When I was a toddler, I told my mother that I wanted to be a mapmaker after watching a short segment on Sesame Street of a woman wearing a fancy headset, hovering over the city in a helicopter, mapping coordinates. (Yes, I know. I was a strange child.) Ever since, I’ve been fascinated with maps, aerial views, and how each place comes to life in a different way. After basing my art work on maps for years, I created Mapping Words in November 2011, using the internet as an alternative space to combine my passions for writing, art and photography.
Mapping Words is geared towards independent travelers who are curious about the world and interested in overlooked places. This blog mainly appeals to long-term travelers, slow travelers and expats who have immersed themselves in a foreign country and have made quality connections with people and place abroad.
For example, in Beijing, I learned more about Chinese history and culture by couchsurfing with a Chinese family than visiting the Forbidden City. I’ve formed genuine relationships with Korean co-workers, friends and roommates by speaking in (limited) Korean, which otherwise would have been impossible if I made no attempt to learn the language. Additionally, when I think about Cusco, Peru, dancing salsa in dingy clubs off cobble stoned side streets comes to mind before Machu Picchu. Overall, I’m interested in visually documenting my travels and writing about my daily interactions with people and place.
Mapping Words is updated at least once a week, publishing content in an array of styles, but focusing on narratives, travel articles, art and photography. Currently, most of the content on this site is related to South Korea and my travels through Asia (China, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines.) There are also some posts on the United States and past travels to Peru and parts of Europe.
I created Mapping Words because writing and art are my passions and blogging is my medium. I tell my stories, because I have to. Whether I’m waiting for the bus, in the middle of Korean class, or hiking along the Great Wall, ideas suddenly pop into my head and I must scavenge for bits of paper to jot down my thoughts before they drift away. My camera accompanies me on trips where I traverse across cities solo, on casual outings with friends, and even when I’m taking a walk between the farm fields in my small, country town, so as not to miss an opportunity to capture the bits of life that I find value in documenting.
Although I would like to support myself by writing and blogging full-time, it’s not yet possible. My published stories and occasional sponsored posts cover my hosting fees, but not much else. I will never advertise dodgy links on this site at the cost of my readers and my own dignity. However, I do participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. In other words, whenever you buy a book on Amazon from a link I’ve posted, I get a small percentage of its price at no extra cost to you. This helps support Mapping Words by offsetting a fraction of what it takes to maintain the site, and is very much appreciated.
To learn more about me, visit the About Sarah page. Click here for a list of published work and here if you’re interested in forming a partnership or sponsoring a future trip. Please feel free to contact me via this form. I would love to connect with you. Really.
-Text by Sarah Shaw @ www.mappingwords.com. All rights reserved.