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Expat Panda’s 1st blog awards

March 24, 2017 6 Comments

Well this post is long overdue! I was nominated for TWO different awards by two of my favourite blogs; justbluedutch nominated me for The Liebster Award in February and theXpats nominated me for The Liebster Award and Blogger Recognition Award just last week. It’s the first time my blog has been nominated for anything so to be nominated 3 times for 2 different awards is very exciting indeed.



Gee thanks ladies, who will I nominate now? Just kidding!

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theXpats are a married couple documenting their expat journey from the UK to Dubai… I really enjoy reading blogs about other expats in the Gulf and this one is no exception! Their experiences in the Middle Eastern Las Vegas go beyond the usual touristy experiences which interests me greatly.

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Justbluedutch is run by Christina who is a former Kuwait expat (sadly, she left just before I arrived) but now resides in Germany. She writes on such a wide variety of topics from parenting to expat life to flowers to art that I really believe there is something to interest everyone on her blog.





What are these awards about? They are awards for new or lesser known bloggers to help them gain more recognition of their work. There is no actual award – just being nominated is already a prize! Even though it’s more like an ongoing shout out amongst bloggers, it’s pretty cool to be recognized by one of your own. And in a world where some bloggers are busy elbowing their way to the top of the heap, it’s nice to know that other bloggers are willing to share the spotlight with those new to the blogosphere. These awards are given by bloggers to bloggers, if you are nominated and accept the Liebster Award you:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Write a post to show your award.
  • Write a post where you answer 11 questions given by the blogger who nominated you.
  • Pick 5–11 more bloggers to nominate and
  • Write your 11 questions for them.

And for the Blogger Recognition Award I need to:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Write a post to show your award.
  • Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  • Select other bloggers you want to give this award to.
  • Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them and provide the link to the post you created.


Now technically, you are supposed to answer all 11 questions that have been posed to you by your nominator/s but I have cheated a bit and just chosen a few from each blogger (sorry guys but I am not interesting enough for 22 questions!).



  1. What were your worries, if any, about blogging your life?


  2. Why did you start your blog?

Fun fact: Fox & I ran a blog together for a year while we lived in South Korea. Although it was great fun (it definitely brought us closer together), we shared A LOT about our lives online and after a while people began to think that they were a part of our relationship! I even had a random girl who recognized me from the blog, come up to me in a Chinese airport and give me advice on how to run my blog and relationship!


Anyway, after we got engaged and left Korea, we never really got back into the blog (with the move back to South Africa, teaching full time while completing my masters and planning my wedding, it was too much). But for years, people were asking to get back into blogging and Fox really wanted me to pursue my passion of writing.

I didn’t want to go back to my old blog because absolutely everything about my life has changed since then. So I started this blog and began to make it more informative about my experiences rather than personal account of my life. My first few posts were written while I was still living in South Africa and outline the long process it was for me to find a suitable teaching job in the Middle East. Now I have been blogging regularly about my experiences as an expat in Kuwait and my travels!


My worry about this blog is always about how much I share about myself and my life and what is too much; but also, I do know that it’s a blog, not a newspaper article so there do need to be personal elements. I think my formula works… you can tell me if you agree! Side note: I realize that this post may be my most personal post yet… feeling nervous but still going to publish it!


3. Is there an embarrassing programme you love to watch?


4. What is your guilty pleasure?

Well my guilty pleasure is the embarrassing thing that I watch which is Bollywood movies! I am so unbelievably picky about the English movies that I watch (I am an absolute snob about movies- 3 years of film studies at uni) but somehow I find myself going to the effort of downloading Bollywood movies and watching. Yes you can watch Bollywood movies in the cinemas in Kuwait but I could not handle if someone saw me doing that.


The entire genre of “masala” films is a guilty pleasure. In one movie you will get a mix of every genre known to man- with fight scenes that defy physics, actors and actresses with looks that would make angels cry, and love that is so saccharine you can practically feel the cavities forming on your teeth even as you continue to hum the 6th song in a movie nearly 4 hours long. I am not a fan of the storylines but watching Bollywood reminds me of growing up brown where there was always a Bollywood song playing the background of my parent’s house. Yeah you crave weird things when you are homesick.


5. If you could travel to any place in the world where would you go?

Where wouldn’t I go? Although it is very difficult to choose, I would say Greece. When we were very young and very broke, Fox and I always spoke of going there on our honeymoon. But when the time came, we realized that to fly from South Africa to Greece, coupled with the fact that we needed to convert rands to euros and of course, the cost of and long application for the Schengen visa… it was beyond our means. Hopefully, we will get to fulfill our dream one day for our second honeymoon!

Seriously… who wouldn’t want to travel here?



6. What’s the craziest thing you have ever done in life?

When I was 21, I moved across the world, to a place I’d never been, to a culture I knew nothing about, to a country whose language I didn’t speak. Oh yeah, and to do a job I had no experience in, no educational background in and really no clue how to do effectively!



One sunny Durban day, I boarded a South African Airways flight which would, after THREE stops in various airports, deposit me in Incheon, South Korea. Just before we landed, the pilot announced that the temperature on the ground was minus 4. MINUS FOUR is equivalent to saying, ‘YOU ARE GOING TO DIE’ to a person who comes from my place of birth. That was the first time the enormity of what I had done, hit me.

Did I mention that I didn’t know a soul in Korea? Not even in Seoul?

Did I mention that I had never lived alone before and no clue how to cook, use a washing machine or BE BY MYSELF?

Did I mention that in my family and community, girls at my age were getting engaged and married, not running off across the globe? I was the only person I knew who wasn’t preparing to ‘settle down’.

Did I mention that I almost scrapped the entire decision and didn’t want to get on the plane when my mum, who dropped me off at the airport, started crying loudly at passport control? I only saw my mother cry once before, at a funeral, and that sight made my heart wrench. I was the first of four children to leave home and it was tough on my conservative parents. But still, I reached within me, hoisted my backpack and walked through immigration.


The best part was that I wasn’t even fazed about it before I left. I barely did any research and gave any thought to what my life would actually be like once I landed in South Korea. I took a giant leap of faith and hoped for the best! It was the best and worst decision of my life. Purely because I know, if I hadn’t left South Africa then, when I was young and dumb, I probably never would have. And that means, I never would’ve started seeing the world and traveling… Imagine that!

Looking back now, I am trying to think of why exactly I decided to move but while trying to come up with a reasonable, even responsible answer, I realized something. I don’t really have one. I never really did. And why should I? To be honest, the best response I can come up with is why not?

And yes, I realize this makes me sound naïve (I was), and probably sounds nothing short of ridiculous (I still am). Maybe I really am crazy. But if being crazy gave me the opportunity to challenge myself daily, to step outside my comfort zone, and to learn about the world by experiencing different parts of it first-hand, then I have to admit that I’m quite happy being crazy.


7. What is your favourite international dish to eat?

This is like torture to a person who loves food. How can I choose one? But I think as much as I travel and sample new dishes, I always come back to biryani. For people who don’t know, biryani is flavoured rice with lot of meat or egg or vegetables. The main ingredients of biryani are rice, spices, herbs, vegetables and usually meat (but can be a vegetarian dish too- in fact I love vegetable biryani). The main biryani spices are cloves, cardamoms, onions, ginger, garlic, saffron, masala and pepper. It’s a complete food in a single dish, proteins, carbs and flavours all in a single mouth watering package. I have tried out biryanis in so many different parts of the world because it is such a diverse dish.


I’ve cheated again. To me, this isn’t just an international dish that I’ve loved sampling. It is also one of my comfort foods. Fish biryani reminds of Saturday suppers and Sunday lunches at my parents’ house. Mutton biryani conjures memories of evenings at my in-laws’ place. It’s something I can eat almost anywhere I go and be reminded of where I came from.


8. What is your favorite post? And why. Please provide a link.

My favourite post currently is and may always be, this one about my long distance marriage. I wrote the post in one sitting and it took me about an hour to compose including finding the pictures (that is unheard of, for a perfectionist like me!). The post came about when Fox was missing me and he was being very negative about the distance. I tried to counteract his statements and he challenged me to write a blog post outlining the positives. That post changed his outlook and remains a source of comfort to many long distance couples. It has been my most shared post on various platforms and it isn’t hard to see why.


9. Do you think your mother /father would be proud to read your blog?

My mother and father were always dropping subtle hints about me continuing my old blog so I think they are pleased that I started to write again. I think its also great that they can read up on the details of my travels in a way that is lost when you text or even Skype.


As for being proud, well I don’t know about that. See, while my parents aren’t exactly thrilled with the lifestyle I’ve chosen for myself — if they had their way I’d settle down in Durban with Fox and build a house next door — they haven’t offered up much resistance to it. As long as I’m happy and not hurting anyone, they’re pretty cool with however I choose to live my life.

However; I was raised less in the “trophy for participation” manner and more like, “What happened to the other five marks?” when I got a 95 out of 100 on an essay in school (Desi kids know what I am talking about). I don’t doubt my parents’ love for me; I simply understand they’re not easily impressed. If they read a few blog posts, its acknowledgment enough!



My advice for new bloggers:

  • Be helpful. Chances are, if you’re writing regularly (and reading more widely about your particular area of interest), you’ll have built up a level of knowledge and expertise that could help others on their journey. It’s lovely to interact with those who read my posts and I try to be as helpful as possible if others seek advice. Turn your personal experience into someone else’s solution. That will make a HUGE difference in your ratings, views and recognition. And influence.
  • Create content you’re passionate about. Find a topic that really resonates with you and channel it into your blog. People have a good sense of dedication and enthusiasm and promise if you show it, it’ll lead them to your site. Oh and strive for excellence. Write the best content you can and use the best pictures possible. Your readers only know what you show them so, show them your best!


Well there you go! That was HEAPS of useless personal information about me. In accordance to the blogosphere legal system., I must nominate some of the blogs I enjoy reading. There were obviously loads of blogs I enjoy reading, but here are a selection of good ones who I think are deserving of BOTH The Liebster Award and Blogger Recognition Award:

American Teacher Overseas // Adventures of a Jersey Girl // Miniz Diary // Blonde on the move // The Life & style of Aneesa Vally // Live Life Lah // Travel Magnolia // Scottish Family Adventures // The Tarmac Tales




My questions for the nominated bloggers are:

  1. What is your favourite thing to photograph?
  2. Which magical power do you wish you had while you were travelling?
  3. If we had a day to spend together in your hometown, what would we do?
  4. Which TV show would you like to live in?
  5. What is your “take all my money!” store?
  6. What food do you crave when you need comfort?
  7. What has been your most valuable failure?
  8. What’s your favorite Disney movie?
  9. What would you have told your 16 or 18-year-old self?
  10. Tell the world the story of how and why you started your blog.


Hope this post wasn’t an overload of personal information about me! Until next time,



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  • The TravelBug March 25, 2017 at 11:12 pm

    Really nice post! Been on the search for some new blogs to read! 🙂

    • Expat Panda March 26, 2017 at 7:07 am

      Ah thank you! Hope you found something you will enjoy!

  • Fabulous-Fusions March 30, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    Congratulations !!! You’ve got a lovely blog and you truly deserve it 🙂 Those awards are really motivating 🙂

    • Expat Panda March 30, 2017 at 4:39 pm

      Ah thank you for your kind words!

  • atriakenn June 10, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    …just knew you love Bollywood Movies. You should see Bahubali 1 and 2. They are blockbuster hit worldwide! I first watched them without subtitles and I didn’t understand it clearly but the sound effects, actions and dancing were really entertaining. Anyway, congratulations on the awards! 🙂

    • Expat Panda June 10, 2017 at 3:29 pm

      Thanks, I will definitely check out those movies 😀

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