≡ Menu

Over 1,000,000 YouTube Video Views — Newsletter 010, Vagabond Journey, January 26, 2014

What happened on Vagabond Journey this week? Find out here.

Support VBJ’s writing on this blog:

This week the bubbling cauldron of running websites, making videos, writing a book, and traveling simmered over a little then cooled down completely. My Compaq notebook accelerated it’s downward path and became too difficult to work with. I spent three days waiting for pages and programs to load and realized that this just wasn’t working out anymore. It was time to part way with notebook computers. Waiting for a computer to load is more frustrating than trying to get your change back from an Indian shop keeper who’s making believe he doesn’t owe you any. The only thing I know worse than the “fuck you head bobble” is the blank white screen.

I’ve been wanting to get a new, more powerful machine for the past couple of years, but the Compaq Mini just keep working. Secretly, I’ve been hoping it would die, but it just kept running and running. It ended up being one of those odd laptops that just live forever no matter what you do to it. The thing seriously has chunks taken out of it from being dropped and crushed — and the thing still works. I suppose this is probably a good thing, but for a frugal digital nomad with the very real need for an upgrade it’s rather limiting.

I’ve been making videos more and relying on the income they derive more and more, and really needed a computer powerful enough to make them efficiently and at a high quality. This requires a lot of RAM and CPU. I am beyond the notebook stage of this “career,” and if I am going to accelerate faster down this road I need equipment that can keep up.

For years I made the error of thinking I could skirt by with cheap, small, and weak computers, and my production has suffered because of it. I think of all the time wasted waiting for pages to load, videos to render, and picking up the pieces after myriad crashes caused by pushing a weak machine beyond its limits. It’s funny how our preset position is that we know everything already. I just assumed that I knew about computers — I’m sometimes on them over 60 hours per week — but I really didn’t know much of anything. So I retracted and started reading, and realized how foolish I was.

So I got a new laptop, and have set out to make it as powerful as possible. I’ve joined the ranks of those who scoff at off-the-shelf set ups. I suppose it’s about time.

It’s taken me a few days to get the new laptop up and running. I spent a moment or two coming up with a file/ program transfer plan, but then it struck me that Dropbox could do it all for me. All I needed to do was download it on the new computer, log in, and everything transfers automatically. Indispensable. Too easy. (If you want this program click this link and we’ll both get some free storage space).

Over 1 million Youtube views

The Vagabond Journey YouTube channel had its millionth video view a couple of days ago. Most of these views came within the past year.

I would say that we’re still in the practice stage of film making, but throughout this year I hope to turn video into an equally dominant part of this operation as the articles. Expect short documentaries soon.

Subscribe to Vagabond Journey on YouTube

Watch Vagabond Journey on YouTube


I was writing a message to my friend Pierre and I felt a little guilty. The plan was to lay low throughout Chinese New Year, as it’s my fifth and I know that it is truly the worst time to try traveling in China. But then I began thinking about how I never really documented the experience very well. I wrote up a short article on it last year (Chunyun: the World’s Largest Migration) but I want to do more. So I think I’m going to see if I can get a seat-less ticket (the only kind that may possibly be available) to Guangzhou and make a short film about the experience. The self-preservation drive in me is hoping that they are 100% sold out; the creative drive is making me think that I should get over to the train station and see if I can get lucky.


A book is to an article what an opera is to a pop song. I’m learning this the hard way — the only way really. It’s been fun so far. I need to finish soon though. I’m giving myself 30 more days of writing, then the rest of the time before the manuscript submission due date will be spent polishing.


Worst than ever. For the first time since I was a young 20-something careless vagabond I’m close to going broke. Documentation/ journalistic type travel is fast travel, and fast travel is always expensive. I still need to get back to Ordos to finish the book. Somehow it will happen.

Continuous blogging

We’re back into the blogging cycle. I will try to get back to keeping it continuous, as it was from 2007 – 2012.

New team member

I am happy to say that we have a new blogger on Vagabond Journey. His travel creds are impressive. Expect to see his first posts this week.


Please comment more. More than donations, money, anything, we need reader participation. From the mountain of email replies to the email-only newsletter that I sent a couple of weeks ago (which I still haven’t gotten to responding to all of — they’re coming, sorry) I know there are still a lot of readers still out there. Please come on the site and comment. While I know that many of you are now reading via email, it is highly appreciated when you click over and participate in the on-page discussion. While I enjoy getting replies by email, comments are the arteries of a blog. Thank you.

Petra quote

“Chinese people like to pee in the elevator but they think they don’t.”

This is actually a very astute cultural observation.

Newsletter videos

To expect this week

This week on Vagabond Journey expect daily blog posts, an article on Poyang Lake drying up, another article on how the Bermuda Triange of the East has revealed its mystery, and videos about what has become of the Shanghai World Expo site, Nanhui ghost new city, Poyang Lake, KFC’s takeover of China, as well as a tip on how to sign a digital document without a scanner or printer.

As always, thanks for reading and the support.

Walk Slow,



Filed under: Vagabond Journey Updates

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3691 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Support VBJ’s writing on this blog:

VBJ is currently in: Trenton, Maine

4 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

  • Andy Graham January 27, 2014, 1:28 am

    Congratulations on your 1,000,000 video views on YouTube.com. We no longer need to spend a couple of hours writing, just turn the camera on for 3 minutes in some weird place on the planet. Andy Graham in a weird place on the planet.

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard January 27, 2014, 6:59 am

      Thanks. That’s true, video gives us some leverage over the handful of big brand websites that publish pages about anything and everything and push us down in search rankings. Anybody can write about anything, but with video you actually have to go there.

      Link Reply
  • Kevin L January 29, 2014, 6:04 am

    Gratz on your first million views. There will always be an interest in travel, particular the kind that ventures off the main tourist paths that both you, and Andy, venture – so I have little doubt you will surpass two million soon enough.

    I think I was the 3rd of 4th subscriber to your channel when you started it – glad to see things are growing. I subscribed to Andy’s channel just before he hit 100 subs – and it was his interview with you that made me aware of your blog.

    Looking forward to more.

    Kevin – currently in Cambodia

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard January 29, 2014, 6:47 am

      Wow, that’s amazing. You’ve been around since the start of this!

      Very true, hopefully there will always be a space for people traveling the world story telling. Andy sort of blazed a path in this regard as far as blogging goes. I’m trying to raise the quality of the videos while still keeping them raw and real. I’m only now discovering how much can be done with this medium. If you ever have any advice or suggestions please let me know.

      Thanks for sticking around through the years.

      Link Reply