Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,
I have a different sort of entry for you this time. I got an email from Travelpod about writing 'something' about writing a Travelblog. I thought to myself, what would I know about writing a travelblog...i throw a billion words together, add a few photos and wallah, theres my page. BUT then I looked at the figures...now sitting at 34th in the '100 All Time Best Blogs' on the Travelpod, worlds biggest Blog site and this month sitting in 6th position. Not bad for a one country blog! A lot of people are either bored, taking very long coffee breaks or like my pictures....no matter what, here is what i wrote for Travelpod.com.
Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,
After getting an email from Travelpod asking if I wished to contribute to their new KNOL I quickly clicked the hyperlink, read the home page and decided that what was already there covered everything any new blogger needs to know. After a few days I then decided that it didn't actually cover everything, especially for those whose blogs will become like a window and apart of them and their family for many years.
So in my normal long winded fashion I offer any new blogger the following billion words of advice. To visit the Original KNOL please click here. It will take but a second mate! <u> What a Tavel Blog is to me</u>
To most a travelblog is a simple 'online journal' that allows them to write about their journey, upload photos, videos and sound files that when combined allow their friends and family to experience their journey with them on 'real time'. Now days the only sense left out is that of smell and living and travelling in the places I do my friends and family had better hope it never happens!
Of course to me a travelblog is the above but somewhere along the way it became an avenue to bring to life my own Choose Your Own Adventure series. I always 'plan to plan' each adventure but somehow it never seems to work out that way. For a month or so prior I will read the LP or browse though Travelpod (or another personal favourite of mine, Passplanet.com) and try to create a mind map of where I want to go and what I want to see.For some strange reason I always get nervous that I will waste a lot of my time if I don't have a plan.
Some holidays it has taken me several days to throw the pack on and actually leave the place I am living as I am seriously yet to come up with a first or starting destination. From there it seems to simply unfold before my very eyes and I end up in places I had never even thought of visiting. I then get emails from friends asking why I am not heading towards Korea when my last entry stated that I had finally, at least made a decision that I would turn right and head east. For some unknown reason I ended up turning left and heaing west yet there was nothing there I wanted to see.
I really did want to visit the Changbai Shan Nature Reserve on the border of South Korea so why did I find myself west in Ningxia Province visiting then thousand year old stone carvings? Some times I really don't know who is wearing my sandals. Am I making these decisions from some plan I subconsciously created prior to leaving or is there a geeky kid hidden away in the back of a library somewhere in the world choosing my next step?
If you find out make sure you tell me and then we will both know! Choose your own adventure travelblog style! <u> Evolving The Storyteller Within (along with your blog)</u> <u></u> <u></u> The most important thing about blogging is overlooked by almost everyone for the first few months of finding their way though their new world of 'cyber travel'. Style! I never thought about it until I realised why I was actually writing my blog and that led to consciously trying to develop a style that not only I was happy with but one that also captured some of the people passing by.
I began by writing simple things like, I'm now in Kunming and we are having a great time. It is Christmas and look at Bill in photo number five, isn't he funny!
Once I figured out why I wanted to write my blog and what I wanted from it things changed. I became much more honest when writing about things that were going on around me in this insane and confusing world of China along with anything in the world of travel. Style! Things don't always go as go as planned so find your own way to write about them. When you find yourself beginning to write about something you would normally keep quiet about, continue as this is you beginning to find your own style.
Remember that you are the lucky one, you are the one that who is travelling to places that you never imagined you would end up.
These are the same places that millions of others not only dream of going to but also like you millions of others are lucky enough make their reality. First of all find a style that makes your self happy and fulfils the reasons behind your blog and then go about allowing your self the openness and freedom of change when you feel you need something new.
Then worry about how to get a few of the millions that are still dreaming of 'going' to actually read it.
To do that you have to find someway of making your style more interesting than the 'other millions' that have already been there and have written about it or are writing about it now. You can tell the people reading your blog that that Bill was funny in Kunming at Christmas time or you can really tell them why he was funny and what happened in great detail. Add in the sounds, the smells and the colours of the market place. Then describe the moment Bills tastebuds exploded as he had the first mouthful of his Sichuan Beef Noodles (EXTREMELY HOT!).
Write about how he continued eating his noodles because everyone thought it was funny. Remember Bill is a funny man and likes a good laugh. But don't stop there, why not add in what happened when you left the market place and the alien sounds that Bills stomach was making that even had the locals searching for where they were coming from. Most importantly don't leave out what happened to Bill when he couldn't find a public toilet.
Maybe here you could turn off the reader's sense of smell!
Most of all write with an open heart and an open mind. I've been living, teaching and travelling all over China for almost four years and prior to that travelled to various other Asian countries. One thing I will never pretend is that I understand more than I do and believe me, the longer I'm here the more I understand that I really don't understand much at all.
For me that makes my adventure and life totally what I want it to be. I am not Asian/Chinese and nor do I want to be. I am proud of who I am and where I come from so I will always make sure that gap is between us. This allows me to remain who I am along with the freedom to view the world I live in with total honesty. I can make it as colourful as I desire and sometimes maybe be a little too descriptive in my details about the Chinese world around me.
I always tell of my journeys to and from my destinations as they are usually the 'fun' part of the adventure. For me they are the part that differs from the last tourist and the millions more that have visited the same destination and written a blog about it. Even the simple purchase of a train or bus ticket can be an awesome blog. But you must treat it with honesty and humour by writing it after the anger and frustration have departed.
Remember that your anger and frustration is born of communication and cultural differences.
What is normal for 'them' is usually very frustrating for 'us' so don't write about another culture whilst in anger. I think we have all read the blogs that have been written in total unfairness by someone who is visiting a non-English speaking country for two weeks, staying only in hostels and spending their entire time with Westerners and beer. Those reading such blogs will walk away believing that the ticket girl really was stupid for not understanding what the writer wanted. The strange fact is it is the English speaking writer that is in her Non-English speaking country.
Who really is the stupid one?
The ticket girl or the blog writer who is visiting an Asian country in which he believes everyone around him should speak English and understand him. Before writing that day's entry the blog writer really should have sat back and thought about why he was visiting that country in the first place. Was it for the personal challenge and growth or maybe it was simply because it's an inexpensive ego trip. Writing is a strange thing, it has a way of capturing a part of the writer and anyone who reads their work will begin to understand how they see the world around them and where they fit in it.
Buying a ticket in a non-English speaking country can take hours or even several days depending on where you are. It is these times that your friends and other blog readers are actually after. Once they know you are safe many will skip through your blog and spend most of their time looking at your photos. Try to keep them entertained, tell them about poor Bill (above) and about the market place that most of them will probably never get to see.
Write a blog about your frustrating experience buying a train ticket but most of all, be descriptive with cultural differences. I once ate my friends cat and a few weeks later I fell on a floor full off pig sh*%. How? It was a very poor village in Guangxi Province in China and there simply aren't any toilets in such places. There are two bricks and you're in with the pigs. One of pigs got a little too interested and nudged me off the bricks.
The rest is.....well an exciting blog!
Also add in who you are. If you are a funny person and other people actually think you are too, use it. If you think you are funny and others beg to differ that you are full of descriptive humour maybe try another style. I don't think that I am all that funny but what I do know is that I am a little 'silly' with the way I do things and look at life. Many I know would probably use a more descriptive word than silly and would probably add a string of colourful ones after it.
Therefore my blog is a little 'silly' too! So to say! <u> Capturing Your Precious Moments in Style</u> <u></u> <u></u> Just like finding your own writing style, for some there is a need to find their own style of capturing what will become not only memories for yourself but moments of awe for your friends and family. Everyone has seen photos of Shanghai but have they seen Shanghai through your eyes. I don't seem to look at the world like most people and have a certain quirkiness to me. Over the years I found that I was becoming bored with my photos. After starting my Travelblog I found that a lot of my photos were actually identical to most others that had visited the ancient walled city of Dali or the bright lights of Kunming.
Actually, there is nothing wrong with that but I subconsciously began changing the way I was taking photos and soon I had people who lived in the town/city I was visiting or living in telling me my photos made them want to visit their city through my eyes. With photos it is hard to find your own style and I wouldn't even know how to tell you to go about it. I guess find what you don't like and go about changing it.
Remember they are your photos and they are your memories and your view of the world. If you like your photos in black and white take them in black and white. If, like me you like your photos a little this or that way then take them that way. Remind anyone that begins to complain that this is your travelblog, they are your memories and that it is not National Geographic. <u> Blog Moments Along Your Journey</u> <u></u> <u></u> My biggest advice and probably some of the most important advice to any new blogger is to find out (and find out fast) 'their own way' of taking travel notes.
When I first began my Blog I tried to write about it when I returned from an adventure. If you compare the first year of my blog to the rest you will see a big difference in writing styles. I used the method of 'that was awesome I must remember that when I get home'. Things happen and at the time and they are usually spectacular and of course 'you will always remember them when you get home' (not!).
Then remind yourself of the reason you are writing your blog.
Simply put, you are on an adventure and tomorrow something new will happen as it will the day after that etc. It is all those little things when combined that will make your blog interesting to others. They are the things that you will also want to remember in years to come and more importantly they are the things that are never offered in a guide book. You will also forget most of them when you are back home having a beer with your mates trying desperately to explain why your adventure was so inspiring yet off the planet funny.
Obviously my first method didn't work so I then moved on to writing five simple words for each day. There was no reason why I set the limit to five words. It worked in a limited fashion but not one that I was happy with. I then changed to putting pen to paper and actually writing about my day each night for an hour or two with a cold beer. This worked well but I then had to transfer it to the computer when I either got home or found a trusty net cafe that didn't shut down either the internet or the entire computer on me several times during my visit. Of course during which I was also being chocked to death by the thousands of smokers sitting around me.
If I left it until I returned from my adventure it then would take me several months re-typing it and uploading photos. This, even though it was exciting looking at the pictures again, it became rather annoying. I mean who wants to type all those pages when they could be outside riding through a beautiful rice field at the foot of a breathtaking mountain. So prior to my last adventure I spent a little money and purchased myself a tiny seven inch notebook with a heap of memory. So each night over a few beers or when I'm on a long bus or train journey I can sit back and capture the day in words, sort through my photos and do back ups all at the same time.
So I guess you could say that my photos are now my 'travelling notes!' <u> What About a Travelblog?</u> <u></u> <u></u> Before beginning your blog, ask yourself the simple question 'Why do I want to write this?'
Do you just want to annoy your mates back at work and show them how much fun you're having at Ko Samui or do you want to offer more than that. Do you want to offer not only them but also yourself a part of you that you have kept hidden and write about the good times, the bad times and the real ugly times. I'd probably leave out the part about waking up with a She Male the morning after the Full Moon Party but hey, we all write 'honestly' in a different yet honest way!
I guess for those who want to simply annoy their mates, use Facebook that way you can also send each other hundreds of annoying 'Facebook' things each day.
I began mine simply for my family and some of my friends who seemed interested in my adventure. When I left Australia I knew I wanted to live in China and I knew I had no intention on returning home for a long time. What I didn't know about was blogging. I never really thought about sharing my life with others or that others would actually be interested. It wasn't until I travelled to the Tiger Leaping Gorge in Yunnan Province that I found out about the world of Travelpodding.
I was travelling with two girls from Ireland and one of them mentioned updating her travelblog. Thankfully I overheard her and asked what it was.
From then on a new experience was added to my life's adventure and one where I get to actually show not only my friends and family how beautiful and crazy China really is but also people I have never met. I could have continued with Group Emails but like most people I really hate group emails and the time it takes to attach photos to them. Why is that after you have sent it and deleted it from your account someone always writes to you asking you to send them the photos you sent the other day? Over a period of time I began receiving emails from people I had never met and that list continued to grow. It was then I actually realised that people really were interested in the life I was building for myself away from my motherland.
Some of these people either desired to do the same or to travel with me from their armchair.
I think that is why my writing style changed rather quickly. One month it was short, not so descriptive and used mainly to show my family and friends back home where I was living. Then after waking up to the fact that people were actually hungry to see what the 'real China' was like I began using it to do exactly that.
Remember that each country you visit will always offer so much more than what most already know. It is up to you to find an interesting way to offer the hidden gems you find. If you show them in a not so exciting manner your hidden gems will remain just that, hidden. They will be passed over for a more colourful and exciting blog that shows boring Big Ben in a way that you never thought to show that ancient walled city you come across in the northern deserts that no foreigners have ever visited.
In a lot of ways this helped me find not only my own style of writing but also my own style of travelling. I wanted to see as much of the real China as possible and most of the people I met weren't interested in going off the beaten path. So in a hissy fit I stamped my feet in frustration, went all independent and went in search of 'the real' China alone (much of the time anyhow). Although most of the places I go now are 'for me' they are also for those who want to go there but probably never will.
In other ways I use it to introduce China and the world of travel to new Foreign Teachers and also to travellers out for their first adventure in either the world or in China. Many of them speak of their dreams of 'leaving it all behind' and joining those like me who are living their dreams and living 'overseas' etc. I try to also use my blog to capture this dream while it is still fresh and to show them that their dream can easily be made real. When they get home they can sit and look over their photos of the places they visited and from there I hope that things 'click' and they will realise that they can actually do the same.
And lastly I also use it for me. Me! Me! Me! Its all about ME! </b> <b> I want it there for when I am old, wacky and a more loony than I am now. So, much of my blog is about just that. There are many entries on my bike rides, all in rice fields and mountains. To many maybe they look the same. But to me they don't look the same at all as each of them was found in a different way and took me to a different part of China. I guess others get to see how beautiful some of my rides are but there is more to it than meets the eyes. But only I will ever know why! Hahahahahaha! Beers N Noodles toya.....shane