Amer is an architect base in London (originally from Malaysia) whose passion in travelling lead him to create TendtoTravel.com. Amer offers a different perspective when it comes to juggling his career and his travels. Instead of quitting his job like what most of the other travel bloggers that I featured before did, Amer stays on with his career and travels on the side.
As an architect by profession, Amer is passionate with featuring great architectures that can be found around the world.
Learn more about Amer and visit his blog at Tend to Travel.
Check out my short interview with Amer.
How did you discover your passion for travelling?
“It started during Christmas of 2007 when I was in Egypt and Africa for the first time. I had just landed in Cairo and was being driven into the city. I remembered being mesmerised by the city – the old buildings, crowded atmosphere plus the traffic jams. I knew right away that it was going to be a challenging and interesting experience. It turned out to be an amazing trip. I loved the cultural shock that was being presented to me. I am still searching for more.”
What’s the most horrible experience that you’ve had on the road?
“I’m lucky not to have bad experiences during my travels. I’ve contracted a bad flu whilst in Egypt that spoiled a large part of the trip. But my worst experience has been at home rather than abroad. I was living in Penang then and went on a trip to Kuala Lumpur. I’ve arrived really early in the morning only to be mugged by two locals who had threatened me with a knife. Despite losing my wallet, I was lucky to escape unharmed. Though that experience happened over 10 years ago when I only travel around Malaysia. Having said that, the level of security in Kuala Lumpur had increased dramatically since then. KL is very safe for travellers. The moral is, sometimes your worst experiences doesn’t happen on the road but in your own backyard. So don’t be afraid to travel overseas by yourself.”
What’s the best travel experience that you’ve ever had?
“I’ve had an amazing time in Albania. It was one of those random last-minute solo trips I’ve taken – I actually bought the flight ticket 8 hours before the actual departure time! Albania is not a developed tourist destination so for someone coming from an Asian origin, its natural for the locals to be curious about me wandering around the streets alone. This curiosity makes them more approachable and in turn I’ve discovered the friendliest people around. It was fantastic to know that people are stopping by to greet you.
In Berat, drivers also slowed down to greet me! I’ve been invited to have dinner with a group of students and a teacher, had a coffee and a car wash break with a taxi driver on my arrival, shared some jokes with a bus full of locals and being bought water and snacks by a stranger whom I shared a long taxi drive with. All of this never happened to me anywhere else in the world but in Albania.”
What’s the biggest realization that you’ve got out of travelling?
“As much as we are curious about other people, they are also curious to know more about you. Though this is more obvious in developing nations such as Albania and Egypt for instance. I love travel simply because I get the opportunity to meet a lot of locals. In fact, its been easier when I travelled solo. Talking to them, I’ve realized that we all have common values no matter where we are in the world.”
What keeps you going? What keeps you motivated?
“I am lucky to have a family that supports me to travel as much as possible. The further I go the better! Since I don’t travel permanently, I do not have problems with being tired to travel I believe travel broadens my horizons and my knowledge about the world we live in. Since my full-time job is an architect, I have also taken full opportunity to visit different buildings that is significant to a place. I believe a good architect shouldn’t be glued in front of their computers trying to design things, but should rather go out and experience different buildings and atmosphere. It satisfy my crave to understand architecture in the global context better.”
This is a silly and hypothetical one. If you would be given a chance to travel with a popular person or a celebrity, who would it be and why?
“I would love to travel with Tony Wheeler – Lonely Planet’s founder. I wanted to understand how he do things – adapt to cultures which hasn’t been exposed to the outside world etc. I bet it was really cool to become the first person to explore many different places.”
Where’s your favourite place in this planet and why?
“This is obviously hard to answer. If you asked me the best place to live then I would have to say Spain. You can beat Spain’s glorious weather, food and people. They have one of the highest quality of life in the world. Too bad the money is not as good. But if its for visiting I would choose Syria. There’s so much pre-conception going on around Syria. Surely they are at a civil war at the moment, but the Syrians are one of the nicest people I’ve met in my travels. Add that to the ancient sights available and then there’s Damascus the capital city – which is known as the oldest continuously inhabited city in history. The Damascene cuisine is also surprisingly good compared of that to the rest of the Middle East. Having said that, I might change my mind when I visit India very soon.”
What’s your best tip for newbie traveller?
“Travel with an open mind. Everything else will fall into place. Another tip is try learning a few phrases in the local language before you travel. It’s great fun to speak a different language and people would appreciate you a bit more too. It helps out to open up conversations with locals.”
What’s the funniest and silliest thing you’ve ever done while travelling?
“Fortunately, I’ve never done anything silly during my trip. At least that’s what I like to think about myself. Though I’ve been laughed on quite a lot during a bus trip from Pogradec to Berat in Albania. It started when a group of students asked me where I’m from, when I started to converse a bit in Albanian. They were clearly amused with my lack of pronunciation and we all had fun in the bus.
I have to say, I’ve never engaged with a larger group of strangers in my life before. It was great to be able to speak to different levels of society, not just the young but also the older ones too (in that bus). We end up having drinks later that day and was also invited to have dinner together along with their teachers!”
What do you think about yourself?
“I wanted to think myself as someone quite creative, hard working, persistent and love to travel ”
“TendToTravel was initiated in 2010 because a lot of people asked where did all of my savings gone to after years of working. My answer was pretty straight forward – I Tend To Travel! It’s great to be able to document my journeys, experiences, photos and sketches in one place where it could be shared with everyone (and show them the money well spent!). I have recently relaunched myself as the Travelling Architect upon suggestions from the result of a huge poll I’ve conducted last year. I now share my travel experience from an architect’s angle!” – Amer
Editor’s Note: All pics provided by Amer