Editorial: December 2015

Winter has arrived, and I’m in full hibernation mode right now – so this won’t be a long editorial!

My current plans are to spend the next couple of months developing new features on the site, working through my backlog of photographs and creating some quality content both for the public and private areas of the blog. I’ll be thinking about the tours I’d like to run in 2016 too, as well as planning my own trips for the new year. For now though, here’s a quick update on all that’s going on.

Yaks, Monks & Nomads-Lanzhou-1
Coming up next: An epic Chinese road trip.


The Exclusion Zone

In case you haven’t seen it recently, I’ve given The Exclusion Zone a complete makeover. The old text links are gone, replaced with a nice, sleek navigation system that looks a lot more like the front end of the site.

You’ll find that I’ve separated out the book previews now, dedicating a new page to listing the various projects I’m working on. It’s more or less the same as the Books page on the front end of the site, only here you’ll get to enjoy previews of everything mentioned.

There’s a third link, not yet operational, pointing towards a forum. This is something I’ll be working on more over the coming weeks.

I have also been back through all of my private photo galleries, adding descriptions to each one. Now, rather than just a stash of photos without any introduction, each gallery features at least a few paragraphs to explain exactly what you’re looking at. In a few instances, I’ve gone further still. Some of those galleries have been expanded into articles, exploring the subject in greater depth – for example, check out Cuba’s Nuclear City or Haiti’s Post-Industrial Vodou Art Scene.

The Sculptors of Grand Rue 13
Babies, human skulls, and all kinds of weirdness in this Haitian art gallery.


Travel Plans

This last month has been pretty quiet for me, as I’ve spent most of it sat behind a computer. I did pop over the border to Romania for a week, researching a story I want to write about locations associated with the communist leader, Nicolae Ceausescu; perfectionist that I am though, I still don’t feel I’ve got enough material for the article I want to write. (Largely because I didn’t manage to get to the military base where Ceausescu and his wife were executed – that’ll have to happen next time.)

Nevertheless, I do some have interesting photos from the Palace of the People, and the now-abandoned holiday camp in Transylvania where the Ceausescu family spent many a summer holiday – so I’ll be adding these as galleries on TEZ before too long.

As for 2016, I have some very exciting plans beginning to form… and perhaps the biggest of those, is spending two weeks in Iran. I’m absolutely thrilled to be going, and I’m sure it’ll generate some interesting articles to come.

I do have a few other destinations in mind, including possible trips to Africa and elsewhere in the Middle East. My plans are still pretty vague for the time being, but I’ll share updates on here as they begin to take shape.

Palace of the People-preview
One of the many, many chandeliers in Bucharest’s ‘Palace of the People.’



Right now, I’ve got a pretty solid idea for the next few posts I want to publish. But how about a vote for the first post of 2016?

Here are three options that I feel could make a strong opener for the year:

Nuclear Tourism: Exploring the Chernobyl Reactors
Doftana Penitentiary: Inside the Romanian Bastille
Jack the Ripper Tourism in London’s East End

You can let me know which you like the sound of either in the comments below, by sending me a message through Patreon, or even with a good, old-fashioned email. Alternatively, you’re welcome to suggest something completely different… if there’s anything you’re particularly keen to see, then I’ll do my best to fit it into the schedule somewhere.

Incidentally – I want to try building a more effective voting system into The Exclusion Zone. Rather than doing it like this, my idea is to add a rating system where you can simply ‘up-vote’ the galleries you’d most like to see developed into full articles. That way I can just pick from the more popular image galleries when I’m looking for inspiration on what to write next. Watch this space!

I’m not trying to sway the vote or anything, but… Doftana was pretty amazing.


Coming Up Next

So I mentioned above that I already have a plan for the next few articles… well here they are:

Yaks, Monks & Nomads: A Road Trip Through the Tibetan Plateau
The Cuba Revolutionary Tour: From Che Guevara to the Missile Crisis
The Nike Missile Site: Looking for WMDs in the Florida Everglades

I think you’re really going to enjoy these, I’ve got some good stories to go with the photos that you’ve already seen. Plus, in each case there are extra details that I don’t plan on sharing with the whole world. Much like my recent post from Istanbul came with a private post to accompany it – and even that Welsh Alchemy article has a related post in The Exclusion Zone – what I’ll do with these is post a story on the blog, then share a private, behind-the-scenes article just for you people.

And honestly, the private posts to go with the above stories are going to be hilarious… Chinese drinking games, getting arrested in Cuba and my week with an evangelical preacher in Miami.

Right, well I guess that’s about all for now. If you’ve got any feedback or suggestions, just let me know.

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Since its creation in 2011, this site has published more than 100 long-form articles now covering 40 different countries. Some reports have even made international news. But it remains the work of just one person… so if you like what you’re reading, please consider supporting me on Patreon. Help me keep this site growing, and in return you’ll get access to a hidden area featuring another 100+ posts of exclusive content and image galleries.

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