There's a wonderful weblog/site I came across a few months back called Vagabonding, that I pop over to check out from time to time to read the latest posting. I visited the site today and noticed that the author has now come home after a year vagabonding, so I thought this would be a great time to mention it.
As a backgrounder, Vagabonding is a travelogue weblog by Mike Pugh, a Chicagoan who's very fond of world travel. Mike took an entire year to travelled through Asia and Africa while carrying a small contingent of tech items (laptop, videocam, digital cam, etc.) with which to record his experiences and post them at the site. Mike's site is gorgeous and easy to navigate; clean and simple with lots of nice imagery.
But what makes a travelogue site special is the writing, and Mike's writing is superb. He has the knack of capturing his environment and sharing stories as if you were tagging along, two things I really enjoy about good travel writing.
Here's a little sample of a near-mugging in Durban, South Africa:
"A young man approached me on the sidewalk with an outstretched hand and said, "My friend." No chance, son, I thought. I know the friendly handshake trick; you've got something to sell, be it a trinket or a sob story, and I want none of it. I maneuvered around him and continued walking.
I sensed something was amiss a half block later. I glanced back and saw the young man and his friend following a few paces behind. I stopped, put my back against a storefront, and let them go by. They slowed to a stroll. One of them nodded to a man further up the sidewalk. Two more men came from the other direction; they were looking at me.
Something was up. But could all these guys be in on it? Who was who?
I wasn't going to stick around to find out. I made to cross the road right where I was. I checked for cars and started walking.
A man in a floppy brown hat blocked me. He placed his right hand lightly – almost delicately – on my left shoulder. With his left hand he flipped out a rusty four-inch blade and pressed it to my chest. I looked down at the knife dumbly, and then up at the man's eyes; I didn't really see either.
It was noon – lunchtime – on a beautiful spring day. The sun was directly overhead. Cars went by. People were all around. How can this be happening?
I felt someone try to wrestle my messenger bag off my back. The man with the knife said something in English, but his words didn't register.
I wasn't thinking. I was running."
Really well done! I appreciate the level of detail that Mike has poured into his website project -- travelogues, photos and movies -- they are all top quality and seem to draw mew back again and again.
In fact, I've now turned the archives page into a nice iSilo document so that I can read through all of Mike's Vagabonding travelogue entries on my Palm. I can't wait to start digging in tonight! ;-)
I appreciate that Mike has decided to put his trip out there for anyone to see, read and enjoy. I think he's done a superb job of bring the story back for his site visitors, but more importantly Mike has been a lone ambassador to everyone he's met and befriended along his route. Thanks Mike!
Hopefully, Mike's year-long travels will convince readers who might be on the fence about a trip somewhere, to go for it. I know that my travels have significantly changed my own perspective of the world and those who live in it. If you happen to be someone who's considering travel, I highly recommend it.
Further, if you are planning to travel, write a journal! I always encourage travel journals (paper, PDA or weblog, whatever) because you must capture your thoughts shortly after you have them. I can say for certain that trips on which I didn't do a journal have been lost in my collective memory, while those on which I've travelogued have remained very clear in my memory.
So, go check out Vagabonding. It's a great example of how the web and weblog can become a valuable resource when in the hands of a creative, dedicated person.
Have a great weekend everyone!