From Jen Sahi (@yourwanderlust), I was kindly nominated for the Liebster award. As Jen notes, the Liebster Award is not exactly an “award” as such, but a way to discover and recognise new bloggers in the blogging community. It’s a modern take on the chain letter. Bloggers nominate other bloggers, ideally newbies who have fewer than 200 followers, who then answer a series of questions before passing on the privilege to other new bloggers and so on. It’s a way of getting to know each other. Liebster is a German word which means something like Favourite, Sweetheart, Beloved, depending on the context. That’s good enough for me!
Here are Jen’s questions for her nominees:
Here are my 11 answers:
1. What city are you currently in as you write this?
2. How many trips do you currently have booked and to where?
– Europe (Paris, Frankfurt, London, possibly Budapest in between)
– Singapore, Sydney, Indonesia
3. What do you think made you so interested in travel?
My parents moved to Guam the day before my first birthday. I grew up visiting places like Palau, Yap, Saipan, and Japan. Back in the US, we spent many weekends camping in the Sequoias, Lake County, and other parks in Northern California. From there we moved to Italy, where I was in Boy Scouts and on the swim team, both of which gave me even more opportunities to travel and see Europe. The family continued the camping across Italy, Germany, Holland and more. At home in Naples, I’d play in ancient ruins around the corner. After college, I went on a month-long trip to China, mountain-biking in the high country of the Szechuan province. We spent most days biking 20-40 miles at elevations of around 7-10,000 ft, and topped out one day at just over 16,000ft, still the highest point I’ve ever been in my life. Shortly after college, I sought out a job on an oceanographic ship which had no home port and allowed me to continue traveling very cheaply around the world for another 4 years. By that time I was in my mid-20s. I haven’t really slowed down since.
4. What is your number one consideration when planning a vacation?
At heart, I love stillness. I love to get up at 5am and wander streets, get on an early hike, or sit on a beach. It’s a beautiful time for my photography and never fails to leave me with a sense of calm. So it doesn’t necessarily matter where I’m going, I research where I can find that early morning peace.
5. What’s the most unusual thing you keep in your carry-on?
Protein bars? Sheesh, I’m not sure I have anything that is momentous. I do always make sure I have my Global Entry card just in case.
6. Have you ever left anything behind on your travels? What was it?
I think I’ve been fortunate as I’m pretty anal about checking hotel rooms and such before I check out, or leave the plane. A few items of clothes here and there and that one time I left my iPod clipped onto the back of the seat..dangit.
7. Have you ever taken something you knew you shouldn’t? What was it?
In Palau you are not allowed to take shells from the beach or your dives. Almost 80% of the islands are protected and they’ve done an amazing job of keeping it pristine there. Although there are multitudes of beautiful shells washed up, you cannot take any home. I’ve seen divers take live shells which I just cannot stand. Huge tiger cowries, or even cones (which can be deadly). It infuriates me actually. On one deserted beach, I took a small cowrie to remind me of the place that I never imagine I will get back to.
8. Who is the most interesting person or couple that you’ve met while travelling?
So to confess, I am a huge introvert. In some psych profiles, it’s also called ‘low social’. What it really means is that we are okay in one to several, or one-to-one depending on the other person. We regain our ‘energy’ by finding quiet, which allows us to refuel the tank. It many places, there are other solo travelers and there are some fairly easy ways to meet someone (without being creepy I might add). It’s not a pickup afterall. I just like talking to people who like to explore, find the unknown, the local spots, the quiet hidden garden… I’m not one to compare how many countries or bucket list things.
9. What’s your number one travel tip?
Just go (somewhere).
10. What’s the most memorable thing you’ve eaten on holiday?
When I was mountain biking in China, and we stopped at the Wolong Panda wildlife center (it is now a major attachtion, but back then it was most definitely not!), and stayed in a government guesthouse. We went into the nearby town for dinner, and they put us behind a screen (because we were ugly? had bad manners? I never figured that one out), but meals during the month we were there were served on a lazy susan in the middle of a huge circular table. This time was no exception. About halfway through the ever-rising stacks of plates of food, all of sudden came this great procession of servers and stacked 8 or 10 plates of food all at once. It was clearly something special although no one could quite figure it out until we saw the delicately sliced pig ear which was then pushed back together. The guide explained to us that this was a very special meal indeed and across all the plates were a complete pig, inside and out for our honor.
11. If you could visit only 1 more country for the rest of your life, what would it be?
There are places like the Chile, New Zealand, or Iceland that I could explore for years and never be disappointed. There are island dreams that take me to Fiji, Zanzibar, or Palau. If it was just one country, I think it would have to be Japan. The vast variety from north to south, the culture and temples, amazing food, and the genuine kindness of the people could definitely keep me there for the rest of my life.
My nominees are as follows:
Although she’s not a newbie Shannel O’Donnell of A Little Adrift and here on Twitter was one of the first people that inspired me to volunteer abroad. So even though she’s already garnered accololades and followers, I’d be a little adrift myself if I didn’t add her here.
My questions are these:
1. What was the first country you ever visited? What kind (if any) impression did it leave?
2. How did you parents fit into your love of travel?
3. What is the first thing you research when going to a new place?
4. Have you ever tried to use social media to find someone to travel with? Did it work out?
5. What one country brings the happiest memories?
6. Have you ever volunteered abroad? Where? Did it motivate you to do it again?
7. What are your top 3 travels hacks?
8. Have you ever done something terrifying or pushed you past your normal sense of adventure? Would you do it again?
9. What advice would you pass to your 15 year old self?
10. If you had unlimited funds and time – where would you go, what would you do?