My ABCs of Travel
If there’s one thing I dislike more than chains (I am the “Shake the Shackles” guy after all), it’s chain letters. But when fiery dot.comrade Suzy of SuzyGuese.com tagged me to share my ABCs of Travel, I felt like I’d be bandwagonning with the best, and had a change of heart.
This is an A to Z survey of travel secrets from travel bloggers around the web.
So grab yourself a cup of tea, sit back, and (hopefully) enjoy…
The ABCs of Travel
A: Age you went on your first international trip:
Sadly, that didn’t happen until I was 22 when I hopped across the border to Detroit to go to some clubs. That night was out of control.
B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where:
I’m not fussy when it comes to beer. As long as it’s cold and light, I’m good. But if it’s a dark ale, or worse – Guinness — then you better fetch me a spittoon.
C: Cuisine (favorite):
Thai. Hands-down. I like me some spice. And after taking a Thai cooking class, I appreciate it even more. Although I do have a soft spot for Italian.
D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why:
I love the Middle East – Jordan, Israel, and Egypt especially. And if there are beaches about, I’m happier still. Least favorite is probably Singapore (sorry Cath) – it’s as sterile as an operating theatre.
E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:
Snorkelling with whale sharks in South Africa. There were two of them side-by-side, which apparently is rare. Swimming above those mammoth creatures gave me my biggest smile ever – in water or out.
F: Favorite mode of transportation:
Scooter! I love the freedom a motorbike gives. Now I know what my brothers have known for years. I’ve had some great trips around Asia. And (knock wood) no nicks or bruises yet. Plus it’s fun to see how many people you can pile onto a motorbike.
G: Greatest feeling while traveling:
Not knowing what’s around the next corner. And not knowing what day it is.
H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to:
Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates. I felt like I had a fat fryer in my pants.
I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where:
A bus ride from Istanbul to Damascus, and taking the same bus back. A fellow named Mohammed went out of his way on both trips to accommodate me. It’s a long, convoluted story – I’ll write about it one day — but let’s just say, among many other things, he managed to get me on the only bus that would allow me to catch my flight back to Newfoundland in time for my brother’s wedding.
J: Journey that took the longest:
A flight from Toronto to Istanbul. Some poor chap had a heart attack half way over the Atlantic, so we had to turn back. We were on the tarmac in Halifax for 4 hours. Then I missed my connection in Frankfurt and had to wait another 7 hours. It was brutal. (Well, certainly not as brutal as having a heart attack.) I always wonder what happened to him.
K: Keepsake from your travels:
I travel light, so postcards mostly. They’re easy to carry, and there are some things you just can’t get shots of. And I’ve got a pretty hefty inventory of keepsakes up there in my noggin.
Tant-pis in Brussels. It’s just a miniscule kid taking a leak. Waste of good film. (Cameras used to use film – true story!)
M: Moment where you fell in love with travel:
The third week into my 3-month trip to Europe. I wasn’t enjoying it at all at first — I got ripped off on a phone card at the train station on my first day, and I got robbed at the hostel I was staying at in the first week. I felt like such a novice. I let those events fester and cloud my experience. One day I just gave myself an inner bitch-slap and said, “You’ve paid for the ticket. You’re not going home until you do what you’d said you’d do. Good or bad, it’s all part of the experience. Now go out there and start experiencing.” It was then that I started really enjoying myself.
N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:
That would be the Makati Shangri-La in Manila, the Philippines. I stayed there for 3 months for work. The bed was heaven, and the food was sinful.
O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?:
Signs – odd, funny, weird, mispelled (see what I did there? Anyone??) – they all draw my attention.
P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?
I’m on my fourth passport, so that’s a lot of stamps! I’ve been lucky to have travelled to over 40 countries. The current passport has Mexico. USA, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. I’m adding Indonesia next month.
Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where:
I’m actually going to it next week! It’s the Forensic Museum in Bangkok. They have a serial killer encased in a vat. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
R: Recommended sight, event or experience:
There are so many.
Learn to scuba dive. There’s a whole other world down there. Although it’s been a while since I’ve taken a plunge, my gut tells me I’ll be diving Florida wrecks like a pro before I’m 50. I just LOVE the feeling of being surrounded by water.
Plan your trip to attend festivals. The spectacles you see are amazing.
And take a vacation with your vacation days! I know a lot of folks that just pile up their vacation days. That’s insane! I’d like to think that they’re saving them for some intense extended holidays to Goa or to the moon or something, but really, they just use that time to clear their eavestroughs.
S: Splurge — something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling:
Accommodations with free wi-fi. If I had to pay by the hour, I’d be hooped.
T: Touristy thing you’ve done:
A one-week all-inclusive in Mexico. Nothing says adventure like a neon wristband. It was for a wedding and I actually had a great time, but it’s not something I don’t think I need to do again.
U: Unforgettable travel memory:
Celebrating New Year’s at the Great Pyramids in Giza on December 31, 1999. Me and 60,000 of my closest friends. It was an amazing (albeit alcohol-free) night.
V: Visas, how many and for where?
Oh Jeez. Way too many. Syria (why you gotta charge so much), Cambodia (why are your border guards so corrupt), Australia (no complaints about you my working holiday friend), Lebanon (do you really need to actually lick those stamps to put in my passport?)
W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?
I know as much about wine as I know about sports (see Z below), but I did quite enjoy a nice malbec at a vineyard in South Africa.
X: eXcellent view and from where?:
Al Muntana restaurant at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai. Overlooking the desert, sandy beaches and man-made islands all at once. It was both natural and unnatural at the same time. (Sorry, my pics are on my other computer back home.)
Y: Years spent traveling?:
Not nearly enough.
Z: Zealous sports fans and where?:
I zealously avoid sports of any kind. But the fans were rabid in Scotland when I was there for some reason. Something about something with a ball.
I would love to see the Travel ABC’s of:
If you are one of the chosen five, post your own ABC’s of Travel, and then nominate 5 other travel bloggers.
Now, please send this to 20 people in the next 5 minutes. Good fortune will come your way. Promise.