Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Which Was Your Favorite Country?

It is sad to hear about what's happening now in Egypt. I take no pleasure in reminding you that I predicted in my blog that it will be a long and tortuous road toward a decent society. Give credit to the people in power anywhere - they make reality much worse than the worst nightmare. We are so lucky to have made it there last November and so glad that we didn't listen to our doubts and outside advice and traveled there. Of all the countries that we visited it was the only one that we all liked in equal measure. We all rated it with an 8 out 10. Read on and you'd realize why this is as close to perfection as possible.

A graphic representation of our scoring results from February 2013

How can we answer the simplest question we got from everybody? Which country did you like best? It turns out that it is one of the most complicated. Four hundred sixty five days of travel, divided in 32 entities, with a duration varying from 42 days in Romania and 35 in India and Australia to 2-4 days in places like Macau, Dubai or Singapore. On a secret form each one of us had to give a grade from 1 to 10 to the countries we visited. We used the traditional Romanian rating system where 5 is the passing grade and 1, 2 or 3 are only given as a strong statement of rejection. My wife, Ileana didn't have any grade lower than 6 and I didn't have anything lower than a 5 for Hong Kong (not fair!) and Dubai. Meanwhile the kids were merciless. Ioan gave a 3 for Malaysia and Macau and a 4 for the trip to China with the grandparents. Ileana had a 2 for New Zealand and Hawaii, 3 for Australia (!), and several 4s, while Maria gave the only 1 in our ratings to Macau, a 2 to Southern China and a 3 to Hawaii. In my mind, if 5 is a passing grade, then 1 or 2 should be worse than hell, but to them it might have been a different measure.
We had China twice because it was such a difference between Beijing and Xian with our family in November and Guilin and Guangzhou in January. Also, we had two separate stints in South Africa, counted separately and Scotland and Dubai were seen by only 3 of us. The girls were in camp in Pennsylvania, rated as 7 by Ileana and 10 by Maria.

We had to compare apples with donkeys. Cities or wilderness, familiar or exotic, rich or poor, crowded or deserted, we've had it all, sometimes in the same country. Take India: we all liked it, but for some the tough days from the beginning left a more lasting impression than the perfect final days. How could Ioan give it a 7 is beyond my comprehension. Similarly we all scored Cambodia as a 9 with the exception of Ioan who gave it a 6. What more could a 12 year old ask for than Internet in an air conditioned room, French and Asian food at a restaurant, pool at the hotel, fish massage and playing on the best ruins in the jungle? He gave it a 6!

There was a significant difference between the raters, but all of us were pretty consistent. The children, more demanding, tended to score less. Ileana gave 10 to the exotic Nepal, Maria gave 10 to the familiar Romania and the camp. Ioan could not give a 10 to anything, he used the only decimal, a 9.9 to Romania. I gave four 10s, Japan, Australia, Greece and Italy, while my wife only one: India. Just look at these averages:
Totals for each of us with the corresponding average
Here, in detail, our whole scoring exercise

At the lowest end it is not fair to have Macau rated so poorly, but probably it was too short and too cold. The parents liked it, the children were not ready for it. Hawaii was the second worst, fittingly, considering that it was the only destination where we were forced to go against our will. In the end, Romania scored the highest but it should be disqualified because it didn't play fair: it involved time with our families, with the grandparents and the aunts and uncles and cousins and the lifelong friends. It included the winter holidays and Maria's 18th birthday as well as the excitement of getting ready for return home.

So the runners up are Egypt, Madagascar and Italy with 40 points. In the third place Tibet and Greece with 41. In the second place, with 42, we have Cambodia thanks to Ioan's reckless restraint.

The winner is India with 43 points. Fittingly, by far the most read post on this blog, is Ileana's "India, my love". But, more importantly, from what you read here, which was your favorite country?

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