Friday, October 12, 2012

This Enterprise, explained

Although I call this a travel blog, I realize it doesn’t look much like other travel blogs, so let me explain what I am doing here.  This site is not intended to help the reader plan a trip or save money when he goes.  It is not intended to lead him to hidden wonders off the beaten path.  It is not intended to enable him to follow my journeys and avoid my mistakes.  I am not writing for the reader at all.  I am writing for myself, though if a reader chooses to come along, I will be a good host and try to be amusing.
I have two cartons of travel journals that I have not looked at since I returned home from these trips years ago and I could imagine sand or flattened spiders or small dead animals falling out of some of them when they are opened.  The purpose of this site is to give me an excuse to re-read these old travel journals and discover if there is anything in them worth remembering and writing about and I thought publishing a blog would provide some discipline for the project.  So far, I have been pleased to discover that there seems to be rather more than I had thought.  And I do hope that what I make of these will be of some interest to a reader, whether he travels or not.

These stories, such as they are, are no more than incidents or episodes, when they are even that.  Any story arc is trivial and accidental, and themes rarely show their head, though they are taking shape in my mind as I write these and may emerge if these writings are ever brought together in a longer piece, as I begin to do in the “pages” entries.

In this blog I am writing out these incidents, either as they appear in my journal or as my notes there jog my memory, and the reader will thus be following my journey, not as I took it, but as I rediscover it through re-reading my old journals.

In all of this, I do try to be amusing, or at least interesting, which is not that difficult when you see things with the right attitude.  After all, what is adventure but inconvenience or misfortune rightly understood?  Otherwise, the world might be unbearable.

(I was put in mind of all this by a list of thirty good travel blogs I found at , which had the keen insight to list this site.)


  1. It's good to notice that my little pieces of advice can be inspirational for some at least. You run a good blog. There are not many contemplative travel blogs around, blogs were WORDS are used to convey a mood, an experience, a thought. Pictures, OMGs and "awesome" seem to be the name of the game for many travel bloggers.


  2. A problem I have with photographs on travel blogs is that they are so often either common and clichéd tourist views of the sort you can get on picture postcards or they are of fellow foreign travelers, often disporting themselves untowardly. More interesting would be photos of ordinary life, shown in enough detail that the person who sees the photo can feel that he has some sense of that life. It is natural enough when you are beginning, to take photographs that look like other photographs that you have seen. This is a way to learn to control the medium, which is nowadays mainly framing and composition. But photos become interesting when they communicate something that you think important and do so in a way that you haven't seen before in National Geographic or Condé Nast.

    There are proper concerns about photographing people, but there is a good deal of advice on how to handle that. A friend with a Hassleblad, the sort where you look down through the top to frame the picture, said he would sometimes just hold the camera sideways so that he appeared to be photographing 90-degrees away from where he was actually shooting.

    What I find interesting is the material culture of a place, the things that are common there that are not common here, the graphics and design of the place, both that which surrounds the people now and that which they grew up with. I constantly pick up litter (which I choose to think of as printed ephemera) and collect graphics for what they show of the mental world of the people there. And I find second-hand shops and buy old photographs to see how they saw themselves.