Tim's biography:

I thought I would tell you a bit about myself and where I have travelled to before I arrived here in Budapest. Well, I was born just outside of London in a town called High Wycombe, in May 1958. Our family later moved to Ryde on the Isle of Wight, where I developed my love for the sea and exotic places. After my education at a local private school, then a boarding school run by Catholic priests in the Midlands, a local Grammar school and then technical college, I joined the Royal Ordinance Survey in Southampton.

Working as a cartographers assistant I was making some of the best and most accurate maps in the world but after a year of that decided that I would rather be in the places, seeing them with my own eyes, than just drawing them. I returned to the Isle of Wight where I took various temporary jobs to save up enough money to venture out and see the big wide world.

I have worked as a waiter, ice cream salesman on the beach, big wheel operator in a fair ground, dish washer, looking after elephants, llamas and camels in a circus, bought up stock from charity shops and then sold them at my own stall at different London markets, chef in a grill bar, construction work, microfilm camera operator at a large satellite radar company and more.

During the Summers I met many young English Language students from Scandinavia and other European countries which made me more resolved to leave the island. Most of my friends left to get jobs in London or off to sea to work on the largest luxury cruise ships. That cold winter I had recieved several letters from a friend who wrote me that she was living in the Sinai Desert on the Red Sea, working for a fish restaurant, catching fish in the morning with the help of the Bedouin and then serving the guests in the evening. That was it, the cold wind was blowing through the cracks in the window and I just threw my belongings into suitcases, paid my rent and left for London.

After having spent money on air tickets, vaccinations ,visas, travel garb and TOO much on the London night-life with my I.o.W. friends in London, it was a relief to land in Tel Aviv. Everything was closed due to elections for 3 days and my idea of just going to one of the Kibbutz offices, signing up and then jumping on a bus to the kibbutz went out the window. Luckily I had befriended a Russian emigre Jew called Hiam living in Western Germany at the airport; we hit it off and I just tagged along. We checked into a sleazy hotel, The Hotel Josef, located in downtown Tel Aviv. Hiam spoke 10 languages fluently and 5 others quite well, sold Levis in Europe and travelled around Europe playing chess for money. When we wanted to eat, he just challenged someone in one of the cafes to a game, and an hour or so later we went to the best places for a slap up meal.

The holiday was over and I went off to a Kibbutz in the north of Israel. The year was early 1977 and that was the beginning of many adventures. I stayed in Israel for 3 years where I made many Arabic, Christian and Jewish friends. It was there I met a Swedish girl called Kicki, we travelled back to Europe together overland and by boat. Haifa to Rhodos via Cyprus by boat, then onto Athens by ferry. Then Athens to London by coach(72hrs. non stop). After applying for various visas and official papers we decided it would be easier for me to emigrate to Sweden.

It was almost Christmas 1979 and after only a few weeks in Stockholm, I was teaching English and learning the Swedish Language. I am now an official resident of Sweden and speak the language fluently. I have also achieved one of my goals which I set back in 1985, to travel around the world on a thousand pounds and to return exactly a year later.

I purchased a one way ticket to Hong Kong via New Delhi. I then arrived in India planning to only spend a week there. I ended up spending a wonderful 2 months there visiting several places and amongst other things, travelling around several states with a real live guru and his band of followers, staying with a Parsi family for a week in Bombay where I took the grandmother out for an evening meal at one of the old colonial members only country clubs.

I visiting the Taj -Mahal in Agra, the pink city of Jaipur in Rajastan where I spent a week learning everything there is to know about lapis lazuli, rubies and all sorts of semi-precious stones. I then travelled by steamer from Bombay to Goa where I relaxed for two weeks in paradise.

Most of my time in Asia was spent in Hong Kong with 5 trips to China en route to Lhasa, then overland through the Himalayas to Nepal. I visited Lhasa and Kathmandu and even set a land speed record (unofficial amongst us travellers) by Land Cruiser from Lhasa to the Tibet/Nepal border just over a day, the bus took 3 days. With landslides, rock falls, snowstorms, floods, altitude sickness and other perils, it was really spectacular to see Mt.Everest.

After four trips I got be recognised by some of the locals in far away small villages where we used to stop. After several close calls and a very bad accident in Bangkok where I sliced open my head on an overhead fan, I thought that Indiana Jones was pretty tame. I visited Korea, Japan and Taiwan with free flight tickets I got for work done in H.K. The snake market in Taipei was a real blast with all sort of bizarre things to see. I flew home with a stop over in Hawaii, sunburn on Waikiki, and Los Angeles where I stayed with a real live millionaire who I met on the plane, then New York where I was robbed at Port Authority by an old lady (how humiliating after my Asian adventures).

Luckily I got a new passport and a friend from H.K. wired me some money. I then flew with Peoples Express Airways to Brussels, then travelled on by train to Stockholm. My suitcase was sent to the wrong airport so I arrived in Stockholm Central Station to be greeted by one of my friends with only a black cloth umbrella from Kathmandu. He said you British really travel light when circumnavigating the globe.

Back in Sweden I was organising an ideal culture organisation for young people wanting something more out of life. In temperatures of minus 5 degrees I organised the first Rave in an old car factory outside of Stockholm. With old theatre lights, a huge sound system and 350 very brave young people, the event became a fact. In coming events I flew over established d.j.'s from London and had one off parties for around 1,500 revellers. I tried to create the special atmosphere from the island of Ibiza in Spain, where the music, people and the night blend into one.

In 1989 I arrived in Leningrad ,USSR,(now St.Petersburg, Russia) where I lived for 5 years and had my own consulting company which I set up in 1991 after the coupi- detat. I travelled back to Stockholm every 2 or 3 months for a week to renew visas, sleep properly, dry out from the excess of vodka and enjoy the things people take for granted in the Western World.

With up to 15 murders a day in St.Petersburg from mob related or just simple bandit shootings, price inflation even in hard currency terms and a change that couldn't be measured in time, I left Russia with a lump in my throat and wondered if I could live in the West again after being bitten by the Eastern European bug.

Then in the early Summer of '95 I was travelling back to Sweden from the U.K., and with a 2 month Interail ticket I decided to travel back through Hungary, The Czech Republic and Poland where I would take a boat to Stockholm. Budapest, it was love at first sight and I returned later that summer to spend another 10 days in Budapest making the same journey from the U.K. back to Sweden. I decided there and then to rent out my flat in Stockholm and rent a flat in Budapest.

Six months later, a very cold February morning I flew into Ferihegy Air Terminal1, took the airport minibus to the one youth hostel open in the winter. Two months later I was living in a three room apartment right in the centre of Pest with a location I was very lucky to get.

So in my travels within Hungary I have taken a few pictures which you might enjoy. Seven months ago I had not a clue what the internet was, two months ago I wrote in the Friends and Partners Guestbook and I got quite a few replies, one of them with Skip Evans who has spent a lot of time helping me put this together with design and scanning in my photos. I guess that the text is kind of long but I left the U.K. twenty two years ago, and have lived in six different countries with adventures in all of them. In five months begins the biggest adventure of all. I am going to be a father for the first time at the ripe ol' age of forty.

I would be glad to hear your impressions or questions. I hope to take a lot more photos this year in Budapest and it's surrounding areas. I can really recommend Hungary for anyone considering visiting Eastern Europe, as it has so much worthwhile to offer and see for travellers, "Eurailers" and business minded entrepreneurs.

Tim Vale, Budapest, Hungary.

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