We Said Go Travel Writing Award: In the beginning in Konark, India


The We Said Go Travel Writing Award started one day in konarkIndia. I saw a 30-year-old Sand Art contest near Konark and the UNESCO Sun Temple and wondered about the first day.

I imagined a man turning to his friend and saying, “Let’s have a sand art contest!” I expect that the first person and perhaps the next dozen told him it was crazy and a rotten idea.

But he kept going. He built the festival and had good times and bad times. There were people who participated and those who called him mad. He believed and it grew.

The day I was there in the December of 2012, it was a giant international festival with crowds of people flocking to the area. A true success and even a reason for people to come to the area.

I sat in the sand staring back at the sand creations and decided at that moment to have the first Writing Contest on We Said Go Travel. People believed in it from the first moment. I wrote to Richard Bangs and said, “I am going to have a writing contest.” He immediately wrote back, “I am going to be a judge!”

For the first one which began in January 2013, I hoped that at least ten people would enter. We had 60. Each contest grew and grew. At this point, I have published over 1700 writers from 75 countries. For 2016, I have evolved from a free contest to a travel writing award with a small fee to enter. The contest, the site and I have all grown over the last few years. We Said Go Travel LLC needs to be a proper business and has new advisors and a new writing award.

I would be honored if you would share your story about freedom in the first We Said Go Travel Writing Award. I hope you will journey will me to discover what we can build by 2046 for the 30th anniversary of the We Said Go Travel Writing Award.

For inspiration, I would like to share a few quotes from Tommy Spaulding’s It’s Not Just Who You Know: Transform Your Life (and Your Organization) by Turning Colleagues and Contacts into Lasting, Genuine Relationships:

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

“The most important thing in your life is not what you do or who you know; it’s who you become.”

From the Roman philosopher Seneca: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

From Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Video of my day at the Sand Art FestivalPuri International Sand Art Competition, India, December 2012

More about my visit to the Sun Temple:

Regrets, Are We Slaves to Time?


Walking around the Sun Temple in Konark, India, one can’t help but think about time. The temple has seven horses drawing a carriage, one for each day of the week. The only UNESCO World Heritage site in Eastern India, the Sun Temple has 24 sandstone wheels, one for each hour of the day. The temple was constructed in a mere 12 years in the 13th century, the carvers lived on site and worked endlessly to finish.

There are four levels of carvings that depict the cycle of life from childhood to adolescence and from adult to elder. Each piece of the structure highlights aspects in our physical world. For example, prior to the larger structure collapsing, the large stone gateways allowed the sun to enter and alight the top of the temple at morning, especially during the solstice.

Being surrounded by stone timekeeping, it makes me ponder how we spend our time… Are we building the next great temple to recall our greatest moments or are we simply too busy to make our dreams come true?

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Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Ellen Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries and six continents. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she worked on cruise ships for seven years and backpacked for three years in Asia. She is the founder of the website WeSaidGoTravel which is read in 235 countries and was named #3 on Rise Global’s top 1,000 Travel Blogs. Niver is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, Inc. Look for her memoir in Fall 2023 from Post Hill Press/Simon and Schuster. With more than 150,000 followers across social media, she has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best, is verified on Twitter and listed on IMDb, and is the Social Media Manager for the Los Angeles Press Club. You can find Lisa Niver talking travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, Satellite Media Tours, The Jet Set TV and Orbitz travel webisodes as well as her YouTube channel, where her WeSaidGoTravel videos have over 1.7 million views. As a journalist, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors and been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. She has been a judge for the Gracie Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media, and has run 15 travel competitions on her website, publishing over 2,500 writers and photographers from 75 countries. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty times.   Niver has published more than 2000 articles, in more than three dozen magazines and journals including National Geographic, Wired, Teen Vogue, HuffPost Personal, POPSUGAR, Ms. Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Saturday Evening Post, AARP, AAA Explorer Magazine, American Airways, Delta Sky, enRoute (Air Canada), Hemispheres, Jewish Journal, Myanmar Times, BuzzFeed, Robb Report, Scuba Diver Life, Ski Utah, Trivago, Undomesticated, USA Today, TODAY, Wharton Magazine, and Yahoo. Awards National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards 2021 Winner: Book Critic: Ms. Magazine “Untamed: Brave Means Living From the Inside Out” 2019 Winner: Soft News Feature for Film/TV: KTLA TV “Oscars Countdown to Gold with Lisa Niver” 2019 Finalist for: Soft News, Business/Music/Tech/Art Southern California Journalism Awards 2022 Finalist: Book Criticism 2021 Winner: Technology Reporting 2021 Finalist: Book Criticism 2020 Winner: Print Magazine Feature: Hemispheres Magazine, “Painter by the Numbers, Rembrandt” 2020 Finalist: Online Journalist of the Year, Activism Journalism, Educational Reporting, Broadcast Lifestyle Feature 2019 Finalist: Broadcast Television Lifestyle Segment for “Ogden Ski Getaway” 2018 Finalist: Science/Technology Reporting, Travel Reporting, Personality Profile 2017 Winner: Print Column “A Journey to Freedom over Three Passovers” Social Media Presence YouTube Channel: We Said Go Travel (1.7 million views) Short form video:TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels, YouTube Shorts Twitter: lisaniver (90,000 followers) Instagram: lisaniver (24,000 followers) Pinterest: We Said Go Travel (20,000 followers and over 70,000 monthly views) Facebook: lisa.niver (5,000 followers); We Said Go Travel (3,000 followers) LinkedIn: lisaellenniver (9000 contacts)

One response to “We Said Go Travel Writing Award: In the beginning in Konark, India

  1. Great! I hope you enjoyed here in India. And i would like to thank you for enlighten the bright side of Indian Culture and historical places.

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