Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spencer's ABC's of Travel

Maggie did a great job with her ABC's of Travel so I thought I would give it a go as well. Enjoy!

A: Age you went on your first international trip
23. Maggie and I went to Europe and had an amazing time. We spent time in Amsterdam and Paris before going to England to meet up with my siblings. Then the five of us traveled over to Scotland and spent a week in my father's hometown, Perth. It was an unforgettable experience capped off by a wild three (or four?) days in Ireland with a fantastic Flaming Lips concert in Belfast. I'll never forget it.

B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where
Belikin Beer (Belize's National Beer). The actual beer is nothing special, but in the right circumstance (a hot day, Caye Caulker island, knee deep in the Caribbean water) it is a fantastic experience. They even put picnic tables in the water so you can eat your lunch and drink your beer without ever getting out of the water. How cool is that?!

Drinking beers at the Lazy Lizard bar in Caye Caulker, Belize
Caye Caulker, Belize

C: Cuisine (favorite)
It's a tough one, but recently we had some amazing sushi in Japan. I love wasabi!!

D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why
Favorite: Amsterdam. The canals. Everyone rides bikes. The friendly international vibe. The cafes.

Least favorite: Dangriga, Belize. Passing through on our way to San Ignacio. Spent a night in Dangriga. Ended up in a questionable hotel room. Super dirty. Lots of bugs. Yuck.

E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”
We were riding bikes in along the country roads outside of Amsterdam. It was the most perfect summer day with amazing farmland and fields to accompany us on a peaceful ride. Then all of the sudden. BAM! I was not paying attention to where I was going, bumped into Maggie, and we both crashed to the ground. I ended up falling right on Maggie's bike and slicing my leg pretty badly on the gear spokes.

After some super ghetto first aid, where we tore the sleeves off of my shirt to wrap around my leg, we started biking back to the city. On the way back, we got super lost and had no idea which direction we needed to go. Seemingly from nowhere, a man on a bike rides up from behind us. He saw that we are having a hard time and asks us where we are going. "Ah, Amsterdam, okay...I am headed that direction. Follow me".

He then preceded to lead us all the way back to the city (maybe a 45 minute ride). He pointed us in the direction of a hospital and then went along his merry way. We made it to an Emergency Room where a nurse (who spoke perfect English) happily cleaned up and bandaged my leg. I didn't have insurance papers or anything with me. "Ah that's no problem", they said. "What is your address in the United States? We will send you a bill. It isn't that expensive".

I think it was at that point that I turned to Maggie and said something along the lines of "Wow. This country and its people are fucking awesome."

F: Favorite mode of transportation
To go long distances: Trains. To explore a city: BICYCLES!

G: Greatest feeling while traveling
When you arrive at a new city late at night and go to sleep knowing all the fascinating things you will get to do the next day. Then the morning arrives and you wake up. I love that initial feeling you get that first morning. The excitement is electric. There is so much to do. So much to see. Showers and breakfast are just stupid boring details you need to get out the way ASAP so you can go out and EXPLORE.

H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to
Coachella in 2007. All day in the blistering, unforgiving heat. It was totally worth it, but hot daaaaamn that weather was crazy. The best feeling ever was sitting on the grass after the sun finally went down, listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers and scarfing down 5 ice cream sandwiches for dinner.

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where
We spent two days at Chaa Creek in one of the Camp Casitas. It is a small tent-cabin campground inside one of the nicest resorts in Belize. We got massages, lounged in a really neat pool while enjoying drinks and snacks, and breakfast and dinner were both included and consisted of amazing home-cooked food in the camp area. I loved every minute of it.

J: Journey that took the longest
The 13 hour plane ride + 5 hour bus ride to get to our current home in Suncheon, South Korea. The end result was a combination of exhaustion and excitement for our new life in Korea. Long plane rides are strange...I thought I would sleep but ended up watching like 4 or 5 movies.

K: Keepsake from your travels
Maggie and I kept a journal when we traveled through Europe in 2008. We took turns writing about our travels and even added pictures/ticket stubs/other mementos from the trip. It was super fun and made for a great souvenir. We are planning to do a similar journal for our adventure through Southeast Asia next year. Maybe we will share the end result with you!

L: Let-down sight, why and where
The biggest let down for me is the sight of your home city after you have been traveling for a while. I don't think I have ever had a "let down sight" while I've been traveling.

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel
When I moved to Korea and took a trip to Hong Kong for a week in July 2011, I realized how ridiculously easy it really is to travel. When people (myself included) tend to think about travel, they build it up in their head and create complications which usually end up holding back or delaying their travels. I overcomplicated things in the past. Now I see the light. This shit ain't that hard. You just gotta go for it!

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in
The night before we flew to Belize for our honeymoon, we decided to splurge and stay at a fancy hotel in San Jose. We stayed at the Cypress Hotel and it was great! We left super early the next morning to catch a flight but I wish we could have stayed at that type of hotel every night on our trip. Everything was so nice and fancy.

O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?
  • Goofy street art
  • Things that involve water (canals, rivers, lakes, oceans, etc)
  • Ummm....
  • Goofy street art involving water? I guess that would be my ultimate photo op

P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?
22. I am a travel rookie compared to Maggie.
The Netherlands, France, England, Scotland, Ireland, Belize, Guatemala, South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan.

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where
"The Gum Wall" in San Louis Obispo, California is a bizarre little alley with thousands upon thousands of pieces of gum stuck to the walls. It's pretty silly and awe inspiring to walk through and see the epic amount of gum that was chewed to create this living art project (the pictures don't do it justice). We added our contribution, of course.
Sticking gum onto the gum wall in SLO
San Louis Obispo, California

R: Recommended sight, event or experience
Releasing wish balloons at midnight on New Year's Eve at the Zojoji Temple in Tokyo, Japan. We arrived too late to get a balloon, but still experienced the amazing spectacle when hundreds (maybe thousands) of people welcomed the new year by releasing their balloons into the night's sky.

S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling
Saving time. I will gladly pay a little more for a 3 hour bullet train instead of an 8 hour bus ride. This definitely applies more when you only have a short amount of time for your vacation. If you are slow traveling through Asia (like we plan on doing in 2013) then there is nothing wrong with taking your time and saving your money.

T: Touristy thing you’ve done
I visited Washington D.C. when I was in 8th grade on a school trip. While this is obviously "touristy", it was an event that occurred on the trip that sticks with me as a total bonehead tourist move. We were given about an hour to explore the National Mall. Some friends and I spent too much time walking around the reflecting pool and I suddenly realized that we didn't have much time to go see the Lincoln Memorial. Being the dumb 8th grader that I was I just ran up the steps and snapped a quick photo of the Lincoln statue without even really looking at it.

"Okay, now I've seen it," I thought. "Let's go back to the bus."

 I never really saw it. I never appreciated it's symbolism or power. I never got the true experience because I was in a hurry and I thought a photo would do. I am still bummed about not taking my time. Things like that are much more powerful when you take your time and experience them with the camera in your pocket.

U: Unforgettable travel memory
I have two. The first was Raggamuffin Tours' sailing adventure in Belize: 3 days on a sailboat. Snorkeling, fishing, and island hopping with a dozen rowdy adventurers. It was truly unforgettable.

The second is Yosemite. Everything about Yosemite is majestic. I will never forget walking around Yosemite Valley for the first time. One of the greatest places on earth.

V: Visas, how many and for where?
Just one! South Korea (my current home)

W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?
I have no idea. Never pay much attention to wine.

X: eXcellent view and from where?
I have to agree with Maggie. The view on top of Victoria's Peak in Hong Kong is unbelievable.

A view from the top of Victoria's Peak in Hong Kong
Victoria's Peak, Hong Kong

Y: Years spent traveling?
2011 and 2012 are my first "true" travel years. Hopefully that number will continue to climb!

Z: Zealous sports fans and where?                  
I love sports. But I have yet to have a great travel moment involving sports and/or zealous fans.

So I will leave this up to our audience. Help me out with the last question! Tell me your amazing/silly/wacky sports fan story.

Best story wins a lifetime supply of high fives, redeemable anytime!

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