Etramping Meet Up: Big Night In China

Travel blogging is not just writing about your travel experiences. It is not just about where you went, how you got there or what you did. Blogging and indeed travel blogging is a pathway to finding great people with similar interests and experiences to yourself. For me this came to the fore last weekend when I finally met the people behind Etramping, Agness and Cez.

The fantastic Agness and Cez of etramping.com

The fantastic Agness and Cez of etramping.com

Who are Etramping and how did I find them?

This Polish couple are the best of friends and highly respected travel bloggers. In fact when I first considered blogging theirs is one of the first travel blogs I discovered. I was in admiration of their work and it inspired me. It inspires me even more today. Over the last 16 months or so I’ve followed their posts and seen their site grow to being the big success it has become. It is now in the Top 100 Travel Blogs as listed by Nomadic Samuel.

 

I’ve interacted with the people behind Etramping for more than a year. This first began when Cez Krol approached me to help him with a surprise birthday video for his co-blogger Agness. I was flattered to be asked and was keen to help out.

 

I’ve been in frequent touch with them both since. Cez and I have often talked of the three of us meeting up someday if the chance arose. After various delays in my trip planning I’ve finally made it back to China (where the writers behind Etramping are based.)

 

So last weekend I had an opportunity to make this happen. We were all very excited.

 

I left my hotel in Shanghai at 9:45am to make my flight to Guanzhou. Then it was a long coach ride before I first met Cez just after 6:30pm. Yes it was a long day travelling but worth it.

 

E-Friends to real friends

Through our regular contact via e-mail I felt as though I knew them both pretty well anyway, but at times you just never know. Anyone who has tried internet dating will know what I mean. Someone comes across as very exciting when you make contact via the web. You then meet them in person and they are nothing like you expect.

 

Well I’m delighted to say that the two people behind etramping are everything I thought they would be and a whole lot more. Not only do they come across as fantastic people on their travel blog but they are in person too. Very friendly, warm, intelligent, amusing, engaging and passionate about what they do. If you follow them then you know what I’m talking about.

 

However Agness did think I was about 50 years of age after seeing my picture! (Thanks Agness.) Cez was a lot more welcoming by guessing me at around 35 years of age.

 

After Cez helped me with a hotel reservation we met up with Agness and headed off for dinner. An authentic Chinese café meal with chop sticks and of course we had a beer or two.

 

A little gift

It was also at this point where I wanted to commemorate the occasion. I had bought T-shirts for the 3 of us celebrating the occasion. With “I’d rather be blogging” on the front plus the etramping and Flights And Frustration banners on the back it was a unique way to mark the occasion. I’m glad to say they loved the idea.

The commemorative t shirt, note my twitter handle has now changed to @TheGuyWhoFlies

The commemorative t shirt, note my twitter handle has now changed to @TheGuyWhoFlies

 

Talking of blogging

Talking to the etrampers was so easy. We were all passionate about what we do and it was exciting being able to talk about it face to face. We shared thoughts on what we’d done and wanted to do. We celebrated our successes so far and encouraged each other. This was a clear sign of the community that builds from blogging.

 

Other bloggers were topics of conversation too, it wasn’t all about etramping or flightsandfrustration. We discussed the other blogs we followed, often the same sites and the interactions we’d had with the people behind them.

 

We even had tales of some bad interactions with fellow bloggers which is a shame. Travel blogging can be a great way to interact with people and help each other. Sadly the 3 of us have experienced the opposite with some travel bloggers.

 

I was also fascinated to learn how much Cez has worked behind the scenes with so many travel bloggers I follow. Not only is he a fantastic blogger but he provides IT support and consultancy for many website owners.

 

We’d probably bore any onlookers but over the course of the Saturday night into the Sunday afternoon we spent many an hour talking on technical as well as fun things. Plugins, widgets, html, themes and so on. (If you don’t have your own blog you’ve probably no idea what I’m talking about).

 

Conversation also touched upon travel aspirations, experiences, the future, living in China and Saudi Arabia as well as politics. Also since they run etramping with an aspiration of travelling the world on $25 a day, they provide a great perspective on how to travel around the world on a budget.

 

Add to this their great first hand tips for travelling to China then you know they speak with great experience.

 

I was fascinated to discuss how much time they devote to blogging. I know for me it is immensely time consuming and I do as much as I can in my spare time.

 

Yet these guys seem to be everywhere. Especially Agness who seems to pop up on virtually every travel blog I see. There is even a guest post by Agness Walewinder here on Flights And Frustration. I’ve also performed an interview with Agness Walewinder on my other web site.

 

She guest posts in a lot of places and is always leaving blog comments. To date she is also the person to leave the most comments on this blog!

 

I was saddened to then hear that Agness was not able to join us for the start of the day on the Sunday. She was going to work on Sunday.

 

Both of them work at a school teaching Chinese children English. Yet my visit was during the time when they are both working at the school 6 or 7 days a week! They work really hard at the school then come home and work for many hours on their blog. Amazing dedication. How they don’t burn out I’ll never know.

 

Thankfully Cez was able to negotiate Sunday off so we were able to make the most of my visit.

 

A night on the beer and a visit to a gay bar

Since Agness had to retire early on the Saturday night (for school in the morning), Cez and I went on to share a drink or two. This was a most interesting experience.

 

I received fair warning from Cez that he was one of maybe 6/7 foreigners in this Chinese city of around 6 million people. As a result he was a big celebrity for the friendly locals.

 

Shortly after arriving in the first bar of the night people were coming up to him asking to have their picture taken with him. They also wanted to have drinks with us. Purely good natured and friendly with no ulterior motive. They maybe travelling around the world on a budget but this celebrity status can make it fun at first and maybe tedious later whilst in China.

A local Chinese guy wanting his picture taken with Cez of etramping

A local Chinese guy wanting his picture taken with Cez of etramping

We then moved on to some other bars which became quite interesting. Cez said he wanted try out some new places which he knew little about. We then entered one which immediately felt a little odd to me. I turned to Cez and asked “Have we just walked into a gay bar?” Hesitating as he realised my suspicion Cez quickly drew the same conclusion. We quickly left to head somewhere new. However I’ll retain that image of a group of guys stood across the room looking at us. One Chinese man with a big friendly smile was waving at us.

 

We did find some more heterosexual places and enjoyed the Chinese drinking game which involves the use of dice and a tumbler.

 

The morning after

After the late night it was a more gentle approach the next day. Cez took me to the city park, which was a popular setting for a Sunday. You may see elements of it in Agness’ post on etramping about her yoga fix.

 

Cez explained that there were not many attractions to the city they lived in and this was the highlight. I didn’t mind either way I just enjoyed the company and conversation.

 

Sadly Agness got tied up with school so was unable to join us for lunch before I left to return to Shanghai. It was a shame yet whilst we remain in touch I hope that we have an opportunity to meet again soon.

 

Thanks ETramping

I had an amazing weekend with 2 incredible hosts and highly admired bloggers. I’ve experienced first hand the greatest reward in travel blogging. That is connecting with and sharing your passion with truly inspiring people.

 

To the people behind etramping, Agness Walewinder and Cez Krol thank you.

Showing off our etramping and flightsandfrustration t-shirts

Showing off our etramping and flightsandfrustration t-shirts

 

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Comments

  1. says

    i adore etramping and your blog too :) really cool you guys met! next time i meet up with them (OR YOU!) you will have to give me the low down on each other ;)

    good to know there is a real person that exists behind flights and frustration hhaaha. i expect a shirt that day that we meet up! just kidding :) enjoy china!

    • says

      Hi Megan and many thanks :-) The Etrampers are amazing. It really was a fabulous experience to meet them in person and see that they are even better in real life than on line!

      It certainly would be great if we bloggers have more chances to meet up and share our stories and T-shirts :-) We all have to stay in touch and share our travel plans, creating more chances for these meet ups to happen.

  2. says

    As soon as you told me you were all meeting up I was so excited for you! Meeting people you’ve connected with for a long time online is always a little unknown, but Agness and Cez are so easy and relaxed it’s effortless! I love Agness’ park too and those t-shirts rock! :D Happy travels all

    • says

      Hi Sarah. You’ve been fortunate enough to meet the etramping two a couple of times already and know how brilliant they are. Thanks for sharing our joy. Maybe there will be four of us or more for the next meet up?

  3. says

    I had tears in my eyes when reading this. Our meeting was amazing and I cherish every second we spent together laughing and chatting. Thank you so much once again for the gift. It’s so great! I wear it all the time!

    • says

      You are welcome Agness. It was great to meet you both at last and we had to have something to celebrate the occasion. I wear that T-shirt with pride and it will always remind me of that fabulous weekend. Do you still think I am 50?

  4. says

    Connecting on and offline with bloggers is wonderful! As you mentioned, traveling is more than just visiting places, but connecting with people through the journey. That’s awesome you got to meet IRL. Very thoughtful gift to commemorate your meeting!

  5. says

    Wow! That is so cool and really great that you were able to meet-up. It gives you a better insight as to who members of the blogging world are. Such a shame that Agnes couldn’t make it,

    • says

      Thanks Victoria. It certainly was very cool. The Etrampers really are friendly, approachable people who are great company. It is little wonder that they are so popular.

  6. says

    Wow! This is great guys!! Love how you met up and those t-shirts are cool. By a crazy coincidence I once stayed in the same hostel as Agness and Cez, but a few months later – they had left some grafitti on the wall with eTramping written on it. I’ve yet to meet any of you but hopefully someday! Safe travels. Jonny

    • says

      Hi Jonny, yes it would be fabulous to meet up at some point. Yes, I remember reading your article on dontstopliving.net about that hostel. That must have been a quirky feeling knowing you’d just missed each other by chance.

    • says

      Thank you Rika, I’m glad you enjoyed reading about our exciting weekend. Yes it is great to see Cez up and about again. We walked for ages on Sunday so he is getting his strength back.

  7. says

    This was fantastic and ironically Agness and Cez have become pretty good friends of Phoenix’s and mine as well, The Guy! I’m so incredibly jazzed for the three of you. That is a fantastic idea on the t-shirts! I so want to meet my blogger friends in person and I realize the only way with Phoenix for that to happen is for you guys to come to the States on the West Coast! Absolutely great post! :)

    • says

      Thank you Mike. It really is a great experience meeting people behind the website. I think we bloggers should look for opportunities as much as we can to make it happen. I’m often east coast US but rarely west but hey, you never know! :-)

  8. says

    That is really great that you had the opportunity to meet up with some fellow bloggers. I think that it is really cool to finally be able to put a face to a name in many cases. In blogging, we get so caught up in the internet some time that we forget about the real people behind the websites. Looks like you all had a great time together.

    I should say that I will be catching up on all of your recent posts over the next week or so as I have been out of blogging for way too long… I was inspired by Agness and Cez working 6-7 days a week and finding time to blog. I am doing the same, but sleep has taken precedence. I need to get back into it, and will.

    • says

      Hey Andy, great to see you again. Agness and Cez really are inspiring, they truly work incredibly hard. As a blogger you know full well the amount of time it can take to maintain a site, it is far from just the content we publish.

      You do a fabulous job on yours and you’ve always inspired me too. With you now running a hostel I seriously don’t know how you manage the time to do it. You are definitely in the league of the E-Trampers!

    • says

      Thank you Becky. It is very true, Agness and Cez are now real life friends of mine, not just through the internet. After connecting with some people for so long through their writing you feel as though you already know them. It is then great to confirm in the flesh how special they are.

  9. says

    Love etramping :) it’s wonderful interacting online, but must be really great getting to connect with each other in person. Etramping blog was also one of the first I started reading to. Agness was always so approachable, friendly and honest in her comments and posts – and I didn’t know they worked so many days in China! Pure dedication. Also, awesome t-shirt.

    • says

      Hi Lily thanks for reading. It is great to hear that E-Tramping is one of the first blogs you started reading too. Agness and Cez are testimony as to how fantastic the blogging community can be.

  10. says

    Wow, I have met up with a lot of bloggers on the road, but no one has given me a shirt to commemorate the occasion. (To be fair, I have not done this for anyone else either.) That is hardcore and pretty awesome! Seems like it was a meet up for the history books!

    • says

      Wow thanks Steph. This was my first meet with fellow travel bloggers. Having interacted with the E-Trampers many times online for over a year it was an exciting occasion. I also wanted to offer a little gesture of thanks for all the help and support they’ve given me as well as thanks for hosting my visit.

  11. says

    It sounds like you guys had a great time together. I’ve only met a few other bloggers myself and the first one was actually Agness (no t-shirt, though). That was over a year ago now. It’s hard to believe that our blogs were at about the same level back then. Theirs has really taken off since, but it’s not hard to see why. They obviously work very hard at it–as you mentioned, you won’t find many blogs that don’t have a guest post by Agness somewhere in their recent archives.

    • says

      Hi Daniel, great to hear that you’ve met Agness too. It is true they work incredibly hard and deserve every success. I think you’re doing well too, you always provide great content which I enjoy reading.

  12. says

    So cool! I love the etramping blog and a huge fan of yours too so it was a great read about you all meeting up! It’s great to see the way in which, for the most part, travel bloggers are so supportive of each other!

    • says

      Thank you :-) Yes it is true that on the whole travel bloggers are very supportive to each other and all their readers. Have you ever met any fellow bloggers?

  13. says

    Meeting the Guy was amazing! You won’t see his face or name on his blog, but trust me, the person behind Flights and Frustration is real, and very friendly! I’m sure most of the people who comment on Guy’s blog know it, because he’s also pretty much everywhere – always leaving long comments.

    He has surprised us so much with the t-shirts – I never expected it. The best gift one can get, and we will proudly where it on our trip in SE Asia soon.

    We’ve spent most of the night talking, and whole Sunday. We’ve got so much more to talk about, but the time was limited. That only means we’ll have to meet again!

    Guy, thank you for coming and let’s make it happen again!

    • says

      Thank you Cez. It really was a very special weekend and means so much to me. You two are so dedicated and inspirational, it is little wonder that you have so many followers.

      It was a true pleasure to meet you and now I feel very proud to be able to call you a friend in person. I also hope that we all get to meet again soon for another great night of chatting, eating and drinking.

      I’m glad you like the T-shirts. I’ll have to get new ones now that I’ve already changed my twitter handle to @TheGuyWhoFlies ;-)

  14. says

    I love eTramping and I’ve just subscribed to your newsletter too! Looks like you guys had a great time! Love the tshirts too! Blogging Zindabad! (or “Long live blogging!” for the non-Urdu-speakers out there ;) )

  15. says

    Nice write up, Agness and Cez do come across as lovely people when I am reading their blog. It is one of my favourite and I love the topics they write about :)

  16. says

    Ahh this is so cool! I love eTramping, and Agness and Cez seem like such genuinely sweet people. Glad to see they didn’t disappoint in real life!

  17. says

    This is a really good post that shows how our virtual lives have some basis in reality:) Nice people, you included :) tho you should have stayed at the gay bar and you would have really been given a real celebrity welcoming. Paula

    • says

      Thanks Paula. Yes it was a great night and I really enjoyed getting to know Agness and Cez in person and I’m still in regular contact with them. Cez is even going to help me with a few things.

      Yes, as for the gay bar, Cez and I still joke about that. We found a bar more to our liking afterwards so we did quite well that night.

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