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Michelle’s Questionnaire

September 13, 2010

Most travel writing is full of lists, like top rated places to eat and 500 places to see before you die.  I’ve only done a few on the blog – one recent ode to Singapore and an older post about pick-up lines.  Now it’s time to do a serious list.  Here are answers to the questions that Michelle posted in comments a while back.  Thanks for the great questions Michelle!

1. What has been your favorite food so far (and from what country)?

  • Southern Africa: the Indian food in Durban
  • Middle East: Syrian pastries – the one that looks like a nest is my favorite.  Syrian deep fried cauliflower and salads
  • Central Asia: Nepali milk tea and spicy buffalo momos (dumplings).  Good and cheap!

2. Least favorite food

  • Southern Africa: corn meal porridge called nshima in Zambia, pap in South Africa
  • Middle East: mutton everywhere
  • Central Asia: yak meat in Tibet.  Even Tibetans say that Tibetan food isn’t good and to eat in the Chinese restaurants.  Honorable mention goes to the fermented bean curd in China, which is more revolting than yak, but yak is worse because it’s the only thing available on many menus and therefore inescapable

3. Most rewarding experience so far 

  • Southern Africa: walking through the villages in Zambia
  • Middle East: talking to the people in Aleppo Syria who were so friendly
  • Central Asia: walking the pilgrim circuits in Tibet – Ganden Monastery, Drepung Monastery during the Yogurt Festival, and the Barkhor Circuit

4. Favorite place visited – any place you would go back to with more time?

  • Southern Africa: Botswana, Chobe river area because of the elephants everywhere
  • Middle East: I need to go back to Petra Jordan with my husband.  Also the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul which may be my favorite building of all time
  • Central Asia:  Lhasa, Tibet.  This is my second visit.  It’s not easy to get to, but I will definitely be back a 3rd time if I can.  It has the best atmosphere of anywhere I’ve been because of the open hearted Tibetan people

5. Has there been a “been there, done that, was nice but probably wont be back” place?

  • Southern Africa:  Fish River Canyon in Southern Namibia.  If you’ve been to the Grand Canyon, there’s really no need to go there
  • Middle East:  I became very jaded about seeing crusader castles and roman ruins.  One or two great sites is wonderful, more becomes too much.  At one point I remember passing by a very impressive hilltop crusader castle and Jade saying that she really didn’t need to go inside, and I said “I don’t give a poo about castles”.  Spoiled!
  • Central Asia:  Western China has many sites of “1000 Buddha caves”.  You really only need to go to one, and that’s the Magoa Caves near Dunhuang

6. Most breath-taking views

  • Southern Africa: Drakensburg National Park, South Africa, Amphitheatre hike
  • Middle East: Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan
  • Central Asia: The Karakorum Highway, Western China near Kashgar

7. Funniest moment

  • Southern Africa: the Fo Shizzle elevator incident
  • Middle East: posing as the Sex in the City girls in Wadi Rum Jordan.  The cheesy pick-up lines from the men in Turkey
  • Central Asia: Grape Valley, so bad it was good, and the condom incident at the Seman hotel
4 Comments leave one →
  1. Nancy permalink
    September 13, 2010 1:50 pm

    “Condom incident at the Seman hotel” – proof that the universe has a sense of humor.

    Thank you for the list and the answers. Your updates are a real treat.

    • September 14, 2010 10:05 am

      Nancy – that incident happening at the Seman – pure serendipity! It’s so funny in retrospect, even though it was quite embarrasing at the time.

  2. Lauren Person permalink
    September 13, 2010 8:07 pm

    Sariah, I love this post. Being that I usually eat my way through the travel experience.
    If there isn’t good food to satiate my gastronomic need then I am not happy. Food is so much of the experience as is the full cultural experience. Michelle’s clever questions have allowed you to share so much more of your experience with us. Good for Michelle to ask the questions and to the time and thought that you put into the answers.
    Also please write more about your olfactory experience, the distinctive odors that take us
    back to the place and time. Your experience with the fragrances of the region.
    You definately have your Grandfathers travel gene for sure . He was happiest sailing off to a new place and got antsy staying at home for to long!!!! Ian had called you the T.B. but you truly do come by it honestly. Blame Grandfather Tambre.

    • September 14, 2010 10:15 am

      Lauren – I haven’t been posting about scent much, you’re right. Usually I’m such a scent hound. After leaving the Middle East, most scents I’ve encountered (excepting food) have been of the unpleasant variety, but there was a lot of incense in Tibet and I loved the smell of the monasteries………..I will have to do a post on that. In Malaysia the smell of durian fruit leaves quite an impression. I’m getting used it, but it’s quite overpowering and shocking at first.

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