The ones that got away

Prepping for my upcoming expedition has me thinking nostalgically about previous ones, and places I failed to see while in the neighbourhood. Not such a bad thing; when you depart a region you should always leave at least one (possible) gem behind you undiscovered, to have an reason to go back, and to cure the disease of feeling that you've "done" a place.

(Besides, as I've long said, you can't go everywhere, and you probably shouldn't try.)

Anyway, a few of those gems left buried in my wake:

Asia 1997: It'd be great to climb Mount Fuji in Japan, and to hike along Tiger Leaping Gorge in China. (And to go back to Yangshuo, but "places I'd like to go back to" is a different and probably longer post.) In Indonesia, didn't make it to Java to see Jakarta and Borobudur, nor to Komodo to see the dragons, though I had vague intentions to do both; and while I did make it to Lombok, I never got to chill out at the Gili Islands.

Africa 1998: Hmmm. We moved slowly, so there wasn't all that much we missed. I would have liked to have seen Senegal and Dakar. And Lake Volta, oddly enough, for the hacker tourism. We almost went to Lagos, but didn't, which I regretted, and of course there's masses of Cameroon I'd like to explore further.

Plus, the whole goal of the trip was to go overland across the Congo, which we didn't do due to a rather inclement civil war in progress at the time. But someday I'd still like to take a riverboat between Kinshasa and Kisangani.

Also, I roared through Botswana in about ninety minutes (during which we saw about 200 elephants) and I'd like to go back and see the Okavango Delta.

Asia 2000: well, Rajasthan and the Thar Desert, one of these years, not that that was ever really on the itinerary. Actually there's lots more of India I'd like to visit. In Nepal, I'd love to go on the Langtang and/or Everest Base Camp treks in Nepal (I'd also happily - no, ecstatically - do the Annapurna Circuit again) and visit Chitwan National Park. In Malaysia, I kind of wanted to explore Borneo and dive at Sipadan, and I would have liked to have seen the north of Thailand, though even at the time Chiang Mai was said to be touristed out. And I'd like to go to a full-moon party on Ko Pha Ngan...once.

Australia/PNG 2002: Well, I'd like to go back to Oz time and again, especially to Western Australia, and maybe circumnavigate the whole continent on the National Highway. In PNG, I'd definitely like to go to the coast and do some diving at Madang or the buried city of Rabaul, and hike the Kokoda Trail.

Balkans/Egypt 2003: It'd be nice if they were to let me into Macedonia, and I'd also like to visit Budapest, though neither feel particularly pressing. I would like to get to see Abu Simbel, which I failed to visit due to aircraft failure, and to go on a long 4WD journey across the Sahara.

Oz/NZ/South America 2004: See above for Oz. I'd basically like to spend six weeks wandering around all of New Zealand. I regretted not managing to either go on a long boat journey down the Amazon (though I did manage to spend a fair amount of time there), and I was unable to see Bolivia's fantastic Salar de Uyuni because nationwide strikes shut the roads.

Africa 2005: Would have liked to have gone trekking in the Ruwenzori, and to have climbed the volcano in Goma, and taken the boat across Lake Kivu to Bukavu, all of which were plans that fell apart. I'd really like to wander down the Mozambican coast, and to go back to South Africa, maybe live there for awhile. Above all I'd like to see a free and happy Zimbabwe again, but, well, we may have entered fantasyland here.

Trans-Siberian 2006: The Kremlin was closed when I was there, though that might not be enough to get me back to Moscow, which I didn't much like. You wouldn't exactly have to twist my arm to get me to tour around those parts of Lake Baikal I didn't see. And the thought of returning to Tibet and circumnavigating Mount Kailash on foot is extremely appealing.

People who say "it's a small world" and mean it generally haven't seen much of it.


boksir said…
Just finished reading Dark Places... picked it up by accident off of a friends desk... happy I remind me so much of one of my friends, who like you cannot sit still in one place for long (referring to "the ones that got away")... she has trekked everywhere you can imagine.. has soooooo many funny stories... I have always encouraged her to put them down on paper... perhaps you can inspire her :) looking forward to reading your next book... on purpose :)
boksir said…
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