I am not a fan of lists, whether bucket lists or handpicked deals by travel websites. Even worse, 101 Things You Must See. I know most of the websites on the internet are there to create business. And right now, these lists are superfluous.
But I was asked recently how many countries I have visited. My answer: I really do not keep a list, nor would I care to start one. In a slight nod to some of my readers, I have talked about a “Water Pail List” since it does not sound as final as the bucket.
I firmly believe my trips, and hopefully yours, are to places you want to go, not places where others want you to go. I often run into fellow travelers who are ‘slaves” to their list. I feel sorry for them!
Flash back to my quest to visit all fifty of our U.S. states. Completed in 2014, I often wonder how it got started, and why I completed it. After all, we ended up visiting some really interesting (and might I say underrated) states, like South Dakota, Montana, and Kansas. On the plus side, it is a conversation starter with foreigners and Americans alike. But then again, so is taking the Trans Siberian Railway across Russia and Siberia, or driving Chile form top to bottom.
But the story that provides the best perspective is from our very first trip to SE Asia, specifically Bangkok. Sitting at a noodle counter, talking to a well traveled young man, he insisted that we should visit Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Needless to say, we went on our very next trip to SE Asia, and it soon became one of my favorite places in the entire world. I have been fortunate to visit on three trips, and now have dear friends there as well.
People ask for my favorite place to visit. It is generally a tie between Angkor and the Amazon. But there are many other places I would recommend as well, if you should ask. Recently, my discovery of Bucharest, Romania, and my first trip to Istanbul rank fairly high. And I love my mother country Japan, for the culture, friendly people, food, cleanliness, and great natural beauty.