Remember that time I was like: “What’s a Liebster Award? Why haven’t I been nominated? Why haven’t I WON!”? Well, for starters, the Liebster Award is kind of like the best kind of chain letter. This award is only passed on to bloggers who are valued within your niche or community, and coming up on a year (I’m a week and a half from my 1-year anniversary of landing in Korea!), I’m definitely feeling some major love from a social media expert (oh hello, Expat and the City). I’m also diggin’ an established blog (yes, people actually talk about and respect a blog which knows about me!) from two cuter than cute nerdgasms, one of which adorkably thinks “BSB” stands for “Baker Street Babes” rather than my 90’s childhood crushfests The Backstreet Boys. They have also nominated The Toronto Seoulcialite for a Liebster.
Hey, guess what, guys. This is an award for which you can be nominated, but you can not specifically win. That being said, I always had a good guffaw over people who gushed over the “honor of being nominated for a Liebster Award”. Seriously, after nearly a year, and after being recognized by two brands I ACTUALLY value? Girl, talk to me about the honor and value. I gots it in spades.
- What is the story behind the name of your blog?
This one’s pretty simple. I was walking down the street on my way to the gym in an unseasonably snowy December in Toronto trying to think of double-entendres based on the word “Seoul”. Being a (well…now former) part of the glitterazzi in Toronto, I found that the “someone who owns my cleverly created play on words” doesn’t actually tweet, which meant that I needed to customize my “Eureka-moment!”. Not the most direct name, but it seems to have worked enough for our fantastic community!
2. Where are you currently located?
I call Korea (Seoul to be exact, although I’ve been in Busan for a year) home. I’m from Toronto, Canada and have lived in various places around the world.
3. Have you met any people while traveling that have now become close friends?
Absolutely! I have met people with whom I share common interests on every segment of each road I’ve chosen to travel. I think that the wanderlust or traveler mentality can often be overlooked as some sort of buzz word for someone who romanticizes what I feel to be a never-ending need to get up and run (if you’ve read The Stone Carvers you’ll know “wanderlust” isn’t always considered a good thing!). Through my travels I have met compassionate, energetic, outgoing, and empathetic people who will continue to shape my personal journey with every step I take!
4. What is your favorite souvenir you’ve picked up so far?
In South Africa I was able to find some hand-crafted wooden animals and drums. They were fairly small, but I remember receiving the biggest reactions of any from these.
5. Do you prefer the touristy stuff or are you the more ‘off the beaten path’ type? Why?
This really depends where I’m headed! In Shanghai on Day 1, I definitely took the road most traveled. It made the most sense for our twosome (a group of two where I had researched, he had learned the language, and we had met 10 hour previously), and didn’t make us angry with one another since we had different goals and responsibilities. We went to the City God Temple and Yuyuan Gardens, spent some time on The Bund, and went out on a Saturday night. Day 2 I was on my own and took the road less traveled (about 10 km overall on foot!) seeing a propaganda museum, more temples, and finally taking myself out for a luxurious dinner at Sir Elly’s and POP! overlooking the Shanghai skyline and seeing the light show. When I’m traveling solo I’ll do my own research and if that means “off the beaten path” then absolutely, so be it!
6. Tell us about the most embarrassing moment during your travels.
I don’t get embarrassed. I try my best and if I win, I win. If I lose, I lose. No real reason be feel awkward or embarrassed. Sure, I do stupid things, but I tend to laugh them off rather than let them have an effect on my day.
7. What are your biggest challenges of blogging so far? What are your biggest successes?
Getting over 25,000 views on my blog for the first year made me feel pretty spectacular, but I still have a long way to go. Some travel bloggers get that within a month (or even a day!), so I definitely have much more to which I aspire!
8. What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you while traveling?
Realistically I feel the same way about fear as I do about embarrassment. I don’t tend to get too embarrassed, and I’m not afraid of too much. Sorry if that’s a cop out, but…I don’t tend to get too afraid throughout my travels (in the 2nd set of questions I’ve remembered a pretty scary moment – read on!).
9. Share your #1 favorite photo from your travels. What is the story behind it?
My 2nd week in Busan, I decided to put together a trip to Ssanggyesa Temple. Several people messaged me that they were late waking up and would be on their way soon. We were halfway through our 2.5 hour trip to the temple, and 100% did not care about the people who had not made it thus far. I was with one friend and we were absolutely exhausted, but this photo just came to me, and I was so happy with how it turned out! I love the vibrant colours used to paint the temples, drums, and statues. We visited as Buddha’s Birthday was approaching, so they were adding colourful lanterns bit by bit!
10. What is the biggest lesson you have learned so far?
I’ve learned not to care so much! Sometimes you have an opinion with which not everyone agrees…and that’s okay! Guess what? It’s your blog. As much as you want to respect everyone you represent, you have to define your own interests (with taste) first.
11. Where are you headed next?
I still haven’t been to Thailand! Check out my “about me” page and you’ll see most of my travels. While Thailand is on the list of “biggest tourist traps”, I have been desperate to go learn about the culture (cooking, Muay Thai, etc.) for the past 20 years! I think this summer I’ll go to Chiang Mai and then make my way into Myanmar. Of course, a trip to Malaysia and Brunei might be in the cards…
- Why do you travel? I travel because keeping myself in one place makes me boring and sad! I need to continue seeing and learning new things.
- What’s the best piece of advice you could give someone who hasn’t traveled a lot? Buy a plane ticket far from where you currently reside or where you think you belong and just say yes at every possible moment. You should know when to keep it in check (trust your gut to avoid dangerous situations), so do your research well in advance so you’re aware of cultural customs (and laws!).
- Which is your preferred method of transportation? Air, Land or Sea? I usually prefer land (walking!), but realistically air is the fastest and most efficient way to go!
- What is your most memorable meal abroad? I’ve had some unbelievable meals on the road. but my favourite (and the simplest) was on a double-date at 16 years old where we got Penne Alla Vodka (I know), wine (yusss!), and gelato all within the evening. Sometimes simple, well-made food enjoyed in good company is best!
- What’s the first thing you do when you visit a new place? I like to take a self-guided walking tour or take the subway to my initial destination to let it all soak in!
- What is the luckiest thing that has happened to you while traveling? I was really nervous to travel to Shanghai, China on my own. Thankfully, the first night I met a kindred spirit right as I entered the hostel. This Californian had actually spent the past 5 years learning Chinese, and had no plans for the next day! He followed my itinerary and made us tons of friends and helpers along the way!
- What has been your scariest travel experience? We went horseback-riding in South Africa at a training facility for Police horses when I was 15 years old. While I had been trained in both English and Western-style riding, my horse wandered off and I couldn’t control him. Nobody noticed I was gone, and the horse decided to head into a gated area where there was a big tree with low-hanging branches. He started to buck underneath the tree. I held on for dear life while my face was scratched by the branches, and ultimately I was thrown off my saddle and had my right foot in the stirrup while my whole body was on the right side of the animal, clinging to the reigns because it was still a far drop and I didn’t want to land underneath the horse’s hooves. At what felt like the last possible moment, someone came along and scooped me back onto the horse. My face and arms were bleeding, but beyond that I was fine.
- What’s your favorite way to travel blog? Writing? Photography? Vlogging? I personally prefer to vlog, however that’s a much more personal and vulnerable method of communication. People can judge your look, your voice, how you deliver the information, etc. even though it’s to the point and can help with directions and overall feel of the place you’ve visited. I have always enjoyed photography even though I’m not well educated in this medium. The majority of the photos on my blog have been taken with my Samsung Galaxy phone rather than my (point and shoot) digital camera, and I’m teaching myself to edit them better. They say that a picture is worth 1,000 words, so why not add well-edited and well-timed photos to your blog posts?
- What travel destination most exceeded your expectations? I could have never prepared myself for the magic of Turkey. My school trip to Greece included a short cruise (small ship – everyone was seasick!) with a day in Turkey visiting Ephesus and Kusadasi. It had rained all morning so I expected our tour to be miserable. As we neared the ruins the rain stopped, the clouds parted, and the sun shone so brightly it was like someone wanted us to see the cleanest, shiniest white marble in all the world. I got the most magnificent photos that day. They’re in a photo album at home in Canada as they were taken on an older camera (non-digital…yes, with film!) which just so happened to have a Carl Zeiss lens. It was the best camera I’ve ever had.
Hey Travel Bloggers, think it’s your turn for a Liebster Award? Let me know in the comments (or shoot me an e-mail) and I’ll send you my kooky questions!