Thursday, February 16, 2012

My Travels from A to Z

I love travel memes so when Gray Cargill of Solo Friendly tagged me for an alphabet-based retelling of my past travels, I couldn't resist! I hope you enjoy finding out more about me and my travel adventures as much as I enjoyed reliving them for this post!

Taking a closer look at the world through travel

A: Age you went on your first trip.
Nine. As a child, I often went on short trips around the California redwoods and beaches, but it wasn't until I was nine years old and went on a HUGE family trip (a seven-van caravan) to Yosemite that I really felt like I was "officially" going on a trip. I remember feeling excited about such a big adventure that required driving for so many hours and packing ALL that food!

B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where?

Enjoying Efes with a friend in Istanbul

Efes in Turkey. I'm not really a fan of beer but when I was living in Istanbul in 2009, I spent many hot summer afternoons reading a good book and drinking Efes beer. It was cheap and refreshing, and Efes beer really grew on me. I'm still not a beer drinker by choice, but to this day, I can't resist a nice, cold Efes.

C: Cuisine (favorite) 
The famous Ippudo ramen

Japanese. I love Japanese food! Everything from sushi to teppanyaki to ramen, I can't get enough of Japanese cuisine! Maybe I haven't planned a trip to Japan yet because subconsciously I've been afraid of how much weight I might gain in Japan. No, I know I will get to Japan one day soon!

D: Destination (favorite and least favorite).

Sorry to say but Koh Phi Phi was just a bit shy of paradise for me

Least favorite: I honestly can't think of a single place that I've been that I didn't like but IF I absolutely have to choose, I guess I would say Koh Phi Phi in Thailand. I found it too touristy and although parts of the island were quite beautiful, not exactly the paradise many claim it to be. Plus, those bucket deals are a killer.

My mother visiting me in Istanbul

Favorite: On the other side of the spectrum, every single place that I've visited holds a special and unique place in my heart. Cheesy as that sounds, it's true! Again, IF I absolutely have to choose, I'd say Turkey. Specifically Istanbul. I completely fell in love with the city, the people, the food, the culture, the history, the back alleys, EVERYTHING.

E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow.”

This hardly does the Aurora Borealis' "wow" factor justice

Seeing the Aurora Borealis in Iceland. I literally stopped in my tracks and stared, mouth agape. "Wow" is the perfect description of that moment.

F: Favorite mode of transportation.

Sandy feet in Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica

Walking. In my mind, there's nothing better than exploring on foot. You can discover and connect with so much more than any other mode of transportation. Some of my best travel discoveries occurred because I was wandering on foot and stumbled upon something interesting that I would have missed had I been traveling any other way.

G: Greatest feeling while traveling.

Self-reliance "rocks" in Petra, Jordan

Self-reliance/empowerment. When I used to travel alone, I always felt a surge of pride in myself for getting from Point A to Point B without harm or death. It's a great feeling to know that you can rely on yourself and to know that you are indeed competent. That knowledge is empowering and absolutely priceless!

H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to.

Not moving to stay as cool as possible in India

Calcutta. In the summer. Not only was Calcutta blazing hot, it was also unbearably humid too! Honestly, that's the WORST combination in the world. The moment you turn the water off in the shower, you were already sweating. And drying anything? Forget about it. In these conditions, going out exploring almost becomes a sluggish chore. Almost.

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where?   

Kathyann and her incredible Caribbean cooking
Friendly waitstaff in Grenada. My friend and I were enjoying lunch on a beach in Grenada when we asked our friendly waitress for directions to a local waterfall. She started explaining how to get to the hidden trail, but then told us she lived near that particular waterfall and could take us there herself on her day off the next day. She proceeded to invite us to her house for lunch as well! It turned out to be the best meal I had in the Caribbean, not to mention an incredibly fun day with Kathyann and her family. Now that's hospitality! 

J: Journey that took the longest.

Re-defining the word "crowded" on Cambodian buses
Somewhere in Cambodia.
I can't remember from where I started or to where I was going, but I just remember taking a number of extremely long bus rides in Cambodia over muddy and bumpy terrain. Oh, and did I mention that you're sharing the bus with motorcycles, chickens, raw fish, and wooden furniture? The most time-consuming trip I had in Cambodia started sometime in the afternoon and ended in the evening the next day. A hostel shower and bed never felt better after that long journey!    

K: Keepsake from your travels.

My New York City living room and world map with pins
I collect pins of country flags for all the countries I've traveled to. Back in New York City, I used to pin them onto a world map in my living room to remind myself of all the places I had been to. It served as a great conversation piece too! 

L: Letdown site and where?

The best part of Bilbao's Guggenheim is the outside

Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain. Don't get me wrong. The building itself is spectacular. It was my first Frank Gehry building and I was thoroughly impressed with its sweeping lines, dramatic shapes, and fluid arcs. Once inside, I regretted paying the entrance fee when the real art was just outside. I guess I'm just not into modern, abstract art. 

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel

A moment to reflect and love travel in Sacsayhuaman, Peru
Every moment.
It's true! I find that I constantly fall in love with travel every time I go somewhere new. There's always a defining moment where I just literally, have to stop in my tracks to think, "This is unbelievable. I LOVE traveling!" I don't think I'll ever stop falling in love with travel. 


N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed at.

Private suite in Nai Yang, Phuket, Thailand

Nai Yang Beach Resort in Phuket, Thailand.
This isn't necessarily the nicest hotel I've ever stayed in, but after trekking in the Himalayas for 14 days with the barest of accommodations, arriving into Phuket and staying in a small, private villa with constant running hot water, air conditioning, and swimming pool was simply divine.


O: Obsession. What are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?

My feet getting down and dirty in the streets of Cairo, Egypt
My feet.
They do so much for me in my travels (refer to F for why I love my feet so much) and I like to take photos of them at various locations to commemorate how far I've come and how much work my feet have put into the journey.


P: Passport stamps. How many and from where?

My beloved passport
In no particular order: Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Taiwan, Macau, Hong Kong, China, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, United States (re-entry), India, Nepal, Peru, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Grenada, Slovenia, Germany, and Switzerland. *My passport with over 20 European countries and stamps not included in this count was stolen in 2005.


Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where?

Crazy, sinking city of Venice, Italy
Venice, Italy.
It's a city. That is SINKING! How crazy is that?


R: Recommended site, event or experience.

Learning local custom, and wearing a sari, in India
Crash an Indian wedding.
Technically, I was invited but the wedding I attended in Maharashtra, India was amazing. I think everyone should get first-hand experience of traditional customs and cultures of all the places they visit. It's the only way to really get to know a country.


S: Splurge. Something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling.

I only wish the higher price also meant more food
As a foodie and lover of eating loads of food, I have no qualms about splurging on a good meal during my travels. I'm equally as happy eating street food with the locals too. It's good to get both sides of the culinary spectrum when you travel. The point is that I love food and am willing to spend extra on it while traveling. Or any day for that matter.


T: Touristy thing you’ve done.

Sharing a moment with the lovely Sphinx in Giza, Egypt
Kissing the Sphinx in Giza, Egypt.
Come on, we've all done it before. The random and silly, but totally obligatory perspective photos that make it seem as if we're much closer to landmarks than we really are. I've got some lewd ones of me in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa as well, but as this is a family-friendly blog, I've decided to keep it clean.


U: Unforgettable travel memory.

So much excitement after watching the Space Shuttle launch
Watching a Space Shuttle launch LIVE.
I'm a space geek, it's true. For my 29th birthday, I celebrated by knocking off one of my great bucket list items: I went to Florida and watched a live Space Shuttle launch! It was a dream come true and the experience is truly unforgettable. I even cried a little as I watched the Shuttle disappear from the skies. That's how happy I was.


V: Visa. How many and for where?
China (x 2), Vietnam, Myanmar (Burma), India, Thailand (x 2), Cambodia, Hong Kong (employment), Turkey (x 4), Jordan, Egypt, and Nepal.


W: Wine. Best glass of wine while traveling and where?

Content with my wine in Brasov, Romania
Brasov, Romania.
To be honest, I don't remember a single thing about this wine! All I remember is how perfectly content I felt in that moment to be sitting in the afternoon sunshine, sipping a glass of wine, and watching the activity bustling around me in one of the most charming squares I'd ever been lucky enough to encounter: Piata Sfatului in Brasov.


X: eXcellent view and from where?

The stunning Himalayan mountain range in Nepal
The Himalayas.
I completed the 14-day Annapurna Circuit trek in Nepal and everyday was a new marvel at the sheer beauty of the Himalayan mountain range. It's stunning to think about all the natural beauty our world is capable of creating.


Y: Years spent traveling.

Waiting to board my first flight abroad with my family
At least seven.
Although I took weekend trips all over California as a child, my first international trip was in 2005 and I pretty much haven't stopped traveling since.


Z: Zealous sports fans and where?
No idea.
What a way to end such a great travel blog post, but I can't think of a single instance where I ran into zealous sports fans. Sorry!

Now I know my ABCs. Next time won't you sing with me? Tag, you're it!  
Anne-Laure Toullec of The Further, The Better
Rain Guatno of Rain's Travels        

© Connie Hum 2012


  1. Connie I loved your ABC's! I also began my first international trip in 2005 and have been traveling since then off and on, so that's pretty cool.
    I miss seeing more of your blog posts!

    1. I know! I've been SUPER busy with so many other things so the blog has suffered, but they are there! Just fewer and further in between! Don't worry, it's all going to change soon!

  2. Love this Connie! I too miss your blog posts. I don't tweet or anything so your blog is the only place I get to keep up with your travels!

    1. Hi Thy! Good to hear from you again! I know that I've fallen behind with my blogging, as well as reading up on the adventures of other bloggers. Hope all is well with you!


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