Thursday, November 10, 2011

Around the World in 80 Days

by Gigi Pandian

I never want to regret that I didn't see the world.

It's not that I haven't seen a good bit of the world already. Having anthropologists for parents, I started traveling abroad at a young age. The problem might be that I've already seen too much -- and it's shown me how little I've truly seen.

With the clarity that comes with receiving a scary health diagnosis, I realized that seeing more of the world is one of the things most important to me. So I made myself a list of all of the upcoming trips I want to take once I complete my year of cancer treatments.

The problem? The list kept growing. And growing.
  • Whiskey tasting in Scotland with the Pens
  • Putting my French to use in the south of France with the husband
  • Eating my way through Simla and northern India with my parents
  • Road tripping to Alaska with a friend
  • Seeing the amazing sculptures of Angkor Wat in Cambodia
  • Touring the castles of Slovakia
  • Visiting Greece and Turkey for the first time (I missed them when I backpacked through Europe after college) 
  • The gargoyle photographer in me insisting on finding the Garden of Monsters outside Rome
  • The adventurer in me thinking I shouldn't miss out on visiting China
  • The romantic in me whispering in my ear about returning to Prague…

I could tell my initial scribbled list was just the tip of the iceberg. I knew what I needed to do: I'm using a three month sabbatical to take a round-the-world trip. Oh yes, I'm going around the world in 80 days.

Even though three months initially strikes one as a long time (airplane travel wasn't available to Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne's classic novel Around the World in 80 Days) I know it's not nearly long enough to see the whole world. Therefore I'm still going to take many of those trips above as their own in-depth trips. But taking a round-the-world trip has made me free to keep adding to my list. I can now write down new destinations that intrigue me. And since it's going to take me a little while to save up for this trip, I have a feeling it's going to be a long list.

My goal is to take this trip at the five-year mark of being cancer free. That's the date they say is the big deal to know if you're cured or not. Either way, I'm taking this trip.

So what do you think? Where in the world should I be sure to include on my list?

Should I take a train trip on the Orient Express? Visit Tokyo's intriguing themed restaurants? Stay in a treehouse in China? Cancer has shown me I'm even stronger than I thought I was, so I'm up for anything.


Rachael Herron said...

New Zealand! I can't remember if you've been, but if you haven't, you must go. This is a wonderful idea.

Sophie Littlefield said...

wow, i wish i had something to add to your list, but you've already been so many more places than I have. I will say that after my big trek this summer, I would be more inclined to add some places known for their physical extremes - canyons, mountains, coasts - without skipping the culture.

Penny said...

Take me with you!

Shannon McKemie said...

I'd recommend Cape Town, and the winelands of South Africa and Kenya; also I'd like to stowaway in your suitcase.

Gigi Pandian said...

New Zealand! Good idea, Rachael. I haven't been.

Sophie, one of my favorite vacations ever was the canyons of the US Southwest. So I should do that elsewhere, too.

Penny -- Seriously, if you'd like to meet up somewhere, I'm game! I'm definitely going to make this trip a combination of solo travel and meeting up with family and friends.

Shannon, I loved hearing about your Africa trip.

Martha Flynn said...

omg so many suggestions!!!!! Must pimp my home country, Vietnam, of course. Brugges is also one of my favorite places (if I disappear off the face of the planet, that's where I am), oh wait, what time of year are you thinking cuz that affects a lot, too...I'm so excited for you!

Gigi Pandian said...

Bruges, really? I've been there, Martha, but clearly I didn't do it with the right person!

I'm planning on visiting Vietnam when I go to Cambodia. SE Asia will probably get a trip of its own, flying into Singapore, where I've previously only been to the amazing airport on layover to India.

Martha Flynn said...

Yes, Brugges! It's just beer and chocolate and french fries and napping while you float down the river WHAT COULD BE WRONG ABOUT THAT? I'll go with you next time.

Mysti said...

Martha, please someday show me the good side of Burgge. I only saw the expensive downtowny part!

Gigi, I was in awe of Ayer's Rock (I think they call it Uluru or something now) in the center of Australia, and am still dying to see the top end and west coast, perth, where you can swim w/dolphins. Not as spectacular as NZ...but I'm up for it!

Mysti said...

train train train train train train train I love trains train train train

Anonymous said...

I'm not a good traveler, so I don't have anything to add, except: Road trip to Alaska. That's one place I have been. Alaska is wonderful, but it's r-e-a-l-l-y big. Driving around Alaska will take a very long time and you wont' see much. Fly. Take a boat ride. Seriously. The coast of Alaska is like the coast of the United States. The interior is like the great plains. Just saying.

Gigi Pandian said...

Mysti -- I would LOVE to journey by train with you.

Alaska commenter -- thanks so much for the tip! We haven't yet started planning, but that's a great starting point to think about.

Susan C Shea said...

Boy, Gigi, you've loosed a flood of happy recommendations - I'm making notes! I love Hong Kong, although it's steamy, for the heights, the outdoor escalator that rises through neighborhoods, the vertical aviary near the tram base, the old quarters, and the amazing food. I used to recommend Bali, where I spent much time, but it's losing its magic a bit. Agree that Singapore's airport is amazing!