HALLELJUAH! It is time to finally sit my weary ass down and answer the questions posed to me by the lovely @katistravelling (click her name to go to her profile), one of the many travel buddies I have connected with over Twitter, who put these suggested topics to me via a nomination for the Liebster Award which is a truly fantastic way for bloggers to interact and get to know each other a whole lot more.
I’ve nominated five of my Twitter friends at the bottom of this post and thought of my own eleven questions that I’d like to ask them.
I also just want to start by apologising for the RIDICULOUS amount of time it has taken me to write this post. I have been insanely busy with the start of two new temporary jobs whilst I’m here in New Zealand. Then there was the bit where I was homeless for a while and pretty much thinking about everything other than writing for my blog. But nevertheless, I’m here now – better late than never. So without further ado, here are my answers…
- What’s your funniest story from travelling?
Tough one – real tough. There have been so many funny stories on my travels, some of which may have only been funny to me, but then again – you guys might also have laughed your asses off if you’d been there. One story that springs to mind in particular is the one which I featured on my blog a while back – the curious case of accidently booking myself and a female friend into a gay hotel in Berlin. You can probably imagine our horror when we rocked up to the seediest, dingiest, sex-layer esc hotel I have ever set foot in. Some of the things that I saw later that night will stay with me forever. Gone have the days where you accidently clicked on the wrong Google search and you’re faced with the task of hurriedly trying to turn off the gay porn which has infiltrated your computer screen before you mum comes in and catches you unawares – I won’t go into too much detail, but needless to say, the visuals from this nightmare were playing out in front of my very eyes. Never, and I repeat, never, head up to a rooftop spar at midnight in a gay friendly hotel… unless you’re into whatever it is that you’re about to witness next, in that case… fill your boots.
Other funny stories that I have in my memory bank usually involve some level of embarrassment for me. Such as the time when I was on a rickety old train in Poland… I barely made it on board after two disgruntled and annoyed platform assistants literally threw me onto the train whilst still sat in my wheelchair. I then proceeded to crawl (yes that’s right, crawl) down the carriage passageway to my designated compartment – I was crawling because the walkway was far too narrow for my wheelchair. Once inside the compartment, I settled myself for the 8hr trip, placed my headphones in, closed my eyes and tried to avoid the other five people in the compartment who were all occasionally whispering in Polish to each other. Suddenly I had a rumble in my tummy and I really needed to let a stinker go. I was playing it safe, letting it brew, and feeling confident that I could let it out silently. If I could have kept it in for the whole journey I would have, but come on – that’s just painful. Then, as if without warning, this horrifically loud fart came bellowing out of my bottom, amidst the sharp stares of every single person sharing that compartment with me. Needless to say I have never been as mortified in all my life, but I think I chose the best way to deal with it – remaining silent and enforcing a deathly stare right back at those judgmental Poles. Anthony’s farts – 1, people of Poland – 0.
- What’s your favourite book of all time?
I must admit that in my adult life I hardly ever make time to read. I know I should, it’s such a great past time and it helps you remember who you really are and what the world is all about when you disconnect from the madness that is the internet and you just find a perfect spot to read.
I am pretty big on autobiographies and two in particular I enjoyed the most were Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis and also Slash’ self-titled autobiography.
I would definitely be interested in reading more travel related books though in the future.
- What’s one thing you couldn’t live without?
I live without a lot of things, I’m a minimalist to the absolute extreme – I haven’t even had a mobile phone for the past six months which seems to amaze people, especially when they know I’m constantly traveling around the world. I guess the most important thing that I have in my possession is my passport. Not only does it identify who the hell I am when I need it most, but it also pretty damn essential!
I know it’s a bit of a boring answer, but when you strip everything down and you are living as a pure minimalist, it’s the little things like your passport that become your most important possessions and as the stamps in my passport continue to accumulate, it’s also beginning to look really cool.
- Who are you 5 dream dinner party guests?
Freddie Mercury – to just congratulate him and ask how the hell he managed to be one of the greatest showmen of all time? What was it about him that made him so confident? I would love to learn.
Nelson Mandela – I think the name speaks for itself. A legend amongst men in the truest of forms. I adore all that he stood for.
Adolf Hitler – I just want to get inside this guy’s mind. He was a genius. Evil as hell and the curator of some of the most hideous crimes in human history, but a genius.
Mahatma Ghandi – because if I couldn’t talk some sense into Hitler, maybe he could.
Shane Smith (VICE) – this guy just oozes coolness and I love all that he has produced with VICE. The dude can also hold his liquor, so it would be enjoyable to sit back after a nice meal and discuss matters of the world and the problems we face. He’s also big on environmental issues, as am I – so another interesting factor which would have me chuffed to pieces should he ever attend my dinner party. BESIDES, if I somehow ended up with the other four people listed, at my dinner table, I couldn’t think of anyone better to report on it than Shane Smith.
- Where’s your favourite place in the world that you’ve visited and why was it your favourite?
Probably Viet Nam. It had been an ambition of mine to go there ever since I lived with a girl from Da Nang whilst in The Netherlands. It was also a wildly successful trip for me in my wheelchair, challenged with some of the most insane situations and fighting for my right to do as much in that country as I could. From floating down the Mekong Delta on a banana boat to almost drowning in Ha Long Bay – I had a crazy time. Beautiful is a word that often gets overused, but beautiful is the only word needed to describe Viet Nam.
- What do you consider the most adventurous thing you’ve done?
Hard for me to say really – I’ve done so much crazy shit in my time. From holding on to the back of a motorbike as I’m being pulled up the side of a mountain in my wheelchair, to ditching my wheelchair in Switzerland and plodding through an icy river, to crawling to the top of a massive sand dune desert, to pushing my wheelchair into head on traffic in Taiwan, Cambodia, Thailand and in Viet Nam because there were often no pavements (sidewalks) that I could use.
But I think the thing that I’m most proud of is flying into Ho Chi Minh City with no plans whatsoever, and only an outbound ticket back to my apartment in Taiwan from Hong Kong, a month and a half later. There I was, with nothing but my wheelchair and my small backpack full of my things and I somehow had to make my way across four countries and into Hong Kong in time to catch that flight. It was the most insane, most challenging and most amazing month and a half of my life.
- Where have you been that didn’t live up to your expectations?
Honestly, I couldn’t say. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a place and didn’t like it or thought that it was somehow meant to be better than it was. I try to always find the positivity in wherever I am. But if I was REALLY pressed for an answer then I would perhaps say Copenhagen. But I think it’s unfair for me to criticise the Danish capital as I did choose to go there in the middle of January… so what did I expect really?
- Would you rather travel solo or with someone?
I don’t mind travelling alone but I definitely prefer to travel with someone. A moment shared is better than a moment spent alone. Also, I have a really terrible memory, so it’s nice to be reminded of things you experienced because the other person was able to recall a little better than you were. And no – before you say, my memory has nothing to do with drinking too much 😉
- What’s the nicest accommodation you’ve ever stayed in?
I don’t tend to be too flashy as I’m still a student and therefore can’t always afford to splash out. I would say that one of the nicest hotels I ever stayed at was the Hilton in Aviemore, Scotland. It is also a place that resonates with me and memories of my childhood. In terms of my favourite accommodation though, I would say that the award perhaps goes to the Eco Mama Hostel in Amsterdam – a review of which can be found on my blog.
- What’s the most played song on your iPod/music player?
I don’t have an iPod, or a music device. But if I did it would probably be a song by either Pearl Jam, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Disturbed, Stone Sour or Biffy Clyro.
- Where have you been where you experienced the biggest culture shock?
Not necessarily a place, but I’d say my biggest dose of culture shock comes when interacting with many people from mainland China. The level of prejudice that is often expressed towards me as a person in a wheelchair is borderline disgusting. It’s by far the hardest thing that I have had to deal with on my travels. I know that many people from the western world often find themselves the centre of attention within Chinese circles, with folks stopping to take pictures at any given opportunity, but I’ve experienced swarms of Chinese tourists crowding around me with iPads and phones, taking picture after picture of me in my wheelchair, all without my permission and all with the most inhumane attitude about their actions. Completely unapologetic and unrelentling to say the least. I often get stared at, right around the world, but I tend to find that the stares from those who originate from Mainland China are often all the more piercing, and they seem to view me as a piece of dirt because I’m different. I’m by no means saying that this notion is true for every single person living in China, in fact, quite the opposite, some of my closest friends are from China, but when you ask about culture shock, this act of unashamed prejudice is by far the biggest thing that had be shocked whilst on my travels.
Once again, thank you to @katistravelling for nominating me, and I am sorry it took me so long to write out my answers – I hope it was in some way worth the wait.
I would like to nominate the following people:
@pabloyelena (feel free to write it in Spanish guys)
Your questions are:
- When did you first realise you wanted to be a traveller and why?
- Ever had a scary moment on an airplane? If so, tell us about it…
- What challenges have you faced recently whilst on your travels?
- Where is your favourite place in the world and why?
- Where is your least favourite place in the world and why?
- Tell us a funny story from your travels?
- What are your travel plans for the next year?
- How many countries have you been to?
- Tell us about a situation where someone has been extremely generous towards you on your travels?
- What do you pack in your backpack?
- What’s your favourite mode of transport and why?
Please tag me in your answers so I can take a look! Cheers.