Our current time zone: GMT +8 (We're home in Singapore!)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Halfway there: Interview with Dannie

How time flies. In the blink of an eye, we are nearing the 7th month of our one year journey. In 7 months, we have traveled from Singapore to West Coast USA, made our way across to the East Coast, then traveled down south to Florida, the Bahamas and Puerto Rico. Along the way, we cruised the Caribbean, then made our way down to South America.

In South America, we steadily moved southward, traveling from Colombia to Ecuador to Peru to Chile. Made a side trip to Bolivia, and are now bouncing between Chile and Argentina (like a ping-pong ball).

It's been a hell of a ride so far, but it is sometimes nice to stop and take stock of our ourselves. So, we have independently come up with 10 questions for each other, and we are each supposed to answer the questions on our blog. I'm answering Yi Lin's questions below, and Yi Lin's answers to my questions will follow in another post!



Q1: What have been people's reactions to meeting a couple of Singaporeans on a year-long trip so far away from home? What impressions of Singapore do the locals or other travelers have?

Oh gosh... this has become such a mundane routine already! Conversation usually goes like this: Other Person (OP): Where are you from?
Us: Singapore.
OP: Singapore?
Us: Yes, in South East Asia

At this point, OP will either confess they never heard of Singapore or -

OP: I love your airport!

So when I'm back home, I think I will either look for a job at the airport, or at Sentosa - maybe someday foreigners will also say, "I love Sentosa!"

Q2: The people from home who have met up with you guys on this trip seem to be mostly your wife's family and friends. Your own friends don't like you or what?

Well, my family is not one that has a tradition of traveling together every other year. My parents are also indulging in their wanderlust now, but only in Asia and it's really kinda sweet that they are taking the time to do this.

My friends don't really like me that much. I can't talk about cars and stereos with the boys, and the girls all think I'm a skirt-chaser and are wary of me.

Two of my favorite "skirts" in office

- OR -

Maybe it simply is because the close friends who might be willing to travel are at the stage of their lives where major changes are taking place.

Major changes fall into 2 categories - Job-related (Roy, Theresa, Ashley) and Marriage (Jasmine, Evonne, Yibin, Karlman).

That being said, Yi Lin's friends are my friends, and that's a pretty good situation for me, because methinks they are all cool people.

Q3: You've had your share of noisy hostels, grotty motel rooms, a cruise cabin, overnight buses and maybe a couple of nice hotel rooms. Which of the places that you have visited so far has had the nicest accommodation?

This marathon travel experience has certainly redefined my perceptions of what makes good accommodation! Honestly, there has been no accommodation that has been perfect, so we have a mental list of what is important and what is not so important.

Very important:
Low cost, hot water showers, and internet, preferably wi-fi.

Not so important, but nice to have:
Enough wall socks for both of us to plug in

Good drainage in the shower
Comfortable beds
Good service
Rate includes breakfast
A desk to use the laptops

If I had to pick my favorite accommodation for the entire trip so far, I would pick the Lott residence, where my ex-colleague Steve Lott and his wife hosted us for a couple of nights. Our room-which-was-upgraded-to-a-cottage in Jamestown, which we used as a base to visit Yosemite National Park in the USA, is the best paid accommodation that we enjoyed so far. It only lost points because we had to walk to another building to be able to receive the internet connection. But the other building was a library with a good table and comfy chairs, so that worked out fine. Oh, and the RV worked out pretty good too!

No internet, and we were trying not to shower, and we were cold at night. But still one of the best experiences ever!

Q4: What have you definitely have enough of and don't need to do/see anymore on this trip and when you get home?

Ooh... what a question. I'll try to give as full an answer as I can, but though the list is long, it doesn't mean I'm already stopped enjoying myself!

I've had quite enough of Lonely Planet, Andean villages, crime-on-the-streets, smoky vehicles choking us, the desert, cold feet when I sleep, long bus rides, handicraft shops, touts, digging blood-encrusted boogers from my nose, washing my clothes in sinks where you can't stopper the drainage, putting up with cigarette smoke indoors, looking at fat and/or ugly people all day long, avoiding doggy poop on the streets, other tourists who talk at the top of their voices, strange Latinos hugging and kissing my wife on the cheek as a greeting/goodbye, then calling me "Amigo!" - I'm not your friend, dude. Leave us alone!

But seriously, while the minor annoyances are irritating, as far as the touristy stuff in concerned, I would say that I have really enjoyed everything the wife has planned so far. She has spent a lot of time and effort reading up on these places and have made some fairly good decisions on what to see and do. If I had the resources (and the correct attire), I would do pretty much everything all over again!

I was expecting to arrive in Spring! Why is there snow??!

Q5: What did you experience on this trip and still can't get enough of?

I like the soft adventure stuff like river rafting, paragliding, rapelling down a waterfall and sandboarding.

It was also great to immerse myself in Mother Nature's beauty in our walk around the lake in Cuenca's Cajas National Park, watching for toucans and hummingbirds in Mindo, seeing blue-footed boobies and whale-watching off the coast of Puerto Lopez and visiting the National Parks in the USA, especially Yellowstone, Yosemite, Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon and Death Valley. We are visiting the Big Crack in Arizona on our way back, so that should be pretty great too!

And lastly, I don't think I will ever, ever, ever get sick of eating a full pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream at USD 3 per pint!

My friends! Why do you not come to South America? :(

Q6: What have you not have a chance to experience yet and would really like to do?

There is something that intrigued me when we were talking to fellow travelers - trekking up a live volcano! We heard that it gets so hot that those people with poor taste wearing Crocs were leaving little melted puddles of their footwear as they ascended up the volcano. We should be doing that in Guatemala, so that will be an eye-opener!

Other stuff that we did not manage to do, and will not have a chance to do during this trip would be to visit the Galapagos and Easter Island. It would have been nice to take the ice-breaker to Antartica just for the bragging rights of having been there, but all these were just too expensive to consider.

We plan to gather a bunch of divers to return to Galapagos in 3 years' time though. If you're interested, start saving (budget SGD 10k per pax) and hoarding your leave (minimum 10 days, but the more the better!).

Q7: Anything that you've learnt about yourself on this trip that you didn't know before?

Yeah. I suck at learning new languages. I seem to recharge by being online. I like blogging!

Q8: Your friends know you as a generally calm, cool and amiable dude. Has anything happened that has riled your emotions?

I was about to answer no to this. When Oly died, I was calm. When my new camera was snatched, I recovered almost immediately, though I was frustrated that the security guys that came along with a dog refused to help us retrieve the camera.

Then I remember this one overnight bus ride where because the bus stopped at a midway terminal, the driver started blasting music on the bus. At 4am. Speakers were right above us. Looked to the wife and she had a pained expression, and started covering her ears. I knew she would have a headache if this went on. I put on my shoes, went outside to yell at the driver to switch off the music. Thankfully, he did not argue back in Espanol, and just switched off the music as "requested". Whew!

Q9: What have you done recently that you would consider to be an achievement? (You can name more than one deed/event.)

I think the entire journey has been an achievement! Think of all the people who said we were crazy, brave, foolhardy or any combination of all three. We made our decision to do this come what may, way back in 2007, and I am so glad we have followed through. We are fortunate that Yi Lin's employer have granted her no-pay leave for this trip. Otherwise, with me having to quit my job to fulfil this dream, we would have many more sleepless nights!

This big achievement gave rise to so many smaller ones. I have learnt enough of Espanol to get by in Latin America. After many, many long bus rides, my bladder control is better than ever. I wouldn't say I have lost weight without weighing myself, but my pants are definitely looser now. And best of all, despite facing each other 24/7, we are still very much in love, very much operating as one unit.

Being able to laugh at, and with each other helps us keep our relationship strong

Q10: Compared to when you guys are home in Singapore, you've been spending a whole lot of time with your wife. How do you feel about being stuck by her side 24/7 for the past 6 months... and the next 6?

Oops. I touched on this a little in the earlier question. Haha... well, when we took our vows, it was for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. And being with each other 24/7 sure gives us the chance to prove ourselves worthy of our vows.

I was re-watching the movie 'Evan Almighty' on the bus the other day, and you know what really touched me? When Evan's wife decided that she could not take his strangeness any more and hightailed it with kids in tow, God (posing as a waiter) had a chat with her in a diner.

He asked her,"When someone prays for patience, do you think God gives them patience? Or does He give them the opportunity to be patient? If they pray for courage, does God give them courage or does He give them the opportunity to be courageous? If someone prayed for their family to be closer, you think God zaps them with warm, fuzzy feelings, or does he give them the opportunities to love each other?"

That got me right there. Evan Almighty might be a comedy, but there's such a gem of wisdom in these words.

So, to answer the question, being stuck with the wife 24/7 for the past 6 months, or another 6 or 12, is nothing. After all, when we took our vows, we already agreed to be stuck with each other for life.

Of course, that might be the reason why she tried a few times to assassinate me, but let's not talk about that! Out of topic!


Carol Mei Mei said...

i love the ben n jerry's part, as well as the awwww-so-sweet parting shot. => keep going strong!!

Tracy Su said...

That Q10 seems like a bit of an asking-for-trouble question from Yi Lin. Like a 'would you still love me if I'm fat' question. Did she really ask that?? Luckily you've got a diplomatic response right up your sleeve.

Aw such a sweet thing to say, such a...such a...smooth operator..hehe

Btw, to the fat question, Andy always says 'Yes, but don't test me.' Hahaha!

Dannie said...

Thanks, ladies. I think I answered really well! Too bad she didn't ask me how I felt about her assassination attempts though. :)

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