My 7 Links (because all the cool kids are doing it)

July 10, 2011
If you’re a regular reader to my blog, you may be a bit alarmed. After all, this is my second blog post in a week. And I posted two blog posts last week. (So, uh, where is my medal, I’d like to know?)

It’s not really like me to update my blog twice every week. Heck, it’s not really like me to update my blog once every week. I prefer to wait until inspiration strikes before I write a blog post… or, you know, whenever I run out of reality TV programs to watch on Hulu.

But, don’t worry, it’s not like I’ve suddenly gone over-achiever on you.

First of all, this is not really a new blog post. It just looks like a new blog post, but it doesn’t actually contain any new ideas. (New ideas? But I already had a post full of new ideas this week. Who do I look like? Einstein? Sheez.)

Instead, it’s just full of old ideas… or, more aptly put, old blog posts.

You see, Tripbase, is running this 7 Links Project which asks bloggers to publish a list of seven of their favorite posts. And then after you list your favorite posts, you have to nominate five other bloggers to participate.

And, it’s my honor to tell all of you that I have been nominated.




(Umm, excuse me, sooo…. is my medal in the mail or something?)

And, even though I just created a Best Of page on my blog where you can find links to all my favorite posts, I figured I might as well participate.

You know, because who am I to turn down a nomination?

I mean, how would I break the news to the academy?

Okay, so it wasn’t exactly an academy that nominated me. But two people did choose me to do this thing: the lovely Liv of I Eat My Pigeon and the super cool Roy from CruiseSurfingz. So it’s kind of like the People’s Choice Awards — the people want me to do it. Who am I to turn my back on the people? (Even though the people have yet to cough up a medal. I mean, really, people. It doesn’t have to be solid gold or anything. Besides, silver goes better with my skin tone.)

So here goes:

My Seven Links

1. My Most Beautiful Post

Unbrave Girl Takes on Travel Bloggers: In Defense of Fear & Why Traveling Doesn’t Make You Brave

This was a toughie because I don’t usually put a lot of photos in my blog posts.

I like my words to speak for themselves, if you know what I mean.

Besides, most of the photos I take are of food. And there are only so many photos of dumplings you can put in a post before you’re going to have to quit everything you’re doing and GO EAT DUMPLINGS RIGHT NOW.

Mmm.... dumplings.

Plus, it takes me, like, forever to upload photos to my blog. It already takes me half of eternity to write a post. I’ve done my time, people. What more do you want from me? Besides, I want to GO EAT DUMPLINGS RIGHT NOW.

Therefore, the post that I think is my most beautiful is not that pretty on the outside. It doesn’t have a lot of pictures in it. In fact, it only has one picture – and that picture wasn’t even of dumplings.

But that’s okay because I think it was pretty on the inside. And that’s what really counts, right? Right? (Please tell me I’m right or my mom was sooo wrong all those years.)

2. My Most Popular Post

10 Things I Learned in 10 Months of Traveling (with pictures!)

This post got crazy hits, and I’m not sure exactly why.

Maybe it was because it was a top ten list, and who could hate a top ten list? They’re like the puppies and unicorns of the Internet. Everyone loves them! Even the people who claim to hate them still love them. (You know who you are.)

Or maybe it was because there was the promise of pictures, and everyone loves pictures! Even if the pictures make you quit everything you’re doing and GO EAT DUMPLINGS RIGHT NOW.

What? Still not eating dumplings yet?

Or maybe it was because people truly wanted to know what I had learned during my ten months of traveling. If there’s anything I’d like to achieve with this blog, it’s to pass along my wisdom and the life lessons I’ve picked up during my years of living abroad… you know, so you can pay me back in medals. (Umm, yeah, still waiting.)

Or maybe it was because Lonely Planet tweeted the link to this post on Twitter, and people will pretty much go wherever Lonely Planet tells them to go.

Trust me.

I’ve spent hours walking past the same five buildings looking for some hole-in-the-wall restaurant recommended by my Lonely Planet guidebook. Even though I could have gone to any number of other restaurants on the same street and be EATING DUMPLINGS RIGHT NOW instead of walking around in endless circles. But, noooo, Lonely Planet didn’t tell me to eat at any of those restaurants, so I guess I’ll just keep walking around until I find the recommended restaurant. Or I’ll just die of starvation.

You know, whichever one comes first.

3. My Most Controversial Post

I Quit: 5 Reasons I Can’t Be Your Inspiration Any More

This is the only post I’ve written that really stirred up any kind of controversy and disagreement in the comments.

Frankly, this surprises me.

I mean, you people really should be disagreeing with me more. I come up with a lot of really bad ideas – like really, really bad ones.

And, instead of keeping them in my head like a sane person, I share them with all of you, and I pretend like I’m handing out sound advice. Like, “Hey, when living in a foreign country it’s best to learn as little of the language as possible. You know, because who doesn’t love a little mystery? Besides, you don’t really want to know what’s in your lunch. Trust me on this.” (See? How is that good advice? And, yet, no one emailed me to tell me that I really needed to be taken off the internetz already.)

Frankly, I wish more people would disagree with me. Disagreements can be really good. They create discussion. They make you rethink and reevaluate yourself and your values. They help you see the issue from another side.

And, honestly, there’s nothing that gets my brain ticking and inspires me to write more than a good argument. Most of my favorite posts, including this one, were inspired by something I read that I totally disagreed with.

Besides, all the cool kids have haters. I want haters! What’s a girl have to do to get some haters around here?

(I have dumplings. You give me some haters, I’ll give you some dumplings. Fair enough?)

Here are your dumplings. Where are my haters?

4. My Most Helpful Post

The Unbrave Girl’s How-To Guide to House-Sitting in the Jungle

Helpful, huh?

Yeah, ummm….

I don’t really do helpful so much.

In fact, when I get a comment that says something like, “Great advice!” or “Really helpful tips!” I just assume it’s spam… or someone who’s not really into that whole reading thing.

I wouldn’t say my guide to house-sitting in the jungle was particularly helpful —  especially should you actually want to house-sit in the jungle. (Now if your goal is to dissuade yourself and anyone you know from ever setting foot in the jungle, this is the post for you!)

But this post did reveal some truly groundbreaking information regarding the true nature of ants. Trust me, you will not find this information anywhere else on the Internet. This information is not available in any scientific textbooks or journals. It’s possible I solved a mystery which has been baffling scientists for years.

Or it’s possible that hanging out in the jungle by myself with nothing but two cats and, like, a gabillion biting ants to keep me company made me a bit loopy.

But, whatever, I really think I had something there.

5. A Post Whose Success Surprised Me

A Love Letter to China: 5 Reasons I Have a Crush on my New Home

It’s a good thing I’m not the jealous type.

It’s also a good thing that there’s plenty of China to go around.

Because it appears I’m not the only one who loves me some China.

It must be the dumplings.

Really? Still not eating dumplings yet? How’s that working for you?

 6. A Post That Didn’t Get the Attention It Deserved

Unbrave Girl Goes Country: From Reluctant Farm Girl to Grizzled Farmhand

This category could apply to most of the posts I wrote before moving my blog over to WordPress. (I’ve mentioned the special hell reserved for people like me who choose the wrong blogging platform, right?)

This could also apply to pretty much all of the posts I wrote before I joined Twitter. But, alas, back then I had no idea how to find out how many people didn’t read my blog, so I was perfectly blissful in my ignorance. If someone besides my mom left a comment on my blog, I felt like a rock star. And now I expect medals. Really. What has become of me? (And what has become of my medal? Hmmm?)

Out of all my overlooked posts, I’m pretty partial to this one. I wrote this during my fifth week of volunteering on a Malaysian rice farm.  It was not an easy week for me. My back was giving out on me after five weeks of bending over to weed rice paddies. I had developed some weird skin rash on my leg. My dorm room came down with a nasty infestation of bed bugs. The other volunteers were dropping off like flies. And I almost stepped on a snake.

Let me just repeat that last one, in case you didn’t catch it: I ALMOST STEPPED ON A SNAKE.

Like, a real live snake.

With my real live foot.

That memory combined with the bed bugs kept me from getting a good night’s sleep for the remainder of the time that I was on the rice farm.

So, yeah, it was a bad week.

But, I got a pretty good blog post out of the deal.

And that’s all that matters right?

Umm, right?

7. The Post that I Am Most Proud Of

Super Sized Me: A Big Girl’s Guide to Surviving Asia

Even though the tone in this post was light and humorous, it was a really emotional post for me to write.

Like most women, I’ve had my body issues. It doesn’t help that I live in Asia, where I’m twice the size of the average female. Plus, it also doesn’t help that I have one of those bodies that could gain weight just by looking at a photograph of deep-fried dumplings.

I’ve mentioned that dumplings come deep-fried, too, right?

But, writing this post truly showed me how much I’ve grown – ahem, mentally grown, that is. (Okay, so I’ve physically grown a lot over the past year, too, but that’s just between me and my pants, okay?)

While it still isn’t easy to let the comments about my size just roll off me, I have become a lot more confident and secure in who I am and how I look. And I’m proud of that. No matter what my pants may say.

Plus, I’m proud of how popular this post was – I got a lot of great comments from people and this post got about twice as much traffic as my average post. The topic obviously struck a chord with a lot of people.

Well, that, and my site became the number one Google search result for anyone using the search term “big girls in Asia.” (Yep, I beat out the porn! Turns out I don’t need haters to be a cool kid. I just need blog post titles that sound suspiciously like porn.)

And the nominees are…
In keeping with the rules of the 7 Links Project, I now must nominate five other bloggers to participate in this project. So, here, are my nominations:

MaryAnne from A Totally Impractical Guide to Living in Shanghai

Fiona from Life on Nanchang Lu

Melanie from Odysseus Drifts

Bessie & Kyle from On Our Own Path

Audrey from That Backpacker

To all my nominees, best of luck, and I look forward to your posts. Just don’t ask me when you’ll get your medals…

I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On July 10, 2011 at 1:53 pm Justin said:

    I just recently discovered your blog and you’re an amazing writer, very entertaining. I’ve been skimming the blog and taking note of posts I wanted to read but then you go and make a post like this… and on top of that you link to your “best of” page which I had completely missed. And now I’m looking at my browser and I literally have 11 tabs open of blog posts I want to read. And 11 is only because I had to stop myself before your blog crashes Chrome!

    Look forward to more posts. 🙂

    • On July 11, 2011 at 3:11 am Sally said:

      So glad you’re enjoying the blog, but don’t go crashing your computer for me! Ha!
      And GOOD NEWS (for your computer & hopefully for you too), one of my readers recently converted all my Best Of posts into an eBook. I’ll be making that available later this week (once I figure out how to make it available… technology has never exactly been my friend). So that might be an easy way to catch up on your reading without crashing your browser (or killing your eyes.) I’ll keep everyone posted on here & on my FB page!

  2. On July 10, 2011 at 4:52 pm Andrew - The Unframed World said:

    I think you misspelled my name in your nominated bloggers.
    It’s “Andrew” not “Audrey” ^_^

    Great post, I like retrospectives and also pass-along posts. Thanks!

  3. On July 10, 2011 at 6:30 pm Dyanne@TravelnLass said:

    I’m loving this “7 Links” frenzy that’s going around – great for those of us who tuned in late, to unearth some true gems (e.g. your “Most Beautiful Post” is sterling!)

    • On July 11, 2011 at 3:04 am Sally said:

      Aww, thanks, Dyanne. Glad you enjoyed it! I really loved writing that piece — it was one of the few that I wrote that stemmed from something I read that I disagreed with. I truly think most of my best work comes from being contrary and annoyed at something someone said. That probably doesn’t say good things about me… oh well! 🙂

  4. On July 10, 2011 at 11:07 pm Margaret said:

    Congrats and very well deserved! I agree with Dyanne-love this idea! It’s also very interesting to see what our favorite bloggers think about their own blogs and writing.

    • On July 11, 2011 at 3:02 am Sally said:

      Yeah, I’ve really been enjoying reading other people’s 7 links posts — I’ve discovered some fun old posts by some of my favorite bloggers without having to dig through their archives and feel like (too much of) a stalker. 🙂

  5. On July 10, 2011 at 11:44 pm Greg Goodman said:

    Sally…I love your list, especially the one abotu going country. I have had many similar situations in my travels where I had to step so far out of my NYC comfort zone it was crazy!

    I also wanted to thank you for the inspiration! I completed My 7 Links, just in time for my wedding, which made it that much more special!

    Take a look: My 7 Links at Adventures of a GoodMan: Photography, Storytelling and World Travel

    • On July 11, 2011 at 3:01 am Sally said:

      The funny thing is that I kind of felt at home on the farm because I grew up on a farm. After 3 years of living in a city in Japan, it was nice to be surrounded by nature again… not so nice to be surrounded by snakes, though. 🙂
      Glad you enjoyed the post & I’m glad I could provide you with a little inspiration. And big huge CONGRATS on your wedding! How wonderful! Best wishes!

  6. On July 11, 2011 at 11:11 am Alex said:

    I’ve been loving reading these from all my favorite bloggers! It’s so fun to see what people think of their own work (I loved critique day at art school).

    In fact I just went ahead and nominated myself.

  7. On July 11, 2011 at 5:22 pm The Travel Chica said:

    I am happy to been nominated as a cool kid too but too lazy to actually go back and look at all my posts (only 8 months worth, so it shouldn’t be that hard,especially since I don’t have a real job).

    You have to stop tempting me with the dumplings. There is nothing equivalent in Buenos Aires, and I’ll have to settle for empanadas which are much more damaging to my waistline.

    • On July 12, 2011 at 1:54 am Sally said:

      Well, you could always just fill your whole post with empanadas! But then that would make everyone want empanadas and I have no idea where to get empanadas in China so maybe that’s not a good idea…. think of me! 🙂

  8. On July 11, 2011 at 7:54 pm Sabrina said:

    Very cool! I’m off to read of the older posts now – especially the big girl’s guide 🙂 Whenever I’m in China, I start feeling like one of these huge defense players in American football. Not good for your self esteem if you don’t actually wanna be a defense player 🙂

    PS: The dumplings look freaking delicious! Especially the fried ones!

  9. On July 12, 2011 at 5:41 am Odysseus Drifts said:

    Wow, this was such an emotional post for me Sally. I have decided to do a Top 10 Comment of My Feelings.

    1. happy-happy-laugh-laugh
    2. hungry: I want dumplings.
    3. happy-happy-laugh-laugh
    4. hungry: I want 2 plates of dumplings.
    5. Uh-on. Now Sally’s talking about a special hell for bloggers who use the wrong blogging platform. Umm, that couldn’t possibly refer to people who use, which is the ultimate in professional blogging platforms.
    6. hungry: I want 3 plates of dumplings.
    7. Sally nominated me to play! Yay! Nobody ever chooses me. In school, I was always the next-to-last one to be chosen for teams in gym class, right before the Fat Kid. Also, I wonder if this is this like an Academy Award nomination? Should I fix my hair and buy a fancy dress?
    8. Uh-oh. I don’t know if my old platform is capable of activating links in a post. Feeling that heat . . .
    9. hungry: I want ALL the dumplings.
    10. I should definitely fix my hair and buy a fancy dress — one in size XX-Large just in case someone, such as myself, decides to gift me with 4 plates of dumplings. Hmm, come to think of it, maybe I was the Other Fat Kid in gym class.

    • On July 13, 2011 at 3:19 am Sally said:

      LOVE the comment. I think everyone should leave comments in the form of top 10 lists (because you know we ALL love them). And, just to clear up any Blogspot vs. WordPress, animosity, I have no hate for the Blogspot. I don’t really know why people are hating on it so much. Besides, I have no place to judge as I used iWeb for a year. What’s that? Never heard of iWeb? Uh huh. Yeah.
      I look forward to your post! (And I know Blogspot can activate links. I used to have a Blogspot blog and had no problem putting in links… so if I can do it, anyone can!)
      And, yes, a fancy dress is definitely in order.

  10. On July 12, 2011 at 12:11 pm Roy | Cruisesurfingz said:

    Damnit. Now I feel like dumplings…

  11. On July 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm Mary Anne said:

    Argh, technology! I commented on this post last night after we got back from 5 days of camping (aka 5 days away from the internet), wanting to thank you for your nomination (do I get a medal too?) and to say, hey, wow, you chose some awesome posts there, lady! However, I think the internet ate my comment. So I’m trying again. This would be the comment.

    PS I miss cheap dumplings!

    • On July 13, 2011 at 3:15 am Sally said:

      You’re welcome. And, of course, you get a medal… right after I get mine… which I am STILL waiting on. The PEOPLE just can’t be trusted for these kind of things.

      P.S. This is what I like to hear. This assures me that you will come back…. RIGHT?

      • On July 13, 2011 at 5:01 am Mary Anne said:

        Oh, I’ll be back- Doug’d be really miffed if I left him for, well, for a stable life in a country that has libraries and lots of good bread and coffee. Also, you do need someone to drink (healthy) cocktails with come autumn (before you leave me!).

  12. On July 13, 2011 at 7:46 am NomadDanib said:

    I was going to say something intelligent and thought provoking. But now all i can think about is dumplings. Delicious, meat-filled bags of heaven in my mouth.
    And do i have dumplings?
    Do i have a way of getting dumplings at 12:42 am?
    Not a chance.
    Do i even have room in my stomach for dumplings on top of the sandwich i just ate for dinner? (Yes i had dinner after midnight. No i have no desire to look good in a bikini this summer)
    No room, no way no how!

    So i just want to thank you for making dumplings on my mind. Stick on my mind. Fill my mind. Oh this would be so much better if i just had a giant basket hat filled with dumplings on my head right now.

    Damn you! 😛

    • On July 15, 2011 at 4:21 am Sally said:

      You know where they serve dumplings at 12:42 am? China! You should come visit! (Okay, so I have no idea if they do actually serve them that late… but you can buy the frozen ones and eat them whenever you want. Yay!)

  13. On July 13, 2011 at 2:30 pm Nomadic Samuel said:

    A nice collection of articles. I enjoyed the first post about why travel doesn’t necessarily make you brave. You brought up a point of feeling nervous meeting other travel bloggers. I think that it would especially feel strange/awkward if they seemed different from their online persona. I can imagine though that most would reflect how they portray themselves on their blog.

    • On July 15, 2011 at 4:20 am Sally said:

      Yeah, it’s kind of like online dating — but worse. I actually want the travel bloggers to LIKE me. (As for the guys I met through online dating, meh, not so much.)

  14. On July 13, 2011 at 2:37 pm crazy sexy fun traveler said:

    Damn you and your dumplings! At the 3rd post, I had to stop reading and go to eat something 😀

    • On July 15, 2011 at 4:19 am Sally said:

      I realize this post was cruel. I did it to get back at all those people living in countries that serve cheese who are always posting pictures of cheese… 🙂

  15. On July 14, 2011 at 8:10 am Lauren Fritsky said:

    Damn you, damn you, I’ve been craving dumplings for a week. I want to leap through my screen and into one of these pics. Yom, yom. yom.

  16. On July 14, 2011 at 4:25 pm choi kum fook said:

    Miss Sally, actually hard working is good for the physical healthy, The experience in the farm giving you more articles to write, thus, make your brain more efficiency. Sorry for the bed bugs tortured and snake frightened. you so much. I will give you some compensation one day. Nevertheless, as I think,the farm life make you more brave to face and hope you had a unforgettable memory! Ha, Ha! When are you coming back to the farm again!.

  17. On July 17, 2011 at 10:32 am Ceri said:

    I noticed everyone’s been doing this lately.

    I loved the posts you chose … then again, I have only recently gone all the way back to your first posts and read them all so I can remember how great these are. 😀

  18. On July 18, 2011 at 1:56 am ayngelina said:

    I want to know what you think your funniest post was, because that would be a tough one to pick.

    • On July 18, 2011 at 5:19 am Sally said:

      Oh, hrmph… that is a toughie. I don’t like to say my posts are funny because it sounds braggy and I like to keep people’s expectations low. (It’s truly the secret to my success). But, there are definitely posts that make me laugh more than others (yes, I am the dork who reads her own posts and giggles to herself). Most recently, the one post that made me laugh a lot was the 5 Steps to Setting up a Blog. (Even though it doesn’t sound like it would be very funny… for some reason I cracked up the entire time I wrote it). And the house-sitting guide still makes me giggle… mostly because it talks about zombies and zombies are always going to be funny.

  19. On August 21, 2011 at 2:14 pm Elizabeth said:

    Saw you on Yahoo and decided to check out your blog. Great stories that I totally relate to. I am also a nice plump size 14 but here in China cannot squeeze into what they label a XXXXL. Seriously depressing!
    I’ve been living in China since 2004 and got myself married to a terrific Chinese guy.
    We moved to Hainan Island in 2006 and I thought I would die from lonliness as I was the only laowai for hours in any diection. Then I decided to open a B&B in order to lure English speakers into my world. It worked. So if you are missing a good homemade American Breakfast look me up and come on down.

    • On August 21, 2011 at 2:20 pm Sally said:

      Hi Elizabeth,
      Thanks so much for checking out my blog. Glad to hear you’re enjoying it. I just looked at the website for your B&B. It looks amazing! I will definitely look you up if I ever get to Hainan. I’ve heard lovely things about the island so it’s definitely on my must-see places in China!
      And, I AM missing a good homemade American breakfast. (Well, at least one not made by myself.) How did you know? 🙂


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