To celebrate my first blog post at the age of 26, here is my take on the ABCs of Travel inspired by Paige’s post from ‘For The Love of Wanderlust.’ She’s done two rounds of this questionnaire, one in 2012 and the other in 2015. I wonder where I’ll stand answer-wise in the future, but for now, here are my 26 answers!
AGE you went on your first international trip
My immigration to the United States from the Philippines marked my first international trip at the age of two. Wish I could remember it, ‘cause it was the most important trip of my life!
Best foreign BEER you’ve ever tasted
Paulner from Germany. I will always associate a tall pint of Paulner to basking in the glorious sun, laughing around a giant wooden table, in a packed courtyard. My friends and I were all celebrating the sweet victory of shoving our way into an at-capacity Oktoberfest beer tent.
I can’t commit to just one cuisine. A few months ago it was Indian and then recently, I was on a Japanese kick. But if I really haaaaad to pick just one, it would be anything Southeast Asian: Filipino, Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian! That’s my fail-safe for a good meal.
Most and least favorite DESTINATIONS
The most: Site specific: Cinque Terre in Italy.
Countries would have to be Nepal, Morocco, and Iceland.
City-wise: Amsterdam, Seoul, and San Francisco.
The least: City-wise: Belize City, New Delhi, and Phuket.
EVENT you experienced that made you say “Wow!”
I don’t think it was “wow” as it was a “holy ****.” During the Doshain festival in Nepal, Tim and I were able to sneak into a holy temple only open to Nepali Hindus since most mistook me for being a local. It was there that we saw a courtyard drenched in the blood of over a hundred animal sacrifices. The carnage and gore… it was like something out of a horror film but then you’re reminded of the tradition behind it. I don’t know, it was really surreal.
FAVORITE mode of transportation
Motorbikes. They’re low-maintenance and give you all the freedom you will ever need. Bicycles are a close second.
GREATEST feeling while traveling
The feeling that nothing could bring you down. There are days on the road where you wake up to the sun shining brightly and every moment thereafter is a series of joyful experiences. Those types of days are few and far between on the road but the effects of even one perfect day is enduring and is what makes all my travels so worthwhile.
HOTTEST place you’ve traveled
The Mekong Delta at the beginning of May. There was no refuge from the heat. It was constant sweat, a constant uncomfortable feeling. Geez, I’m getting hot just thinking about it.
INCREDIBLE service you’ve received & where?
I just stayed at the Villa Song Boutique Hotel in Thao Dien, Saigon, and man… talk about pampering. First good impression: the hotel manager greeted us in person. Then they let us check in early and after, they brought fresh bake cookies to our room just ’cause. Oh and can I say they had a complimentary speedboat shuttle service? Nothing says lux than a private speedboat.
JOURNEY that took the longest
What initially was supposed to be a 13-hour overnight train became the trip from hell after I got a severe bout of food poisoning in sleeper class from Agra to Udaipur. And then the train broke down for a good four hours. On my one-year anniversary with Tim.
KEEPSAKE from your travels
I am all about the keepsakes. Without fail, I love to collect paper goods from my travels. From postcards and journals to tickets and posters, I love using them for decorations or scrapbooking. I also have a money collection, both bills and coins!
LETDOWN site; where & why?
Of all the places to see in New Delhi, I found The Red Fort to be just meh. The only thing impressive about it for me was seeing it from the outside, I still kick myself for paying for a ticket.
MOMENT that you fell in love with travel
It was when I was 9 in Switzerland. My family and I had a day layover in Zurich. Near our hotel, there was a little farm. My dad brought my sisters and I over the fence and we came across a cherry tree. Next thing you know, he picked a cherry and plopped it in his mouth and then we all followed suit, delighting in how good they tasted. It was there that I realized traveling could make any ordinary moment into something special.
NICEST hotel you’ve stayed at
While Villa Song is technically the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed at (see letter ‘I‘), there was a riad in Marrakech that I can’t get out of my mind. I have no idea what it was called but I still remember there was a fountain in the courtyard and a chandelier in the bathroom. It may sound like the run-of-the-mill riad experience but I was obsessed with the decor.
What are you OBSESSED with taking photos of?
I’m kind of a crap photographer but I can’t resist taking a shot of great street art. I especially love full-scale murals! Penang is on my bucketlist for their amazing collection.
How many PASSPORT stamps & from where?
I have 95 stamps in my passport as of July 31, 2016 from trips I’ve taken abroad since 2008.
QUIRKIEST attraction you’ve ever visited & where?
The Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, Croatia. I love collecting human stories and this unique museum is all about telling stories of heartbreak. On display are personal effects donated by visitors from their own failed relationships, either romantic, familial, platonic, or unwanted.
RECOMMENDED site, event or experience
Taking a dip in a natural hot springs in Iceland. There’s nothing more gratifying than hiking for two hours to bathe in Mother Nature’s very own hot tub with an outdoor temperature of about 50°F/10°C. I almost missed it because it comes across as just an ordinary stream. But you just take off your clothes (despite the crazy wind chill) and walk right in!
SPLURGE Something you have no problem spending money on while traveling
Massages! So long as the price is right (Southeast Asia, I’m looking at you.) Otherwise, my splurge would be good food. Some food is worth the hefty price tag.
Most TOURISTY thing you’ve ever done
The time my sisters convinced me dressing up in harem outfits in the Basilica Cistern was a good idea. First of all, that place is musty and so all the outfits we were putting on were equally dank. And in front of the camera, the photographer was so pissed we couldn’t “smile with our eyes” properly so he kept barking at us in front of the other tourists to do it better. My mom insisted we frame the picture much to our displeasure. ^^ see photo above
UNFORGETTABLE travel memory
Taking a midnight ride into the Sahara Desert. Weary and cold atop a swaying camel, I remember looking up and seeing a million stars suspended in the night sky, all seemingly within reach. The light from these stars burned brighter than anything I had ever seen before. A few months prior, I had lost my father but there under the blanket of stars, I could feel his presence surging all around.
How many VISAS & from where?
I have 6 short-term visas from Cambodia, Nepal, India, and Vietnam and 4 long-term visas for Italy, Thailand, Vietnam, and South Korea.
Best glass of WINE & from where?
A glass of homemade Sangria while sharing a decadent meal with my Italian exchange sister’s family in Cagliari, Sardinia. It was paired with the most succulent porcheddu (baby suckling pig).
EXCELLENT views & from where?
Ugh, I can’t choose! But all of them are in Europe 😛
1) Overlooking The Old Town of Dubrovnik (aka King’s Landing) from my Airbnb window.
2) Departing from/arriving to all the quaint towns on the Cinque Terre circuit.
3) The view of all of Sarajevo from my sister’s host family’s backyard.
YEARS spent traveling
24 years. And I don’t plan on ever stopping!!!!
ZEALOUS sports fans & from where?
Boston sports fans are the most hardcore sports fasn in America (and I say that without bias as a Bostonian). I grew up in the decade where our sports team won all four major championships (go Celtics, Bruins, Patriots, and Red Sox!!!) If I had to go outside of the USA, it would have to be the Italians but that’s only because I’ve stood in their ranks at a football match between AC Milan and ACF Florentina. Talk about team spirit!
Give me a shout-out on Pinterest pretty please?
I encourage fellow bloggers to post their own ‘ABCs.’ If you get a post done, please comment below. I would love to read it! xoxo Izzy