Hello again! Here’s a small challenge for all of you who enjoy love traveling – the traveler’s ABC’s. Here’s my version!
A: Age you went on your first international trip
Alone? I was 10 when I went to visit my cool Auntie in London as my birthday present! We ate ice-cream for breakfast ;-)
B: Best beach you’ve been to
One really special beach for me is in Greece on the island of Amorgos. It’s called “Agia Anna” and it’s a hidden and quiet place with rocks and stones with fun waves to roll around in. I also liked the beaches in Tanzania, Thailand, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
C: Cuisine (favorite)
I simply loooooove Thai food! The spices, colours, vegetables and soups… YUM!
D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why
Tanzania, I was working as a volunteer there and got to spend time with the locals. The people were extremely welcoming and showed me how to live, dress and eat their way. Getting to talk to Maasai people and see how the Hadzabe tribes live was amazing. (Mongolia and Sri Lanka are the other two in my top 3!)
My least favorite so far is Beijing. That town has too many people, too many cars and a horrible amount of pollution. I was couching and the rain water on my skin felt slimy! (It’s still a must-visit place though, the Forbidden City was beautiful.)
E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”
In Sri Lanka we were lucky enough to be invited to a 14-yearold girl’s coming of age party. It was held in a small village in the woods and we were the only white people there. The locals were singing, dancing, eating and drinking all night. The villagers were very keen on sharing their stories about the Tsunami and the civil war of Sri Lanka. After the party we slept in a local home.
F: Favorite mode of transportation
The train! It’s fast, safer than taking a car and you still get to see the views.
G: Greatest feeling while traveling
Seeing or experiencing something you never even knew existed! I also enjoy meeting people and learning about their cultures.
H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to
Either the Valley of the Kings in Egypt (over 40 degrees Celsius) or Athens, which we visited just when the heat records broke (43 Celsius) in 2007!
I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where
In Gambia there were friendly ladies selling fruits on the beach. They always wanted to play with my hair and hear more about Finland. On my last day one of the ladies, Binta, went specially to the market to find me a mango even though it was not mango season! She also gave me a small bracelet as a thank you for supporting her business.
J: Journey that took the longest
HA-HA! The Trans-Siberian/Trans-Mongolian journey was a long one. Taking the train from Finland and ending up in China was quite an experience. The longest time I spent on the train in one go was 4 days!
K: Keepsake from your travels
I like my bow and arrows which I bought from a Hadzabe bush boy in Tanzania. I also have a colourful Sri Lankan mask to protect me, an original hat of the Fula tribe in Senegal, and lots and lots of postcards! In the end the most important thing is photographs and the memories you bring back from your trips.
L: Let-down sight, why and where
The “Lac Rosé” in Senegal… That lake is supposed to be pink, but when we arrived it was just a normal salt lake. It was not very big either.
M: Moment where you fell in love with travel
I’ve always loved traveling but at the age of 17 I really got into it when I was traveling in Thailand with my dad. That trip helped me realize that the world has so many colourful stories to offer.
N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in
Sleeping in a yurt in Mongolia was the best! It was so relaxing to be in the middle of the nature with a view to the stars. (And I also liked all the little huts we lived in when in Borneo!)
O: Obsessions while traveling
Taking photos. I might capture 10 pictures of the same thing until I’m pleased.
P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?
…Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Thailand, Tanzania, Kenya, Egypt, Gambia, Senegal, Mongolia, Russia, China, Sri Lanka…. and even Finland!
Q: Quirkiest activity you’ve done and where
I once milked a Mongolian horse and then ended up drinking “Airag” with a local family. This drink is fermented mare’s (horse) milk and you can imagine what it’s like to drink that stuff!
R: Remote place visited
The Danum Valley rainforest in Borneo. I’ve never been so far away from home, yet in a real rainforest like that!
S: Scariest moment experienced
I was terrified in Sri Lanka when we had a young driver taking us to and back from the town of Kandy. He was driving way too fast on the mountain roads and passing other cars on the wrong lane without seeing what’s behind the bends –even when it was pitch black outside! I screamed a couple of times and for sure didn’t get any sleep.
T: Touristy thing you’ve done
Taken a trip through a Finnish tour-operator to go and see the Egyptian pyramids. Sitting in a bus filled with Finnish tourists listening to the bad jokes of our guide was not that exciting.
U: Unforgettable travel memory
There’s only one travel moment which has made me cry and laugh at the same time. This was in Tanzania when we arrived at the primary school where we were going to do volunteer work for two weeks. After 4 years of waiting for this moment there were 700 children running across the school yard to come and welcome us. They ran next to the bus shouting and screaming full of excitement. Once we stepped out of the bus they started singing an African welcome song and offering us flowers. They made us sign and dance with them all day. It was not hard to see how much they appreciated our help, and it was a wonderful start for our volunteer work in Tanzania. My best school day EVER!
V: Visas, how many and for where?
Being European I don’t need to apply for visas often. Mongolia, Russia and China did require them though.
W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?
French wine is good and otherwise I don’t drink much alcohol when abroad.
X: eXcellent view and from where?
Z: Zealous sports fans and where?
The French like their football! It was the world cup final in 2006 when I happened to be in France and watched the match from a big screen in the middle of a field. Watching Zidane’s last moments on the pitch and then the faces of the French spectators was funny. Unfortunately France didn’t win.
In Finland we also have the letters Å, Ä and Ö, but I guess you can’t turn those into English words!
So that was my very own travel ABC, but what would yours look like?
EDIT: Letter “y” went missing. Years spent traveling: 23!