Tag Archives | China

A Math Genius and a Russian Beauty?

What do you get when you combine a math nerd (Harvard-Applied Mathematics Degree) and a Russian-born business guru?   AcoupleTraverlers.com of course!   (Luci says that they are going to have smart kids…not sure what that means.)  In this week’s installment of our 7 questions series to get to know other couple travel bloggers better, we want you to meet Dave and Vicky.  They set out to backpack, wander and eat their way through the back roads of Asia and Europe.  And the best part is, you are invited along for the adventure.

Blog: www.acoupletravelers.com

Twitter: @coupletraveler

Facebook: Acoupletravelers

One of our fave parts of their blog is of course their Pinterest page.  Check out the food pins!  But don’t do it on an empty stomach, you may end up licking you screen.  Not a good look for you.

Lets get to know them a little better:

Russian beauty1)     Tell us a little about yourselves.  How long have you been together?  How did you meet?

We met way back in high school, in the library of all places (He said: haven’t been in one since). One thing led to another (she said: I liked his taste in books) and we ended up fighting…I mean dating for 1.5 years. Until college that is. Then we were actually just fighting so we broke up albeit stayed in touch over the years, to wind up back together senior year. Just in time to move into an apartment together in DC. Since then we’ve been dating for 3 years and looking forward to another 3.

1000Fights:  Love it!  You guys are getting a great start.

backpack airport2) If you had to travel with someone else besides your travel partner, who would it be?  (this person can be living, historical or mythical?.)

He Said: Hercules would be pretty cool. I always remember watching that tv show as a kid and really enjoying the adventures as well as the battles. Maybe he’d introduce me to Zeus? Here’s to hoping Vicky writes Xena…

She Said: Ariel the mermaid. I used to love watching the Little Mermaid cartoon and movie when I was little and would dream about discovering the seas with her. She would definitely make a great scuba diving partner, to say the least!

3) What has been your favorite destination in your wanderings?

He said: I go back and forth between loving nature or wanting to be in the cities. It’s a bit of a grass is greener mentality that I’m working on. Still, favorite city has probably been Tokyo, Japan. It was dynamic but also tame in a way. On the other end of the spectrum maybe Jiuzhaigou in China for it’s peace, tranquility, and spectacular landscape.

She said: So far favorite destination has been Japan, for the sushi alone. Oh, the fish! The delicious, fresh fish. Best meal of my life hands down has been with our couchsurfer in Tokyo at his favorite sushi restaurant. Japan as a whole was incredibly modern, efficient, and beautiful with polite and friendly people the whole way through. It was our first stop on our trip and we had some amazing experiences with our couchsurfing hosts.

4)  Harvard-Applied Math and Boston U-Business.  Holy cow you two are smart!  What has travel taught you?

He said: The biggest thing I’ve noticed with travel is the amount of downtime I have, which results in a lot of reflection. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do with my life but travel is enabling me to sit back and think for a minute instead of being so distracted all the time and moving from one day to the next without even time to process. Overall I think I’m realizing how independent I can be and what I can accomplish on my own. I have no regrets about opting to take time off and am very confident in us being able to support ourselves through our own ventures.

She said: Travel has taught me that it’s definitely possible to get out of the daily grind of the 9-5 office life and still be learning and developing your skill sets. You don’t need to be in a classroom or office environment to learn, you can learn by observing the people around you and the different experiences you have. It has taught me to be more patient and go with the flow more. Sometimes you just need to take a deep breath and let things go. Got on the wrong bus? We can get out at the next stop. Missed our train? There will be another. With more free time travel has shown me that you can be happy almost every day, especially when you are making all the choices and do not need to systematically get up and do anything.

Japanese man5) We love your buck-list!  But there is one item on your list that we are really curious about: take a vow of silence for 5 days?  Explain?

He said: As I mentioned before some of my best travel moments are just spent reflecting. This is aided by removing distractions such as belongings, long to do lists, and technology (I have no phone, no tv…). Taking this to the extreme would be to removing communication and simply try to meditate for a bit. At the very least, it will keep Vicky from nagging me for an entire 5 days.

She said: This would be the most difficult thing to cross off a bucket list – no talking for 5 days – that would be intense. On the other hand, I do believe that it could be a unique way to reach peace within yourself and have time to reflect on everything in your life. I don’t imagine it would be easy but it could be a really interesting experience.

6) If you could solve one problem in the world what would it be?

He said: Cliché but going to go with world hunger. How could I not? It blows me away that some countries are obese and others are malnourished and NEITHER is living a healthy life style. How does this make any sense? Why are we not shifting food from one part of the world to the other…there’s plenty to go around.

She said: Going in the same direction as Dave, I would go with solving the problem with the shortage of water in this world. In the US we’ve have huge 6 Flags water theme parks in plenty of states with kids just throwing water around and sliding right into huge pools of it, yet there are people in other countries with barely enough drinking water. It just doesn’t seem right.

7) You knew it was coming….What has been your greatest travel fight/disagreement?  We heard something about a forgotten credit card?

She said: Oh boy, don’t even get me started on that credit card situation! I completely lost my cool and flipped out. It was pretty terrible. There was a lot of screaming involved until I finally calmed down and tried to think rationally about how to fix our crisis (He Said: I believe it was me who thought rationally…this little interjection is why you always should be the last one to edit an interview). It’s not so much huge fights anymore as much as constant bickering. Dave has lost our map a handful of times, and somehow he always manages to leave our water bottle everywhere. Not the biggest deal, just annoying.

He said: It’s true several years back right before our big Italy group a credit card, through which we had booked all our hotels on, may or may not have escaped my wallet. That would have been a good time for a vow of silence. In more recent news, I lost our map for the third time. At the end of the day it’s more like 1000 travel bickers than any one big fight. Kind of like a volcano letting out some steam to avoid the big eruption.

 

Aren’t they fun!  We truly hope that we come across them in person during their travels!  Give their blog acoupletravelers a look.  Thanks again to Dave and Vicky for sharing with us a little more about their grand adventure.

Are you a couple traveling together?  Would you like to be asked probing questions and have all of you secrets posted on the Internets?  Just contact us!

6

The Magic Carpet Fight

One of the greatest pastimes in Istanbul is shopping.  Pastime is not the right word.  Experiencing the grand Bazaar it is one part contact sport, one part human psychology 101 and one part exhilaration. Shopping in Istanbul is truly a timeless art form.  Yes there are the chinsy tourist items, the fake Rolexes, carpets made in China.  But it also has some of the best handcrafts and jewelry we have ever seen.  The Grand Bazaar has it all.

English: Lanterns in a shop in the Kapalıçarşı...

Glass of the Grand Bazaar.

How to do the Bazaar

We don’t have an answer for this.  It is funny to watch other couples enter and say to one another…”I will meet you over by the one carpet dealer.  See you in an hour.”  Good luck with that!  LOST!  The size of the bazaar is so difficult to describe.  Where does the Bazaar end and the city begin?  Is the Bazaar just one story?  Is there better shops in one are over another?  We don’t have an answer.  The Bazaar is best enjoyed with a lot of time and money.

 

The Art of the Deal

I have seen some incredible salesman in our travels.  None rival the talent on display in the Grand Bazaar.  Some of the hawkers in the bazaar are three, four and we even found one five generation salesman!  These men, we didn’t come across a saleswoman, so yes they are almost all men, are tuned and trained to evaluate you and devise a plan to separate you from your cash.  It is almost a science for them.  Language barrier?  Not in the bazaar.  Everyone speaks the language  of sales.  I was able to chat up a young salesman that let his guard down a little.  Our conversation went something like this:

Me: “When did you start selling?”

Him: “Sold my first thing when I was only 5”

Me: “Impressive.”

Me: “Whats your secret to making sales?”

Him:  “Reading customers.  And keep them talking to you.”

Me: “How do read a person?”

Him:  “Shoes and eyes.”  (Enter big smile aka end of sales training)

Him:  “Would you like to see some of my best stuff?  I keep it back here…come my friend” (Enter sales pitch)

Put this to the test.  Walk past the best salesmen in the bazaar.  They will check your shoes in as you approach and then they will focus on your eyes.  Eyes tell everything.  They point to the things you find most precious.  They reveal your love for an object.  Very telling.

Heart of Darkness

Go get lost in the Bazaar.  Go deep.  The bazaar cannot be “done” in an hour.  We are not sure that it can be “done” in a day.  Enjoy the experience for what it is, you are a part of history.  Breathe in the experience.  Take in the mosaics at every turn.  Drink some tea with some salesmen.  Play with the shop owners kids.  Most importantly, buy stuff in the Bazaar!  Don’t let the salesmen intimidate you.  You will never forgive yourself if you don’t buy that silver bracelet you found.  First off, you will never find it again in the melee of the bazaar.  Candidly, we found our best deals when we were completely lost in dark alleys deep in the beast of the bazaar.  Find your own path.

 

Check our our Facebook page for more pics of the Grand Bazaar.  While you are there…give us a “Like”.

 

The Carpet Fight

Add the Grand Bazaar to the list of 1000 places to fight before you die.  Mike wanted to buy a rug.  Of course we agreed to a price ceiling before we even set foot in the market.   Of course Mike paid no heed to that agreement.  He boldly walked into carpet shops and looked at stuff we couldn’t afford.  (Don’t do this.)  We ended up meeting the George Clooney of carpet sales.  Mike the great white salesman himself had met his match.  We went round and round on the price.  In the end, we paid way too much.  With that said it was a great experience.  Today, the rug welcomes everyone that comes into our home.

The Grand Bazaar is not to be missed.  Turkey and Istanbul especially is a wonderful couple travel destination.  It offer so much.  Experience the bazaar.  Spend some money!

Have you been to the Grand Bazaar?   What did you find?  We would love to hear from you.oo much for our little rug.  But it was great fun!  Our little piece of Istanbul greets everyone that walks into our door.

5

Surviving the Talkative Airplane Seatmate

(CNN) — All I wanted to do was to fall asleep in my tiny seat on the last leg of a grueling day of air travel, when I was cornered by the Talkative Airplane Seatmate — a species oblivious to yawns and one-word answers.

My chatty neighbor was a forklift accident expert — a job he described in great detail as my eyelids grew heavier and heavier.

I mentioned that I was barely functioning after an 11-hour flight from China to California, followed by a six-hour layover at San Francisco International Airport.

Still, he recounted his life story, showed pictures of his family and listed his hobbies. I finally fell asleep, but when I opened my eyes, he opened his mouth again.

Most travelers have crossed paths with the Talkative Airplane Seatmate at some point, discovering that even lackluster responses and chilly body language can’t stop the stories or personal questions from coming.

“As soon as the guy beside me sat down in the aisle, I knew he was itching to strike up a conversation. I avoided eye contact like the plague, but he wasn’t a master of social cues,” wrote an air traveler this month in a post on Flightsfromhell.com, a Web site where passengers vent about their horrible flight experiences.

“I grabbed my book and made the mistake of turning my light on, an action that inspired him to break the ice. Immediately, he was completely facing me, leaning into my seat and asking me questions.”

Twenty-four percent of business travelers like talking to people on planes, according to a survey by the corporate travel management company Egencia. When trying to signal they want to be left alone, half said they start reading, 38 percent listen to music and 15 percent pretend they are sleeping.

Gregg Rottler, founder of Flightsfromhell.com, said he tries to stop talkers in their tracks by bringing a bag full of newspapers and reading throughout the flight.

Randy Petersen, editor and publisher of Inside Flyer magazine, flies up to 70 times a year on business. He said his favorite defensive strategy is to put on headphones immediately.

“I never want to be a curmudgeon,” Petersen said. “[But] there are plenty of people out there who find 11 o’clock at night on the red-eye from LAX to JFK to be a perfect time to be talking. I take the red-eye because I need to get some rest before I go immediately to a meeting.”

Nervous, nosy or networking

Why do these overly aggressive talkers do it?

“I think most of them are clueless, to be honest,” said etiquetteexpert and author Anna Post, who is also a spokeswoman for theEmily Post Institute.

“They’re not thinking about how their chatting could be affecting someone else. They’re just thinking that they want to talk, so they’re talking.”

Some also may be trying to network — especially during tough economic times.

If you’re not sure how much to talk with your neighbor or are faced with a Talkative Airplane Seatmate, Post offers the following tips:

To chat or not to chat? There is no obligation to talk with the stranger seated next to you, but some eye contact, a smile or a nod can serve as basic acknowledgment of that person. If you’d like to start a conversation, remember that some people may be shy or exhausted.

Stick to basic subjects. “Avoid things that are overly personal,” Post advised. “Avoid hot button things like politics. … You’re in a small space, you don’t want to set off any fuses.” Good topics? Your destination, the movie that just played or the book the person is reading.

Early clues that your neighbor has had enough. When people begin answering questions with a question or respond with “uh huh, sure, mmm hmm,” it’s time to back off, Post said.

Signaling you’ve had enough. “I like to do the long, slow unwinding of my iPod ear buds,” Post said. “It gives them plenty of time to recognize where I’m going without just cutting them off short. Then when they take a break, I say it’s been great chatting, I’m going to turn on the movie for a bit or I’m going to go back to my book now.”

Be polite but firm. Post advises against telling the person directly that you don’t want to talk. Instead, turn your attention to another task such as reading or doing work.

Networking in the air. Looking for business contacts is fine, as long as you’re not pushy. Being overly aggressive can damage a potential business relationship.

Talking with a colleague. When sitting next to a co-worker, a boss or someone you supervise, chat at least a little, Post said. “If they’re senior to you, follow their lead. Let them set the tone for how much to chat. If you’re on more equal footing, it’s going to be a bit more give and take.”

0