4 Places to Visit Before I Die

As much as I’ve traveled I’ve never left America. Pathetic, right? Earlier this year I was eyeing an autumn excursion to Vietnam, then became curious about South America. Now I’m a food vendor with festivals lined up pretty much into October. But my appetite for foreign soil has been anything but satiated. In fact, after coming very close to purchasing a plane ticket to Bogota, Columbia – the would be jump off point for a South American adventure – I’m a tad regretful that I opted instead to plunk my change into a mobile food vending business, an idea baked from a mix of lost nerve and financial prudence. But if for the time being I can’t write about traveling through a foreign land I can at least write about the four places I’d like to visit before I croak.

Vietnam
My desire to travel to this southeast Asian nation has its origins in the Vietnam War movies I watched as a kid. Nowadays, it’s Vietnam’s forested mountains, jungles, expansive biodiversity and geographical formations that are the main appeal, not to mention the adventure of negotiating the hustle of Ho Chi Minh City. If and when I visit I’d love more than anything to journey from Ho Chi Minh City in the south to Hanoi, settled in 3,000 B.C., in the north. Certainly an incursion into neighboring Cambodia would be in order, perhaps by boat up the Mekong River. Steeped in ancient history, the Vietnamese have fought of Chinese invaders, French colonialists and American occupiers. Its backpacker friendly and emerging economy make Vietnam an ideal spot for the budget traveler.

Mexico City
With all the grisly images of drug violence streaming out of Mexico in recent years and its capitol’s reputation as one huge lawless barrio, Mexico City might seem like an unnecessarily risky destination. But Mexico City, unlike Mexico’s borderlands, has, since 2009, become one of the safer places in Mexico to visit. Bouyed by tales from several people I’ve met over the last couple of years, the writings of various travel bloggers and Chuck Thompson’s account of his recent visit in To Hell Holes and Back, I’m confident the world’s most populous city is a safe and worthy place to visit. With more museums than any other city in the world and architecture from every epoch since the 11th Century, this sprawling metropolis undoubtedly holds many surprises. I hope its reputation continues to improve.

Rwanda
No place in Africa has captivated me like Rwanda. Like Vietnam, my fascination with this landlocked country has roots in my formative years, 1994 to be precise, after reports of genocide first appeared as side items in newspapers. Since then the country has been reborn as a stable democracy and now has the distinction of being high among the continent’s safest countries, tourism being among its fastest growing industries. Its mountains are home to gorillas and thirteen other primate species. Its savannas teem with giraffes, elephants and topis. With a friendly population welcoming of foreigners, the only thing not to like are the costs, which mirror those in the developed world. Plus, flying around the African interior seems a little dicey.

Easter Island
The world’s most remote inhabited island, located in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, was highlighted by anthropologist Jared Diamond in his seminal book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Diamond argued that Easter Island society collapsed in the 1800s due to deforestation, while others claim a combination of environmental ruin, European diseases and Peruvian slave raids decimated the island’s population. Today the island is a World Heritage Site, where more than 800 moai – those monolithic human forms with oversized heads – still stand on the island. Many that had fallen over the years were re-raised during to a massive 20-year restoration project that began in 1955.

 

Where would you like to visit and why?

3 Comments

  1. Simon Lee says:

    Vietnam is also one of my favorite country to visit, we are planning for a trip end of this year to Hanoi, really hope to experience something new there:)Simon

  2. Cathelin says:

    Easter Island is on my list too. I am mostly inspired by the mysticism of the place, together with the exotic cultural experience that is everywhere.

  3. Mark Benson says:

    Those four are some spectacular world wide destinations you picked for visiting. One should definitely start of with a cheap flight to Kigali, Rwanda and explore the African state which is flourishing day by day.

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