Our First Travel Award – The Liebster Award!

2We were pretty excited when we received a nomination for the Liebster Award. We weren’t familiar with the award when we were nominated, so we googled it, and while it’s not a physical award, it is an honor. Essentially it’s bloggers recognizing other bloggers and letting them know they appreciate their work. And of course in the process, we share with our followers to help promote each other and discover new blogs. We thought it was a very nice idea to help support and grow the blogging community. Thank you Aleksandra and Mike from Customs and Coffee for nominating us! Be sure to check out their great blog to read about their year of traveling the world.

HOW THE LIEBSTER AWARD WORKS (AKA THE RULES):

These aren’t so much rules but rather guidelines to keep this chain of awards going when you decide to accept the award.

1. Write a blogpost about your nomination, displaying an image of the award.
2. Thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog.
3. Answer the 11 questions the person who nominated you asked you in his/her blogpost.
4. Nominate 5-11 other new bloggers who you think deserve this award, and come up with 11 questions of your own for them to answer.
5. List these rules in your blogpost.

OUR ANSWERS TO ALEKSANDRA & MIKE’S QUESTIONS (written by Dave):

1. What is the most important piece of advice you would give to a newbie traveller?

I would tell them adhere to the old adage, “When in Rome, do as the Romans.”  In other words, despite whatever fears or reservations they may have, when presented with a new experience or opportunity, if others (particularly the locals) are doing it, so should they.  Although it may seem foreign to them, if everyone else is doing something (e.g., eating dog in Vietnam, riding motortaxis in Bangkok), it must be popular for a reason.  You can’t fully enjoy a new culture unless you embrace all the new experiences. Sticking to what you’re used to won’t help broaden your horizons.

2. Do you collect any souvenirs? What are they?

I try to collect one souvenir from every country I visit.  But what I collect varies. Sometimes it’s a cool t-shirt (typically with the city/country’s name, but only if it’s a city/country that few people I know have visited).  Sometimes it’s a painting or picture.  Often times it’s whatever that country/place is particularly famous for.  If you visit enough tourist sites in a particular city/country, you’ll often find the same trinkets (e.g., sake bottles in Japan, replicas of the Great Wall in China, etc.).  Like my answer to # 1, if you’re finding the same thing over and over again, it must be popular for a reason.  I also collect a magnet from every country I visit but that’s for my mom.

3. What is the biggest realization/lesson you’ve learned from your travels?

Without a doubt, the biggest realization/lesson I’ve learned from my travels is how little you need to be happy.  In America, when I used to work 60 hrs/week, 50 weeks/year, I used accumulate material possessions to make me feel better about my unhappy daily life (e.g., an unnecessarily large condo, a luxury car, fancy watch, big screen TV, leather couches, etc.).  Having lived in Asia the past few years, however, I’ve completely ridden myself of those material possessions, and now I’m remarkably happier than I’ve ever been.  In fact, it seems like there’s an inverse relationship between happiness and the number of material possessions you own.  I don’t even have hot water in my home, and yet I never miss it (not that you need it in Thailand).  As the saying goes, experiences are the most valuable possession you can own.

4. Name three places where you’ve witnessed the most beautiful sunsets.

Temples of Bagan, Myanmar.  Koh Kood, Thailand.  Taj Mahal, Agra, India.

Sunset in Bagan

Sunset in Bagan

5. Who is the most interesting person you’ve met on your travels? Why?

Dave and Cristian in Florianopolis, Brazil.

Dave and Cristian in Florianopolis, Brazil.

On my 1st RTW, my wife and I met a man (Christian) in Iguazu Falls (the Brazilian side) at the airport who asked us where we were staying as he hadn’t found accommodation yet.  Although skeptical, we led him to our hostel and proceeded to spend the next two days with him touring Iguazu Falls in both Brazil and Argentina.  Then, my wife and I were taking a 15 hour bus to Florianopolis (Brazil) and Christian said he’d like to join us, though he was going to fly instead of take the bus.  This seemed strange considering he had generally been on the same backpacker budget we had been on during our 1st two days together.  But he said he hates the bus and always flies.  Well, he ended up meeting us in Florianopolis and we spent the next few days together there as well. Eventually we parted ways and that’s when he told us that the reason he flies everywhere is because he’s a flight attendant for United Arab Emirates, so he basically flies for free whenever/wherever he wants.  My wife and I had a running joke that he was an Arabian prince (he told us he lived in Dubai).  We’ve since met up with him in Bangkok and taken other trips in Thailand together as well.

6. What city/town have you felt the most at home at? Why?

Besides my own home town (Chicago) of course, I’ve felt the most at home in my current town, Bangkok.  Bangkok is like one of those choose your own adventure books you read when you were a kid.  On most days, my wife and I eat cheap, local Thai food for about $3 per person.  But once or twice a week, we go out to a Western restaurant and get any cuisine of our choice (burgers, Mexican, Middle Eastern, bbq, sushi, pizza, etc), which is typically very good and costs about 1/3 of what it would cost us in our own country, the US.  Bangkok also has the fancies malls you’ve ever seen in your life.  We never thought we’d become mall lovers, but in BKK, everyone goes to the malls. Besides being air conditioned, it’s like being transported to another world, full of glitz and glamour (4D movie theaters, food courts and grocery stores beyond your wildest dreams, Ferrari dealerships, aquariums, water parks, etc.).  Bangkok has it all.

7. Do you have a daily/weekly/monthly budget? If so, what is it and how do you manage to stick to it

Combined,  my wife and I make about $2,000 per month living in Bangkok.  Fortunately, we get free rent so our expenses are very little.  We typically save about half of our paychecks, so we spend about $250 per week, mostly on the weekends. Compare that to when we were living in the U.S. where our rent alone was $3,000 per month.  There, we were spending about $5,000 per month, but making (and working) significantly more.

8. Where is the best food you have had? Worst? Name specific meals.

Dave eating Lechon in Cebu.

Dave eating Lechon in Cebu.

This is an impossible question to answer.  In Asia, some of the best meals we’ve ever had include thit cho (aka dog) in Vietnam, lechon (roasted pig) in the Philippines, nasi goreng,gado gado and chicken satay in Indonesia, and any of the many Issan meals we’ve had in Thailand.  We also, surprisingly, enjoyed every single meal in China (more so than the often touted Taiwan) and of course a sushi bar in Tokyo.  Outside of Asia, a parilla (grilled meat) meal in Buenos Aires has to be as good as any meal in the world, pasta in Italy and of course some of our favorite American comfort food (burgers from Kuma’s Corner in Chicago, deep dish pizza also in Chicago and a steak from Peter Luger’s in NYC).  As for worst meals, given our obsession with food, we haven’t had many, particularly in Asia.  But I would say Taiwan was very disappointing overall considering the high expectations we had going in. We also don’t love durian,a local seasonal fruit in Thailand known for its obnoxious smell.  And I hate vegemite, an Australian specialty.

9. Is there one thing you always pack and never end up using? 

In Asia, it’s typically long pants and long shirts.  We also pack them just to be safe, but almost never wear them, even at night.  We also tend to pack too many tank tops, t-shirts and underwear. We typically end up wearing the same outfit for several days in a row (maybe not the underwear).

10. What is your favourite waterfall(s)?

No brainer, Iguazu Falls in Brazil and Argentina.  Spent a day on both sides.  Niagra Falls in the US/Canada is a close 2nd but when considering the location and the fact that we had a delicious meal of charcuterie and Argentinian red wine directly following our day at Iguazu, that one takes the cake.

Iguazu Falls, Brazil side

Iguazu Falls, Brazil side

11. What are three items you would bring to a deserted island? Why?

A raft, a paddle and a loaded gun.  The first two to try to get back to civilization, the last one to shoot myself in the event I couldn’t.  While I enjoy a nice quiet beach once in a while, generally, I prefer a lot of action and entertainment choices (bars, restaurants, etc.). If I were stuck on a deserted island for any extended period of time, I would not be happy.

OUR LIEBSTER AWARD NOMINEES

These are some of the blogs we thought deserved this award. They all share some incredible experiences from all over the world, great travel (and life) advice and awesome photos. Check them out!

  1. Laura from She Who Wanders
  2. Roxanne and Dimitri from travelize.me
  3. Claudia and Thomas from Adventures at Your Doorstep
  4. Meredith from Semi Balanced Mama
  5. Nicole and Kali from Boundless Waves
  6. Mary from Global Mary

OUR QUESTIONS FOR THE NOMINEES TO ANSWER

  1. If you could live in any place you’ve traveled to, where would you choose and why?
  2. Where is one place that really surprised you when you visited and why?
  3. What is your favorite story or memory from your travels?
  4. What is the one thing you’re most excited about for the remainder of 2016?
  5. What is your favorite food, one food you hate, and one that you refuse to try?
  6. What does the word “success” mean to you?
  7. What was the best meal you’ve ever had in your life?
  8. What’s the number one item on your bucket list?
  9. What is your favorite travel resource or website?
  10. If you could have all of your followers read just one of your blog posts, which would it be and why?
  11. What made you decide to start a blog and what has been your biggest challenge?

Again, we love the idea of the Liebster Award and are very happy and excited to be able to promote/support some other blogs we think are great. Thanks again to Aleksandra and Mike for the nomination, we had fun participating. For our nominees, be sure to let us know once you make your post so we can check it out!

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