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Milestones, Awards and the Atlas Game

Lamma Island, Hong Kong

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:


the second time around

Kerry Murray Photography

The Miss Adventure Journals

Rebecca and the World

For the Illuminating Blogger Award:

Kizzling Around

Les Petits Pas de Juls


Soulshine Traveler

The Task Eternal

For The Versatile Blogger Award:

Unbrave Girl

Candice Does The World

Bitten by the Travel Bug

The Adventures of Twins

Not Really a Blog

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!

39 Comments Post a comment
  1. You won’t find yellow-tinted water again in Jakarta! (hopefully) 🙂

    June 22, 2012
    • I’ll be on the lookout in September. 😉

      June 22, 2012
  2. Congrats on the new job! It sounds perfect for you! Even though you’re getting paid for travel writing now, I hope you’ll continue to update your blog for the rest of us! 😀

    June 22, 2012
    • Thanks Rachel! At the moment I won’t be travelling for work – but we’ll see what happens further down the road. Whatever happens I’ll be keeping this blog up and running. 😀

      June 22, 2012
  3. Congratulations on the award and your new job! What can be better than being paid to do what you love! Happy for you James 🙂

    June 22, 2012
    • Thank you, Madhu! Just two months ago I was ready to take the safe option (architecture) and settle for less… looking back now, I’m so glad I didn’t!

      June 22, 2012
  4. Wonderful news, James, congratulations for the new job, you are a born writer…:-)

    June 22, 2012
    • Thanks Lou, I can’t thank you enough for the encouragement. Maybe someday I will write a book! 😀

      June 22, 2012
      • My best wishes for that project too! I can’t wait 😉

        June 24, 2012
  5. Congrats for the job, for the awards and the new game! I’ll give a thought to 26 places I’ve been and might write my own post about it! that’s an idea to follow!
    Thanks again for talking about me, although I’m not sure I deserve such a praise… I’m new, a baby-blogger and have so much to learn, besides wording and writing! ah! but that gives me wings to go on!

    Looking forward to reading you,
    Happy trails and posts to you and professional articles!

    June 23, 2012
    • Merci beaucoup Jul! It takes a lot of patience and effort to write a blog in three languages – so the praise is definitely well-deserved! 😀

      June 24, 2012
      • Well, thanks again! I’m having fun, that’s the most important!

        Happy travels and cheers again for your blogging moments!

        June 25, 2012
  6. Congratulations on the award and your new jobb! It sounds like a dream come true! Thank you also for your kind words! Looking forward to the future! 🙂

    June 23, 2012
    • Thanks Nicole! I was stumped when I got the offer right out of the blue – who knew that blogging could open so many doors?

      June 24, 2012
      • You will have to keep us posted on your new job! How exciting! You are a beautiful writer and I’m sure it is hard to find writers with such an excellent command of english too! 🙂

        June 25, 2012
  7. QQ #

    Thanks for the nom and congrats on the new job. Not many gets to do what they love and make a living out of it. You are a great writer so I hope to see this blog continue on also.

    June 23, 2012
    • You’re more than welcome, and thank you for the well wishes. 🙂 I would love to take this blog over 200 posts!

      June 24, 2012
  8. I like good news stories – and the news you’ve got yourself a travel-ralated job that’s in some part thanks to your blog is a tremendously good news story! Congratulations, and best wishes for great success in your new career, James. Congratulations too, on 1,000 (hear that folks, one thousand!) followers. That’s a testament to the consistent quality of your posts.

    Congratulations too, on playing a very deft hand of The Atlas Game – I can see it just might take off – wouldn’t that be grand? I’ve just come back from exploring the blogs of your nominees, and other proposers – some terrific work: thank you. And thank you too, for your kind and very supportive words about my blog, I really appreciate that.

    June 23, 2012
    • Thank you Meredith, for writing me such a kind, thoughtful comment! I am genuinely at a loss as to how to respond, except by saying that I hope to drop by Sri Lanka someday and meet you in person.

      As for The Atlas Game, it would be fabulous to see it take off – one look at your version and I knew I just couldn’t pass it up!

      June 24, 2012
  9. congrats; well deserved Adventurous..

    June 23, 2012
  10. Congratulations on your new job!

    June 24, 2012
    • Thank you Debra – enjoy your next few months back in Brisbane!

      June 24, 2012
  11. James, congratulations on your new job and your well deserved awards! Looking forward to more great blog pots – keep up the good work. Terri

    June 24, 2012
  12. Congratulations on both reaching 1000 followers and your new job! I look forward to the next 100 blog posts!

    June 25, 2012
    • Tali, thank you for the well wishes! With the job it’s only an internship at the moment, but hopefully they will decide to take me on full-time!

      June 25, 2012
  13. 1- Congrats on reaching awesome blogging milestones!!!
    2- yay job! and one that has to do with travel!!! it sounds absolutely amazing. 🙂
    3- I would like to point out that there is at least one food item description in each of your locations in the atlas game- this is why we are blog friends.
    4- Thanks for the shout-out and award nomination!!
    5- that was a lot of !!s, but this was a very exciting post.

    July 3, 2012
    • Thanks Erica! You were so right about the food descriptions… it is such an indispensable part of travelling though! I need to go back to Sapporo for some more winter ramen. How long do you think you’ll be staying in Japan?

      July 3, 2012
      • It is!… and life! I am such a foodie.

        I still haven’t officially announced it yet, but I will be sailing around the world from end of Aug until mid-Nov-ish. Flight back to Seattle mid-Dec. So you have roughly 3 mo to find yourself in Japan! 🙂

        July 3, 2012
      • Sailing around the world?! Oh my gosh that is going to be such an amazing experience! Do you have a route figured out yet?

        Le sigh. I only have one more long weekend between now and December, so I don’t know if Japan is going to happen within that time. 😦

        July 3, 2012
      • Gotta leave something as a surprise for my announcement 😉 … which I should probably do soon. Maybe after my pinky recovers from all the typing from today.

        Booo! Well, the good news is that I’ll likely find my way to Japan (at least to visit) many times in the future. 🙂

        July 3, 2012
  14. CONGRATS! To your new job, your 1000th follower, and all your awards! Are you superman? 😉 I especially enjoyed the Atlas Game -interestingly we share the same memories for Montreal & Sapporo! Please tell me you went snowboarding/skiing here!

    July 4, 2012
    • Thank you! I wish I was, wouldn’t need to pay for any air fares if that was the case. 😛 Actually Sapporo (or just outside of it) was where I learned to ski – haven’t done Mt. Tremblant though, next time I’ll have to try snowboarding!

      July 4, 2012
  15. Big thanks for nominating me and congratulations on your blogging achievements and landing a new job! 😀

    July 18, 2012
    • You’re welcome Roselinde – your blog definitely deserves more attention! 😀

      July 19, 2012

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