My Anti-Bucket List

My Anti-Bucket List

‘There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars’. – Jack Kerouac.
Like many others, I have a list going on of all the places I want to visit, explore or see around the world. The list never shortens, it only lengthens as I discover more and more awesome looking places, or hear about other people’s  wonderful trips to here, there and everywhere.
Obviously, important things like time and money constrain me and I can’t go everywhere I want to go all at once. Neither would I necessarily want to – anticipation is all part of the experience and everyone needs things to look forward to in life. I love getting excited about the new places I’m going to visit and explore in the near future, the mid-term future and those that I probably won’t visit for years to come. Travel can be for anyone of any age – I have to remind myself that I don’t need to squeeze everything into the next ten or so years. I can still travel after forty!!
I hope that one day, I’ll be able to go to all the places I want to visit, and do all the things I want to do. The list is so long, I know I may never do them all, especially since there’s so many places I also want to go back to, but I’ll try my hardest! I’m taking the opportunity now to whittle the list as long as my arm down to my top five picks – the places that I really must see or the things I really must do, no excuses. These are specifically all travel-related – I do have  other goals in life, but I want to focus more on my travel aspirations for the time being. This is the stage of my life I feel I’m at – where I explore new cultures, experience new countries and push my comfort zone to the limit whenever possible.
NB: I have cheated a bit… See the end of the post…

Go horse trekking in Mongolia

I’ve ridden horses since I was a little girl of about seven. I owned a horse for about a decade before he finally, sadly, passed away this past spring. I actually haven’t ridden for a couple of years (my horse, Fly, was in retirement) so I’m a bit out of practise. I’ve thought about trekking here in New Zealand, but it seems expensive and I think I’d end up on a ‘tourist’ trek, just walking, which is nice enough when you’re surrounded by beautiful mountains, but I want a bit more from it for the prices I’d be paying.
Mongolia is the land of the horse people. I’ve always longed to go there and spend some time riding in the vast steppe, under huge skies, living in Gers and learning more about the traditional nomadic culture. The place seems  shrouded in mystery, a land lost in time, a remote destination only just now starting to be touched by the tourism industry. Where better to get back into riding than in the land where it’s a way of life?

Above: The annual July stampede. Photo Credit: David Baxendale / Lonely Planet.

Seeing what is left of the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan

Back in my first year at uni, I wrote an essay on the Aral Sea. Since then, I’ve been fascinated by this region and the massive impact the shrinking of the sea has had on the environment and the people living in the area.
Formerly one of the four largest lakes in the world, the Aral Sea has been shrinking since the 1960s when the two main rivers feeding the lake where diverted to irrigate ‘white gold’ – the cotton crops. Whilst this vastly improved the output of cotton, the diversion of so much water had an extremely detrimental impact on the lake and in 2007, it was just 10% of its original size.
This region – the ‘Stans – interests me too. It’s a collection of countries that you rarely seem to hear about – they  slide past our awareness almost furtively. Many of them former countries of the USSR, I think it would be so exciting to visit and experience some of the culture here, see some of the wide landscapes and above all, see what is left of the Aral Sea.
Above: Rusting boats in the Bay of Zhalanash. Photo Credit: UNESCO

Go trekking in the Himalayan foothills in Nepal

Parts of Nepal were devastated in April 2015 when an earthquake of magnitude 7.3 hit the country. 9,000+ people were killed, and over 23,000 people were injured. Many UNESCO World Heritage Sites were reduced to ruins, ancient temples and monuments razed to the ground by the power of the earth. At the moment, it seems sensible to steer clear of the country whilst it is in the still early stages of recovery and allow the aid workers and Nepalese people the space they need to come to terms with this tragedy.

However, tourism cannot cease here altogether. Without tourism, the Nepalese people would suffer immensely, since it brings in such huge amounts of revenue. As such, I know that one day in the not so distant future, I will go to Nepal and add my dollar to their economy, hiring a guide and trekking from tea house to tea house in the foothills of the Himalayas. To spend days walking and coming face to face with some of the highest mountains in the world sounds like a dream.

Above: Ama Dablam Himalaya Mountains, Nepal. Photo Credit: Wallpaperpixel

Take the Rocky Mountaineer train from Calgary to Vancouver

Okay, you already know I’m a train geek. This is just one of many epic train journeys I would like to take around the world, but it’s a good one!!

I’ve wanted to visit Canada for years. I want to do it at some point in the not so distant future, since I’d like to be able to get my WHV (need to be under thirty so I have like, three years) and live there for a while, as well as travel and explore all that the country has to offer. When I’m there, this train journey will be high on my list of priorities. It looks like the perfect way to view some of Canada’s most remote and beautiful scenery, as the train wends its way slowly from Calgary to Vancouver on the west coast. It would be really special to do this when there’s lots of snow on the ground and the country is shrouded in winter magic.

anti-bucket list rocky mountaineer
Above: Rocky Mountaineer. Photo Credit: At Home Magazine

Go on safari in Africa

Isn’t this high on most travellers must-do list? I am yet to meet anyone who doesn’t want to go to Africa and try and spot the Big 5 in the wild. I’ve always loved going to safari parks in the UK (Longleat is an ultimate fav) but nothing could possibly beat the majestic moment you come face to face with a lion or elephant (or any other animal for that matter) in the wild for the first time.

Just recently, a colleague has come back from safari in Africa and I was massively jealous when I saw all his fantastic photos of all the animals he spotted. You can also read about Young Adventuress’ adventures on safari in Phinda, South Africa earlier this year. Her photos are amazing and a massive inspiration to me to get on safari as soon as I possibly can, preferably with a telephoto lens in hand for those perfect animal Kodak moments.

***CHEAT ALERT***

So those are just some of the dream trips I’d like to make in the future. But there are so many more, I couldn’t leave it at those five. I have therefore included a bullet point list below of all the other trips on my travel ‘bucket list’:

A classic American road trip – San Francisco, Big Sur, Grand Canyon, Yosemite and everything in between.

Spotting the Northern Lights in Iceland (or Canada, or Scandinavia, or anywhere really!).

Visit the Faroe Islands.

Dog sledding in the Arctic Circle.

Eating my way around Italy – pizza, pasta and risotto, carb heaven!

Visiting the Dead Sea and Petra in Jordan.

A week in New York before Christmas to get into the festive spirit.

The Ghan – an epic train journey from Darwin to Adelaide, stopping at Alice Springs for a side visit to Uluru.

Getting to Antarctica – somehow, anyhow.

The Trans-Siberian Railway – the ultimate train trip through deepest Russia.

A week long rafting trip down the Zambezi River to really test my mettle!

Canoeing the length of the Wanganui River in New Zealand – the Great Walk that doesn’t involve any walking!

Visit Japan for cherry-blossom season.

Explore some of the remote Pacific Islands and swim with humpback whales in Tonga.

Visit my ‘namesake’ town of Bergen, in Norway. I should explain – my name, Bethen, auto-corrects to Bergen when I type it into my phone and I use Bergen as my Skype name…

There are more. So many more places to explore and dream about and learn about and see. I know it’s unlikely I’ll get to them all. But I can try.

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