Craziness. I got an award. Or I should say I got nominated for an award. For blogging. Whodathunkit? It’s nothing too prestigious, but it’s pretty cool. The Liebster Award is given to bloggers by other bloggers. If you get nominated and wish to accept the award there are a few things you’ve gotta do. Answer some questions. Write some more questions. And spread the wealth. Nominate other blogs for the award.
The fantastically fabulous Monique at Travel.Dance.Repeat was gracious enough to nominate me for the Liebster Award, and I’d be more of a fool than I already am not to accept the award. I would recommend a stopover at her site. She’s got some great posts and pretty spectacular pictures. DO IT. You won’t regret it.
As I am terrible at killing my darlings and seem to think that people want to read my long rambling responses to simple questions, my answers to the 11 questions I received are long. And more than a little ridiculous. Here are my bloated responses.
The rules of The Liebster Award nomination follow the questions. And if you haven’t passed out from reading all the words I felt I needed to write, please take a gander.
1. Which place stole your heart right away and will you return?
Oooh, that’s tough. My first thought, honestly, is Vietnam. But I feel like I can’t answer that way. Because I’m still in Vietnam. Writing this post in a little cafe in Hanoi. But damn do I like this country. I don’t know what it is. And I know I’m not the first traveler to feel this way about the country. The landscapes? Spectacular. The food? Forgetaboutit. The best. The people? Amazingly friendly with a killer sense of humor. I feel comfortable here. I lived in Korea for a year. And I liked it. Really. But here, I feel so much more myself. I dig it. And I think it digs me. Leaving in about a week. And I kinda don’t wanna go. But even though my ticket out is already booked, I know I’ll be back. And me thinks it’s gonna be sooner rather than later.
2. What was the weirdest/funniest/craziest encounter with anyone on your travels?
Around the new year my mom came out to visit me and when we were in Jeju Island we decided to get massages. I opted for a facial and my mom went with a full body massage. Guess which one of these required the individual receiving the treatment to be topless? Yup, my facial. Because nothing says a relaxing facial like being bare breasted. My mom’s full body massage had her fully clothed. Separated by a cloth partition allowing me to hear the pounding and twisting of my poor mother’s sexagenarian body and the painful grunting noises this caused her to make, I had to bite my lip to stop from laughing while the lady doing my ‘facial’ rubbed essential oil in small circular motions all over my exposed chest. An unforgettable massage.
3. Did you already experienced a travel-situation in which you actually rather wanted to pack up and leave instantly, and if so, what happened?
There is generally an assumption that you’re gonna get some sort of illness while traveling. Usually some kind of food poisoning. A bacterial bug your system isn’t used to causing you all sorts of digestion problems. I assumed this is what would happen to me in Mongolia. Nope. My sickness came in the form of a cold. A killer chest/sinus infections that stole my voice. Stole it gone. I could not make a sound. And my throat was raw. And this was at the end of my month long adventure. Still battling the illness I took a 13 hour bus ride from the rural north back to the capital of Ulaan Blaatar. Got off the bus in the middle of the night. The bus station was packed. People everywhere. And as I’m waiting to get my backpack from beneath the bus my phone was stolen. My phone that had all my pictures and my way of communicating with the outside world. Sick and stranded in a Mongolian bus station without a phone. Feeling violated and small. At that moment I wanted to be home. But ultimately I didn’t go home. I continued to travel. And I learned a lesson from that experience. And it gave me a neat story to tell at parties.
4. Show us the picture of your most memorable moment while traveling!
So many to choose from! One of the more memorable experiences I’ve had traveling was bungee jumping. Off a big, red 52 meter bridge near the border between North and South Korea. Holy crap. I couldn’t wear my glasses (because they would fly off my face), so I was partially blind when I jumped into the fuzzy abyss beneath me. Incredibly awesome. Even a year later when I think about it I get a little adrenaline buzz. Would I do it again? Maybe. I haven’t decided yet. But totally glad I did it at least once.
5. Is there any place you would not want to go and why?
That’s tricky. There are some places that I wouldn’t travel to out of spite, I guess. Which is super ridiculous, I know. My father is Israeli. Half of my family is Israeli. I am Israeli. And there are some countries that aren’t too fond of Israel and won’t let you in if you’ve got an Israeli passport or an Israeli stamp in your passport. And for me that makes me feel like, “ok. If you don’t want me, I won’t go.” Even though I would love to see some of these countries. Iran or Lebanon. Hopefully someday it won’t be an issue. And we can all stop being ridiculous.
6. Tell us 3 things you learned while traveling, which had the biggest impact on you.
1. Everyone understands a smile. No matter the language barrier, sometimes a smile says everything that needs to be said. And can open the door to a really amazing experience you weren’t expecting.
2. Nobody knows what they’re doing. We’re all just winging it. There’s no wrong way to travel. (Unless you’re big game hunting in Africa. Then you’re an asshole) So just go with it. Sometimes you’ll be the person with an exploded backpack, trying to pack everything back inside on a busy train platform. Sometimes you’ll be the person walking the wrong way, heading in the opposite direction of your destination. But everyone’s done it. And if they say they haven’t they’re a liar. And nobody likes a liar.
3. It’s ok not to do something. I’m not a partier. And it took me quite some time to realize that’s ok. If I don’t want to go out and get wasted at a bar with everyone in the hostel, that’s ok. If I want to have 2 beers and then stop drinking after that I don’t need to justify myself to anyone. And if I miss a ‘must see’ site on a trip because I wanted to spend time with some new local friends, that’s ok. Do what you want and don’t do what you don’t want. You do you.
7. Tell us 11 fun/crazy/weird facts about yourself (no worries, just tell us, we won’t tell anyone else)
1. I always secretly wanted to have an inhaler when I was a kid. It just seemed like a neat accessory. Even though it is not an accessory. It’s a medical necessity. I was strange.
2. I also wanted brown eyes when I was a kid. All of my friends had brown eyes and I had blue eyes. Which I thought was unfair. Now I’m glad of them.
3. Chapstick addict. I need a tube of lip balm in my pocket at all times. My right pocket. Or I feel unbalanced.
4. If you pickle it, I will eat it. Vegetables, fruit, meat. Anything soaked in a delightful vinegary brine I want to stuff in my face.
5. There is always a song in my head. Sometimes I wake up with one rattling around in my brain and it switches to another one later in the afternoon. But there will be some kind of music in my noggin at all times.
6. I have an irrational fear of geese. They are aggressive and they are fast. Geese are terrifying.
7. I prefer odd numbers to even numbers. I set my alarms at odd times, 7:13, 6:47. When my sister and I were young we traded off who got to sit in the front seat of the car on the way to school. I sat up front on the odd days. My birthday is an odd date (27th), my life path number is an odd number (if that shit is even real) and if I have to pick a number between one number and another I’ll always go for an odd number. (I feel like I wrote number way too many times there. Number.)
8. I’m that asshole that reads everthing out loud. And comments on them. A billboard, the menu, instructions. Even though we’re all looking at the same thing, all reading the same words, for some reason I feel the need to say them out loud and add commentary.
9. I take pictures of mannequin heads. I’ve been doing it for something like 5 or 6 years at this point. If I see an interesting looking plastic head I will stop and take a picture of it. And I give each one a title, like ‘Philistine Head’ or ‘Passive Aggressively Uninterested Head’. At this point I have about 150 different ‘head shots’ from about 10 different countries. Why do I do this? I have no idea.
10. I make little creatures out of socks. Socks and buttons. Little monsters. Sew them up real nice. But I hate wearing socks on my feet. It feels like my feet are suffocating when I cover them up. Socks, used for sewing, not for wearing.
11. I have no idea what I want to do with my life. There are too many things I want to do. And I am an indecisive, lazy bastard. So I’ll be all about one thing one week and then change my mind the next week. And then do nothing about it. It seems as though a ‘traditional’ 9-5 office job, married with kids, a mortgage and a retirement plan is not my path in life. And I’m ok with that. At least now I am. It took me too many years to come to that realization. But that’s ok. I’ll figure it out one of these days.
8. If you could work while traveling, what would you like to do?
Write. And then be paid for that writing. It’s something that I’m working on. It’s more than a possibility. Many people do it. And I’m trying to navigate these unfamiliar waters and get myself wet. (Which sounds dirty) I would love to do some kind of traveling improv. Back in the States I perform improv comedy. And the longer I’ve been away from it the more I realize how much I LOVE IT. I’ve definitely incorporated some improv exercises into my English teaching, but I miss performing. Making people laugh is the greatest feeling in the world. Better than candy. Better than a nap. Better than sex. If I could travel and work as an improviser and make my way in this crazy world making people laugh that would be golden.
9. What is your favorite app/gadget/tool what you use while traveling?
The WordPress app, Facebook app and Instagram are my holy trinity. The WordPress app is great for starting a post when I don’t have my computer with me and I’m struck by something I want to write about. Instagram because who doesn’t love an Instagram filter? Everyone is a great photographer with that shit. And Facebook keeps me in contact with people I know and love back home and people who I meet on the road and want to continue knowing and loving in the future.
10. How do you find your ‘insider’ tips where to go and what to do when traveling to new places?
Generally start with a good old fashioned Google search. I like finding blog posts by folks who have previously been to that location and see what they have to say. Look in the guide book. Talk to locals. I find that people working in the tourism industry in whatever country you’re in know a lot of great insider info. And they love sharing it, and connecting you with people, even if it has nothing to do with the company they’re working for. Just talking to other travelers you meet along the way is a great resource for tips on where to stay and where to eat.
11. Last but not least: What is your next destination and why?
Thailand. Heading there in about a week. For a couple reasons. I found a great deal on a flight. And I also found a great deal on one of these fitness/detox/weight loss programs in Phuket. Something I have never thought about doing. But I’ve gained weight and started to feel unhealthy since coming to Asia. (Which is NOT what’s supposed to happen. What up with that Asia?) I’ve been feeling unwell. Not sick. But not as healthy as I once was. Or as healthy as I want to be. Feeling like I deserve to treat myself, my body and my health better. And then the opportunity kind of presented itself. And as I am at the crazy intersection of having time on my side and not being broke (and realizing that I’m an adult, dammit. I worked hard for my money and I’m gonna spend it in a way that betters myself. At least that’s the hope. And thankfully in a way that betters myself, allows me to continue experiencing a new country and culture and still leaves me funds) I decided to do it. I realize it’s not an end-all-fix-all thing. I’ll have to continue working on my health after the experience is over. But I feel good about it. I feel motivated. And I feel like I’m gonna learn a lot. And (warning: super corny, ridiculous statement ahead) I feel like it’s going to be a good springboard to a new life adventure. Or maybe it will be terrible and I’ll have to eat all my words. And then feel bad about eating something that’s not on my diet.
So you’ve been nominated for The Liebster Award. Now what? If you choose to accept it, write a blog post about the Liebster award in which you:
1. Thank the person who nominated you (That’s me, Jessica. At vitkinj.wordpress.com), and post a link to their blog on your blog.
2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)
3. Answer 11 questions about yourself, which have been provided by me (please find them at the end of the post)
4. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know about this information!)
5. Create a new list of 11 questions for your nominees and attach them to your post
6. List these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here—That’s what I did)
Once you have written and published your post, please:
7. Inform the nominated people/blogs and let them know that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it! I know I hadn’t until I got this awesome nomination)
And come back to this blog and post the link to your Liebster Award post so I can read your writings and be jealous of all the cool things you’ve done.
Kat at http://catnapsintransit.com
Sonal & Sandro at http://drifterplanet.com
Timah at http://livetravelmore.com
Lae Dee Song at http://www.7seasonsstyle.com
You guys all rock. And you’ve been nominated for The Liebster Award because of your rockingness. If you think this nomination is as cool as I think it is, keep the tradition alive. Nominate other folks and spread that blog love. Answers the following questions and ask some new ones.
1. Where was the first country you fantasized about traveling to? And have you made it to that country yet?
2. What has been your favorite and least favorite food adventures?
3. What is one thing you always bring with you on your trips (a picture, a favorite scarf)?
4. Are you a kindle reader or do you stuff ‘real books’ into your bag? Why? And are you reading anything fun at the moment?
5. How much research of preparation do you do on a country before traveling? A few TripAdvisor perusals, learn a few words in the local tongue, make Lonely Planet your bible, or just show up and hope for the best?
6. What was one of your scariest, can’t believe that just happened, I’d like to go home now experience?
7. What was one of your funniest, can’t believe that just happened because it’s so awesome, this is amazing experiences?
8. Tell us 11 interesting/hilarious/weird and wonderful things about yourself.
9. What are 3 things you’ve learned about yourself while traveling?
10. What do you tell people when they ask you about your travels and whether or not you’re afraid or how you can ‘afford’ the travel life?
11. And where are you headed next? Or where do you want to head next?
Awesome. I’m pretty jazzed about this. And I hope y’all are, too. I look forward to reading your answers to the questions and seeing more of your adventures. Don’t forget to come back here to post the link to your Liebster Award post (post post). Keep on keepin’ on and I can’t wait to hear from you!