all sunset baby) and my feet aren’t even that nice. Did I mention I don’t get Instagram? Behind the scenes of this photo were some serious Instagram pros who were vlogging, snapping eleventy jillion photos and posing up a storm in their teeny bikinis. It made me and my unattractive feet feel quite inferior to be honest. So I sat and read my book (I think it was Cultureshock! Australia; I do not recommend) and remembered I don’t care about being internet famous. Hooray!

What can I say, who doesn’t love a serve of mango and sticky rice?! Three was the parting shot from the cooking class I mentioned earlier. What you can’t see his how sweaty I am – cooking in 30+ degree heat is no joke.

Oh look! More tall buildings. Number two on the list comes from my brand new home, shiny Sydney. I had to contort myself in the window of our hotel room to get this view – redeeming points for a free room means you get the ones with the worst views. Still, if this is the worst view, I’ll take it. After taking this photo we did indeed go down to Circular Quay to enjoy the autumn sunshine and I ate a whole bag of foam bananas as per the caption, before realising they had gluten in them so spending the rest of the day looking reasonably pregnant. I’m such a rubbish coeliac sometimes.

And top of my best 9 is this picture of a tall building from another tall building. I think this moment was when I realised quite how much I love going up tall buildings. The Petronas Towers are just beautiful from any angle, aren’t they?

Notable fail: trying to take a photo of myself with said towers in the background. Has anyone mastered the art of taking a photo of themselves inside an observation deck, with the view outside also visible? Personally I cannot make it happen.

So I know 2017 is a dim and distant flicker in the rear view mirror now, but are there any stories behind your best 9 that you want to share?

-RachelInstagram is notorious for painting an unrealistic picture of people's lives. Here I am to tell you what was really going on behind my #2017best9



  1. Caitlin Jean
    1st February 2018 / 18:53

    Regarding trying to take a half decent selfie from Petronas Towers observation deck = nearly impossible especially at night with the bright lights, add the city smog and you just look like an overexposed alien. Needless to say I did not post it on the gram.

  2. 1st February 2018 / 19:24

    My top 9 were mostly outfit of the day photos (which is random as I don’t even post them that often… I guess it’s just about the hashtags)
    Loved hearing these stories and it’s a nice way to recap 2017!
    Instagram baffles me too sometimes … but hey it’s fun as long as it’s not taken too seriously 🙂
    (Currently I’m finding it quite amusing watching the amount my follower count jumps up and down with each post – this follow/unfollow thing that people do is ridiculous!)

    Lauren x

  3. 1st February 2018 / 23:44

    I’m so glad you did this! I love reading these stories. I’ve found some of the photos I almost don’t post seem to get way more likes than ones I’m really proud of, and that confuses me so much.

    Those plums do look super instagrammable, I can see why they made the list. And I love the pool one as well, it’s making me feel relaxed and a bit zen.

  4. 2nd February 2018 / 01:25

    I love hearing the story behind the photos too! I know that there’s some bot so glamorous stories behind some of my most liked pictures. And I seriously don’t understand Instagram either! Some pictures that I think are beautiful barely get any likes and others that are think are just ok get a ton!

  5. 2nd February 2018 / 01:30

    I love this post idea!! I’m not going to lie – #8 is probably my favorite out of the bunch. I remember when you wrote about that, too!! It’s basically my worst nightmare so I totally get it. I can’t imagine what it must be like to see the Petronas Towers in person. I’m sure it must be cool, but for now… just tall buildings for me. 😉

  6. 2nd February 2018 / 08:11

    This has made me very excited for my trip to Malaysia coming up soon! x

  7. kelly
    3rd February 2018 / 00:46

    I know what you mean about KL and the towers…until you see them in real life you really don’t understand the size of them. I was kinda pleased that they were closed due to Ramadan so we couldn’t go up them…G was gutted as he has no fear of heights!
    You have extremely stylish tootsies!! xx

  8. 3rd February 2018 / 08:19

    I love this idea for a post! I’m always baffled by my top posts, too. My most popular pic from last year was a picture at an office while I waited for a fitting. It was a completely random photo. Lol.

  9. 3rd February 2018 / 20:34

    That is pretty funny that so many pictures of tall buildings made the top posts. I personally love the first one of the fruit, but I’m always a sucker for bright colors.

  10. 5th February 2018 / 17:30

    What wonderful adventures! I don’t think my best nine were nearly as well travelled as yours! I’m with you about Adelaide – it’s one of my favourites. Unfortunately, it’s been way too long between visits. I should rectify this situation, stat!

  11. 6th February 2018 / 07:11

    I don’t even try to understand instragram. What do you mean by theme? (<– See, that's how bad I am.) I'm a bad blogger. One reason I'll likely never attempt to monetize my site is because I just am not adept at maintaining a zillion social media accounts, garnering followers, and all that jazz. Mine grows slowly, and I've plateaued at a certain "like" range. If I ever break the glass ceiling, I'll be the most shocked of all. 😛

    I did like looking at my best nine photos for last year as it gave me the warm and fuzzies.

  12. 6th February 2018 / 18:27

    This is such a great post! I’m with you, I find Instagram a bit weird at times but I love hearing the real life moments behind photos. My best 9 would probably all be food photos. People just like food I guess haha.

  13. 7th February 2018 / 20:54

    haha I love this! I also don’t get instagram at all, it’s a weird mix bag of mostly people needing attention. I do love all these photos haha even the one in Indonesia, you can tell it’s grainy but there is a nice essence to it. Also, I think with Instagram sometimes it’s just timing, like if you post and someone is online boom they will like it, if they miss it, however how beautiful it is (like all your New Zealand stuff) it’ll be soon forgotten.

  14. 8th February 2018 / 02:08

    Omg I love this idea for a post!! It’s so fun! I would steal it but maybe for next year, as like you said 2017 is already a distant memory… lol. I have to say I remember the toes in pool life one and that is my favorite!! I just love the colors and it looks so relaxing.

  15. 8th February 2018 / 04:15

    So good to hear the stories behind the Instas! It sometimes surprises me to see which photos of mine are more popular than others, but I do sometimes think it’s just about the time you post etc, something that I don’t put much thought into!
    I love that fruity photo. I think it’s a combination of the bright colours and just how crisp the shot is! 🙂

  16. 10th February 2018 / 02:35

    Oooh I love these posts – haven’t done one in ages! I agree, I DO NOT understand the Gram, haha. But yet my one-sided love affair with it continues 😀 Love your stories… it’s funny how the photos we snap almost unthinkingly sometimes do the best. Maybe that’s because we’re more in the moment?

  17. 10th February 2018 / 18:59

    I like seeing Malaysia in a couple of your most popular shots! I certainly don’t understand the science behind instagram popularity, nor could I imagine committing to a “themed” instagram because I like life better and my life doesn’t exactly have a theme, unless you count Angel and baby and my family and…when I’m feeling better…doing fun stuff and having adventures as a theme?

  18. 11th April 2018 / 23:05

    I’m not on Instagram, but if I was I would definitely be all over New Zealand photos!

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