April 7, 2009

Quick and Accurate Q&A (Part 2)

On Sunday we answered our favorite ten reader questions, and today we will continue with our responses to the next tier of questions. Consider this post like the awards they give out to elementary school kids who don't really deserve recognition based on merit, but look like they need someone's sympathy.
(Zhou: Please note that Kevin wrote this paragraph. I loved all the questions equally. Just like I love Charlie and Kevin equally.)

11) If all of a sudden your passports were revoked because "someone" said you should be on a no-fly list, what would you do instead? Big US road trip? Appalachian Trail? Hike across New Jersey?

Zhou: Is this "someone" you? Because if it is, I would watch out! There is an unbearable amount of cuteness coming out to get you, in Charlie form. The adorableness will render you unable to move.

After these pictures were taken, Charlie tore one of monkey's legs off. And both of its eyes. And its shirt. Somewhere in this apartment is a three-limbed, NAKED, BLIND blue monkey. Sometimes she carries its leg around in her mouth. It's sort of endearing in a gruesome, Tim Burton-esque way.

Anyway. Back to the original question. I would cry a lot. Then I would go to New Orleans. Then I would go to Hawaii. By paddle boat. And then Alaska.

Kevin: They say that Chinese are sneaky, so I'm sure we would find a way to still make the trip work. Besides, we've already considered hiding Zhou in my carry-on luggage to save money; if this scenario were to occur we'd have to make that a reality.

If we had to come up with an alternative though, I would probably spend the next year in Vegas winning lots of money at roulette. Since I never do well there in the short term, I've decided that in the long run it's inevitable that I make good money that way - it's science.

12) Have you already planned having any strange daily or local rituals?

Kevin: Since I won't be able to follow my unique movie-viewing ritual mentioned Sunday, there are several things I'm planning on doing every day on our trip. Although not really that strange, I'm going to keep statistics on everything we do, and I'm going to take an inordinate amount of pictures of nothing in particular. I also plan on keeping my daily exercise routine (one push-up per day!) and I would like to use the restroom on a daily basis (or any spot with soft leaves). One thing that I suggested to Zhou was that we make a feature length film of our journey, but she quickly nixed that idea. If you wanted me to say I'll dress like Optimus Prime and dance in circles, then sorry to disappoint.

Zhou: No, but this question has been weighing heavily on my mind (i.e. has fleetingly crossed my mind at random moments) for the last week. I think a daily photo from wherever we are each morning would be good. Perhaps these photos would also include Mr. Turtle. Mr. Turtle is a little hematite turtle figure who lives on a platform on my bedside lamp. He recently told me he loves to travel the world. Who knew?

13) So the practice wake-up actually works?

Zhou: Neither of us can answer that question, since Kevin is a liar.

Kevin: Yes, I am a fraud. All I did was read the article, and then decide that I'm wasting my life away hitting the snooze button. So the night I read the article I went to sleep concentrating really hard on waking up without snoozing. Sure enough I did! I woke up at 4:00, 4:30 and 5:00, and every time got out of bed thinking I was on top of my game. Then I realized I was wasting my life away not sleeping through the night. So from then on, I've gotten right up with the alarm.

14) Does Kevin ever get to be little spoon during the journey?

Kevin: We have separate sleeping bags.

Zhou: Do you even realize how ridiculous that would look?

15) So you really are flying to 16 different cities on five continents for less than 3,000 bucks? Do you even realize how ridiculous that is?!

Zhou: Uh, heck yeah!

Kevin: Now that you mention it, that is a good price. If you're curious about booking a round-the-world adventure yourself, please read Zhou's previous post or email us with any questions you may have.

16) Are you nervous about not knowing any of the languages of the countries you're visiting?

Kevin: I wouldn't say nervous is the right word, but I am quite excited for countries like England and Australia, and I'm banking on Zhou's Chinese, Spanish and French skills to get us through many other countries. I definitely now wish that my high school would have made Spanish necessary and Latin optional when I went there. Other than amongst pigs, I hear Latin is a dead language now (??).

I wish I would have thought of this in question 2, but one thing I would like to take away from this trip is the knowledge of basic words in as many languages as possible. Despite my incredible diverse cultural background (I recently found out that I am a quarter German!), I consider myself pretty uncultured and would like to at least be aware of non-American lifestyles.

Zhou: We are going to deal with the way we deal with all travel quandaries - consult Steve Jobs. We will download some translator apps for the iPod Touch and learn some useful phrases. The Spanish one I have right now tells you how to say "you have lovely eyes" and "what's your star sign?" In Spanish, no less! Those are two phrases I will be using with alarming frequency.

17) Where are you most worried about survival?

Zhou: I think my worst fear is that Kevin and I will be walking along in some crowded place, when I get distracted by something (baby chickens? colorful headscarves? a Burger King? the possibilities are endless), and when I look in front of me, he's no longer there. And because I am shorter than everyone else, there's no way for me to find him. I think about this quite often. I suppose it could happen anywhere, but I mostly picture it happening in crowded marketplaces with lots of shiny and colorful distractions. You might think this is a silly thing to be worried about, but Kevin has a disconcerting habit of not noticing when I've fallen behind him to tie a shoe, or you know, get knocked out by a lamppost. He is not, how do you say... perceptive?

Kevin: I'm most worried about surviving New Jersey, in the four days after the wedding. Once we leave the States though, we have learned that our lives will be in danger everywhere we go, as mentioned in a previous post. Fortunately, we used to know a guy who was a high security prison guard, and he taught us all he knew about self-defense and self-offense. If you ask nicely, I'm sure Zhou will show you some of her moves someday.
(Zhou: This is actually all true. For real.)

18) Are you going to send trinkets home in the mail or carry them? Any souvenirs you have picked out or planned already?

Kevin: I think we'll carry as many souvenirs with us as we can, but at certain points along the trip I'm sure we will mail a few packages back home. The model we used in planning our trip, thirteenmonths.com, had a stopover back home in the middle of their adventure to drop off things and relax. While we originally wanted to do this as well, we don't have a full 13 months, and therefore had to do without a layover in America.

One thing that we want to do is come up with a common souvenir to buy in every country. I collect spinny keychains, and Zhou collects little turtles, but if you have any better ideas, please let us know.

Zhou: I think it will be really hard to collect things from everywhere we're going because we'll build up a collection of stuff pretty quickly. But this won't stop me from buying giant turtle sculptures and lugging them around. On second thought, I didn't really think that one through. I read on someone's travel blog that you can tell how long a backpacker has been on the road by how many bracelets (s)he wears. I will collect bracelets. Kevin, I don't think they will have spinny keychains everywhere. But what do I know?

19) Will you save me a bit of currency from Nepal?

Zhou: No.

Kevin: Yes, at whatever exchange we deem appropriate... thanks for asking. This gets at a good point though. Just because we are traveling the world doesn't mean we want to wall ourselves off from everyone we know. I think we mention this in just about every post, but we would love to meet up with anyone who can join us at any point along the trip. We'll also be diligently sending out postcards to the puzzle solvers (and occasionally to others we like), so let us know if you ever change addresses! In addition, Zhou loves getting emails (they make her feel special), so send us updates as well.

Zhou: It is true, I love me some emails. Also, I was just kidding about my "No" answer above.

20) What is the average air speed velocity of an unladen swallow (European swallow)?

Kevin: Since I still have my informative hat on... Although not definitive, the average cruising airspeed velocity of an unladen European Swallow is roughly 24 miles an hour. (Thanks)

Zhou: What on earth could a swallow possibly be laden with? I just don't get why you would have to specify unladen. Do swallows carry tiny swallow backpacks with tiny colored pencils in them to go to their tiny swallow schools? Because if so, I want one!

Puzzles for Postcards (list of winners):

Musical Body Parts Better Charger:
Sold by band
No sour bars sang cow

Scrabble Games: 36 (full log)
Zhou WPLB: 20; 363; 401; SOLVInG
Kevin WPLB: 16; 364; 390; DEnIZEN, DONATER


  1. Uh oh, Paulto taking the lead...

    Hold my hand
    Do your ears hang low

    I think some sort of daily picture ritual would be pretty cool. For example, a picture each day of where you spent the night (tent, hostel, train compartment, etc) or what your dinner meal/table looked like (ramen on the ground, steak in a restaurant, etc)... something you do every single day, but that will be unique every day.

    BTW, this is my favorite blog of the year :) (Last year was The Big Picture, an awesome awesome photo blog, for the uninitiated.)

  2. Paul, you take the fun out of the challenges since you check the blog the day the come out! You're too much on top of your game!

    Zhou, a swallaw could be laden as in "with child(ren)". Think about it. Or with coconuts, you never know.

  3. Matt, the answer is simple. Two words: "Google Reader". Or, you know, just check every Sunday :)