There are some travel-related words I really can’t stand. Like wanderlust — all the tacky tattoos ruined it for me. Or bucket list — done to death (pun intended). Or journey — often used in sentences that also contain “rollercoaster” (eurgh), describing some kind of mildly enlightening episode that would otherwise be classed as experience, or a run-of-the-mill learning curve, as opposed to the act of travelling from one place to another. For example, “My time on Dancing with the Stars was such a journey.” Not…really. You didn’t actually go anywhere.
The word adventure, though…that’s never lost its appeal. It’s grand, isn’t it? Puts into mind the kind of daring, runaway escapades that only the likes of Indiana Jones or Sherlock Holmes or Paul Theroux or Walter Mitty or Ranulph Fiennes or Amelia Earheart could get themselves into. The word invokes a tingling sense of anticipation, an expectation that great things are going to take place.
(Just don’t get me started on misadventures — that’s another rant waiting to happen).
With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of my own adventures that have been, or are yet to be, completed. I know I’ll probably never get a chance to do them all, but dammit…I’ll likely die trying. I mean, what else am I going to do? After all, “To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel” — that is the purpose of life, is it not? (Yes. I recently watched the Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and adored it).
So, without further ado…
(Big and bold text: what I’ve done).
Cycle around the war sites and graves located around Ypres, Belgium, and northern France.
Ride trains clear across Canada, and pop into Dawson City, Yukon and drink a sour toe cocktail, while I’m at it.
Around the World in Eighty Weeks. (To do it in eighty days was never going to happen for me).
Hike around the Norwegian wilderness, picking blueberries with soap opera stars.
Drive a rickshaw around India over a period of several months, stopping in Mumbai to become an extra in a Bollywood film.
Do complete Monopoly, Sherlock, and Harry Potter tours of London. While I’m at it, I’ll see a Shakespeare play at the Globe and poke my head into a couple of literary hangouts. (What can I say…a nerd’s gotta play).
Walk the Shikoku pilgrim route, and sleep under the stars in Osaka, Japan.
Travel to the Sri Lankan highlands and beach towns by way of crowded local buses and clickety-clackety trains. Swim with sea turtles. Sit in the train doorway above a sheer drop.
Travel to the north of Sri Lanka on a motorbike.
Hike from Land’s End to John o’ Groats, UK.
Walk from Hoi An to a beach four kilometres away, get absolutely drenched from rain, follow a Vietnamese fisherman to a tomb in the middle of some rice fields, communicate completely nonsensically, accidentally hitchhike the rest of the way with a couple who’ll give me a quick language lesson, and then nearly get washed away by a sudden wave when sitting beneath a battered beach hut. Love every second of that quirky morning.
Route 66 in a vintage American car (classic!), stopping into Burning Man, Nevada (this video persuaded me).
Scooter around the small mountain towns of Italy. Try not to drink too much in between stops.
Bounce down potholed roads in an overland truck from Nairobi to Victoria Falls…twice.
Do the same through West Africa, and from Victoria Falls to Cape Town. (I’m coming back for you, Namibia, to sit on your sand dunes!).
Walk with lionesses.
Trek the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru.
Cycle from Alaska to Argentina.
Float on a wooden boat through the Blue Grotto, Malta.
Scooter through infamous, perilous Vietnamese traffic, including one truck-filled, winding, mind-blowing stint from Hue to Hoi An.
Scooter around the remote towns of northeast Thailand. Try to speak Thai and fail miserably, much to the delight of locals.
Leave for another country with less 24 hours’ notice or less.
Leave for another continent with one week’s notice or less.
Go to an airport, pick a flight from the board, and get on it.
Hitch a ride on a sailing boat around the islands and atolls of the Pacific Ocean. Climb a volcano in Vanuatu and volcano surf back down.
Drive along the Incense Road, Yemen.
Cycle around the abandoned railroad paths of Central Otago.
Cycle from one end of New Zealand to the other.
Camel trek with Touaregs on the Salt Road from Timbuktu to Taoudenni. Camp in the desert.
Walk across a country.
Get married overseas (hey — marriage can be an adventure, too. I guess).
Get peed on by dogs and licked by elephants while volunteering in the hills out of Chiang Mai, Thailand. See an elephant be sung to sleep. Get tattooed in a hut in the middle of the grazing fields.
Have a giraffe make out with my face. Kind of.
Find my way to the Hills of Connemara in Ireland and learn some Gaelic.
Dance in a parade at Carnival, Brazil.
Postal boat from Bergen to Kirkenes, Norway.
Learn to ride a horse five minutes before partaking in a horseback safari in Zimbabwe.
Get to Antarctica…somehow. No cruise liners. Cargo boat, maybe? Fishing boat?
Hurl water from the back of a ute in northeast Thailand during Songkran.
Climb Mt. Fuji, Japan.
Climb Mt. Killamanjaro, Tanzania.
Climb Mt. Sinai, Egypt.
Ride the Marrakech Express down the length of Morocco. Stop into Fez to stay in a traditional Moroccan riad. (I know a place).
Couchsurf. (If you don’t class this as an adventure, you haven’t been staying with the right hosts).
Walk the Santiago de Compostela pilgrim route. While in Spain, throw some tomatoes and red wine around.
Circumnavigate the globe without flying.
Sit cross-legged in the living room of a Vietnamese family that doesn’t speak a word of English, eat chicken feet and blood cubes, and throw back shots of potent homemade rice wine.
Retrace the Silk Route using every means of transport possible.
Ride the Grand Trunk Road in psychedelically coloured buses (Afghanistan to India).
Istanbul to Aleppo on the Toros Express (if Syria ever reopens to travellers).
Feel really high up on the Roof of the World Express, Tibet. (Can you tell I rather enjoy a bit of train travel?).
Chase robbers through a shopping mall after they stole my bank card in Cape Town.
London to Australia overland route.
Attend an international wedding party. (Melaka, Malaysia).
Ride the Trans-Siberian/Mongolian Express.
Drive around the Golden Ring towns of Russia. Sleep in the back of the car.
Climb a glacier (Fox Glacier, New Zealand).
Fly first/business class on a long-haul flight (preferably as a free upgrade!).
Cycle the Pamir Highway, Tajikistan.
Teach English overseas. (Anyone who’s done it can attest to the daring and craziness of such an endeavour).
Snorkel with humpback whales.
Take part in a storm chase, US.
Spend a few hours in detention at Heathrow Airport (not an experience I recommend you try and replicate, but a defining one, nonetheless).
Realise three hours before an international flight that I’ve accidentally sent my passport six hours’ north. Somehow get my passport back and make my flight with twenty minutes to spare.
Whitewater raft the Nile. (In a few years’ time, this will no longer be possible to do, thanks to damming).