Thanks to you all for the hundreds of questions that poured in via email, phone and Pony Express. Unfortunately, we do not have enough time to answer all of the questions, but we have selected the best and will each put on our "informative hat" (as opposed to our "humorous hat" or "chocolate milk hat") and do our best to provide you with the information that you so desperately desire.
Due to the unforeseen plethora of questions we received, we have decided to divide our responses into two posts. Luckily for you though, you will not have to wait until next Sunday to read the second half of our responses. Yes, that's right - we will be writing a very special Tuesday post this week as well. And yes, that means two puzzles for postcards.
1) What happens if you lose a Scrabble tile?
Kevin: We've decided to answer this question first because this is clearly the most important thing, and, honestly, we've yet to think this through. I'm guessing Zhou is a bit offended that this question was asked; after all, we don't ask you "what happens if you lose your baby?" or "what happens if you go bald and gain 200 pounds?" I think that if this ever were to happen, we would probably have to call off the rest of the trip and go home. Fortunately, thanks to this question we will keep this on the top of our minds and will definitely not be losing any tiles.
Zhou: At Thai Kitchen III today (my favorite place in the world), I told Kathleen and Katie that I would eat mango sticky rice EVERY DAY when we go to Thailand. Kathleen then asked, "What if mango sticky rice isn't actually Thai?" Silence followed. This thought had never occurred to me - what if mango sticky rice isn't actually Thai? So I ignored her. Do you see the connection here? Two totally inconceivable ideas! I will ignore them.
2) Have you even SEEN "Twins"?
Kevin: No, I have only ever seen one movie, but I watch it every day.
Zhou: Is that the one where Arnold is pregnant and has a baby?
3) Are there any personal goals to be met along the trip (like Kevin eating a certain number of new foods or Zhou growing an inch)?
Zhou: I could not have said it better myself. Just TWO fruits, that's all I'm asking for. And really, it's not asking much, especially in relation to the number of fruits Kevin has NEVER eaten (approximately a bajillion). I mean, the man only eats red delicious apples (not granny smith, not yellow, not just plain red, but red DELICIOUS) and canned pears, which are not a true fruit, as they have been CANNED. IN SYRUP. Is it really too much to ask for the occasional orange or strawberry? Kevin, STRAWBERRIES ARE DELICIOUS!
Anyway. The question asked about personal goals, and although Kevin is my own personal project, he's not my person. One of my own personal goals is to learn to be less anxious and not worry about things that are out of my control, like flat tires or how long it takes for Kevin to write a blog post or getting eaten by a rhinoceros. I think if I can go through the entire trip without hyperventilating once, it'll be a success. I also want to take some amazing pictures with my cool new camera so when we (eventually) come back, we can decorate an apartment with them. And I would like to score 600 points by myself in a game of Scrabble.
Kevin: Who needs fruit when Skyline perfected a little piece of heaven called the chili dog? My #1 goal would be to open a Skyline franchise everywhere we'll be going, that way I will never go hungry. This seems a bit impractical, so in all honesty, one of my main goals is to become less picky about the foods I'll eat. I'm sure this won't be easy, so Zhou, don't get your hopes up just because I said I'll try. (Zhou: Awww - he wants to try! I am marrying the right guy!)
Another goal of mine is to meet as many people as possible. I've heard that you can make lasting friendships from trips like this (we will be spending 46 days in a bus on the African Serengeti with a group of random strangers), and it can never hurt to have a good set of backup long-distance friends in case your strange quirks get on your short-distance friends' nerves.
I would also like to get a bridge in Hungary named after me and have it stick. I would like to help a less fortunate stranger along the way. I would like to remember as many experiences as possible and use this knowledge to win on Jeopardy! Less ambitiously than Zhou, I would like to score 500 in Scrabble, but I would like to do it in front of the Pyramids. And most of all, I would like to find one thing that I'm better at than anyone else in the world and then do it for a living.
4) What animal are you most excited to see on the safari?
Kevin: Besides the turkey in my lunch sandwiches (fingers crossed that we eat somewhat normal food), I'm definitely looking forward to roaring with the lions, racing the cheetahs, laughing with the hyenas and tickling the giraffes. Wow, now that I think this through, I'm pretty much excited to see everything. I've never been out of North America, so anything more exotic than a white-tailed deer or a pigeon seems really awesome. However, if I had to pick just one animal, I'd go with a lion with a really long mane.
Zhou: Definitely giraffes. Giraffes are so cool with their long long necks and really long tongues. And also lions - I always had a crush on JTT. And anything baby. Baby animals are adorable and make me go "awwww!" in that high-pitched squeal-y voice that is so embarrassing (to Kevin). Except baby rhinos (see above), as they can eat you. Or gore you with their sharp sharp baby horns.
5) Without rambling on forever, what were you thinking of doing in Johannesburg?
Zhou: Whatever the good people at Acacia African Adventures have planned out for us. I'm not certain, but it probably involves eating watermelon.
Kevin: From what I've heard, we're just going to do our best to survive the one night that we will be in the city. If we had a little more time, I'd like to visit the Dave Matthews museum or the Ernie Els "What Happened to My Career?" Pit. Sorry though, we won't have much time to explore.
6) Approximately how long are you staying at each place?
Kevin: It varies from place to place, but I'd say the length of stay at each location is a direct function of two factors: price and how cool we think the place is. For example, Japan costs a crap-load (presumably because of the butt washers on the toilets) and will be downright frigid, so we'll stay there less than a week. On the other hand, Chile and Argentina are relatively inexpensive and seem pretty darn awesome, so we'll spend about a month traveling back and forth between the two.
When we originally planned the trip, we had heard to save costs it would be easiest to stay at each location for at least a couple of weeks. This way we could rent a place and do more of our own cooking. However, we decided that the world is too big a place to settle down in just ten locations, so we decided our #1 priority would be seeing as many places as we can.
Zhou: Also, we are trying NOT to do two travel days in a row. The longest we're staying in one country is probably Nepal (almost four weeks), and the shortest is Singapore (three days). We've given ourselves a couple of breaks to regroup and be lazy and catch up on the blog - like China (two weeks) and Sydney (two and a half weeks).
7) Where are you most worried about not wanting to leave?
Zhou: For me, it's Southeast Asia. I've heard so many wonderful things about Thailand and Vietnam. I'm just not sure if I'll be able to leave the clear water and sandy beaches and mounds and mounds of mango sticky rice. I am a bit worried that we're trying to squeeze in too much by doing Southeast Asia in just a month.
Kevin: I don't think it will be the safari because 46 days is already a really long time. And I've heard it won't be Easter Island, because apparently there's only about two days worth of stuff to do there. My guess is that I will want to spend more time in New Zealand - price was definitely the limiting factor there, otherwise we would have probably set aside another week. As we currently have it scheduled, we will spend a week doing things such as skydiving, paragliding and rafting, and a week walking the Milford Track, supposedly home of the most scenic views in the world. By the time we're done with these activities, we'll probably be broke and will spend most of our time on Easter Island begging for money.
8) Are you (Zhou) going to be okay with not showering every day? (Just accept it if you haven't already.) Is Kevin going to be okay with Zhou not showering every day? Is Kevin going to be okay with Zhou not shaving her legs as often?
Zhou: (1) Yes, as long as my fingernails are clean. I can't stand the feeling of dirt under my fingernails. (2) I don't shower every day already, and he still loves me, right Kev? RIGHT? (3) Kevin would love me even if I turned into a hairy beast. RIGHT KEV?
Kevin: My only criteria for choosing a round-the-world travel partner is that she showers weekly in the States, so Zhou is more than qualified. As far as the leg hair thing, a similar question was brought up in a game of "Would You Rather?" that we played one afternoon at work. "If your wife had to wear shorts and a tank top for the rest of her life, would you rather her have uncontrollable armpit hair or leg hair?" I was in the majority who thought you could blend the armpit hair in with the hair on her head, so that wouldn't be nearly as bad as the forest of leg hair. However, Zhou's leg hair grows about as fast as my facial hair (read: it doesn't grow), so I will love her regardless.
I know this wasn't part of the question, but as far as my own cleanliness, I hope to brush and floss at least every day, since the dentist said I have receding gums (and receding gums are the leading cause of death among people my age). On the shower front, I'm actually looking forward to our trip being an excuse for me not to shower.
9) What about adding New Orleans to your itinerary?
Zhou: If only!
Kevin: Not a chance. This is a round-the-world trip, and "world" clearly only refers to anywhere but North America.
10) Why are you so cute?
Zhou: My momma made me that way. Thanks mom!
Kevin: Well, my grandfather was Swedish and my grandmother was a bunny rabbit. (Anyone? Bueller?)
Puzzles for Postcards (list of winners):
Popular Song VQs From the Year 2000:
Scrabble Games: 36 (full log)
Zhou WPLB: 20; 363; 401; SOLVInG
Kevin WPLB: 16; 364; 390; DEnIZEN, DONATER