The Quiet Traveller: Liebster Award

Firstly, thanks for the nomination from the It Takes Two blog run by Jamie and Brogan – do check out their blog for their experiences of travelling as a couple and for location specific travel tips!


What is the Liebster Award?

The Liebster Award is an award that exists only on the internet, and is given to bloggers by other bloggers. It’s a great way to discover great blogs by new bloggers and support one and another in the blogging community. 

What are the rules?

  1. Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blogs.
  2. Answer the questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  3. Nominate other bloggers to receive the award and write them several new questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Liebster Award logo in your post and/or your blog!

My nominees:

A Hearty Nomad – See what happens when the hamster takes over!

Explore Adventure Discover – Jenny does some really cool traveller interviews over here.

The Age of the Introvert – The piece about solo travel as an introvert rings a lot of bells…

My answers to Jamie and Brogan’s questions:

What inspired you to travel?

Travelling was something that I had wanted to do for a long time. I remembering reading my Mum’s copy of ‘Around the World in 80 Days’, and I think I’ve always liked the idea of some kind of grand adventure. I think I also wanted to prove to myself that I could go around the world alone and return to tell the tale. Furthermore, I’m going to be dead in a matter of decades. This is fine by me – death is certain in life, as are taxes and the bottom bunk always being taken first.

What is your favourite and least favourite travel destination, and why?

On the trip I’m currently writing about, Iceland just pips New Zealand for me. New Zealand is without a doubt beautiful, but something about Iceland just feels other-worldly. From the moment you arrive at Keflavik to when you fly out over deserted landscapes, it feels like a completely different planet.

On the other hand, my least favourite place was Seattle. I’ll write more about this when I eventually reach that week of notes, but let’s just say I had high expectations and was rather disappointed. Mainly because of the Subway incident.

What are your Top 5 survival items for backpackers?

iPod Classic  – Incredibly useful for blocking out snoring roommates. Also great for staring out windows on buses or planes with a wistful look as if one is contemplating the deepest truths of man , when in reality you just really need a poo. No need for internet, and with a freshly changed battery (did this last week, wish I had done it before travelling) will last about a week. Sturdy. Durable. Full of bangers.

Eyemask –  This standard airline extra is very useful for when people come into dorm rooms late at night and turn on the lights. There’s a special place in hell for these people. Some masks are more comfortable than others – experiment to find your best option. You get used to the panic of waking up and trying to open your eyes only to see blackness.

Insect Repellent – Never 100% effective, but when you’re amongst a sandfly swarm you’ll be glad you packed it. Also doubles as mace. Make sure the bottle is kept in a plastic bag as they often leak and will stink out your bag if they do. 

Flip-flops – Hostel showers and bathrooms can often be slightly to horrifically grim. Nevertheless, they do the job. Wear flip-flops to avoid the worst of it. Be sure to keep them in a partitioned section of your bag however.

Google Maps Offline – I don’t know how I would have survived without out this. I was unable to use mobile data abroad with my contract, but if you download the map area that you want on Wifi before setting out, you can use your phone GPS (doesn’t use data) combined with the map area to find your exact location. Not very traditionalist adventurer I know, but could save you from wandering into dodgy areas. Or just getting lost in general.

What has been your most creative meal whilst travelling?

I’m not the most creative cook at home, let alone whilst travelling. Although one time I had these ‘baked beans’, which come in a tin. The tins have rings in the lid – you pull the ring to access the beans. You can also buy dough based slices in the shops, although I believe the technical term is ‘bread’. Most hostels have mechanical furnaces called toasters, which you use to cook the bread and turn it into ‘toast’. The penultimate step is to then heat the beans in what is labelled ‘microwave’, although in all the hostels none of the microwaves were particularly small and did not feature any visible tsunami-style action. Finally you pour the beans onto the toast. I haven’t thought of a name yet.

If money, visas and commitment were no object where would you live, and why?

Probably in the Scottish Highlands somewhere. I’d own an Aberdeen Angus called Kenneth, and I’d take him on walks with a large doggo. When the time came, I would eventually eat Kenneth through the medium of the burger, but he would have had a happy and fulfilling life.

My questions to the nominees:

What’s your favourite mode of transportation to travel on/in and why?

Who is the most interesting person you have met on your travels?

What is your favourite travel book and why?

Do you have any specific travel goals for the next 12 months?

What single photo best sums up your travels?

To nominees:

Give me a message once you’ve answered the questions – I would love to hear your answers!

Simon, The Quiet Traveller



The Quiet Traveller: Day 20 – Mount Cook

Today I was supposed to be leaving Queenstown for a more relaxed place. But it wouldn’t let me go without one last adrenaline rush. Although this one was definitely not wanted.

The night was spent at an Irish pub, a given due to the small gaggle of Irish within the group. After a number of beverages, we decided to get a change of scenery, attempting and failing to get into several packed bars before encountering what seemed to be a fairly acceptable drinking establishment. Alas, this venture was not to be.

I was refused entry without a single reason being given. Now to be clear, I had consumed beverages. But I was also possibly the most sober person of the whole group. This development of events did not make me angry, but gave me a severe case of the baffles. ‘But why?’ ran through my head. To be fair I had attempted to enter with a much more drunk member of the group, and this may have alarmed the security guards.

But still. Maybe it was just my face. Yeah, that was it. My violent, troublemaking, come and have go at me face, which says nothing but ‘fight me bitch’.

So that was the night’s events. Come morning, I had a massive panic when I realised I had lost my passport.

This resulted in me checking with reception, then them telling me to see if the police station had it. I hastily scribbled a note to my sleeping roommates to tell them to contact me if they found it, and then sprinted off, backpack in tow towards where I thought the police station was.

Bottom of note I left to roommates – observe very appropriate QOTD.

Huffing and puffing, I reached the police station. And my heart dropped. The police station was closed for this weekend specifically. Typical, I thought, absolutely bloody typical. Dejected, yet waddling rapidly like a two legged camel, I made it back to the bus just in time before departure and took a seat. I was really rather angry with myself.

About 20 mins later, I decided to check my bag one last time in desperation. I had been googling lost passport procedures whilst the bus was in wifi range, and the reading didn’t make for good thoughts. I had flights to catch and new lands to explore. But this could not be done without a passport. Running my hand through the back panel in the main compartment one last time, I encountered a small purple rectangle, and a wave of relief hit me like a tsunami made of trains.

I had a feeling that I had taken the passport home with me, because I’m surprisingly good at not losing things (until Day 68, naturally, the last day). It turned out that I had stuffed the passport into my backpack, not really paying attention, and had inadvertently stuffed it into a secret compartment that I didn’t even know about, hence why I couldn’t locate it.

Nice one Simon, you’ve played yourself.

Returning to non-panic based events, today we were headed to Mount Cook, NZ’s highest mountain. The bus was a fresh mix of people, having said goodbye for now to a number of new friends (they would pop up again later), but the same driver. It was slightly strange starting again with new people, but I had done it before so I could do it again.

Our accommodation for the night was near the base of the mountain, situated on a glorious mountain plain in the middle of nowhere. I was placed in a room with a Dutch guy named Ezra, who claimed his brother was a famous Dutch athlete, and a Swiss guy named Elias. Both were friendly enough, and I was saddened to hear Ezra had had his hiking equipment nicked at a previous hostel (by a Belgian apparently). You’ve got to be the filthiest of vermin to steal from a fellow traveller. (Disclaimer: not all Belgians are tent grabbing psychopaths).

Seeing as Ezra fancied himself as a bit of a pro hiker, I decided to whack out my walking shoes and announced I was going on a ‘hike’. By the term ‘hike’, I mean I managed to walk 500m or so and stop at a well positioned bench for some note-taking and biscuit consumption. A little while later Ezra and an unknown girl passed me by on a hike, and when they greeted me I pointed vaguely to a hillside bush where I had stumbled around aimlessly for a bit, as to prove my hiking expertise. I was in the Scouts I’ll have you know.

This is what I was looking for.

Hiking-game repping aside, the location was truly beautiful. It was almost like a savannah, with the long grass rustling in the light wind and the vast expanse of nothingness stretching out for miles. All that existed was the accommodation buildings, the single road, and the grasslands. Mount Cook loomed in the distance, cloaked mysteriously in mist. Unfortunately, this was only a one night stop, so exploration opportunities were limited. I would to love return one day.

Why is the colour brown always used for tourist signs?

Climbing into bed that night, I thought about the panic-stricken morning that had taken place. I realised that it wasn’t the burden of the problem itself that was digging at me – it was the anger at myself for having got into the situation . But then I thought some more, realised that was a stupid thought to have, decided to forgive myself for a change, and then wrote it all down because it’s actually a pretty funny story looking back.

I was indeed finding myself on this trip. And my passport.