I've decided to keep ongoing updates just so people can follow along and see what's happening with me and my blog. This is the first of those updates, so I hope it isn't too boring.
Today at midnight our very first Facebook contest ended. I have yet to go through 44 posts to see who won, but I've been keeping a rough count and I think I know the top five winners. When I started the contest, I had just under 300 likes. Ending the contest, I have 6 and a half thousand. The past two weeks have seen incredible growth in my blog and in the support for it, and I only hope I can continue to offer somewhat interesting articles for you to read.
Moving on, lately I have been trying to improve the usability of my website. I'm getting anywhere from 50 to 200 hits on it a day, so I want to make sure it's as user friendly as possible. One of the big issues I've encountered are the large images. Some people love them, some hate them. I tried implementing a button on my site to hide and show said images, but nobody really understood it and it was confusing so I took it out. I have noticed my site isn't doing very good on mobile because of the heavy bandwidth due to the images, so I may scale them back, or I may find some new solution. I'm still thinking on that.
I've also decided to move into my own place next month, which does mean saving up for trips around the world becomes a little more difficult. I decided to try and counter this by adding advertisements on the bottom of my blog articles. I don't like advertisements, but I like traveling. I only hope they don't take anything away from my site and aren't too distracting. They are for you, in a sense, after all. So far, I have made a total of 46 cents off them, which was because of myself testing to see if they actually worked (but don't tell Google that, or they'll lynch me).
I've also added a feature to my site to track how much of an articles are actually being read. I understand the 26 minute long article about Paris probably won't be read in detail over your lunch break, but I just want to know exactly how much of my articles are being read. Two days into tracking, I've learned only 20 - 60% of the articles are being read. This is disappointing, but I understand my posts are very long. I am thinking of a way of making the articles shorter. Maybe I'll paginate them, or maybe I'll split them into smaller articles. I'm not sure yet. (But only reading 60% of my blog post means they're 40% away from seeing any ads, which isn't good for making money!)
On the media side of things, I have asked a local radio and television company in the city, Global Regina, if they would have me on TV. So far, they have not replied. I also asked the local newspaper company, the Leader Post, if they wanted to do an article about me. Zip from them. I emailed Contiki Travels and asked if they would help sponsor me, but again nothing. I will keep trying, and hopefully get into the media somehow. I really feel once I can break into the old media, my blog will really start to grow.
I have been in discussions with several other bloggers around the world, and while some are very busy and can only do an interview, some of the talks are coming together quiet well. I realize the taste for foreign lands is unquenchable and unfortunately I've covered all the distant places I've gone to, so I hope I can find some way to satisfy my readers.
But, really the biggest news update is how great this blog is coming together. I put in countless hours each week working on it, making tweaks, preparing scheduled posts, doing research, finding, cropping and editing pictures, and I really do feel you guys appreciate it. I used to be very frequent on Instagram about my travels and that's kind of fallen to the wayside. I've had several Instagram followers "track me down" to ask what's going on. This is really special. It really means a lot to me that you guys enjoy my posts enough to miss me when I'm away.
That's all for this update. All I can say is thank you, and I'm excited to see what's next for Kenton de Jong Travel.
Goodbye for now.
And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.
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The Island of the Dolls is in Xochimilco, a borough south of Mexico City. While it would be faster to take a car from Mexico City to Xochimilco, the traffic is dense and the roads are very congested. Instead, if you're going there, I'd recommend taking metro, which is easy and the cheapest in the world. What you gain in comfort, however, you lose in speed, as the train ride takes about 2 hours.
Mexico City and Xochimilco both sit in the Valley of Mexico. Until about a millennium ago, the whole region around Mexico City was surrounded by a massive body of water. Over the centuries due to both climate change and interference by humans, most of this water has dried up, for the exception of Xochimilco. With networks of canals crisscrossing the borough, car transportation is difficult and water transportation is essential. I'm sure there were motorized boats somewhere in the waters of Xochimilco, but I never saw any. Instead, canoes and rafts are common on the water. However, the most popular vessel is a trajinera – a colourful gonadal-like boat that is pushed along the water with a wooden pole.
Xochimilco is known worldwide for their Floating Gardens market, which are essentially canoes floating down the canals, selling wares to tourists on trajineras. These include things like food, drinks, silver rings, trinkets, ponchos and sombreros. Occasionally other trajineras full of Mariachi bands will approach tourists and offer to play beside them on the water.
As I stood in the courtyard of Fort Henry, I heard screams emanating from within. Fort Henry was constructed to protect the Kingston Royal Dockyard from the invading American forces during the War of 1812. The threat was so real that the capital of Canada – which was then Kingston – was moved to Quebec to protect it. The docks are all that stood between the United States and the St. Lawrence River and both countries were all too familiar with how easily it would turn the tides of battle.
As the screams from inside Fort Henry faded, I turned to the man beside me. He had come with his family. We got talking, trying to calm our nerves as bloodied clowns and undead mimes began wandering out from inside the fort.
It took a while, but summer has finally arrived! With any city, these three precious months of summer bring their fair share of activities, and Regina is no different. There is a lot to do in Regina so let me know in the comments if I missed anything!
This should be obvious for anybody living in Regina, but for tourists Wascana Park offers a plethora of activities. From fireworks on Canada Day to festivals to just enjoying a quiet stroll, there are countless things to do in the park. Being three times larger than Central Park in New York, the park is full of pathways, bridges, tunnels and islands for you to explore. Self-guiding walking tours are also available, which showcase the monuments, statues, architecture, history and natural flora and fauna that is in the region. Sections of the park are protected for wildlife so you may see foxes, rabbits, raccoons, weasels, beavers, turtles and, if you're lucky, goats. There's also a swimming pool, bird sanctuary, a habitat conservation area and marina. Speaking of the Marina…
Wascana Park is beautiful from the land, but it is even more gorgeous from the water. Imagine floating in the heart of the city, surrounded by nothing but the silence of water. Motor boats aren't commonly found on the lake, so renting a canoe with a loved one can be a personal and private experience. If you're more of a physical person you can also rent a kayak or try stand-up paddle boarding, which recently opened up thanks to Queen City Sup. The marina is also home to the Willow on Wascana, a beautiful outdoor lakeside restaurant. If you're into brunches or wine tasting, or just enjoying eating outdoors, this is a place you must visit!