This past month and a half has been an incredibly busy one at Vagabond Journey. I feel like I say this every time I start out a VJ news post, but this past six weeks have been packed with travel, work, transitions, and many new directions — both on this site and in life in general. From mid-June to now the wheels were turning full tilt, running down hill, and only now have I gotten to sit down for a minute and look back at what had happened and get ready for another ascent.
First of all, I just made it to what should be my next base of operations: Xiamen, an island that’s just off the coast of Fujian province in the southeast of China. This place was once known as Amoy, and has a long, long history of being a gateway from China to the rest of the world. It still is. This wasn’t the usual Vagabond Journey move where on some mindless whim I say ‘what the hell’ and pack the family off to some forsaken no-man-should-ever-fucking-go-there-land, like Jiangsu Taizhou; no, this time I actually thought this one through. More on this to come.
For now, I’m just stating that I made it to my new headquarters, the place where much of my travels and projects for the next 12 months should be based out of. On the list:
- The southeast of China. Various places in Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, and Jiangxi provinces — all givens, as they are pretty much within the region I’m based in.
- The Philippines. It’s a short, cheap flight away.
- Cambodia. I haven’t been there before and that gap in my travels is irritating.
- Yunnan province.
There were some big developments on our network of blogs. I’ve continued developing niche offshoots of Vagabond Journey, which is something I began over a year ago that’s been growing slowly. The biggest development was that I started up a new China focused site at TheChinaChronicle.com. This is where most of VJ’s China content was moved to and is what I’ve been focusing most of my energy on this past month.
Another big development is that our French language edition has picked up momentum and is rolling fast. This project is being led by Pierre and Caroline Laurent, who have a team of France based translators. If you can read French, check it out at fr.vagabondjourney.com, as they are really kicking out article after article. Also look for original French language travel articles from the folks over there.
Look for big changes on the homepage of Vagabond Journey soon. I’ve been slacking on this site as I’ve been putting some much time into the China blog and my China based travels/ investigations, but I will soon be back to posting regularly on our flagship site. The content will be more streamlined, will be focused on long term/ perpetual travel, and will take more of a travel tutorial/ reader Q and A format.
Destination and in-depth type feature articles will mostly be published on niche sites, which will all be accessible from the homepage.
But don’t worry, if you are a subscriber nothing will change much, as you will continue to get it all. If you want to keep getting all the articles from all of our sites, you don’t have to do anything. I will soon update the feed and email digest to show all of our new posts from all of our sites in one stream. If you only want to follow certain blogs you can do so by subscribing to them separately. A list of RSS feeds for them follows.
Aggregated English language feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/vagabondjourney
Vagabond Journey: http://www.vagabondjourney.com/feed/
The China Chronicle: http://feeds.feedburner.com/thechinachronicle
Digital Nomad Travel: http://feeds.feedburner.com/DigitalNomadTravel
Wade’s personal blog: http://wadepshepard.com/feed/
French edition: http://feeds.feedburner.com/VagabondJourneyFrench
There will also soon be blogs covering SE Asia, Mexico, Africa, South Asia, Central America, and South America.
We are also looking for interns to help write content for these new blogs. At this time we do not have any more paid positions available, but I hope this will change in the future. What we can offer is editorial guidance and a platform to start building your authority in a travel/ regional/ topic specific niche.
Also, if anyone is interested in setting up their own personal blog under the Vagabond Journey brand please get in touch. This is free, and you will get paid 100% of what your blog makes. Your site will be included on our new homepage and your best stories will be featured prominently across our network and in our RSS feed and email digest.
We are also looking for an advertising manager. You will make a very healthy commission on all deals you establish.
A part time front end designer would also be a nice addition to the VJ team right now. I’ve become a pretty decent coder, but I’m not a pro. Man, I’d love to find a coder right now who knows how to put together sites that look good, are designed effectively, run fast, are SE friendly, and understands the framework that we run. Though all coders and designers say they do this, very, very few actually make the cut. Finding someone above the pack that I can afford to pay is a pipe dream that I’ve had since I began this project in 2005. I’m just throwing this line out in the water in the hope of hooking a very rare fish.
As far as travel goes, I’ve been all over China this past month and a half. I was up in Heilongjiang and Inner Mongolia a while back and then raced across the country back to Jiangsu Taizhou, where I broke down my apartment together with my family, and moved out. My wife and kid went to the USA for a visit and I made a run around China. I continued the ghost city project in Shanghai, visiting 5 of the developments of the very strange “One City Nine Towns” initiative. Some of those places are true ghost cities. From there I went to Hangzhou for a week, the old haunt of my student days, and got in with an interesting community of Chinese hostel dwellers (which has almost become a form of new subculture here). From there, I went to Guizhou province, where I did a project about an alleged 2 million person forced migration.
Look for the stories from these travels to be published on The China Chronicle throughout the next two weeks.
I would like to thank readers here for sticking it out and with us over the past year. We’ve been going through a lot of changes and haven’t always had our usual inertia. I will try to keep readers more in the loop and will reintroduce the Vagabond Journey news ticker on the homepage to let readers know what’s going on each step of the way.
My travel strategy has changed over the past two years from traveling smooth, slow paths — where I would write and publish almost daily — to traveling fast over long distances for two weeks per month and then writing up the stories in a base of operations for the other two weeks. While both methods allow me to collect massive amounts of information, the later means that there will inherently be gaps in our publication schedule. In point, my travels are so condensed and packed with research now that sitting alone inside a room, typing and publishing, would not be beneficial. For those two weeks or so per month when I’m on the road I need to be “out there,” in the streets, talking with people, taking photos, making videos. This strategy sometimes does not run flush with running a network of blogs and a team of contributors.
As always, we’re still looking for the best path through the forest over here.
Over the next few months look for two things on Vagabond Journey:
1. Big design/ format changes.
2. More regular postings.
3. The maturing of our blog network.
4. Some new faces.
5. A Vagabond Journey news box on the homepage to keep readers informed of current movements/ changes.
6. More French language translations.
7. More China feature articles and travel stories.
Thanks for reading!