Confession: We have no idea what the Liebster Blog Awards are, but apparently they are something that are by New Bloggers, for New Bloggers? And while we don’t really do many meme-type things on this site, when the lovely Rika over at Cubicle Throwdown nominated us for this mysterious award, we felt the least we could do is answer the questions she threw out to the people she tagged. Truly, the internet is one of the places where we can say that just being nominated is an honor and not be lying through our teeth.
Also, Steph was totally one of those girls who always flipped to the quiz sections first in YM & Seventeen magazine, even when the quizzes were inane like “Who is your ideal celebrity shopping bud?” or unnecessary like “How assertive are you?” So obviously it is nearly impossible for her to resist these Q&As, especially when the questions are as original as the ones Rika dreamed up.
So, without further ado, here are 11 random things you likely never wanted to know about us, but now do!
1. What’s one thing you always buy at airports?
Steph: Probably a snack or drink of some kind. I know that airports are always more expensive than anywhere else, but we can’t shake the old habits from North America where they make you toss all food & drink before going through security. And we’ve been catching enough flights at terrible times that airport nourishment is really our only option.
Tony: I almost always buy a Sprite, or something similar. If we are up super early (as we almost always are) to catch a cheap (read: unpopular) flight, I’m usually feeling a little ill. Something about getting up before 5 a.m. always makes my stomach upset, and Sprite is my medicine!
2. Diving with sharks: yes or no?
Steph: If you mean whale sharks, then absolutely! If you mean any other kind of shark then… also, yes! We actually had the experience of diving with our first wild sharks while in Sipadan, and while they were only white tip reef sharks, it was still magnificent. Not sure what I would have done if we had spotted hammerheads as some have done, but I hope one day I get to find out!
Tony: Hells yes! We did it in Sipadan off the eastern coast of Malaysian Borneo and it was amazing! Of course, they were sleepy little (2 meters long) white-tip reef sharks, but it was still exhilarating and one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.
3. How much of a foreign language do you learn before arriving somewhere?
Steph: It really depends. I love learning languages and seem to have a pretty natural affinity for learning them, provided they aren’t tonal! Prior to landing in Japan, the first stop on this trip, we tried to learn quite a few basic travel phrases, and we surprisingly picked up quite a bit of Japanese along the way.
At the start of our trip, I was a lot more uptight and concerned about not being able to speak the local language, but I’ve definitely loosened up and become more lax as we’ve gone along. We always make an effort to learn a few basic phrases wherever we are (“thank you”, “cute”, and “delicious” are generally our most used ones), but as English speakers we can get pretty lazy.
Tony: Oh, all of it, definitely. But, more realistically, very little. I try to learn the basics like “thank you” and numbers and such, but I don’t have nearly the head for language that Steph does. She’s a regular polyglot, so I rely on her skills to get us through the situations where my advanced gesturing isn’t enough.
4. Craziest public transportation story you’ve ever had. Go.
Tony: Fortunately our public transit experiences have mostly been pretty tame, and I hope they stay that way. However, a bus ride in Datong, China got a little crazy. On our first try (yes, first) we were told to just get off at the last stop and transfer to another line in order to get where we were going. What we weren’t told is that the #4 line is a loop line, meaning before we knew what was happening, we ended up back at the station we started from. So, 40 minutes later we had made no progress whatsoever.
After finding a little help, we jumped back on the #4 bus armed with some kanji, pinyin and a rough pronunciation of the “end” of the line. This time we made our transfer, but the ride wasn’t over yet. After a few minutes on the second bus, we stopped in the middle of the road and our already apoplectic driver lost the rest of his mind, and made everyone get off the bus. We had no idea why at first, until we saw the massive traffic jam, so we just started walking and hoped we’d find another #3 bus once traffic cleared. Fortunately, we got lucky and found a bus sitting near the end of the traffic jam and we jumped on before the other 100 people who were walking with us. I have never seen so many people on one bus before, but we got a seat so we were happy.
Steph: Tony’s pretty much nailed it (that’s what she said!), but I will also add that when we were trying to get from Pingyao to Xi’an, that was a bit bizarre too. We were driven to the side of a highway and just dropped off in a little copse of trees and waited until a bus pulled over to pick us up. We didn’t even have tickets, but somehow they knew where were going and that we had already paid at our hostel! Ah China… I don’t really miss you at all.
5. Have you ever drank the water somewhere that you shouldn’t have?
Steph: Taiwan! This is the one place where even a steri-pen will not save you as there is a high concentration of heavy metals in the water, meaning you need an actual filter to drink it. We did not know this and on our first day gulped down about 0.5L each at our hotel after simply boiling it. To this day we wonder if this is why for the next 5 days or so we were overcome with horrific body aches and extreme lethargy… any day now our real mutant superpowers should emerge!
Tony: I almost always end up accidentally using some to brush my teeth at least once in every country, but I only swish, i don’t actually swallow any. We did drink about 500ml of water in Taipei before we read that their water is unsafe because of heavy metal contamination. Our SteriPen doesn’t clear that out, so we’re pretty sure we had lead poisoning for a day or two.
6. Where do you see yourself eventually settling down (if anywhere)?
Steph: Honestly, I have no idea. I’ve loved many of the places we have visited on this trip, but I can’t quite see myself living in any of them super long-term and certainly not forever. I guess we just have to keep searching!
Tony: That’s hard to say. We’re not sure we want to be in any one place long term, but we’ve learned that you can plan all you want but you never know for sure until you’re in the thick of it, so for now I’ll say we plan to travel as much as we can for as long as we can.
7. What’s keeping you back from the next thing you want to do?
Steph: Fear and a failure of imagination, which I think are somewhat related to each other. I am a chronic perfectionist and hate the idea of failing, but that’s something I’m trying to overcome. I’m trying to embrace Goethe’s words and weave them into the fabric of my daily life: “Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.” We shall see.
Tony: Time? Money? Maybe both? We’re trying to just do the things we want to do, regardless of perceived barriers, but sometimes something has to give and it’s almost always because of time or money.
8. Best bargain you’ve ever found while traveling?
Steph: This one is tough because after learning the lesson the hard way that we had way too much stuff before moving (seriously, if you ever want to learn how to cut back, try getting rid of what you already have first… it will make an ascetic out of anyone) we have hardly done any shopping while on this trip. We’re always looking for bargains on day-to-day stuff, but somehow those seem harder to quantify.
One that comes to mind was probably the homestay we did while learning to Scuba dive while in the Philippines. It was run by our instructor and since we were taking diving lessons with him and were planning to stay for about week, he gave us lodging for two plus breakfast for just 360 PHP per day, which amounts to just $9USD! That definitely helped offset the cost of our Open Water course.
Tony: I got a sling bag in Hong Kong for 12 USD that I use as a camera bag/catchall and it has been surprisingly durable and well-made. It’s the perfect size and has been pretty ideal thus far.
9. If I was going to buy you a present for $100, what’s the greatest thing I could buy for you?
Steph: Since two of my answers have been dive related, why not one more! I have no idea how much they actually cost, but if I could get a pair of booties & fins for $100, that would be awesome. At the very least then, I’d have a complete snorkel set, though still a ways (and several thousand dollars, I’d imagine) to go before we’ve got a complete dive kit.
Tony: How about just the $100? We could use that money for our trip!
10. What moment in your life do you wish you had gotten a photo of?
Steph: I am just getting into photography in a serious way, but I can say that at the very least, when big moments have happened in my life, there seems to have been a camera in hand to capture them. I think I just wish that with some of the smaller moments, which really are what life’s about, I had had the foresight to document some of them. My childhood dog, Bruiser, passed away a few years ago, and ever since then, I have found myself wishing that I had more pictures of her over the years.
Tony: I can’t really think of any, to be honest. I have photos of the big ones for the most part, and my memory is good enough of most of the others, so I’m satisfied.
11. If Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones came up to you and asked you to join the Men in Black, would you leave your life behind and join?
Steph: Well, they’d have to change their name if I joined, but sure, why not. I’m up for getting jiggy with them… Oh wait, that’s a different song/movie, isn’t it…
Tony: Not if that meant leaving Steph behind. And, in any case, I think our mission to explore the planet on our own is big enough without adding the universe to it. Besides, that job looks like it would probably be a lot less fun to do than to watch.
We think the rules are that we are supposed to come up with 11 questions of our own & nominate 11 other bloggers, but we figure we can’t really top what Rika has put together here and rules were meant to be broken! So go ahead and answer these if you like so we can get to know a little bit more about you too!