02-07-2009 Brooklyn, NY
Let’s be honest, it’s fun to daydream at work. Instead of worrying about bills, what detours the F train will take on the way home, or the endless deluge of rain the city has been hit with, it is more productive focusing on positive things. One of my favorite daydreaming topics is where my next trip will be (if money were no object). Below are places that are currently in my top 5:
5. Bhutan – Land of the thunder dragon
Of all the places, this might be the most remote. Located at the doorstep of the Himalayan Mountain range, this landlocked kingdom has maintained a strong sense of culture and history due to little foreign intervention and lack of travel within its borders. In 2006, Businessweek named it “the happiest country in Asia”. The main drawback is that tourists are not permitted to travel within Bhutanese borders alone. Tour guides are mandatory and cost around $200/day. The best option for traveling would be to take a flight into Paro (via Druk air) and take a land route out to visit Darjeeling and Sikkim en route to India. So exotic.
4. The Galápagos Islands
As many of you know, I’m a big fan of animals, especially animals that do stupid things for no reason. With a wonderful combination of seals, penguins, turtles, and blue-footed boobies, this place has more potential for senseless animal comedy than any. To top it off, the SCUBA diving there is supposed to be magnificent. You can stay in tree-top suites, looking out over the vast volcanic expanse of green and black while iguanas lazily take in the equatorial sunshine.
This place always seemed like the ultimate tropical paradise. Like the Galápagos, the landscape is lush, volcanic and ridiculously dramatic. The port of Apia is also completely unprotected which has set the stage for numerous shipwrecks over the years. This means tons of fun wreck and reef diving can be had during a visit.
This Central American country is roughly the size of New York state, but contains some amazing ecological diversity within its borders. Contained within lake Nicaragua is the Nicaraguan shark. I know what you’re saying – Wait a minute! Sharks can’t enter fresh water because their blood is normally at least as salty (in terms of osmotic strength) as seawater, through the accumulation of urea and trimethylamine oxide! In rare instances though, some species can reduce the concentration of these solutes by up to 50%. Initially, biologists thought that Nicaraguan sharks (which are identical to man-eating bull sharks) had become trapped in the lake and couldn’t escape, but, as usual, they were mistaken. After tagging the evil critters, they found that the sharks were able to jump along the rapids of the San Juan river (which connects Lake Nicaragua to the Caribbean Sea). Imagine crossing a river and having your leg bitten off by a jumping shark?? Anything can happen in Nicaragua.
1. Missoula, Montana
Yep, you heard it, this place is #1 on my list. Mainly because my good friend (Pugs) and I will be heading out to this remote mountain outpost one week from now. Little is known about this place, but mystery tends to spur the best kind of adventure. I’ve heard wild tales of fierce drunken miners, scowling moose, blood-thirsty badgers and road-raging soccer moms… it’s truly not for the faint of heart. With some luck, Pugs and I will navigate the tricky waters of this rugged wilderness by tracking it’s environs during the 3rd annual Missoula marathon. Hopefully, all of the obstacles mentioned above will be avoided and we’ll get out in one piece!