The first set of shifts comes in the realm of this “Around the World” website itself, and the second takes place within the actual global itinerary.
Take a look at this latest update, while simultaneously gazing at photos from Bangkok’s nutso-to-the-max Kaohsan Road!
Change Set #1: This site now has a fancy new name: AroundTheWorldL.com !
Q: Stupendous! But… why the name change?
A: Turns out I am both serious and obsessively passionate about this online travel writing thing, as evidenced by my over 150 posts over the past five months, and my continued daily posting. Writing like this gives me so much happiness, and therefore I’ve decided to step it all up to the next level: purchasing a dot com domain name from Google for $10 a year!
Yesterday we topped 230 readers in one day, and I hope to keep this number growing. Please keep sharing this site around!
Q: Why did you choose the name “Around the World “L” “?
A: After much soul searching during hours of staring out the window on the train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, I decided the name www.AroundTheWorldL.com fit my criteria for several reasons.
First, it will hopefully attract more soon-to-be-travelers who are Googling the phrase “Around the World” looking for advice. Second, the name is quite easy to remember, and thus is easier for folks to pass around to their friends at dinner parties!
Third, the “L” can have ten bazillion different meanings, some of which are now listed on the site’s header bar, and, many of which mesh perfectly with my journey objectives and soul. (And, no, “lettuce” and “loincloth” are not two of those words.)
Q: What are other changes happening with the site?
A: Another upgrade to the blog is that I’ve added Amazon.com suggestions for products and books that I sincerely adore. This is the first step in me trying to make a few pennies off this site, as I supposedly get 2-15% of the profits earned from readers clicking on and buying the advertised items.
I have been told there are more lucrative ways to do this “monetization”, but apparently this Amazon Affiliates program is not a bad start. Regardless, anything to try to force people to read novels I love is fine by me!
I am still pondering how to upgrade the visual template, as there are some formatting changes I want to make, and just don’t have the savvy to know how. (Specifically, many people have recommended a move from Blogger to WordPress.)
Someday soon I think I will stumble upon and join forces with a computer genius who will help me do this in exchange for cookies, articles, or a mediocre Thai massage, but until then I will pour my main efforts into the article and photo content.
Please do contact me if you have bright ideas and connections for site upgrading!
Change Set #2: The next leg of the itinerary is now purchased: Italy (late December) -> Ghana (early January) -> Spain (late March) !
My family and I wanted to meet up for New Year’s because we loooove each other, and Italy was the cheapest flight and hotel package we could find. Honestly, even if we met up in a sandbox in Uzbekistan, I would be over the moon happy, because I can’t wait to see my fam!
Needless to say, my dear family must fly back to the States in early January, and the moment they leave, I’m going to get the heck out of Europe so I can save some shred of my bank account. (The cheapest dorm bed I could find for Italy costs about the same for a night as a whole week’s budget for Southeast Asia!)
For the extra one or two days I stay alone in Rome and Florence before and after my family joins me, I am going to try to rock out Couchsurfing.org to save money on housing whist meeting great new people. Thus far I haven’t had much luck in that Catholic country with asking for couch space on the day after Christmas, but I have faith!
Q: So, the big question: why Ghana?
A: I have longed to go to West Africa for over ten years, now. In my Junior year of college, I had all the paperwork filled out to study for a semester in Senegal, when the attacks of 9/11 occurred.
The good thing is that other positives emerged from my not going to West Africa in 2001. I made a bunch of new friends because all my regular buddies were in other countries. I stopped studying French because I didn’t need it anymore for Senegal, and I started learning Spanish: very useful as a teacher! This led me to study abroad in Mexico for a summer, which ignited a love for Latin America, which led me back to travel in eight Latin American countries over six summers. Good stuff!
When I did an extensive Internet and friend search on the best place to start off traveling in Africa, Ghana emerged, sparkling, at the top of the list.
Not only is it known as one of the friendliest countries on earth, but it is reputed to be both beautiful and safe. And how nice that it is English-speaking!
Clearly, traveling in Ghana will be a far cry harder and less paved than the Southeast Asia backpacker cakewalk, but I’m ready for it. It’s like moving up to the Giant World level on Super Mario Brothers!
Q: What will you be doing for two and a half months in Ghana?
Ghana is friendly, indeed! The moment I put the word out through friends of friends and Couchsurfing.org that I was headed to Ghana, I literally received fifty different messages with extremely helpful advice and connections.
At this point it looks like I will be volunteer teaching at a wonderful-looking youth center two hours outside of Accra. This is especially thrilling because during this past month, my Ghana contacts and I have already set up a sweet-as-heck penpal exchange between the Ghana youth center kids and the Boston students in my former school!
In addition to volunteering, I also plan to do some traveling around different parts of Ghana, and perhaps pop over (briefly and safely) to visit two friends who are currently living in neighboring countries.
Q: And finally, why Spain?
Okay, so the original plan for this entire year abroad was to get a job in Spain and stay there. We see how closely I followed that plan!
But I do feel that I MUST see Spain (and particularly Barcelona) before I fly back to the U.S. in late May to attend friend weddings. It will happen!
Now, as you read this pre-programmed post, I am sitting on a 17-hour bus from hectic bustle of Bangkok to the surf-lapped Southwest coast of Thailand. Get psyched for future photos of craggy rocks jutting out of azure water, and keep those comments and emails coming!
(So… did these photos give you shopping lust or what??)