27 August 2009

Violet Dear's To Do List

 I want to do everything.

Sometimes when I think of how much time I have left and how many things I want to do/see it all becomes very overwhelming. I can literally think of hundreds of places I still want to see - but here are my top 10.

1) Hug That Panda - Chengdu, China
When I saw this photo of my friend Marj, I nearly jumped out of my skin. "That," I said to Sean, "is what I was put on planet earth to do. Nothing more." I looked into it, and this rehabilitation centre is extremely ethical - you can only hug this guy because he was raised around humans and actually likes it. Hell, even if he's just pretending, I am gonna hug the shit out of that panda one day.

2) Wear That Hat - Tulle, France
Yeah, I know it seems a bit boring to be on this list, but I saw this lace festival in Northern France on a television episode of Lonely Planet (or Globe Trekker, or Pilot Guides or whatever the hell they were calling it that week) when I was living in Mumbai, and I called S at work. "Hug that panda, wear that hat." I said to him. I am always fascinated by festivals and traditions that connect us in a very real way to medieval traditions - this is definitely one. The elderly women of this small town wear towering lace hats that make them look like the pope, and the strangest thing about it is that I cannot find it online anywhere. In the world today that basically means that it doesn't exist, so I better get there soon.

3) Ride That Train - Trans-Siberian Express, Mongolia/Russia/China
Let's be honest. This 8 day or so journey from Beijing to St Petersberg (I will stop for a week or two in Mongolia) is probably the most boring shit of all time. From all accounts, you sit with a numb keister eating cup-o-noodles and drinking Nescafe jawing with other backpackers and willing the time to pass quickly. But I don't care. It is so romantic, so epic in my mind that one day I will just have to bite the bullet and get ready to bathe in a samovar.

 Flat. Salty.

4) Walk That Flat - Salt Flats, Bolivia
Salt. Flat. Those are actually two very boring words. But put them together? Sold.

5) Climb That Mountain - Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
It wasn't until I embarked on this trip that I actually began to enjoy physical exercise. Even now, I like the idea of trekking up a mountain, and after I am finished I am happy and proud, but while I am in the midst of it I am hating every moment, whining to myself in my head (or out loud to S) and wishing I was reading instead. It is kind of an "eff you" to myself to climb Kili, but I am going to do it in 5 years, come hell or high water. I don't care if I am pregnant by then, or with a wee babe - up the fucking mountain I go. And then I will relax for a week on the beach in Zanzibar. And read.

I will not chicken out, I will not chicken out....
6) Sit in That Pool - Victoria Falls, Zambia
Have you seen this? The Devil's Pool is a natural stone pool at the top of the crazily high Victoria Falls on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, and during the dry season there isn't enough push to send you flailing over the top, screaming like a banshee before being crushed to a bloody death on the rocks below. So you can just sit there, freaking out in your head and secretly wanting to get up out of the pool (which you would not do because then people would think you are a sissy (there is a "P" word that would have been so much better there, but I already used the "F" word once....) Anyway, Zambia borders Tanzania, and the dry season is also the best time to climb that mountain, so Africa Deathwish adventure 2014!!! Who's in?

7) Eat That Fish - Masa Restaurant, New York
It is no secret that I am a devotee of Bourdain. I want a tattoo in fancy script with his motto "Sometimes you just have to eat a bad oyster" - basically, to enjoy life sometimes you must take a risk. His favourite food is sushi. So is mine. And if that means that I have to head to this 3 Michelin starred 26 seat restaurant and spend a thousand dollars (for 2, for 2.... I hope....) once in my life time to eat this sushi, I will. You bet your sashimi ass I will. (I will also do that at El Bulli and The French Laundry...)

Oh. My. Freakin'. God.

8) Lay on That Beach - Aitutaki, Cook Islands
 This looms large in my brain as most beautiful beach ever. I believe that there are only a few five star resorts here, so I often look at S and say "10 year anniversary? Eh?" Aitutaki is a beautiful ring shaped coral atoll  near Rarotonga that beckons to me like a siren. Unless you are from NZ or Aus, the Cook Islands are such a magical, amazingly obscure place - I need to go.

9) Visit that Colony - Reunion, France (!)
The exclamation mark is due to the fact that this island (I have an island thing, I think....) lies just of off the Eastern coast of Southern Africa, near the Seychelles and Mauritious - yet it's capital is formally gay Paree. I first saw Reunion in a Lonely Planet "Big Book of the World" photo and it looked like a sopping wet green sponge, randomly plunked in the ocean. The locals are a mix of Africans, Indians, French and Native Islanders - which means I can drink red, eat Port Salut and have a spicy dal - and still be staying true to the culture. Oui, s'il vous plait!

10)See Those Monasteries - Bucovina, Romania

Again, I love connecting history to the present, and my own family's ancestry is a pet project of mine. My Grandma Mary's (Marika) family was ethnically Ukrainian, but from a small town in, you guessed it, Romania (Ottoman Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire, USSR Empire - it all got messy.) The beautiful painted monasteries of Bucovina are in the same region (Nothern Moldavia - I feel so exotic!) and I am dying to go to there and eat the food, meet the people and smear my hands all throughout the history of my family - making the abstract thought of 'one hundred years ago' somehow tangible.

Rocket Launcher in Siem Reap, Cambodia? Check.
There you have it. Any I am missing that you think needs to be in the top ten?


Pat said...

Wow. I haven't even heard of the majority of the places you've mentioned! How do you even KNOW of them? You certainly are an adventurer! I've been to Tahiti and Morea, part of the Cook Islands. They were, indeed, beautiful. I would love to hug the panda. The Devil's Pool? Scares the crap outta me. Sorry. :)

The Bug said...

I lived in Zambia for a year and a half in the 80s & I went rafting down the Zambezi. Basically I sat in the raft & let everyone else do the work - & got soaked! Anyway, we put in in the boiling pot - at the base of Vic Falls. No way in heck would I sit up at the top! Well, actually, I probably would. It's a beautiful spot!

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Bookworm said...

Wow! It all sounds amazing. I'm gonna go write mine now! I especially love the idea of African Deathwish Adventure 2014!!

dave925 said...

"Salt. Flat. Those are actually two very boring words. But put them together? Sold. "

lol, very good point!

kanmuri said...

I agree with you for:
number 1: Hugging a panda, that would rock. But I also add hugging a lion cub!!
number 3: I want to try, too. And read Agatha Cristie book while on the train.
number4: I've been to the salt lakes in Australia. It's a very cool experience!
number 5: I'm like you, I like the view from the top of the mountains but I hate the climbing part. I usually spend most of the time complaining. Oh, and I'm climbing Mount Fuji tomorrow...
number6: I saw that pool on TV, it looks SO COOL!!
number 7: is that restaurant in Japan?
number 8: Nice place to relax!
number 9: That culture melting-pot is attractive!
number 10: First time I hear about those, but I want to see them now!

Ultimate Bourne said...

Wow!!! Amazing!!
Even I have a dream to roam around the world, atleast some selected places. Your blog have added some more names in that list. : - )
Wish you good luck.

Heppy said...

what about galapagos? .....

Heppy said...

also... yr more amazing than most fictional super heros... just so you know.

AnnaI said...

I've done 6 out of your ten and must tell you - they're so not worth it - total tourist cliches. But good luck!

Violet Dear said...

Annal - which ones, and why?

avarine said...

what a rad list. my favourite is number 3 and number 6. have you read "murder on the orient express"? it's an agatha christie mystery.
you sound like quite an adventurer.

Cheryl said...

I love your list! I have found, lately, it is more efficient for me to make a list of places I DON'T want to go!!!

Peckish said...

11) Spot a glasswing butterfly (transparent wings!) in the cloud forests of Costa Rica and attempt to convince your fellow travelers and guide that "C'mon no really I saw it I did I swear!"