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My First Esports Tournament – 2024 Spring ESL in Dallas

For years, I’ve been an avid esports fan, cheering on my favorite players from the comfort of my couch. But this year, something exciting happened. I finally took the plunge and attended ESL Dallas, primarily to witness the thrill of StarCraft 2 live.

While the heart-pounding matches were everything I’d hoped for (seriously, the strategic genius on display!), what truly surprised me was the incredible atmosphere. The energy from the crowd was electric, and the sense of community was contagious. I found myself surrounded by fellow StarCraft enthusiasts, swapping strategies, sharing laughs, and creating memories that will last a lifetime.

But the highlight of the event wasn’t just the games or the camaraderie – it was the chance to meet some of my esports heroes. I managed to snag autographs and even have brief conversations with some of the casters and players I’ve admired for years. It was a surreal experience, and their genuine passion for the game only solidified my own.

ESL Dallas was far more than just watching StarCraft 2. It was a journey of connection, shared experiences, and a newfound appreciation for the amazing esports community. If you’ve ever considered attending an esports event, but haven’t quite pulled the trigger, I urge you to take the leap. You might just surprise yourself with the friendships and memories you create.

Making the Most of Now

It Scares me….
  • Have you ever looked back and wished you’d taken that trip or finally tried that new hobby?
  • How do you know if you like something if you’ve never tried it?
  • What on earth are you waiting for?

Why do people wait until they are ‘retired’ to travel. I don’t know… I think it’s backwards and an unbalanced way of living. All too often, we hear heartbreaking stories of people’s carefully planned lives being cut short by illness, accidents, or other unforeseen circumstances. This begs the question: why wait for the “magical” retirement age of 65 to experience life? Why not start now?

I would think I’m a pretty out there person, squeezing in a lot of things, but I still think I have ways to go in fully committing. Upon realizing this, I’ve been all in for trying to get a solid job at a large multinational so I can expat around the world, trying new things and cultures. I see it as a part-time travel job with work to sustain the adventure. “Work to live, not live to work”.
 
From my first international trip back when I was ~19 years old, I realized how eye-opening and open the world can be. I probably didn’t (and still don’t) fully appreciate or endorse it all, but I know the opportunity is there. Trying new things and putting yourself out there. That’s why I am moving overseas – to live life in the fast lane, try new things, and most of all – to have no regrets.

Fired up! Get Some Go About ya!

So cool, I know I want to do something… But what is it and how am I going to make it happen?
1) Planning. As any good Finance person will tell you, success starts with planning. “If you fail to plan,you plan to fail”.
2) Execute: Make it happen. I’m not a humble guy… So I’m just going to say it, I’m good at this. I make things happen. I put plans on shared calendars, I book far ahead, I work through fatigue. YO to the LO.
3) Enjoying the moment and reflecting. An area I need to work on. Sometimes I’m too caught in 1 and 2 that it interferes with the moment.

My 2024 Travel Planning Map

From Vegemite to Venti: From Sydney to Seattle: The Beginning of my Expat Life

TLDR: It’s Feb 2024 and I’m moving to the United States to become an Expat!

G’day from Seattle to all my mates back home in Australia. Today, I’m not just sharing a travel story, I’m living it. That’s right, I’ve officially taken the plunge and swapped Vegemite for Venti, crocs for gators, XL to XXXXL. As of 26 Feb 2024, Kelli and I have moved to Seattle, Washington to begin our expat lives.

Why?

So why the big move, you ask? The truth is, it wasn’t one specific reason, but a whole heap of them! A part of me has always craved new experiences, and let’s face it, Australia is fantastic, but there’s a whole other world out there to explore. It’s all largely linked to my other recent post Making the Most of Now

This was actually one of my longest plans to come to fruition. I can still recall clearly when I was still working at Woolworths and went for a walk around the block with a mate/colleague and I realised that I wanted to try something, not just an industry, but a culture, a society and way of thinking. I wanted to be working somewhere ‘cool’. I wanted to see what it’s like working at a ‘hip’ place. I want to see what running and other adventures are out there. 

How did I make it happen?

So from that day of roughly 2.5 years ago, I hatched a plan and started to make it happen. First, I had to figure out what I wanted and why; cool companies, trail running, big national parks and a way to make it happen fast. United States – boom. Yosemites, Google, Amazon, but making it happen fast wasn’t an option…. Long story short, working rights are tough to get, so I had to go the long way around and find a job at an Multinational company operating in Australia and pray that they give me an international transfer. I’m not really the religious type, so I found an opportunity at Amazon AU and made sure I performed and did what I could to get the transfer. Skip forward 2.5 years, to Feb 2024.

Moving to Seattle, WA, United States

Pros and Cons thus far

Sydney / Australia Pros
Seattle / United States Pros
  1. Home of the NRL
  2. Things Feel Cheaper: No Tipping and tax included in prices make buying things and eating out very simple.
  3. Culture and Society feels more environmentally aware (although still have a long way to go)
  4. Feels safer
  1. There’s just more of everything. Food, people, portions and destinations to explore
  2. People are very into everything: Sports, politics, pop-culture, you name it
  3. There a way to make a lot of money over here, I just haven’t found it yet…

Adventure is Out There!

My ever-growing travel map of the US and beyond. Come say ‘Hi’!

Progressing Through Life in Stages

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now and glad that I hadn’t rushed it, I have taken an interest into Philosophy and Psychology which has been a fun and fruitful venture! A few things have really stuck with me; Carl Jung’s Four Stage of Life and also his quote;

‘People measure you for what you do, not what you say you’ll do”

Ross' Perspective on Carl Jung's Four Stages of Life

Ross' Perspective on Carl Jung's Four Stages of Life

Carl Jung's Four Stages of Life:

  1. The Athlete: In this stage, which usually corresponds to youth, individuals are focused on physical development, competition, and establishing their identities. They seek to build their skills, explore their interests, and strive for success in various domains.

  2. The Warrior: This stage typically occurs in middle age. During the warrior stage, people often channel their energy towards career, family, and societal responsibilities. They aim to establish themselves in their chosen paths, protect their loved ones, and contribute to their communities.

  3. The Statement: As individuals move into later adulthood, they enter the stage of the statement. Here, people tend to reflect on their accomplishments and contributions. They may focus on passing down their wisdom, sharing their life experiences, and leaving a meaningful legacy.

  4. The Spirit: This final stage is often associated with old age and the approach of mortality. People in this stage may become more contemplative, seeking to understand deeper spiritual and existential questions. They may detach from worldly concerns and concentrate on personal growth and spiritual exploration.

Favourite Quotes

  • “Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
  • “People measure you for what you do, not what you say you’ll do”
  •  “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” 

Trail Running and Lord of the Rings Locations in Wellington NZ

A beyond-awesome time in Wellington New Zealand. Although I was only there for 4 days – there was so much to do and explore for adventure and food lovers.

Highlights

  • Lord of the Rings Locations and Weta Cave tour
  • Surrounding Mountains for Trail running, hiking and mountain biking
  •  Cycling – building and expanding more cycling lanes
  • Food and coffee options
  • Affordable – from house prices to food. Rent seemed expensive but hotels were pretty good.

Wellington NZ - Travel Map

Kumamoto, Japan – The City of One Piece

“My fortune is yours for the taking, but you have to find it first! I left everything I own in One Piece.” – Gol D. Roger

Ever since, One Piece fans from around the world set sail for Kuamamoto, searching for One Piece (statues). The treasure that would make their (travel) dreams come true.

As part of a collaboration with Eiichiro Oda, author of ONE PIECE born and raised in Kumamoto City, a total of 10 statues of the Straw Hat Pirates of ONE PIECE have been installed throughout Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan! The One Piece statues are part of a larger project to help Kumamoto recover after the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes and are being built thanks to the cooperation of and extremely generous donation from Mr. Oda.

Statue Location Map

My 'Off the Beaten Track' Bucket List Travel Map

Aka the bucket list

The below Map is my ‘away from the ordinary’ locations that I would recommend as well as places I’m planning to visit in the future. I hope you find it handy instead of searching ‘most popular things in X’. Remember as a wise man once said ‘sheep who follows crowd loses identity in wool’.

It has made me realise where my interests are and where gaps may be.

Trail Running the Great North Walk; Newcastle to Sydney ~250Kms

Day 0 - Newcastle to Wakefield ~35K

The Great North Walk is a 250Km walking track which runs from Sydney to Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia. My wife and I’s current house in Macquarie Park literally backs onto the Lane Cove National Park which the GNW (Great North Walk) passes through.

I have walked and run many sections of this great trail and owed it the respect it deserves to traverse the whole thing. With some inspiration from The Backyard Adventurer and no plans for the June long weekend, I decided it was finally time to attempt it – in just 3 days (+ an afternoon).

I went up to Newcastle very early Friday Morning to work from and old mate (Rolly’s) house before setting on a sneaky ~35K ‘warm up’ run.

Strava Link

Day 1 - Wakefield to Cedar Brush Creek ~75K

This was a real tough day. Trail markings went missing when I needed them most, elevation was double what I had expected, only 11 hours of light. But that’s what adventure is – overcoming the unexpected. Originally I had planned for Yarramalong but decided to pack it it 10K’s early and tidy those up the next morning after a solid dinner with the Wife at Angel Sussurri’s.

Strava Link

Day 2 - Cedar Brush Creek to Patonga ~80K

A frosty morning made it difficult to start but I started with a bang – finishing off the previous night’s leftovers I ran back to town at ~5:30min/km pace and felt awesome. Tucked into some breakfast and set off again. 

There were some tough trails between Yarramalong and Summersby but it was nice, away from cars and I was lost with the spirit of adventure. Met up with Kelli for some a quick look in at the Harvest Festival events in town but had to quickly jet off as I knew I had a big day ahead.

Landed in Mooney Mooney bridge where my number 1 was going to bring me lunch…. but she wasn’t there. Turned out the 5am morning starts were a bit much and she needed a much needed nap… oh well, onwards! I saw a snake, got a horrible bleeding nose but soldiered on until kilometre 63 where my knee decided to breakdown. I marched on and took some nurofen to finish off the day but knew the final day of adventure would have to be postponed with my knew unable to carry me. “True strength is knowing when to call it” – The Fish.

Strava Link

Day 3 - Brooklyn to Sydney ~80K

Exactly 1 week later, a deep tissue massage and a rare visit to the physio – I had mentally told myself that I was ready to take on the final segment: Brooklyn to Sydney Cove. The Sign said 77kms but we all know how they lie. I knew it was going to be a tough day out so I set off on the very first train to Hawkesbury River station on the 5:20am from Epping and arrived to start just before 6am, then disaster struck.

On the train I realised I had forgotten my carefully prepared breakfast and coffee! I ate through most of my snacks before even starting but knowing that I could get a replenishment it would be okay. I also made an emergency pit stop at the local Cafe in Cowan to grab a quick bite and a brew and I was back on track.

I had to mentally push myself after leaving Cowan with some small niggles in the same knee that gave out the week before, telling myself it would be okay and keeping my mind on the job at hand helped get me through. As well as Joe Abercrombe’s book – The Blade Itself. I made good progress and sped up just as I was arriving in Thornleigh to meet Kelli who had already ordered a giant dish of sweet and sour pork. Fuel of champions.

I set off on my most local trails for which I’m probably the local legend on 50% or more of them and met up with my good mate Leighlan who had agreed to pace me the final 20Ks – legend. It really started to hit home as we were running past the Woolwich pub that I’d just (about) finished a 270K run from Newcastle to Sydney, nothing could stop me now! We smashed through the final few kms, finishing just before full darkness – arriving at Woolwich Ferry Wharf at around 6pm. A ferry ride into Circular Quay to meet Kelli and the final destination!

Strava Link

MetricsDay 0Day 1Day 2Day 3Total
Distance32.576.580.079.8268.9
Time (Moving)03:17:2310:34:5310:53:4410:40:4035:26:40
Pace06:0408:1808:1008:0107:55
Ascent Metres (m)5463,2262,2202,7838,775

Dark History of Nagasaki, Japan

The A-Bomb, WWII and War

Everyone knows about Hiroshima (the bigger of the 2 bombings in WWII) but Nagasaki is often forgotten. Link to detailed History. There are some other historic sites I’d recommend in Nagasaki Prefecture related to this:

See the Map below for other things in the Nagasaki Area as well as a potential cycling route to see them all. 

Prosecution of Religion and Mount Unzen

Long before the atomic bomb was dropped, Nagasaki was famous for being Japan’s beacon to the west. Chinese, Portuguese, and Dutch traders have all passed through Nagasaki’s harbor and imparted a part of their culture along the way. Portuguese sponge cake called castera is still sold today as a Nagasaki staple. Dejima warf is a downtown tourist hot spot constructed to look like a 16th Century Dutch market, and Nagasaki’s China Town is Japan’s oldest and most vibrant. – National Geo

Along with Western influence came its religion. Christianity came to Nagasaki in 1543 with a Jesuit missionary by the name of Francis Xavier. The majority of the country practiced Buddhism and Shintoism. Christianity was introduced to Japan by Portuguese and Spanish missionaries, and it gained some popularity among the Japanese population. However, fearing the influence of Christianity and foreign powers, the ruling authorities, particularly the Tokugawa Shogunate, implemented strict measures to suppress the religion.

In 1597, a group of 26 Christians, including missionaries and converts, were arrested in Nagasaki and brought to the nearby Mount Unzen. They were brutally executed by being tied to crosses and thrown into the boiling hot waters of the Unzen volcanic springs. This act was intended to deter the spread of Christianity and serve as a warning to those who practiced the faith.

 

The Shimabara Rebellion

The oppressive treatment of Christians, along with the socio-economic grievances, led to a widespread discontent that culminated in the Shimabara Rebellion. Under the leadership of a charismatic 16-year-old Christian named Amakusa Shiro, the rebels took control of Hara Castle in the Shimabara Peninsula. The castle became the focal point of the rebellion, with the rebels using it as a stronghold against the shogunate forces.

The rebellion was ultimately crushed by the Tokugawa Shogunate, with a massive force that included professional samurai and the assistance of Dutch naval forces. The defeat of the rebellion further intensified the persecution of Christians in Japan, leading to even stricter measures against the religion and its followers.

One of my Favourite Anime’s Rurouni Kenshin / Samura X has their whole arc: Shimabara Arc based on this brief history of Christians and Rebellion in Nagasaki area: Amakusa Shogo is a fictional character from the manga and anime series “Rurouni Kenshin” created by Nobuhiro Watsuki. The character of Amakusa Shogo in “Rurouni Kenshin” draws inspiration from historical figures and events, including the Shimabara Rebellion. In the story, Amakusa Shogo is portrayed as the leader of a group called the “Juppongatana,” a group of skilled warriors with diverse abilities. Amakusa Shogo seeks revenge against the Meiji government for their role in suppressing the Christian population and the Shimabara Rebellion.

Other Points of Interest

November 17, 1990, Mount Unzen erupted generating a pyroclastic flow. The eruptions of Mount Unzen caused significant destruction and loss of life. More than 40 people died, including scientists and journalists, and thousands of residents were evacuated from their homes. The volcanic activity also had a substantial impact on the local economy, tourism, and infrastructure.

Amakusa (island just nearby) is offering free houses in Japan. Full article here.

Yakushima, Japan

The inspiration for the setting of the Ghibli movie: Princess Mononoke (もののけ姫). It’s a pretty simple island:

  • Go for a hike and see all the big trees – see map below
  • See the nice beaches and coastline
  • There are turtles for snorkelling and if you go at the right time of year – hatching turtles
Old detailed blog.

Tanegashima, Japan

There’s only 1 real reason to go here: to witness a rocket launch. Believe it or not but this is the space centre that Pokemon base their Moss Deep Space station off. Old detailed blog.

Bonus - Kaimondake Aka Little Fuji