Friday, August 2, 2013

TGIFun Friday!

I thought today I'd have a little fun and do a little 'get to know me' travel questionnaire! Wouldn't it be great to get to know the person behind this madness? ;) Even if you have known them in the blog world for awhile! And it's Friday so lets have some FUN!
Tag this to your blog post:
*Feel free to copy and paste into your own blog, tag the person who posted this questionnaire and the ones before, and answer these questions with your own responses! Let's see how far this will go! I want to get to know everyone in the travel world! :)*
This is a LONG questionnaire but I love reminiscing about my experiences. Always brings a smile to my face! And hopefully you find it enjoyable as well.

I saw this ABC's of Travel questionnaire on Aaron's Worldwide Adventures at
A – Age you went on your first international trip: Well, when I was in my toddler years, my parents took me to Southwest Asia. So around the age of 2-3 years. My first trip as an adult, 24 years old.
B – Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where: I don't drink beer at all! I'm sorry! :)
C – Cuisine (favorite): Well....I love EVERYTHING!! I'll eat almost anything! But I'd say my tops at the moment are Peruvian, Moroccan, and always will be Lebanese/Middle Eastern. I enjoy Bolivian for it's comfort and of course all Asian. But pretty much every cuisine! :)
D – Destinations – favorite, least favorite, and why: Oh goodness! I can't decide! I have loved every place I've been to! Every country is unique to me and I can't choose one over the other!
Least favorite, I loved every place I've been to and have no regrets, but I will just say I had a hard time feeling connect with Santiago, Chile. I can't describe why I felt this way when I was there. I thoroughly enjoyed the grape tours but outside of that, I think I needed more time in that city and maybe it would have changed my thoughts.
Also my time in the San Blas Islands, Panama. This is mainly about Yandup Lodge on Yandup Island. Although the people there are beautiful and the islands are gorgeous, the people are a different story. I'm speaking for myself and for my friend who went on his own with a group another time. I found them to be the least friendly people I've met in all my travels and IT KILLS ME TO SAY THIS BECAUSE I LOVE ALL PEOPLE. I'm sorry. :/ But hear me out. This is important if you are planning a trip to the San Blas Islands.
Everything there was about money. And making things way more expensive than they have to be. I understand their situations and for the most part, I'm happy to help but not when it completely takes advantage of people. And at that time, I was an extreme budget traveler. I did not have extra to spend. They wouldn't let us take pictures unless money was involved. Which sometimes I do agree with but at the same time most people aren't forceful about it and there is, for the most part, some kind of exchange so that both parties are happy. What's your opinion on this?
I stayed on the island of Diadup where I only booked 1 night. I was given three meals and two tours of my 'choice'. I got the meals and they were probably one of the best dishes I've eaten in Central America. But as for the tours, I wanted to do island hopping--which was go to the 3 uninhabited islands with them in the day time and in the afternoon, I wanted to visit an island that does have their people living an the island. So the morning tour arrived and they only took us to one island! What about the other two we were supposed to go to? And then after that the weather was so horrible they cancelled the afternoon tour, which was understandable.
The next day our flights were cancelled. Some others who were also supposed to leave and I ended up being forced to pay for another night or else they said they would 'leave us alone' in an unknown area. For safety reasons, I paid because I didn't want to be put in a dangerous situation. They were 'nice' enough to give me a discount. Since there wasn't any other rooms available for the others staying on the island, they were forced to pay triple the amount (about $275-300) to stay with one of the tribes on another island where they would get no food, water and a bed. This is a true story.
What also got me was the weather was better that next day and they were taking the new arrivals on an afternoon tour of the island with tribes living on it. I wanted to go on the tour since I was supposed to go on it the day before but was cancelled. They told me I had to pay for it since it was a new day and my new payment of the cabin only covered my cabin (oh and no meals-so I was supposed to go hungry for a whole day). I finally told the girl, "I paid for it yesterday and you did not take me on the tour because it was cancelled! This is not fair!" I'm a solo female traveler and I still need to take care of myself in these types of situations! She was 'nice' enough again to let me go on this tour! *Just for the record* I'm a very calm and chill person. :)
I understand being in another country is unpredictable and they can and may take advantage of you but I always try to stand up for myself in these situations, as long as I know it's in a safe area! These islands are INCREDIBLY beautiful but I do not think I will ever return back after what happened. The lodge is called Yandup lodge: and I do not recommend coming here.
My friend went with a few of his friends on what was supposed to be an island hoping tour and stay on various islands in the San Blas region. Well what happened was nothing. They only took them to one island and just left them there. It was pretty much a scam. When they all started complaining to the guy with the boat to just end the trip and take them back to Panama City, he finally agreed. But what was scarier was, from what he told me, the Chief of the tribe on the island they were on, said the whole tour could get back on the boat and leave, except for my friend. What! What were they going to do with him??? They all got really scared, grabbed my friend fast, and ran to the boat. He escaped them! I don't know what would have happened if he got left there but I am so glad his group saved him. If this doesn't scare you or make you think twice, I don't know what else will!

E – Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”: I'd have to say Machu Picchu in Peru. It was an incredible experience! My last minute new friend I met on a layover and I made last minute plans to go to Machu Picchu and the day there did not disappoint. The weather was perfect which is definitely helpful when you are climbing 10,000 steps that whole day there! We made it in time to watch the whole sunrise over the ancient ruins and it was awe-inspiring! Just wandering around makes you wonder how they were able to do it and so glad it was never discovered and destroyed. We spent the whole entire day there and got to watch the sunset right before the world wonder had to close for the day.
My other 'wow' experience would be biking on the worlds most dangerous road aka Death road aka Yungas road in Bolivia. I am deathly afraid of heights but when I heard all about it via my good travel buds, I decided I had to do it. I saved money and put it aside for the trip, learned calming techniques so I wouldn't freak and back out once I got on the bike, ;) and stayed pumped to override my fear! That day, I got on the bike and I never looked back. And it was so much fun! Adrenaline spiking, thrilling, and not to mention the incredible backdrop of Bolivia's beautiful landscape. It was an amazing day that I will never forget.
The pyramids of Giza in Egypt, Teotihuacan in Mexico, Tikal in Guatemala, the Panama Canal in Panama, and Tiwanaku in Bolivia were 'wow' sites as well. :) I absolutely love history and seeing structures that were built hundreds and hundreds of years ago. So fascinating to me.

F – Favorite mode of transportation: Honestly, by foot. I enjoy walking everywhere. Fortunately I'm glad I love doing that because I always head home with weight loss, not weight gain! ;) But usually when i head long distances, it has been by bus in Central and South America. Having a bike is a wonderful mode of transportation as well!

G – Greatest feeling while traveling: That I'm able to feel at home, feel free, be independent, and learn something from somebody I've just met from another cultural background. I enjoy trying their foods, walking in their cities, checking out the beaches, and bringing out my adventurous side - climb their mountains, explore their forests/rainforests/jungles, and see their beautiful people. I feel the most at home when I am out in this incredible world.
H – Hottest place you’ve traveled to: I don't think I've been to a place that has been unbearably hot. Actually I think Southern California, where I live (Magic Mountain), and surrounding cities near me is the hottest place. Egypt was hot but bearable to me and the Amazon is always humid but the rain definitely helps a little.

I – Incredible service you’ve experienced and where: I'm a budget traveler so I haven't really traveled to any pricy places. I did go to Curaçao one spring break with my best friend who prefers lounging than exploring. We spent that week on the beach, where you were able to get service from your beach chair. That was something I've never experienced before and it was nice. All the restaurants on that beautiful Caribbean island were incredible and with great service.
J – Journey that took the longest: I've taken quite a few long bus trips but I'd say my longest was 13 hours from Buenos Aires to Mendoza, Argentina. And probably the most comfortable bus experience I've ever had as well.
K – Keepsakes from your travels: I try not to spend much money on keepsakes. Usually I just buy souvenirs for my family and a few close friends. As for me, lately I've been buying a local handmade bag or wallet from each country because I end up always needing one when I travel! If they have amazing local chocolate, wine, marshmallows (my weakness!), fruit drink powders, anything I've gotten from any tours, and authentic music CD's made by street performers. I like to also save my receipts, travel brochures and maps, and money that I've collected along the way.
L – Let-down sight, why and where: Nothing to me has been a let down. The fact that I am even able to travel is amazing to me and I never take advantage of anything. I will say I was let down personally when an officer at the border of Bolivia heading to Peru tricked me and did not stamp an important paper I needed to return back to Bolivia. The other officer coming back was giving me a tough time when I was trying to get back into the country but when I tried to explain to him in my best Spanish what had happened, he realized what the officer did, was disappointed, and let me go. I was a little worried but glad he was on my side.
I'd also like to say if there are any ancient historical ruins, I wish they would try to leave them as intact as possible! Learn from them but leave them how they were meant to be. :)
Oh and I woke up early this year (2013) on the first day of January to watch what is supposed to be the most incredible sunrise over the jungle. Although watching the sunrise was just magnificent while listening to the sounds of the jungle animals, it was too cloudy to watch it. It was sad but just the experience itself of wandering through the jungle at 4 am and watching the sunrise without the sun is one I'll never forget. I heard the sunset is supposed to be just as spectacular so I'd like to return and experience that!

M – Moment where you fell in love with travel: On my first travel adventure to Argentina and Brazil in February 2009. The day I stepped out of the airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina was when I realized I was home. The first time in my life I felt I was in the place I needed to be.
I grew up in a suburban town in North Los Angeles, where I currently reside at the moment, and I have never felt at home. I always was the 'odd one out'. The weird one. Always to myself. My thoughts were always different from everyone elses. I love my family of course but even with them I feel different! And I could never figure out why I felt this way. Once I went on my first trip, I found my answer. I was just more open to the world while everyone here is more interested in looks, 'things', and money. And from the beginning, I was just meant to be out in this world. Now as an adult, all those people I grew up with finally understand me! ;) I'm my happiest when I'm in another country. (I'm still happy here as well, so don't you worry! ;) I always have a hard time adjusting to life when I come back from my adventures! It just feels so good when you finally find your home. Especially good when you find out your home is the whole world! Every trip means so much to me. I'm so in love with Earth. :)

N – Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in: Hmmmm I don't really stay in hotels when I travel but I had to stay at Amazonas Hotel in Quito, Ecuador to be close to the airport in between the Galapagos Islands and Coca, Ecuador for the Amazon. That bed was probably the most comfortable bed I've ever slept in, in my life.
O – Obsession – what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling and why:
I love funny signs, cool street art, and FOOD!

P – Passport stamps – how many and where from:
46! It's almost time to add more pages to my passport! Argentina-4 Brazil-6 Ecuador-2 Galapagos-2 Chile-2 Curacao-2 Panama-2 Honduras-4 Costa Rica-2 Mexico-4 USA-2 Egypt-2 Peru-4 (This includes the 100 year anniversary of the finding of Machu Picchu!) Bolivia-4 Colombia-2 Guatemala-2
Q – Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where:
I have never really seen a quirky attraction but I did go to the Water World park in Lima, Peru. If you were to see it at Disneyland here, that would be considered touristy but there in Lima, it's not a tourist attraction. Only locals are really there. It was pretty neat to experience.

R – Recommended sight, event, or experience:
Way too many places to write! Machu Picchu, Peru. Bike Yungas Road, Bolivia. Pyramids of Giza, Egypt. Nightlife in Alexandria, Egypt. Khan-El-Khalili -The largest market in the Middle East, Egypt. Carnivale, Brazil. Iguazu/Iguassu Falls, Argentina and Brazil. Learn the Argentine tango and dance with a professional in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Amazon Rainforest, Manaus, Brazil and Coca, Ecuador. Teotihuacan, Mexico. Tikal, Guatemala. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia. Tiwanaku, Bolivia. Mendoza, Argentina -Rapelling in the Andes and wineries. Heard the chocolate is great there too. Wineries in Chile. Learn how to make chocolate from scratch in Cusco, Peru. Experience a soccer game in South America. Costa Rica and their new wines coming out. Bocas del Toro, Panama. Panama Canal, Panama. ETC!! I could go one forever!

S – Splurge – something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling:
I never splurge when I travel but there are three places and one activity that I spent good money on and definitely felt it was worth it. It's not cheap staying in the Amazon but it's my dream to go there in every country the rainforest and river flows through so I went and spent time in the Amazon in both Brazil and Ecuador. I saw it in Bolivia but didn't stay there since I had time limits. It was pricy but absolutely worth it to spend a week in the Galapagos Islands. And biking the death road in Bolivia was the most expensive activity I've paid for but it was absolutely worth it if you are a bike rider!

T – Touristy thing you’ve done: I'd say there's quite a few touristy things I've done, but my favorite is when I posed as Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and in Lima, Peru!
U – Unforgettable travel memory: Everything I've seen on my travel journey is unforgettable. This has shaped me to grow and learn and experiencing the world is the best thing you can do for yourself. I do like to donate items to people in need while I'm traveling. :)
V – Visas – how many and for where: I have 4 visas! Brazil (It actually expires this January. :( I have to renew it for next summer!), Chile, Bolivia, and Egypt.
W – Wine – best glass of wine while traveling and where: Mendoza, Argentina, a little in Santiago, Chile, and Alajuela, Costa Rica.
X – eXcellent view and from where: My stay on San Miguel island in Guatemala! Beautiful view and incredible sunset. Roatan in the Bay Islands, Honduras was beautiful as well.
Y – Years spent traveling: I haven't traveled continuously but I'd add it up to about 7 months-year. It looks so little but I feel like I've done a lot and there is so much more left to do!!
Z – Zealous sports fans and where: Has to be Argentina and Brazil! You can hear the game going and the fans cheering SO LOUD and not even be close to the stadium! I'm SO EXCITED to say I'm going (if everything works out) to Brazil for the World Cup next summer! It has been my dream and bucket list since I was young to experience a World Cup! I grew up with the huge love of soccer and it would be a dream come true to go to a game!!
I feel it's important to also add these items:
Tea: Te con leche and yerba mate in Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru
Coffee: Guatemala, Mexico, and Costa Rica
Next Friday, I'll post a more personal 'Get to know me' questionnaire! And probably not as long. ;)