"Foreign Affairs aka An Englishman Abroad" antistar's Profile
I don't have any real idea why I travel. I guess just because I enjoy it. Sometimes when travelling I wonder why the hell I am doing it, especially when the journey becomes an ordeal, but then when I get back feeling relaxed and happy full of tales to tell then I remember why. The most stressful travels have always resulted in the most amazing stories, like my two week hike across Java where I nearly fell out of a moving train into the jungle at night, stared into the bowels of an active volcano, drove through the devastation of an earthquake and tidal wave, and many other crazy adventures all in just a couple of weeks.
My travels have become more mundane as I get older and wiser, and seek to avoid the stress and strife that I once reveled in. I still dream of adventures, like taking the train from Istanbul to Tehran and Damascus, but even here I will make sure to take enough money with me to make the trip enjoyable rather than endurable. I travel to challenge myself, to get myself off my ass and doing something, and most journeys make me feel like I've achieved something, even if it is just something as simple as getting myself on a plane, something I've not been comfortable with since September 11th.
I love to see different things, speak with people of different backgrounds, see how people live outside my comfortable accepted world. I like to hear their different opinions, hear their dreams and desires, their raison d'etre. This helps me understand the world better and help me with my other loves: international politics and history. I love to write and discuss these subjects, and having the experience of being to the places I am writing about gives me a much better understanding of the issues.
I also like to write stories, especially to build plots and characters, and going to new places and meeting new people helps me to build a catologue of characteristics with great depth and humanity. The politics, history and writing all tie in together with the travelling, allowing me to create believable backdrops for stories with real people. I'm also lucky enough to be able to use these skills in my job, where I help to build worlds filled with convincing people and places.
I am lucky enough to work with some of the most talented people on the planet, in a job where I get to use my creative skills every day in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. I work as a games designer at one of the best studios in Europe, one that through skill and determination has come from nowhere to be recognised as the best new studio in the world, one whose first game is now used as a benchmark by which to judge others. I am made to feel both humble and proud every day I am here by their achievements.
I am working in a wonderful company, doing a job that I have always wanted to do, a job many others would snap up in an instant, in a beautiful and safe country, with wonderful people. Despite this there is still more I want to achieve. I want to make this company as proud of me as I am of them. I want to help them to make a game that people will consider to be the best of its genre, even the best of its era. I know we have the talent to achieve this, and I am just thankful that I have been given the opportunity to live out my childhood dream.
I know that sounds gushy, but I am pretty happy right now.
I joined VT initially just as a place to search for information. Then I started building up a Coburg page while I was in the city to help all the newcomers that were arriving at the company. Then I found it was a nice place to put all my travel stories. Then the feedback I got encouraged me to write more, and before knew it I was a fan and travels and VT became intertwined.
What I like about VT is it gives me something to do when I go somewhere. Often I would just walk aimlessly about a city without ever really seeing anything. Now that I have tasked myself to write up what I see it makes me look at what is there and read about it so that I can understand and recount what I see. It gives me a purpose and this is invaluable in any aspect of life.
It also helps me to develop my writing style. I have a background in stolid academia and hyperrational technical writing, so my style can often come across as stiff and pompous. I often find myself writing in a completely different way to how I speak and it is very frustrating, but it is something I have trained myself to do and is very valuable when needed. My first tips for VT were very much like a second-rate guide book, and all my personal stuff would go in the travelogues. Now I have started to merge the two and make my tips much more personal, while still retaining information that is useful to people.
You can't really learn about anyone in a few paragraphs. I can tell you my "favourite" albums, but they would change next month. My family will always be the same, but you won't know them any more than me. I have a lot of stories to tell, but the way I tell them probably says more about me than what is in them. What I choose not to say is more revealing than what I say, but you will not get to know about that unless you ask me. Meeting me is the best way to know me, but I will give a glimpse on this page for the curious.
George Burns said: "Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city." I think this sums up my relationship with my family very well. Every one of my family is spread around the globe, I am in Germany, my mother is in Australia, and the rest of my close family scattered around England. My sister travels all over, speaks several languages, and translates German technical documents for her own business. My brother is considering very early retirement and buying a hotel in the sun. My father, bless him, is in ill-health, but his mind is as active as ever.
My parents were very different people: my mother is very loving, and caring even of strangers, whereas my father is very pragmatic and limited his love only to his close family. My mother once told me a story of the child evacuees in the war that came to her village. She lived in a small house with a six sisters and two brothers and could barely squeeze them in, but still her mother (my grandmother) was keen to help out these poor children. When they arrived, the scene was of people sifting through the children like they were boxes of goods, looking for the prettiest, cleanest, ones to take home. My grandmother waited until the very end and walked over to the two dirty, unwashed, unloved children left behind and made them feel like she had been looking just for them them all along.
My father holds very strong opinions, and although he is pragmatic he has always cared about a great many things. Even though he is far from a tree-hugger, he was telling me not to use aerosols long before it became fashionable to worry about the ozone layer. He didn't have me baptised so I could make up my own mind about religion, and brought me up to be in wonder at the marvels of the universe. I remember my head nearly exploding after he explained to me the idea of infinite universe when I was only about six years of age. He also taught me subjects like algebra years before I encountered them at school. He has also always been crazy about throwing things away: a real scrimper. My clearest image of him is when standing in the kitchen doorway, cigar clamped tightly in an angry mouth, holding his favourite worn out slippers in one hand, and shaking his fist at my brother with the other. My prodigal brother had thrown them in the trash.
I am somewhat of a mix between the two. I am opinionated, but I care passionately about people and their condition. I always want to help others, but I recognise that I can't help everyone and those nearest and neediest come first. I can appear cold and overly pragmatic like my father, but this is skin deep and underneath I have heart and soul. I love life and don't want to ever have to give it up. There is more to see in this world than I will ever have time to experience, and this is about the only thing in life that I regret. I've had some very hard times, but overall I've been incredibly fortunate, having an unbelievably supportive family, some of the best friends anyone could wish for, and a life that has led me to the most amazing places and events.
I have written 451849 words on Virtual Tourist - the equivalent of 4 or 5 novels.
Southbank, Melbourne is my 3000th tip.
The Burj al Arab in Dubai is my 6000th picture.
Country Records of a Different Kind
Happiest Visited Denmark (1st).
Saddest Visited Albania (157th).
Most Developed Visited Australia (2nd).
Least Developed Visited Morocco (130th).
Most Democratic Visited Sweden (2nd).
Least Democratic Visited United Arab Emirates (152nd).
Richest Visited Liechstenstein (1st).
Poorest Visited West Bank (139th).
Brussels (June): Finished.
Tamworth (June): Finished.
York (June): Finished.
Newcastle (July): Finished.
Edinburgh (July): Finished.
Dubai (December): Finished.
Bangkok (December): Finished.
George Town (December): Finished.
Singapore (December): Finished.
Sale (December): Not finished.
Melbourne (January): Not finished.
Sydney (January): Not finished.
Brisbane (January): Not finished.
Johor Bahru (January): Not finished.
Kuala Lumpur (January): Not finished.
Neuschwanstein (May/June): Planning.
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