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Johnny Vagabond is Six Months Old

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Time does fly when you’re having fun. I can’t believe it, but the site is six months old and I’ve been traveling for three months now. This seemed like a good time to reflect and update everyone on how things are going.

The State of the Blog:

In the last few months, the site has really taken off and I’m more than a little flabbergasted at the response. In the month of May, we had over 4,000 visitors and 15,000 page views. According to TravelBlogSites, JohnnyVagabond.com is the 54th most-popular travel blog in the world. [That number is about to tank big-time, alas, due to a site crash that lost 10 days of tracking data and will take a month or more to recover.]

 

Page view traffic for the last 6 months on JohnnyVagabond.com

 

After starting at zero, the site now has:
Almost 100 posts and around 150 photos
Around 1,500 followers on Twitter
Over 200 RSS Subscribers
Over 250 Facebook Fans
A Google Page Rank of 3 and Alexa rating of 132,000 (down from a start of 4,000,000 — lower is better. 100,000 is the goal.)

Things to watch for in the future: more photo-essay posts, more contests for cool loot I find along the way, and a few video posts — if I can figure out Final Cut Express and find the bandwidth to upload. Suggestions for what you’d like to see on the site are always welcome.

The State of the Trip:

The trip so far has gonna mostly according to plan, as far as I actually have a plan — I tend to wander a lot without much of an itinerary, stopping as I please. I’m spending my last week in Cambodia and will be exploring Vietnam, China, and Laos over the next three months.

Budget: I’m about $500 over what I’d planned, but have made some money from freelance design work and actually pulled in some advertising money from the site (woot!), so I’m in pretty good shape overall. Giving up beer would help even more, but that’s just crazy talk.

Due to the heat and exercise, I’ve lost 20 pounds of solid sweat.

Health: I’ve been very lucky with only a mild food-related bug that lasted half a day and no major injuries. I’m constantly hitting my head on low doorways or minibus roofs but haven’t need stitches yet. Due to the heat and exercise, I’ve lost a good 20 pounds of solid sweat. I’m constantly soaked from sweating or from the 3+ showers I take each day, and have a heat rash on my left arm that refuses to go away.

Three months of wearing shorts in SE Asia has given me a tan around my ankles that extends up to my shins and my sandals have tattooed zebra stripes on my feet — I’m sure the ladies dig it.

Gear: I’ve trimmed about ten pounds from my backpack and everything now weighs in around 45 pounds. I’m still carrying some goodies that haven’t been useful so far: a heavy pair of boots I’ve worn 5 or 6 times, a fleece jacket that’s worked well as a pillow, a rain jacket that I’ve worn 3 times, and a sleeping bag that has seen no action. Their time will come. The only thing I’ve lost to theft was a pair of binoculars.

My MacBook and Canon Rebel have held up to heavy, daily use and being tightly crammed into this bag or that. Keeping the batteries charged can be a challenge sometimes, but has been manageable. The iPhone has been extremely useful for checking email, web stats, and Twitter in low bandwidth spots, taking the occasional quickie photo, calling home on Skype, sniffing out wifi signals, keeping a journal, and reading books. An eight-hour bus ride isn’t as daunting when I know I have 20 books queued up on my phone (and a fully-charge battery).

Skills: I can now cross the busiest street without even thinking twice. Nodding at people who make eye contact and constantly shaking my head at the “you need tuk tuk?” requests has caused me to worry that I’m developing a palsy. I still can’t haggle worth a damn but have become very proficient at doing laundry in a sink and brushing my teeth with bottled water.

I knew that my language skills were weak, but I now realize that they’re actually completely non-existant.

I knew that my language skills were weak, but I now realize that they’re actually completely non-existant. After all of this time, I know about three words in Thai and two in Khmer. By the time i’m done, I suspect that I’ll be one hell of a Charades player.

Being a motorcycle rider in ‘real’ life has been a big help: I’ve found myself in a few spots on a scooter where a noob rider could have definitely gotten in trouble (see last post).

Blogging: I spend an average of four hours a day on the blog in one way or another. Editing photos, writing notes and stories, and promoting the site eats up a lot of time, but I really do enjoy it. I try to find hotels with wifi onsite, sometimes spending more than I’d have to otherwise. I had one scare where the site crashed completely and it took me two days to repair the damage — I’m still not sure what happened.

I burned out on blogging at about the two month mark and spent a week reading (eight books in seven days) and playing video games on the iPhone. I now stop about every two weeks and spend a day doing nothing blog-related.

Summing up: The trip is going really well and I’m having the time of my life. The world is everything I’d hoped it would be and so much more — I am completely awestruck by something at least once per day. The people I’ve met have been amazing –both locals and other travelers– and I’m incredibly grateful to have had the chance to hear their stories and learn about their lives.

I hope this blog has helped to inspire you to travel, provided info to make those travels easier, or just kept you entertained in one way or another. I’d like thank you all for your support and feedback — the comments and emails I get really do help keep me motivated and chase away those occasional “what the hell am I doing?” moments. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

- Wes

 

I thought I’d wrap up with a list of my five personal favorite posts so far. If you missed them, please have a look.

Three Mistakes on a Hot Day in Bangkok — my most embarrassing misadventure yet.

A Night in Bangkok’s Red Light District
— hanging out in the ultimate melting pot.

On the Road to Long Beach — if you don’t have religion at the start of the ride, you will by the end.

A Conversation Gone Wrong in Cambodia — trying my best to escape a salty old sex-pat.

The Game is Afoot: Prostitution in Phnom Penh
— prostitution takes many forms. Apparently, I’m uncomfortable with all of them.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Lily June 2, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Wes, you are right there in the middle of my home page, I will be following you all the way round the globe, your updates are so real, entertaining, amusing and inspiring. BTW I dont do twitter/facebook etc – dont see the point??

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wes June 2, 2010 at 5:56 pm

wow, thanks Lily — that’s very sweet of you :)

FB and Twitter can be real time killers, but they have their uses. FB helps me keep up with friends and family. My FB Fan page is also a good place for me to post photos and anecdotes that don’t quite make it into the blog. Twitter is useful if you’re promoting something or networking — I don’t think I’d use it as much if I wasn’t blogging.

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Poi June 2, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Really enjoyed reading your update, put a smile on my face.

Good to know everything is going so well and I have just become a slight bit more excited about my own trip, thank you.
.-= Poi´s last blog ..Before we come home we must achieve…. =-.

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wes June 2, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Thanks a bunch. Y’all are gonna have a blast, I’m sure :)

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Michael June 2, 2010 at 8:07 pm

thanks for the update
very happy to see Laos on the itinerary!

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Ian [EagerExistence] June 2, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Wow. I’m impressed. You have a lot of content for a 6 month old. I guess 4 hours a day helps though :-)

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wes June 3, 2010 at 8:48 am

thanks :) yeah, I spend too much time on the laptop, for sure…

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Eric June 2, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Time really does fly. I have been in South Korea 7 months and the time has really gone quick. I have enjoyed the blog so far and look forward to 6+ more months of entertaining posts, great pics, and more inspiration to travel myself.
.-= Eric´s last blog ..Election Time =-.

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wes June 3, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Thanks, Eric. Hopefully there’s more than 6 months to go!

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ayngelina June 3, 2010 at 12:22 am

Hey congratulations, I can’t believe it’s already been 6 months. I am trying to keep the computer time to an hour a day which means trying to be as efficient as I can. I usually slip a bit with photo editing but every 10 days or so I find I want to do nothing but laze around so its a good excuse to catch up.
.-= ayngelina´s last blog ..Reunited and it feels so good =-.

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wes June 3, 2010 at 5:09 pm

wow, you’re *much* more sensible than I am :)

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Eli June 4, 2010 at 2:27 am

Wes, nice job man, I love your blog and I think you’re doing some great stuff here. You have made some HUGE progress in six months. Keep it up!
.-= Eli´s last blog ..Living At Home Like You’re On The Road =-.

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wes June 4, 2010 at 9:06 am

Thanks a lot, Eli — very appreciated.

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Andi June 4, 2010 at 6:19 am

Congrats on such great success thus far (sounds like you’re quite dedicated)!!! You have a fantastic blog and I can’t wait to see what adventures you’ll have next. :)
.-= Andi´s last blog ..India: Day 3 (Part 4) =-.

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wes June 4, 2010 at 9:42 am

Thanks, Andi. I hope I can keep up this pace for awhile longer…

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Matt Hope June 4, 2010 at 11:32 pm

One of my favorite travel blogs, keep up the good work Wes.

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wes June 5, 2010 at 8:44 am

Thanks a bunch, Matt :)

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Autism Symptoms June 6, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Keep up the good work, I like your writing.

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Kenneth Ragpala June 9, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Man, crickets! I think my stomach’s gonna revolt. Hahaha. Have you tried Philippines’ lechon? Great food. World’s greatest pig. Hope that gets featured in this blog.

.-= Kenneth Ragpala´s last blog ..Styria – Austria’s Natural Spa Capital =-.

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