World Adventurers’ next destination?

My wife and I put together our revised list of assignments we will bid on for our next assignment.  We will be in Seoul, Korea until early 2007, when we move on to another country for two more years.  On January 19, I wrote about my initial list of preferred locations.  The initial and revised lists are not too different.  The list below is our revised list based on further research and our collective preferences.  We discarded some assignments that did not meet our needs.  For example, even though Bogota, Colombia has an assignment I would love to do, my wife does not want to bid on Bogota because of several factors; namely, Colombia is still a dangerous place in which to live.
Dear Reader, I need your help.  Have you been to any of the cities listed below?  Have you lived there, and when did you live there?  Did you have a good or bad experience?  I’m especially interested in reading about your experiences in lesser-known places such as La Paz, Bolivia or Damascus, Syria.  If you haven’t been to any of these cities, which would you prefer?  Where do you think World Adventurers should blog from next year?
Here is our current list of preferred locations ranked in order of preference.  This list is subject to change.  I will submit my final list in about two weeks.
  1. Beijing, China
  2. Wellington, New Zealand
  3. Damascus, Syria
  4. Hong Kong, China
  5. Montevideo, Uruguay
  6. San Salvador, El Salvador
  7. La Paz, Bolivia
  8. Athens, Greece
  9. Asuncion, Paraguay
  10. Shenyang, China
  11. London, England
  12. Kuwait City, Kuwait
  13. Jakarta, Indonesia
  14. Buenos Aires, Argentina
  15. Windhoek, Namibia
  16. Managua, Nicaragua
  17. Quito, Ecuador
  18. San Jose, Costa Rica
  19. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Some of these locations have more than one assignment available for bidding.  I know it may seem strange to prefer San Salvador, El Salvador or La Paz, Bolivia over Athens, Greece or London, England.  However, my list depends largely on the job I’m bidding on as well as standard of living at the location where I will bid.  For example, while London is a first-class city, the housing available in Bolivia is second-to-none while London’s housing is cramped.  The cost of living in Bolivia is far, far lower than in London.  We must take into account many factors when we bid, which is why London and Athens don’t automatically rise to the top of our list.  New Zealand is near the top because the job, the city, and the amenities are all first rate.  Chinese posts get preference because I really want to work in China.  Damascus, Syria is near the top because the assignment is great, the expatriate community is excellent, and Syria is a historical and geopolitically strategic location.

Best of MSN Spaces, Part Deux

I’m honored that World Adventurers was featured a second time on "The Best of MSN Spaces."  As Jim Carrey said while portraying Stanley Ipkiss, a man bestowed with powers by the Norse God Loki in the movie, "The Mask"–You love me!  You really love me!  Someone on the MSN Spaces staff must like what I write.  Thanks, I’ll take the entire MSN Spaces editorial staff out for lunch at Pho Hoa near the Microsoft campus when I return to Seattle next May…contact me!  Seriously though, I was surprised to wake up (in Korea) and find that this blog had over 25,000 hits in the last day or so.  Dear Reader, thank you for stopping by to peruse World Adventurers and posting your comments.  Stop by anytime.  I’ll try to respond to as many comments as I can.
World Adventurers was initially featured on "The Best of MSN Spaces" in September 2005.  From time to time, MSN highlights the same blogs twice when they fit more than one category.  This blog was previously featured when MSN Spaces highlighted "Travel."  Now it gets the nod for "Adventure."  If you have a blog on MSN Spaces that hasn’t yet been featured, you might be wondering…hey, how come this guy’s blog gets featured twice when my blog has never been featured?  Well, I don’t really know why the editors at MSN Spaces decided to feature this blog twice.  However, I can give you some suggestions that could help your blog earn some laurels from MSN Spaces:
  1. Choose a theme for your blog, and write about related topics.  Pick a theme you think your blog audience will find interesting.  Some themes are more interesting than others.  Religion and politics always seem to attract attention, for better or for while, while niche topics do not.  Travel and adventure are popular themes.  Sports, fashion, and day-to-day insights are good.  Zany, quirky blogs do well, as do blogs with goals and objectives (e.g. if your quest is to climb Mount Everest and you’re documenting your training program, readers will be interested).
  2. Write frequently, and write well.  Frequent postings is definitely a plus.  Write in complete, grammatically-correct sentences.  Through in a few witty remarks and some seldom-used words.  Don’t be too long-winded (I’m guilty of this) or too terse brief in your postings.  If your focus is on photography or art, post intriguing, high-quality photos or sketches like my fellow blogger mars_wolf.  If you’re an artist, post samples of your work.
  3. Add original content, but document references.  It is better to document your own ideas than to recite from other sources.  Citing other sources is fine, but be sure to give credit when you refer to other people’s work.  If possible, avoid posting copyrighted material without permission.  Minimize the amount of recitation in a blog entry unless it fits into the theme of your blog post.  For example, on Martin Luther King’s Day in 2005, I cited Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s entire "I Have a Dream" speech because few have read the speech in its entirety.  (My condolences to the King family, who lost Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther King, Jr., this week.  It has been a very tough year for the King family.)
  4. Avoid focusing too much on your personal life unless it is absolutely riveting.  Expand your blog entries beyond discussions of your personal life, whether it be personal photos, discussions of friends, or family matters.  If you write about personal matters, tie it into your blog’s theme (e.g. your quest to win a marathon or taking care of children or getting a good job).  You can also highlight people’s personalities.  I have occasionally bantered on this blog with readers I know.  Maybe you have a crazy uncle or a quirky friend.  People love soap operas, so decide up front whether you want to play out your life on a blog.  You’ll get a lot of hits, but you may regret playing your life’s drama out on the blogosphere.
  5. Enhance your blog with photos, lists, music, and a variety of topics.  Blogs serve an entertainment purpose, so it’s good to be entertaining using a variety of methods!  If you post a blog entry, try adding photos.  Photos truly are worth more than 1,000 words.
  6. Start an e-mail writing campaign.  If you think you have a good blog, don’t be shy!  Let MSN Spaces know.  Also, you can encourage your avid readers to submit your blog to MSN Spaces for consideration.
  7. Harness the power of the blogosphere.  The Internet is about interconnectivity.  Feature links to your favorite bloggers, and ask them to link to your blog.  This will create cross-traffic.  After I met Korea’s top blogger, R.J. Koehler, aka "The Marmot’s Hole," we featured each other’s blogs and generated significant cross-traffic between them.  We also listed each other’s blogs in our favorite bloggers’ list.