Yup, looks like I’ve been nominated by Lisa Day aka Univagabond as one of the lucky eleven bloggers to be the recipient of the Liebster Award. The award is given by bloggers to bloggers as a means to generate exposure to new writers. It’s an honor to partake in this award and here’s my 11 thoughts on traveling:

1. What Do You Think Is The Greatest Thing About Travel?

The fact that travel serves as a reminder that the world is so vast you feel like a speck of dust in the desert. Even in the age of fast instant information, traveling to another country evokes a deeper appreciation of another culture shaped by its food, history, language and their meaning of happiness. My experiences on the road has helped shape my worldview in that out of all the differences that we encounter, it all goes back to one single commonality – that we are all humans merely separated by time and space.

2. What Is One Of Your Most Unexpected Travel Experiences?

Whether it’s getting free coffee from a waiter at a restaurant while you wait for the late night train to New Orleans or being graciously invited by your Couchsurfing hosts to check out a big band at a watering hole in Kansas City, the kindness showered by locals and fellow travelers always give a lasting impression of a place I visited. I would expect people to be friendly or at least helpful but being on the receiving end of a random act of kindness is an unexpected travel experience I’d cherish and remember forever.

3. Hotels Or Hostels? Or Tents?

I’ve always been a hostel person – I’ve made friends from many different countries while bunking out in a 12-bed dorm or cooking pasta in the common kitchen but ever since I got hitched, hotels are my go-to choice. It’s mainly down to getting a bit more comfort and privacy but I would still consider hostels if they offer private rooms with ensuite bathrooms. As for tents, my wife and I are planning to go glamping sometime this year so I guess we’re not into roughing it out in the wild!

4. Whatcha Readin’? Got Any Favorite Travel Reads?

I don’t have a particular set of books to read during my travels but I thoroughly enjoyed Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild.” The story of one woman’s personal redemption after being down in the dumps by hiking solo along the Pacific Crest Trail is just pure adversity. I highly recommend its movie adaptation with Reese Witherspoon in a breakout performance – the movie does justice by serving an almost perfect visual cinematic representation of the book.

5. Come Across Any Awesome Music Abroad?

As mentioned in question (2), my first experience of watching a big band jazz was in Kansas City – what looked like a ragtag bunch of 15 guys turned out to be accomplished musicians belting out harmoniously loud and catchy tunes. While in New Orleans, I made my way to Frenchman Street with a bunch of friends I made at the hostel in search for real rhythm and blues and it’s so amazing to see a random musician approach the in-house band to jam a couple of tunes with them before disappearing into the night.

Crooning to big band jazz at one of Kansas City's watering holes.
Crooning to big band jazz at one of Kansas City’s watering holes.

6. What Do You Usually Get Up To On A Typical Day?

Work. But whatever it is, my day must always start with a cup of piping hot coffee with a teaspoon of brown sugar and enough milk to give off a dark brown color to my liking.

7. Why Did You Start Blogging?

Traveling has been quite a big part of my adult life and instead of merely posting photos on Facebook, I wanted to “memorialize” my experiences in words and stories so blogging was the most logical thing to do. I’m slowly learning the tools of the trade but it’s been enriching knowing that bits and pieces of my writings helped fellow travelers in their own journey like how I gain insight from other experienced travel bloggers.

8. What Has Been Your Worst Travel Experience?

Missed the flight on our maiden voyage to Sabah due to the taxi driver being late picking us up at home. It was supposed to be our “honeymoon road trip” a month after we got married and we booked a cab through a prominent smartphone app for our early morning flight. The taxi was 20 minutes late and he even had the cheek to stop by a gas station to fill up. By the time we rushed to the departure gate, the doors were closed and the aircraft was ready to depart. Bye bye Sabah.

9. What Do You Do For Money, Honey? Have Any Good Money-Saving Tips?

You can save quite a lot of money if you cook your own food! This works well if you’re traveling for months or a year and more often than not your hostel, AirBnB or Couchsurfing host would allow you to utilize the kitchen. I do take the effort to sample local delicacies but doing it for every meal would take a hit on the wallet.

10. What Is One Of The Best Travel Lessons You’ve Learned So Far?

“Don’t by shy, say hi.”

11. Where Are You Going Next?

I’ll be off on a family trip to Bali in July so that will be my second time visiting the island. I’m totally going to skip the crowd and head to the highlands of Ubud, partake in a sunrise hike to the crater of Mount Batur and explore the northern beaches of the island. In September, my wife and I will head to Sabah which will be my first “official” travel to the northern part of Borneo. Other than the usual stuff to explore in Kota Kinabalu, I *might* drive up to the sleepy town of Kudat, the northern tip of Borneo where Malaysia ends and the Philippines begin.

Enjoy a cuppa at the rice fields of Ubud.
Looking forward to enjoy a cuppa at the rice fields of Ubud, Bali.

Keeping to the spirit of the Liebster Award, here are my 11 nominees:

  1. ย Ben & Amber – Bamber Travels
  2. Siddharta – Sid The Wanderer
  3. Ida – Travel With Me
  4. Rasty – I Am A Desperate Blogger
  5. Vaughan & Lauren – The Travel Manuel
  6. Haneesa – The Twenty Something Travels
  7. Nicolette – Cultural Reflections
  8. Anis – Five Foot Traveler
  9. Taufiq – Helios’ Travel Diaries
  10. Syafique – The Syaf
  11. Madhu – The Urge To Wander

These are the 11 questions for you guys!

  1. What is the first thing you would look forward to once you arrived in a new country?
  2. Train or Plane? What’s your preferred mode of transportation?
  3. What is your best advice in saving money – any interesting travel hacks?
  4. What is one thing you wouldn’t leave without on your travels?
  5. What is the tastiest street food you ever had abroad?
  6. Do you have one place in your country you feel is underrated when it comes to tourism?
  7. Where’s your hometown and what’s the best thing about it?
  8. What motivates you to write your own blog?
  9. What makes you miss home?
  10. Coffee or tea? What’s the best coffee/tea you ever tasted?
  11. Where is your next travel destination?
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