Off the Beaten Path in My Google History: July 2016

As a full time employee of Corporate America, I spend a lot more time daydreaming about travel than actually traveling.  I toyed around with the idea last year of posting about the places that take me down wikipedia and travel blog rabbit holes, but with little follow through.  And as I’m kind of spent talking about Southeast Asia for the moment, I couldn’t think of a better time to revisit my various wanderlustings.  So without further ado, find below the five spots keeping me up at night, planning adventures well into the 2020s.

Mozambique

I have never been to Africa.  And while there are a million places I would love to visit there, Mozambique is at the top of the list.  I know a few people who have had the privilege of traveling there and I have only heard amazing things.  From the unspoiled Indian Ocean beaches (the country stretches from South Africa in the south all the way to Tanzania in the north – that’s an impressive coastline), to a fascinating and tragic history of Portuguese colonialism, to the diversity of people found there (like many places on the Indian ocean, trade routes catalyzed cross fertilization of cultures belonging to the nations surrounding the body of water), everything about Mozambique is attractive to me.  There’s even a healthy dose of modernist architecture to be found in the larger cities of Maputo and Beira.

Well, maybe everything but the million hours and several thousand dollars it takes to get there from Seattle.5984289274_0b89e1edfd_z 23533936000_f4703e77f9_z

from https://www.flickr.com/photos/fhmira/
from https://www.flickr.com/photos/fhmira/
from https://www.flickr.com/photos/andryn2006/
from https://www.flickr.com/photos/andryn2006/

Read about Mozambique:

Goats on the Road

Not Without My Passport


The Dnieper River

It doesn’t help that I’m belly deep in planning a Ukraine trip, for sure.  The Dnieper is the most important waterway in the Texas sized nation, connecting Kiev with Cherkasy, Dnipro, Zaporozhye, and other important centers of Ukrainian (and post-Soviet) industry.  I want to know this river.  I want to know the color of the water like I know the color of the Mekong.  I want to party on the banks of the river with portly middle aged Cossacks in swimwear that doesn’t leave much to the imagination.

from https://www.flickr.com/photos/centralniak/
from https://www.flickr.com/photos/centralniak/
from https://www.flickr.com/photos/22572259@N07/
from https://www.flickr.com/photos/22572259@N07/

What I want most, though, is to take an old Russian hydrofoil from Kiev to Dnipro with a bunch of Ukrainians in late Spring next year.  Wish me luck.

from https://www.flickr.com/photos/sergejf/
from https://www.flickr.com/photos/sergejf/

Read about the Dnieper:

Post-Soviet Summer on The Calvert Journal

Dnieper Hydrofoils

Ha, this site is actually called “Kiev Stag Weekends”

High Caucasus Villages of Azerbaijan

Imagine you’re in Georgia – imagine Svaneti.  No, imagine Tusheti.  Then make that harder to get to with a microscopic number of outsiders ever visiting.  That’s how the high villages in the Azerbaijani Caucasus are.  Xinaliq, the highest and perhaps best known, finally received a paved road (along with the first Presidential visit) in 2006, making it more accessible to travelers who seek places truly untouched by modern backpacker culture.  Architecture is interesting, people welcoming, and it’s pretty hard to get more remote (the difficulty in obtaining an Azeri visa can attest to this as well).  I dream of spending a week in the high mountains, hiking around in the day, and bundling up around a wood stove at night.  Basically feeling my “The Sound of Music” fantasy without the Nazis.

from https://www.flickr.com/photos/adam_jones/
from https://www.flickr.com/photos/adam_jones/
from https://www.flickr.com/photos/adam_jones/
from https://www.flickr.com/photos/adam_jones/

Read about the High Caucasus Villages of Azerbaijan:

The Bald Hiker goes to Xinaliq

The Culture Trip

Don’t Stop Living

Chiloe Island

I’ve never been to South America, and my experience in Central America is limited to beers in Yelapa, Mexico, and ten days sunning buns on Little Corn Island, Nicaragua.  Chiloe is like neither of those.  On your way from Santiago to Tierra del Fuego lies Puerto Montt and Chiloe Island.  Densely forested and sparsely populated, it looks like a Chilean version of Prince Edward Island.  It’s lush and green like the rest of Patagonia, with an interesting cultural mishmash present due to Spanish, French, and Indigenous cultural influences.  There is a well-known pilgrimage route around the islands many wooden churches, where I’ll gleefully snap photos while my husband waits outside and lets resentment build about the religious architecture I’m always dragging him to see. (JK we’re very good communicators, don’t worry)

from https://www.flickr.com/photos/33037982@N04/
from https://www.flickr.com/photos/33037982@N04/
from https://www.flickr.com/photos/jcardinal18/
from https://www.flickr.com/photos/jcardinal18/

Read about Chiloe Island:

NY Times The Frugal Traveler

Natasha Young

CNN Travel

Larung Gar, China

This largest monastery school complex in China is located within Tibet (well, technically Sichuan Province), and is in great danger.  Chinese authorities, in their continued attempts to stifle Tibetan culture and religion, have begun to impose restrictions on the number of buildings and people that can be at one religious learning center at a single time – basically limiting monks and acolytes from having freedom of assembly.  A large proportion of the buildings are set to be destroyed without intervention, and many of those learning will have to disperse to further flung places across the Tibetan plateau – or even in to India.

from https://www.flickr.com/photos/qfzz/
from https://www.flickr.com/photos/qfzz/
from https://www.flickr.com/photos/qfzz/
from https://www.flickr.com/photos/qfzz/

I’m actually quite conflicted of going to this place – as in, I don’t think I can adequately perform the mental gymnastics to justify my presence there.  It’s one of those real and true Shangri-La’s: a place that is magical to dream about, but that you want to simply be.  I fear my presence with my camera gear and big duffel bag would distract from the magic that happens there.  I think that may be an Orientalist way of thinking, but I’m sticking with it.

from https://www.flickr.com/photos/qfzz/
from https://www.flickr.com/photos/qfzz/

Read about Larung Gar:

NY Times coverage on the proposed demolition

Unusual Traveler

Go Kunming


Why are all the places I want to visit a solid 48 hours away by most convenient transport?  On second thought, their remoteness (both in physical distance and culturally) is probably what attracts me most to these places in the first place.

10 thoughts on “Off the Beaten Path in My Google History: July 2016

  • MB
    July 29, 2016, 3:59 am

    Love your posts. We share the same adventurous spirit. All these are on my list except Chiloe which I visited a few years ago (you would luv it!). Mozambique very high on my list but still daydreaming on that one for a while longer.

    • July 29, 2016, 6:54 am

      Thanks so much for your comment – I’d love to hear more about your time on Chiloe!

      While I know I’ll be able to hit the Dnieper in the next couple of years, the rest are more pipe dreams at the moment. All about budgeting that PTO until I can take life on the road!

  • July 29, 2016, 5:22 am

    that place in china looks insane! i want to go there 🙂

    mozambique has been at the top of my list since i was a kid (a basketball player at a school near me was from there and i was intrigued by even just the name of the country). but mostly, their cuisine is one of my world favorites. one day, one day 😉 luckily, ed wants to go there just as bad as i do! great list!

    • July 29, 2016, 6:55 am

      Piri piri, am I right? I don’t think I’ve ever eaten Mozambican food, or at least food that’s been expressly called “Mozambican.” I think part of what makes those cuisines so amazing is that they take influences from all around the spice trade route. A tiny little consolation prize from hundreds of years of colonial rule, I guess!

      So, Mozambique couple vacation? Think we can get sponsors? 😉

  • August 7, 2016, 4:59 pm

    Can’t wait for your Dnieper + Azerbaijan adventures, Nick! I wish there were a magical teleporter that could get us places faster- it took 3 days to go from Russia to Oregon this week :p

      • August 16, 2016, 2:11 pm

        (Nick, not sure if you meant me?)

        Barring a miracle, no 🙁 🙁 🙁 But feel free to ask away- my memory is not too bad + still have friends there.

        • August 17, 2016, 5:41 am

          I did! We’re going to be there in May of next year and would love some tips for the city – right now all we know is Derzhprom Derzhprom Derzhprom. I’ll email you 🙂

          • August 23, 2016, 11:14 am

            Awesome!!!!! I’m super excited for you guys 😀 It’s such a cool city!

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