I always feel a bit short changed by the interactive travel maps you can fill out on the internet. I’ve spent weeks travelling through exotic locations such as Sri Lanka and Malaysia, with just the faintest of splashes of colour to show for my efforts. My mate goes to St Petersburg for the weekend, and he’s half way done to completing the entire thing. At least the US, Mexico and India added a decent amount of green to my globe.
But as interesting as it is to look at maps where you’ve been, it’s far more exciting to look at a map to plan where you’re going. I’m getting on a little bit, so my days of roughing it are drawing in. But before I hang up my backpack and settle for luxury cruises around the Med and the Fjords of Norway, I want to get a few more trips in. Truth be told, there are some destinations which have already passed me by. I don’t think I have either the energy or sufficient desire to take on China anymore. The same for Brazil and Russia.
Then there’s a bunch of countries that I would absolutely love to visit, but which are likely to be out of bounds for the foreseeable future. Iraq and Syria are top of that list. And then there are those countries, headed by extremist regimes, which are hopefully out of bounds on only a temporary basis. You know the sort. Iran, the Philippines, Israel. And the USA…
But enough of what I have visited and what I won’t visit. And more about what I will, or at least hope, to visit. If I can add all the green bits on the second map to the green bits on the first map, I’ll be a happy chappy. Later this year, Mrs P and I intend to visit Romania and/or Bulgaria for a cheap and cheerful autumn vacation. But we have grander plans for next year. I have an urge to visit Vietnam, hopefully in March.
It’s long been a temptation. The idyllic beaches, the thick green jungle, the hustling cities of Ho Chi Minh and Han oi and the old imperial cities of Hoi an and Hue. Plus a ride or two on what is often referred to as the Reunification Express. There’s also a certain appeal in being able to respond to anyone offering an opinion on Vietnam with, ‘You don’t know, man. You weren’t there.’
If things go well, we might even be able to get back to Mexico City at the end of next year. Mrs P would like to go to a beach while we’re there. I’d rather not. So I need to come up with an acceptable alternative if I am to avoid a ten hour drive to the Pacific Coast. I rather think I have. A short break to Havana, Cuba. Which is another destination that I’ve wanted to add to my ‘Been To’ map for far too long.
We like to plan ahead, Mrs P and I. So for 2020, health, money, political stability and Fukushima allowing – Japan has been pencilled in. This is Mrs P’s choice. But I think it’s a good plan. I’d like to be there to Further in the future, it would be nice to see something of Indonesia and Namibia. It is, frankly, insane that I’ve not yet been to either Italy or Greece. And I would love to spend a little time in Jordan, Iceland and Georgia. There are just so many places to see. And only one lifetime.
Even if I manage all this, and I think with only a little luck that I’ll actually manage more, then there’ll still be a big South American sized hole in my map. But I have a plan. I’ll need somewhere to travel to when I’m retired in Mexico in about 20 years time. Colombia, Chile and Argentina, I’ll get to you yet. I promise. Or at least, I promise to try. Then, and only then, will it be time to join Steve Cotton on one of his cruises. If I’m nice, perhaps he’ll wangle us an invite up from steerage to the civilised parts of the vessel…