It's coming to a decade (OMG!) since I first found out about online community sites, so it's only apt for me to focus my next review on the first community site I signed up in Oct. 2000, VirtualTourist.com. VirtualTourist (VT to its members) accounted for a major part of my life for the last decade (be it online or in the real world). Because of the friends I made on VT, it transpired me to go beyond my comfort zone and went as far as Antarctica, the Arctic (on the same trip, btw… incredible, isn't it? Both the North & South Pole on the same trip! Thanks to Ernst (WorldTrekker) for his suggestion!), Iceland, Galapagos Islands, Bora Bora & South Africa.
I thereby fulfiled my dream of setting foot on all the 7 continents (twice, the 2nd time I repeated the cycle all within a year in 2005 by taking the flight instead of cruise from Sydney to Antarctica on New Year's Eve & was first to welcome the new year on board the 747 Qantas flight partying right in the air above Antarctica! I then traveled to Australia, Canada & U.S.A., China & Hong Kong, Morocco, Hungary & Slovakia, Belgium, UK, Czeh Republic, Ireland, Ecuador, Cuba, Japan, French Polynesia, Thailand & Laos.
Along the way, I met many Vters from across the world and am thankful for their hospitality & friendship. Some of them have left the site, like Atsuko from Tokyo,Oliver from Vienna (whom I met in Vienna & Cesky Krumlov), Ivan Jimenez from Lleida (whom I met when in Athens) & Robert from Lisbon (whom I met when in Warsaw). Others like Armando from Lisbon (the most hospitable Vter I've the immense fortune to meet ) had unfortunately left this world (due to a work accident, he was an archaelogist). Then there are others whom I traveled with to far away places like Iceland (with Ann from Santa Clarita) & Peru (with Julie from Delaware).
VT is a great portal for anyone looking for travel information as well. It provides members with their own homepage to introduce themselves to the world & also an email a/c to write one another and outsiders. The forum is especially fun for those who likes to mingle with the crowd & to discuss about matters important to them. It is also a good place to post a question about traveling to unknown parts of the world & in return be greeted by helpful members about what to look out for.
I found the travelogues and photos uploaded by some members extremely helpful in deciding if I'd like to visit a place which I've never been to. I went to Iceland simply because of a travelogue by member Pierangelo. Ivan Jimenez in turn persuaded me to go beyond my comfort zone & I headed to Chile (the first country I visited in South America) & Patagonia. I wish I could go to Greenland & Easter Island soon too! So, VT is essentially a peep into the world & it brings along with it an entire new world, expands your horizon and deepens your relationship with the rest of the world. I've also found great friendship with many who are not active on the site but have kept in touch with; Atsuko from Tokyo, Mei from North Carolina, Ann from Santa Clarita, Atte from Helsinki, Kent from DC, Oliver from Vienna, Ivan from Istanbul & Richie from Ft. Lauderdale.
Aside from friendship & travels, I've also learned HTML (back in 2001) in the process of building my pages. It was a crazy time when most of us stayed online for as long as 20 hours a day, scanning an incredible number of photos (I believe I've more than 10000 up there & at least 1/3 of them were scanned ones), multi tasking with a full time job, chatting up others and some even found their life partners on the very same site! Richie (now r12345 on Lunch) is one of them! Many Vters formed their own gatherings & functions in different parts of the world. The very first VT Meet was in Santa Monica, U.S.A. I think I was the member who flew the most miles to get to that meeting!
VT also helps us keep track of the places we've visited through its Travel Map function. I love this map as I've more than 800 cities to keep track of!
All in all, VT has a lot to offer for its members & travelers. Tips about destinations, humorous travelogs to read, getting acquainted with others' preferences for traveling styles and learning about countries and cities you've never heard of & then some. Many members have helped me on this site & I am taking this opportunity to thank each and everyone of them. I hope to see them over here soon! It's been fun meeting them on Virtual Tourist, which was once owned by Lunch's CEO, J.R. Johnson!
Here's a poem written by ‘Mr. Perfect' (VT member Confucius) about VT & some of its active (or once active) members:
Yo! It's the VT rap song!
'round the world and baby, I'm smilin'
I'm on VT!
DSantosh just welcomed me!
And I'm busy!
Man! Downright dizzy!
Buildin' tips got me in one tizzy
I'm ratin', datin', no hesitatin'
Can't believe all the friends I'm makin'
I'm high! Why? Movin' up the ranks
I'm almost as popular as Tom Hanks
60,000 hits on my homepage
Souls from 7 seas seekin' the sage
So take my advice and join V.T.
a yachtin' globetrottin' community
Tour the world with a click of the mouse
Invite John The Finn into your house
or take your spouse all the way to Laos
Fresh faces, places; jeers and cheers
Found a new member looks like Britney Spears!
Forums are fun if you're so inclined
The Mischievous Forum's where we unwind
You never know what you're gonna find
Get some tech help if you're in a bind
VT staff can always read your mind!
Back to the travel forums I go
People askin' 'bout visas n' snow
Don't look at me, man, I don't know
where to find diapers in Orlando
Pick a nation, for my vacation
Who'll get lucky at my destination?
Folks online in Palestine
with tips on where to shop and dine
Cross the sea? Oui! Log onto VT ...
"Voulez-vous 'meet' avec moi a Paris?"
VT meetings,... leave with no warning
Got Norali "in Brussels in zee morning"
Ivan in Spain, Dewisri in Bonn
connectin' the dots like my man Don Guan
Pole to Pole like Michael Palin and Sharrie
Penguin cam with live links to my safari
Back home! Free! Turn on the PC!
Two hundred notices flashin' at me
Just when I thought my wish list was done
Zap! Like that! I got another one!
What did you think of this review?