I am thrilled that I have been given my 3rd blog award and 2nd Liebster Blog Award! In case you’re not familiar with the Liebster Award, it is intended to promote newer or smaller (I prefer the term ’boutique’) blogs.
This honor was passed to me by Ryan from Thoughts From The Road (a thoughtful blog about Ryan’s travels and observations, including all the fun details that make travel special, from especially Asia and South America). Ryan, thank you for your support of, and interest in, hongkongfong, and now for sharing my blog with all of your own followers!
I began hongkongfong almost exactly 1 year ago, and it has become a great escape, one of my most enjoyable creative pursuits, and the foundation for what I hope will become a comprehensive, fun, insightful, and visually stimulating archive of this most exciting chapter of my life (so far).
I must confess, I have on occasion debated abandoning the blog – not because I don’t enjoy it, but because a busy schedule sometimes makes it challenging to muster the energy I need to compose posts that are at the standard I would like to maintain. I’m not good at doing ‘casual’ or ‘simple’ – there is nothing wrong with that approach, by the way – it’s just not my style. So for me, blogging takes a pretty good chunk of time, effort, and dedication. I’ve decided it’s worth it.
I have a solid and growing, if niche, following, and it seems many ‘silent’ followers – those who follow and enjoy but rarely publicly ‘like’ or comment. I don’t fully understand it, but that’s just fine with me. One thing I’ve learned along the way is how important it is to be true to myself and what I believe in – otherwise, what’s the point? I can’t write or photograph for anyone other than myself, and I can’t post just in the hope of ‘traditional’ support (by social media standards). For me, I’ve always prioritized what I perceive as quality, over quantity. I need to feel good about what I put out there.
Of course, if others also enjoy what I share – that’s terrific! I’m human, after all – and I appreciate the support and recognition of others. It’s part of what makes the Liebster Award such a cool one. Every so often, I receive a particularly thoughtful comment or message thanking me for my efforts, expressing some kinship with what I’ve experienced and written about, or simply appreciating my writing or photography. And those remind me that what’s important to me may also be important to someone else – which just makes it all the more worth it. Not because I want to impress someone – but because it’s reinforcing and reassuring to have a positive impact on, to resonate with, to touch someone else.
So…back to the Liebster! To formally accept this award, I am requested to do the following:
- Answer each of the questions asked of me by the blogger who nominated me
- Nominate other bloggers to receive the Liebster Award
- Create new questions for my nominees to answer, should they choose to accept the award
Here are my responses to the questions posed to me:
1. What is the best thing you have ever eaten while traveling? This is virtually impossible for me to answer, as I’ve been fortunate to experience numerous amazing meals and snacks during my travels, and what is the ‘best’ evolves constantly – it’s all relative. The ‘best’ food is often something novel to me or evocative of a particular locale, undeniably delectable, and that makes me feel like a child (re)discovering something new, in the best way possible.
That said, I do have a few specific memories – thin-crust margherita pizza and gelato in Florence, cassoulet and croissants in Paris, croquetas in Barcelona, sea urchin with phenomenal pisco sours in Santiago, Beijing duck, xiao long bao in Shanghai (and now in HK), toro just kissed by a torch in Tokyo, mini-banana pancakes from a floating market boat outside Bangkok, uber-fresh oysters in San Francisco, and just to show that great food may not always be where you expect it, chicken tikka masala at a truck stop in Rajasthan, India (probably the best I’ve ever had)
2. What is the worst city you have traveled to and why? Orlando, Florida. Sorry Orlando fans and residents, it’s not personal. To me, it is a city without culture or really anything vaguely interesting. Importantly, I never had a good meal there. If I’ve missed a hidden gem though, please feel free to share.
3. What is the best city you have traveled to and why? Virtually impossible to answer. New York City is still the best from the perspective of sheer diversity and ballsiness – people do whatever they want there, and I love it. Hong Kong is absolutely one of my favorites, and yes, I’m biased about my new hometown! It offers diversity of a different kind – east and west, old and new, and no shortage of things to keep us busy, whether the setting is harbour, beach, mountain, market, temple, park, dim sum haven, teahouse, or speakeasy – in the middle of everything, or the middle of nothing. After a few more visits, Tokyo will likely be in my top 3, as it is truly amazing, a city on hyper-drive, absolutely fascinating, endlessly entertaining, gracious – and it has destroyed my ability to truly enjoy sushi or sashimi anywhere else in the world.
4. Do you prefer traveling by yourself or with others? With my husband, Mark. Before I got married, I would have said I prefer traveling alone. I am quite specific with how I like to travel – not in a high-maintenance way, but I need to explore, photograph, and feel I am sucking out the proverbial marrow from each experience. It can be exhausting, and most others would likely not be happy about it! Mark is the only other person on the planet who can go there with me – and be honest when he would rather do something else, which I’m ok with. We’ve learned how to travel well together, even it means spending some time apart doing what we respectively enjoy. Plus, he’s just a great travel partner overall, a hell of a lot of fun to be with – and a great photo ‘spotter’.
5. When is the next time you are going to travel? Over the next several weeks. For work, Beijing and Tokyo (so far). For pleasure, Koh Samui. All within July.
6. Where was the first country you went to (not counting the place you were born)? China, with my family – when I was a freshman in college. It was a bit of a late start – by today’s standards, at least. But it made a huge impact. I was initially a bit reluctant, I can’t even recall why. But it was mind-blowing, even though it was a somewhat superficial run around the traditional ‘highlights’ of the country. And I have particularly fond memories of this trip, as it was unfortunately the only international trip I took with my dad, just a few short years before he died.
On a lighter note, the first memory I have of an amazing meal while traveling was from this trip – an incredible vegetarian meal in a remote village, with the most delicious apple fritters as its conclusion. They might not sound ‘Chinese’, but I can assure you, they were locally authentic, and I still crave them to this day. Not to be overly dramatic, but this meal actually taught me one of my first important lessons in my adult life – that what one ‘thinks’ is representative of another country often has little or nothing to do with the ‘real deal’. In this case, the shitty Chinese take-out I was accustomed to was a complete bastardization of what authentic Chinese food actually is (and ‘Chinese food’ is an incredibly broad phrase). And with food representing such an important part of a country’s culture, I had the epiphany that travel is the ONLY way to begin to learn about the rest of the world in any real way.
About 23 countries later, I am incredibly grateful, hopefully a bit more knowledgeable and understanding, definitely more curious, and absolutely hooked on travel!
7. What is the one food you miss the most when you are traveling? Never happens. Truly. I fully enjoy (or at least experience) local cuisine, and usually only local cuisine.
8. What is the best book you have read when traveling? I can’t answer this one, for better or worse. When I travel, I prefer to spend my time out and about, experiencing. Or eating. Or drinking. Or getting a massage. Once in a while, I will check out local papers or magazines, though – to get a flavor of what is happening in the area.
9. Have you ever had anything stolen when traveling? Not once. Pretty impressive, now that I think about it.
10. How long are most of your trips? Completely variable. I’ve re-learned the joy of the long weekend, especially with so many fantastic options near HK now. But I am a big believer in the ‘real’ vacation – at least 2 weeks, or longer if I could manage it. Years ago, I used to spend a month at a time in China – about as immersive as a vacation experience can be.
11. Is there a place you have been that was not as great as you thought it would be? On some levels, of course – and on several occasions. I’ve already trashed one city, so I’ll refrain from being negative again in this post. But I think a key is to manage expectations. As author Jodi Picoult perpetuated, happiness equals reality divided by expectations.
Also, I try to make the most of wherever I am. I believe one is bound to discover something (or someone) that makes one’s unmet expectations less important. Taking some responsibility for the ‘success’ of a trip is a much better approach than leaving it all up to someone else (also known as hoping for the best).
My nominees for the Liebster Award are the following blogs that I enjoy and read regularly:
- Jasmine and Ginger
- HK Files
- Salt & Chili
- Peter Lam Photography
- Cooking With a Wallflower
Here are my questions to the nominees, should they choose to accept:
1. What (or who) brings you the greatest joy?
2. What makes you unhappy or frustrated?
3. What, to you, makes a compelling photograph?
4. How do you decide what specifically to blog about?
5. What has surprised you about blogging?
6. What (or who) reminds you regularly why you chose to live where you do now (and I don’t mean in a nagging way!)?
7. How do you stay inspired?
8. What is your proudest moment or greatest achievement (thus far)?
9. Have you experienced a smaller but still pivotal moment in your life, a mini-epiphany that changed your trajectory in some way?
10. What life lesson or belief do you want to pass on to others?