Friday, August 14, 2015

Friday five: more frequently asked questions.

We've already answered the most common question we've been asked as we re-acclimate to life on the mainland and start to catch up with friends and family. Here are five other common questions and their answers, in no particular order...

1. "What was your favorite place?" The long-term traveler's least favorite question - you want us to choose one place out of 800+ days and 17 countries? Impossible!

In short, it's definitely fair to say, we really enjoyed places we knew very little about before visiting.

such as Brasov, Romania

and Cappadocia, Turkey

It's also fair to say that the places we stayed the longest were some of our favorites.

7 days in Porto, Portugal

10 days in Sapa, Vietnam

And finally, it may not be the most exotic answer but all of our farmstays were amazing.

not many people can say they made friends with 80 Nubian goats in Wakefield, Quebec...

... or stomped grapes at an organic winery in Nemcicky, Czech Republic

(The subquestion here is usually, "Was there anywhere you didn't like?" Just a few places. We were really uncomfortable visiting Marrakech and Essaouira in Morocco. These two particular cities drained our patience and trust, and it took us a while to regroup. For very different reasons, we also hope to not spend more than an hour in Bucharest ever again.)

2. "Where would you go back?" We'd love to go back to Transylvania and hike those Carpathian Mountains! We'd also like to visit the countryside of Hungary (but not go back to Budapest). Given the right volunteer opportunity we'd go back to Poland or Cambodia for an extended stay. And there will be more diving in Thailand at some point!

We found something - and often many things - to love about every place we went, and we would absolutely recommend many other specific places for curious travelers, but there are new countries we'd like to visit before returning to most of the other places we've already been.

3. "What's the weirdest thing you ate?" Curse you, Anthony Bourdain, for making this such a common question. Why does no one ask about the tastiest food we ate, or the best home-cooked meals we enjoyed, or the food we really want to find (or figure out how to make ourselves) here in the States?

Okay, fine. Patrick tried a fried tarantula in Phnom Penh and we both ate sautéed whole baby frogs and cow skin salad at our hilltribe village homestay in Thailand. Patrick also tried duck brains at the homestay.

reportedly, the tarantula was "chewy"

While the tarantula was consumed with our Habitat Global Village friends on a bit of a dare, in general we approached all food opportunities with open minds and we absolutely did not want to be those tourists wrinkling their noses at unusual food (especially not when that food was made by our gracious hosts). We also didn't take photos of unusual foods while wandering the streets - fried bug vendors at the night markets had signs requesting $1/photo; many gawking tourists ignored the signs and snapped photos anyway. It was infuriating.

4. "Did you ever get sick?" Sure. Patrick had a few eye infections early on; he eventually stopped wearing his contacts to prevent future issues. I was briefly ill in Saigon (never did figure out what caused that). We both had a "tourist row" pancake in Luang Prabang and spent the next four days laid up with food poisoning in Nong Khiaw.

there are worse places to have to lay around all day

I guess I understand why this is such a common question, and such a fear for some people when they consider international travel. But we didn't really think about it. We ate at food stalls in alleys where dishes were washed in buckets; we drank tap water if hotel staff said it was okay to drink; we usually forgot to wash fruit we bought at the markets. Aside from the few exceptions I mentioned, we were fine... (Although there's a decent chance we contracted something that won't show symptoms for another six months or so. Haha.)

Besides, we were overseas for 19 months. Who doesn't come down with some sort of illness over the course of 19 months?

5. "How did you make money along the way?" We didn't. Before we left we worked, we scrimped, we saved. We lived off our savings on the road, and we continue to live off our savings now. Lots of travelers manage to make a living working on the road. These folks typically have internet-friendly professions (web designers, writers, photographers, etc.) - but quite honestly, I don't know how they work and still manage to enjoy traveling. Keeping up with this blog over the last two years was hard enough!

Any other questions? We're happy to answer them!


  1. I bet you get asked the weird food question a lot! I'm so inspired by your travels. And props for trying fried tarantula. There are few travel opportunities that I say no to in life, and I think fried tarantula would be one of them! ;)

    1. Patrick gets the props there - I politely said "no thank you"!

  2. So... what was the tastiest thing you ate?

    1. Everything in Hanoi! :)

  3. what is the Turkish word for "gringo"?

    1. According to Google, it's "Amerikalı"...