Our ABC’s of Travel

We were really excited when our friend Heather from Ginger Nomads tagged us to complete the “ABC’s of Travel”, a collection of questions based on the alphabet about all things travel. It seems this “tag-your-it” post is making the rounds throughout the travel blogging sphere and is giving us all a chance to share more information about ourselves and why we love travel. So without further adieu, here’s our ABC’s of Travel:

A: Age you went on your first international trip:

Arienne: The first time I traveled internationally was when I was 11. I travelled to France without my parents. But I wasn’t alone! I was part of a delegation made up of another girl, two other boys (all the same age) plus a group leader. We participated in a month-long international “camp” where we met 12 other delegations representing countries from around the world, including Norway, Belgium, Germany, India, Japan, and Lebanon. The aim of the camp was to learn about people from other countries first hand, through children of the same age as myself. It was an incredible experience that impacted by life greatly. That first international experience set in motion my love for travel and the desire to learn about the people who live in this world.

Tristan: Apart from numerous road trips across the Canada-US border, my first significant international trip was to the Dominican Republic with Arienne when I was 21. (I know, I got started late.)

B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where:

Arienne: It’s interesting that up until about 2010, I did not like beer. In fact I hated it. I thought it all tasted the same. But while living in Korea, I started to drink beer. It was cheaper and I could rely on its “quality” every time we went out to the bar.  One of the beers that I become very fond of was Leffe Dark, a Belgium brand. It was smooth and had a somewhat creamy taste to it. It was the first time I really enjoyed drinking beer.

Tristan: For me, nothing compares to having a proper pint of Guiness in Ireland. The good stuff never leaves the island, and there was a noticeable difference from what they serve back home.

C: Cuisine (favourite):

Oh this is a tricky one. We love food and we’re not picky in the least. We can’t choose! Since living in Korea we developed quite the affection for all things spicy, with kimchi jjigae and Korean BBQ being our favourite. We also enjoy a mean green or red Thai curry, sushi, and perfectly grilled medium-rare steaks. Mmm, our mouths are watering just thinking about all this food!

D: Destinations, favourite, least favourite and why:

Japan has the perfect blend of history, culture and food.

Favourite Destination: Japan. What an incredible country. We visited Japan in January of 2010 and instantly fell in love. It’s one of the few places we talk about wanting to go back. The people are unbelievably friendly and helpful, there’s a great blend of history and modernity in the cities, the sites are stunning, and the food is delicious.

Least Favourite: China. China was great for visiting their historic sights. There’s so much history and everything was done big. But that was one of the downsides for us; the shear size of the population. There’s no such thing as a “small” city in China and it became increasingly frustrating dealing with the crowds. We also found it difficult to fully immerse ourselves in their food culture as many places didn’t have English menus.

E: Event that made you say “wow”:

Seeing the Terra-Cotta Warriors for the first time. Over 7,000 life-size warriors all intricately carved and some of the most detailed bronze works all buried to help the King in his afterlife.

F: Favourite mode of transportation:

We love a good road trip. There’s nothing like the freedom of being able to control your own tunes and make as many stops along the way as you like.

G: Greatest feeling while traveling:

Breaking down a barrier and sharing something with someone from a different country despite not speaking the same language, whether it be a meal, a laugh or a handshake.

H: Hottest place you’ve ever traveled to:

Jeju Island in South Korea in August. It’s the peak of monsoon season, so the humidity is out of this world!

I: Incredible service that you’ve experienced and where:

Quite possibly almost all of Japan. Whether it was someone pointing us in the right direction on a subway platform, or asking if we needed help while we were just looking at a map, or finding someone who could speak English if they couldn’t, almost everyone we met in Japan was genuinely helpful.

J: Journey that took the longest:

While we’ve probably spent longer in planes traveling from one side of the world to the other, the journey that mentally took the longest was traveling from Bangkok to Koh Tao. Originally it was only supposed to take us 12 hrs on one bus and one ferry. But we were put on the wrong bus, traveled 150km further south than we were supposed to, arrived at 5am and sat around until 8am to grab a local school-bus style vehicle to drive us to the pier. Then we proceeded to make our way back north by sea stopping on 2 islands (Koh Samui and Koh Phangan) before reaching Koh Tao. Oh, and the trip between Koh Phangan to Koh Tao was incredibly rough, it took all the strength in the world to keep our stomachs from turning on themselves…for 2 hrs! Total trip length ended up being 21hrs.

K: Keepsake from your travels:

Arienne: Apart from my old passports, I love picking up jewelry while I travel. Whether it be a pair of handmade earrings or a uniquely designed ring, every time I where it I can remember when and where I got it and the circumstances surrounding it. It’s like I can relive my travel memories.

Tristan: I guess my only weakness when it comes to keepsakes from travel is my passport, and cheesy travel t-shirts (like a “Beer Lao” shirt)

L: Let-down sight, why and where:

It's hard to enjoy the scenery when surrounded by crowds of people.

Koh Phi Phi, Thailand – Talk about tourism saturation. Our overpacked day trip was just the tip of the iceberg. There were either hundreds, or thousands of tourists who had overtaken what is really a small set of islands, bays, and beaches. It is really difficult to enjoy the natural beauty when Guido in his speedo is taking beauty shots right in front of you.

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel:

Arienne: Traveling by myself to Peru and truly backpacking for the first time. It was my first time to a third world country, and my month long experience left me so inspired and confident about traveling all corners of the globe.

Tristan: Travelling in Japan and experiencing (in my opinion) the kindest and most hospitable people I’ve ever met.

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:

Being budget backpackers, we can’t say we’ve stayed in any incredible, mind-blowing places. If it’s got a working toilet, a somewhat comfortable bed, and a lockable door, we’re happy. But we did once get a free night at the Sheraton Centre in Toronto and it was luxury to us!

O: Obsession – what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?

Arienne: I love taking pictures of doorways and windows. Especially ones that look weathered and worn. Those ones seem to have the most character. Maybe it’s a subconscious thing about moving forward and seeing the world, but there’s something I can’t quite fully explain about why I love doorways and windows.

There's something about windows I can't quite put my finger on.

Tristan: I’m obsessed with taking pictures of Arienne. Since she usually is manning the camera, I really try hard to make sure she’s in pictures too, so she can look back so many years later and see how hot she really was/is.

P: Passport stamps – how many and from where?

Arienne: In total, since traveling from age 11: over 25 (including repeat trips to some countries) From France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Turkey, Dominican Republic, Cuba (though officially there isn’t a stamp in my passport), Peru, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and the USA.

Tristan: 12 – The United States, Ireland, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Japan, Korea, Philippines, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where:

One of the tamer statues at Loveland on Jeju Island, South Korea.

Loveland on South Korea’s Jeju Island. For a country where talking about sex is considered somewhat taboo, this park dedicated to all things sex seemed really out of place.

R: Recommended sight, event or experience:

Finding your own private hideaway in Southeast Asia. It doesn’t matter exactly where it is, but getting away from the crowds and being able to fully enjoy the exotic surroundings is an experience you won’t soon forget.

S: Splurge – something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling:

Enjoying a cold Beer Lao.

Tristan says it best… beer! Whether it’s after a great day or a terrible day, in celebration, or just because, we’ll always treat ourselves to a bottle of beer.

T: Touristy thing you’ve done:

Probably the most touristy thing we’ve done was hit up the major sights in Beijing; the Forbidden Palace, the Summer Palace, and the Great Wall of China. But how can you go to Beijing and not see these things? They’re touristy for a reason.

U: Unforgettable travel memory:

3 nights and 4 days of hiking in the rain was worth every minute.

Arienne: Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. It was 4 grueling days up and down mountain peaks, through the pouring rain. But when we finally reached the final peak and could see the ancient ruins in the distance, it was the greatest feeling in the world.

Tristan: Going back stage at a lady-boy cabaret in Thailand, and being told, “take off all your clothes and put this (a negligee) on.” I’ll leave it at that.

V: Visas, how many and for where?

We’ve both got 6 and counting. From China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and a work visa for Korea.

W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?

We love wine, especially red wine. While we were living in South Korea, it was difficult to get a good bottle of wine. That was until one of Arienne’s coworkers came over for dinner one night. We had served our usual cheap but passable bottle of wine from the local grocery store. But when the coworker heard how much we love wine she took Arienne down to her car and pulled out 2 bottles of wine that had been bouncing around in her truck for about a month. Being somewhat skeptical of the quality and the fact that it wasn’t exactly stored in the best of places, we gave it a try anyways. It turned out to be the best red wine we had our entire time in Korea.

X: eXcellent view and from where?

Showing our hometown some love, the Toronto skyline at night as seen from the Toronto Islands.

Y: Years spent traveling:

Since moving to South Korea in August 2009, this has been our longest time away from home. By the time we return back to Toronto, it’ll be a few months shy of 3 years.

Z: Zealous sports fans and where?

Watching South Koreans cheer on their team during the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament was like nothing we had experienced before. They were so hard-core and supported and cheered on their team till the end. We were so amazed watching the semi-final match surrounded by thousands of excited and tense Koreans in the streets of Seoul. But when they ended up losing their match, the Koreans responded in such a mature way. They gave a round of applause to the efforts of their team and proceeded to clean up the streets. The roadways were open within 15 minutes.


So now that we’ve completed our ABC’s of Travel, it’s time for us to tag the next round of bloggers. Here’s three bloggers we’d love to see write their own list:

Spencer and Maggie from DExploration

Alexandra from Alex in Wanderland

Alicia from My Life Untethered





2 thoughts on “Our ABC’s of Travel

  1. Oh, I’m  sad you put China as your least favorite travel destination as it’s one of my most favorites. I looked at your China tagged posts, and it looks like you went to Beijing, Xian, Chengdu, Shanghai and Hong Kong. I feel like those places (kind of the typical round for a first-time China visitor) give a false impression of China, and maybe contributed to your negative impression. There really are a TON of places in China without the crowds (their national parks are honestly amazing), and many small cities. Even near Shanghai, you can visit some “river  towns” which are beautiful and more like a village than a city. Even Suzhou has kind of a small town feel.  

    I hope some day you will give China another chance! I suggest Xinjiang, Yunnan, or Shandong province.

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