Recently, one of the best travel bloggers I’ve come across, Leighton Travels, surprised me with the honor of a nomination for the Outstanding Blogger Award. Leighton always produces well-written, informative and beautifully illustrated posts covering his travels and some of the unique, off-the-beaten-path spots and attractions he visits. You should definitely check out Leighton’s posts and follow his blog. I accept the nomination for this award.

Outstanding Blogger Award Rules

These are the rules as I understand them. I think they are flexible within reason.

  1. Provide a link to the creator’s original award post.
  2. Answer the questions provided.
  3. Create 7 unique questions.
  4. Nominate up to 10 bloggers. 
  5. Ensure that they are aware of their nomination.

Leighton’s Questions and My Responses

1. What’s the best accommodation you’ve ever stayed in? Did you have to pay an arm and a leg for it? I have two choose two accommodations, a 120-square-meter Pool Villa at the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa and a Tower Suite at the Ritz Carlton Tokyo. Both rooms were running above $1,000 per night at the time. Neither stay cost me a dime directly. The Ritz Carlton cost 85,000 Marriott Rewards points per night. That is an arm and a leg in Marriott points. Marriott had just elevated a handful of properties, the Ritz Carlton Tokyo being one, to a new ultra-high tier in points. It was worth it for a one-time experience. When I transferred from my $75/night hotel in Tokyo’s Akasaka District, I got to say to a taxi driver for the first and only time, “the Ritz Carlton, please.” That was fun because the taxi driver snapped to attention like I might be some kind of VIP (ha).

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I paid for the two-night stay in a Pool Villa at the Park Hyatt Maldives with two free nights I received as a sign-up bonus for getting a Hyatt credit card. Getting to the Maldives involved one cost I couldn’t cover in points or miles. That was the $528 for a round trip airfare in a small twin-engine prop plane from Male, Maldives to Koodoo and 30-minute speedboat ride to the small island the Park Hyatt occupies. These stays made me realize that very exclusive hotels are not my cup of tea. For one thing, I don’t have the wardrobe to match the clientele.

2. What’s the worst joint you’ve ever stayed in? All the grimy details please. Fortunately, I haven’t stayed in what I’d call real dumps. One experience I’ll never repeat involved a hotel in Nakon Ratchasima, Thailand, popularly referred to as Korat. I had a suite in a three-star hotel in the center of the city. The rate, around $50/night, seemed too good to be true (ha ha). Everything was satisfactory — except for the small green lizards on the walls. There was always at least two or three of them hanging around. I didn’t make a big deal of it because the friends I knew had these lizards on the walls where they lived. I thought that reacting in horror might be insulting or make me look like a wimp. Plus I wasn’t super freaked out because the lizards looked a lot like the green anole lizards I see in summer on the outside of my house in North Carolina. Occasionally, I see them in the garage and one time even in the house. I kept my suitcase and back pack zipped tight and stuck it out. After that, I always booked more expensive hotels in Korat and never had the same problem.

3. Which of your articles holds the most special place in your heart? Why? The articles from my trip in 2018 to Tibet and Everest Base Camp are probably the most special to me. Seeing Mount Everest up close was a life-long dream. The 40-hour train trip from Beijing to Lhasa, Tibet was an adventure in itself. I was the only Black person and westerner on the train. Experiencing Lhasa and the five-day road trip to the roof of the world was epic. Seeing sunset on Everest and the night sky on a spectacularly clear night and sleeping in a tent overnight at an altitude of more than 17,000′ are unforgettable.


4. If you could share a secluded desert island beach with just one person, dead or alive, who would it be? And why? Excluding romantic interests, the person with whom I would most like to share a secluded desert island beach is Neil Armstrong. I worked with Armstrong for a few years when he was a member of the board of directors of the company I worked for. I the assistant corporate secretary assigned to handle various matters for one of the board committees Armstrong served on. I attended the quarterly committee meetings and kept the minutes. I talked with Armstrong at every meeting, usually just exchanging greetings and pleasantries. Armstrong was friendly but also had the reputation of being a very private person. Because he was a member of the board and someone I respected greatly, I certainly didn’t want to piss him off by appearing to get too personal. On a desert island I would love to talk with Armstrong about subjects I never brought up — things like landing on the moon, being the first human to do so, flying combat missions over Korea as a 20-year-old naval aviator, flying the X-15 rocket plane to the edge of space as a test pilot, or the missions he flew as an astronaut in the Gemini Program. On one occasion, Armstrong told me the aircraft he enjoyed flying most was the piston-powered Grumman F-8 Bearcat he flew in Navy flight training. That he most enjoyed one of the least glamorous machines he ever flew reveals a lot about Armstrong’s nature.

5. If you won the lottery tomorrow and could build your dream house anywhere in the world, where would you go? Building and owning a house comes with headaches as well as enjoyment. Winning the lottery would definitely help minimize the headaches. If I had to pick one place, it would be somewhere in Southeast Asia. People there generally seem to have good attitudes about life.

6. What does the WordPress blogging community mean to you? The WordPress blogging community is the best. I didn’t anticipate developing friendships with people by reading their blogs and exchanging comments.

7. What are your personal hopes and plans for 2021? Any blogging goals? I recently got fully vaccinated and can’t wait to travel again internationally. Unfortunately, not many places are open to tourists without quarantine. Countries are starting to consider how they can accommodate travelers who have been vaccinated. I hope to make the first international trip sometime this summer. The only blogging goals this year are to keep blogging.

My Questions

  1. Share a little known fact about yourself that others would find interesting or surprising?
  2. What was your goal when you started blogging?  Has it changed?
  3. What is your favorite non-blogging activity?
  4. Who has been the biggest inspiration in your life? Why?
  5. If you could create something fun for adults to do to lift the spirits and make life less serious and bring out the inner child what would it be?
  6. If you had $1,000,000 to spend on whatever you like, what would you do with the money? 
  7. Which would you rather have a machine for teleportation or one for time travel? Why? 


This is the hardest part of these blog awards. Every blog I follow is as worthy of a nomination as mine, probably more so. I’ll nominate blogs that I don’t think I have nominated previously and who I hope might be interested in participating. Of course, there is no obligation to do so and no rush to accept.

  1. Perspective On Trauma
  2. Expat Alien
  3. FunWritings
  4. Travel Explore Enjoy
  5. Micheline’s Blog
  6. Unique Times
  7. Any other blogger who would like to participate

I will leave a comment on your blogs to advise you of the nomination. Have fun!