Milestones, Awards and the Atlas Game
This month marks a season of celebration. Just recently Plus Ultra passed the 1,000 mark for followers, and now the blog is just shy of its 100th post! As much as I would like to throw a party in the blogosphere, there are a couple of practical issues to deal with (timezones, for instance!) so I am writing this post instead.
I’d like to say a very big thank you to everyone for your comments, likes and enduring support over the past two years. I realise I haven’t been very active in keeping up-to-date since coming back from my most recent trip, as these past few weeks have been a fast-moving time of transition.
After several months spent drifting in the sea of unemployment, I have just been hired at a publishing firm, where I am joining the editorial team of an adventure travel magazine called Action Asia. I never thought it would be possible to do what I love and get paid to write, but this is what travel blogging can do for you!
Lately I’ve also received a handful of blogging awards, so I figured it was high time to pass them on and pay tribute to those who came before.
First of all I’d like to thank Terri from Time To Be Inspired for handing me The Versatile Blogger Award. She runs a fascinating website with a big emphasis on creativity, where she shares her recipes, a passion for handicrafts and her photos from the occasional trip.
I also want to thank Ritu of Color Odyssey, Nicole of thirdeyemom and Rachel of Lost on Planet China for a triple nomination for the One Lovely Blog Award. Ritu is a textile designer, photographer and artist based out of Singapore whose pictures will take your breath away. Nicole seems to have been just about everywhere! She writes detailed travelogues, has a penchant for serious hiking and volunteers for a good number of worthy causes. Rachel documents her remarkable and often hilarious experiences of living in China, and she’s not afraid to tell us all the ups and downs of a country so different from her own.
Finally, the Illuminating Blogger Award was passed on to me by The Wanderlust Gene, whose thought-provoking and evocative entries are such a joy to read. I deeply admire her work so this nomination in particular means a lot to me.
Each blogging award comes with its own rules and often a set number of nominations, but I’ve decided to break them all. Instead of sharing seven random things about myself (which could potentially send you all to sleep), I am taking my cues from The Wanderlust Gene in favour of something far more interesting – an Atlas Game of travel memories. The rules are simple: for every letter of the alphabet, name the first place that comes into your head, and your first recollection of that place!
James’ Atlas Game – a collection of memories
|A||Auckland, New Zealand||Sailboats in the harbour, an old volcanic field and the sweeping silhouette of Rangitoto Island.|
|B||Beijing, China||Being given a traditional Chinese abacus; circling the Temple of Heaven and the first of several visits to the Great Wall.|
|C||Córdoba, Spain||Wandering the candy cane arches inside the mystical, Moorish Great Mosque. Whitewashed courtyards overflowing with the flowers of May.|
|D||Denver Int’l Airport, USA||My favourite contemporary canvas roof. A glimpse of the Rocky Mountains before hopping onto a propeller plane, en route to Steamboat Springs.|
|E||Edinburgh, Scotland||Haggis. A jumble of weathered black stone buildings clinging to the rugged landscape.|
|F||Florence, Italy||Sunset at Ponte Vecchio, standing over the calm, rippling waters of the River Arno. The one that should never have been just a stopover.|
|G||Guangzhou, China||Dripping banyans and pastel-coloured architecture at Shamian Island. Nearly getting deported at the train station for an expired visa.|
|H||Hong Kong||Skyscrapers! Weekend drives with my father, exploring reservoirs and abandoned coastal batteries. Frozen Yogurt and Häagen Dazs on the Peak.|
|I||Iona, Scotland||Stained glass windows and impeccable white sand beaches. Dashing for the ferry with Mom.|
|J||Jakarta, Indonesia||Slow-moving traffic swirling around the Welcome Monument. My surprise at the yellow-tinted water flowing from the tap.|
|K||Kagoshima, Japan||A first encounter with cherry blossom season, Nintendo 64 and the wonder that is Japan. That unforgettable view of Mt. Sakurajima, an active volcano, looming right across the bay.|
|L||Lombok, Indonesia||A tiny airport, stone carvings and bubbling water features in the resort’s outdoor bathroom, and a topless woman at the beach.|
|M||Montréal, Canada||Smoked meat, poutine, cobblestone streets in the gorgeous old town. Feeling as though I had just landed in France.|
|N||Nice, France||Laughing at the doodles inside the Matisse Museum, strolling the seafront promenade and sampling a heavenly plate of fresh oysters.|
|O||Osaka, Japan||Gargantuan stone blocks and cherry blossoms below the castle keep. The elegant terminal at Kansai Int’l Airport.|
|P||Prague, Czech Republic||Fairy tale buildings and dreamy spires; homemade garlic butter by the Vltava, steps away from the stones of medieval Charles Bridge.|
|Q||Queenstown, New Zealand||Rain, ducks in the hotel’s flooded courtyard, and a warming cream of asparagus. Singing songs on Lake Wakatipu.|
|R||Rome, Italy||Watching the passing birds through the oculus of the Pantheon’s soaring dome. Gelato at the Trevi Fountain by twilight.|
|S||Sapporo, Japan||Christmas Eve; a spicy bowl of ramen in a small restaurant down a back lane. Snowflakes drifting lazily outside.|
|T||Toronto, Canada||Grandma’s collection of Nat Geo magazines. Assembling a miniature log cabin, TV documentaries on The History Channel, and maple syrup on blueberry waffles.|
|U||Ulm, Germany||Climbing the world’s tallest church steeple; ordering food in German and narrowly avoiding a collision with an angry old man on a bicycle.|
|V||Vientiane, Laos||Chirping geckos and night insects. The sweetest, smoothest mango shakes that have ever passed my lips.|
|W||Whistler, Canada||Summer sandals on snowcapped Blackcomb; feeling the chill of fresh mountain water. Empty chairlifts and the Sea-to-Sky Highway.|
|X||Xiamen, China||A ferry ride to the island of Gulangyu, stacked with crumbling colonial houses.|
|Y||Yogyakarta, Indonesia||The distinctive, pungent smell of cloves and tobacco; ascending the steps at monumental Borobudur and the sight of Merapi, my first volcano.|
|Z||Zug, Switzerland||Meeting some very dear friends of my father. An introduction to insalata caprese and the game of Ligretto.|
For this round of nominations I am turning the focus mainly on blogs that I’ve only just begun to follow, ranging from Julie’s multilingual globetrotting (I don’t know of any other travel blogger who writes in three languages!) to Erica’s eye-opening record of her adventures across Japan, and the witty, impeccable humour of Sally, the “Unbrave Girl” who has been courageously living (and laughing) in a Chinese city whose name means “No Tin”.
And now, without further ado, I present you the list of nominees:
For the One Lovely Blog Award:
For the Illuminating Blogger Award:
For The Versatile Blogger Award:
If you’ve been nominated please don’t feel obliged to pass on these awards. This is just a way of highlighting some of the blogs I enjoy reading out there that deserve to be noticed and recognised. In the meantime, here’s to another fantastic year of blogging!