Five years ago, I would have never imagined that I'd be nominated for a Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. I didn't know that travel blogs existed. I wasn't a world traveler. And...this is the big one... I didn't have some deep, unfulfilled dream of traveling around the world. International travel just kind of landed in my lap when we became expats, lucky me. At some point, I realized that there were planning resources beyond printed guide books, and that the best of them were the travel blogs. Since that time, I've knitted together a network of blogger friends. A sisterhood, if you will. I know more than just where they've been. I know if they're buying a house, if they are changing jobs, or if health has caused them to rearrange their plans.
I'm honored that the fascinating Fairlie from Feet on Foreign Lands nominated me for this award. As per the rules, I need to acknowledge whoever nominated me, answer her questions and then nominate 10 other bloggers who must answer my own questions. It's a great way to learn more about other bloggers, as if we're all sitting around a comfy coffeehouse getting to know each other a little better.
So, here it goes. My responses to Fairlie's inquiries.
So, here it goes. My responses to Fairlie's inquiries.
1. What was the first blog post you wrote?
It was an FAQ. Originally, I intended my blog to be a way to keep my friends and family up to date when we moved from Texas to Malaysia. The same questions kept coming up over and over. What are you doing with your house? How long will you be gone? What will the kids do for school?... and on and on. I wrote that first blog post after our neighborhood going away party in case if someone didn't get to ask all their questions face-to-face.
2. Have you ever had a brag-worthy upgrade travel experience?
Unfortunately, I don't get upgraded very much. There was one time, though, on our way to Japan. My husband who has more frequent flyer points than I do was offered an upgrade to a Business Class seat on the Hong Kong to Tokyo flight. He was about to decline since the rest of us would have to stay in Economy. "I'll take it!" I practically yelled. Since we'd be going our separate ways after Japan -- him to America for 1.5 weeks of work (and TexMex food) and the kids and I back to Malaysia -- I felt I was totally justified in accepting it on his behalf. Champagne, chocolate truffles... no kids talking to me inflight....It was amazing. On the other hand, the kids exited the airplane with one less jacket since I wasn't there to remind them to make sure everything made it back into the carry on. Oh well.
3. Is there anywhere you would never, ever, in a million years return to?
Bangkok. Well, maybe more like never in a hundred years.. or at least 2 decades. Hubby and I visited my dad when he was working there in 1997. I thought Ayutthaya was fascinating but eventually got "templed out" visiting everything else. It got to the point where even the Emerald Buddha got a mediocre reaction from me. I saw enough and don't need to revisit. We've taken the kids to Chiang Mai and Phuket but told them that they'll have to do Bangkok on their own.
4. What’s the top three destinations or experiences on ‘your list’?
#1 Iceland which I hope to visit on a multi-day layover on my way to Europe.
#2 Private First Class Cabin on Singapore Airlines paid by some anonymous benefactor.
#3 Antarctica, although I don't know if that will ever happen because I hate feeling cold and being seasick.
5. What do you enjoy most in other people’s blogs or social media feeds?
I like reading about places that I've also visited just to see what their take on it is, to find our connection. So many viewpoints and experiences can result from the same destination. I also like seeing food, especially chocolate.
6. What type of carry-on luggage do you have and what’s in it?
I use a backpack. Even though my kids no longer need to be pushed in a stroller or have their hands held, I am now accustomed to needing my hands to be free, not pulling a rolling luggage.
I always have:
- U-shaped travel pillow
- Faux pashmina scarf to use as a blanket
- Eye mask
- Ear plugs
- Noise-cancelling headphones
- Comfy socks
- Paperback book
- KIND Fruit and Nut bars
- Hand lotion to combat dryness
- Afrin, decongestant and pain killers to offset sinus pressure pain
- Bottle of water
7. What’s the first thing you do when you get to a new destination?
We usually have so much luggage that we need to stop by the hotel to drop everything off. There's usually some sort of negotiations over who sleeps in which bed. If it's a long flight, we just collapse onto the bed to decompress. Otherwise, we'll start touring around.
8. If you could pick anyone (dead or alive, and other than your usual travel companions) to sit next to on a long-haul flight, who would it be?
Hmm... I've never thought about this. Now that it's come up, I'll be thinking about it and constantly changing my choice.
At this moment, I'd pick author Bill Bryson. He's a funny guy who has interesting stories about his travels. He doesn't always love it; he seems somewhat convinced that things may end badly; yet, he keeps heading out to travel the world. I like to think that we'd get along and that he wouldn't pretend to be asleep the entire flight just to avoid talking to me. Perhaps we could even collaborate on a book. (As long as I'm dreaming, I may as well dream big.)
9. What is your most popular blog post?
Family Trip Tips: Angkor Wat and Siem Reap, Cambodia with Kids is my most popular post. Being part of the expat community in Penang, Malaysia, so many of my friends had visited Siem Reap. They made it seem like no big deal to take children to Cambodia. Planning my trip was easy. I just hung around the school playground and got advice from various people. Hotels, tour guides, restaurants, etc. The trip practically planned itself. Realizing that many families don't have this resource, I wanted to summarize it for others. I had to write it quickly because friends on the playground were already asking me for suggestions as soon as I returned.
10. What makes a memorable moment for you?
Traveling with three kids can be hard. We all have different personalities and interests. We're rarely all happy with the same activities. The rare moments when we all come into alignment and everyone remains in a good mood are my favorite, most memorable ones. I think this is why we end up at Disney so much. Hubby and I were Disney fans before we became parents, and the kids obviously love it.
The other memorable times are when I just feel at peace in nature. When I'm surrounded by beauty and quiet. Looking out over the Pacific Ocean from Kalaloch Beach in Olympic National Park sticks out in my mind. It'd been a busy day hiking with my young kids. It was our first "real" trip that didn't have visiting relatives as its primary goal. We were doing far better than I'd expected. The kids sat inside the lodge with their dad finishing their dinner while I snuck out to look at the sunset. A feeling of peace (or perhaps it was merely the absence of bickering) swept over me as I took it all in and seared it into my memory.
And the nominees are...
The 10 bloggers that I nominate are as follows. I've "known" some for years and have only been recently introduced to others. I like Fairlie's above questions so much that I'm asking these other bloggers to also answer them.
Mary from The World is a Book because she was my first portal into the travel blogger world
Nancie from Budget Travelers Sandbox
Jan from Budget Travel Talk
Jackie from Travel n Write
Marisol and Keith from The Traveling Solemates
Rhonda from Albom Adventures
Rachael from Safari 254
Corinne from Reflections Enroute
Lauren and Justin from Justin + Lauren
Amy from Ms. Toody Goo Shoes
If you choose to accept this challenge, thanks for playing along.