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December 10, 2010

Travel Wishlist: The Maldives

I’ve always had a desire to visit the Maldives, a group of remote islands located in the Indian Ocean, 435 miles south-west of Sri Lanka and 250 miles south-west of India. The main draw of the Maldives, of course, are the 1,000 uninhabited islets. Yes, you could literally have a remote island all to yourself. I’m not sure how much better life could get than having your own beach and a cooler full of beer.

Thanks to its white sand beaches, coral reefs, clear warm waters, and abundance of marine life, the Maldives has transformed itself into a premier travel destination, with tourism taking its place as the Maldives’ top industry. Water sports such as snorkeling and scuba diving are incredibly popular, and many travel companies offer all-inclusive packages to Maldives that include airfare, lodging, transportation, and activities such as fishing, scuba diving, and windsurfing. Personally, I’ve never been scuba diving, but that, too, is on my list of activities to try someday. Many dive shops and even hotels offer multi-day packages where you can earn your scuba certification while learning to dive in the beautiful clear waters. After a day of diving or lying on the beach, you can then feast on freshly caught seafood. Yeah, not a bad way to spend a few weeks of vacation.

December 6, 2010

Travel wishlist: South Africa

South Africa map

Back in 2007 I posted a list of destinations that were high on my wishlist at the same time. Since posting that list, I’ve managed to cross off three of those destinations: China, North Korea, and Ukraine. I’ve decided to once again highlight a few of the destinations that are high on my travel wishlist. This has been prompted by two things: 1) my inability to actually travel anywhere internationally since being laid off, so instead I must dream; and 2) Hearing the word “list” too many times, as is to be expected around Christmas time.

South Africa map

First up is South Africa. This trip was originally proposed by one of my friends who is also a hardcore travel nut. We had yet to really nail down the details, but a rough sketch of the trip included diving with Great White Sharks (you’ll, uh, be in a cage and thus protected from death), going on a safari, and then staying in a Mozambique fishing village for a few days.

Ideally, I would like to have visited South Africa a few months ago while the World Cup was going on, but I’ll have to settle for a trip in the (hopefully) near future. Traveling within South Africa is generally quite inexpensive, however flights to Cape Town can be quite expensive ($1,300+) depending on the season.

March 22, 2009

Iraq, anyone?

Iraq is officially welcoming tourists:

Well, here she was in the lobby of a Baghdad hotel, ending a 17-day tour around one of the world’s ultimate danger destinations.

“It had always been on my list,” said Ms. Gilbert, wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with a cartoon cat and the phrase “Life Is Good.” “If it opened up, I wanted to go.”

Whether Iraq can be described as open is debatable. But Ms. Gilbert is a member of a group, mostly middle-aged and older, that has the honor of being on the first officially sanctioned tour of Westerners in Iraq since 2003 (outside of the much safer enclave of Kurdistan).

Well, WTF. If a 79 year old is hanging out in Baghdad, then I don’t see why I shouldn’t as well.
Just kidding. My mom would KILL me. And much respect for Ms. Gilbert. I hope I am still traveling when I am her age.

March 8, 2009

Stuff I want to do: Cruising around Antarctica on a Russian icebreaker


I have never been on a cruise and I have absolutely no desire to go on one. I imagine a huge boat filled with drunk people gorging themselves on boring food, playing slot machines, laying by a pool, and occasionally getting off the boat to visit random bars in some port city. Aside from the drinking, that sounds incredibly dull. I think I’d rather be dropped off the coast of Somali, in a rowboat, with a bottle of vodka.

Antarctica, though, is one place that I wouldn’t mind going to on a cruise ship because that’s pretty much the only way to get there. If I’m going, though, I have to do it in true Lindsay style and hop aboard the Kapitan Khlebnikov, a Russian icebreaker:


Yes, that is the Soviet coat of arms adorning the ship’s bow.

Perched high on the ship’s bridge (open to passengers most of the time) you’ll marvel at the ease with which the Khlebnikov crushes a swath through meter-thick ice pans. Where other ships must turn around, the Khlebnikov plows forward through ice-choked waters, taking up to 108 passengers to remote fjords, channels and shores where precious few, if any, people have ever visited. And, with its on-board helicopters and fleet of Zodiacs, the range of possible destinations to explore is expanded even further. Helicopters are used for ice navigation, scouting landing sites, “flightseeing” and to land passengers in out-of-the-way places. Zodiacs whisk passengers ashore to observe wildlife and explore and archaeological and historical sites.

Helicopters! The ship has freakin’ helicopters!

The downside of cruising around Antarctica on this awesome ship is the price, which, depending on the length of the trip, ranges from $13,890 to $22,490 for a spot in a triple cabin. So, basically, the only way I can afford this trip is if I win the lottery (which I don’t actually play) or start saving enough money so I can eventually go when I’m, like, 80 years old. Awesome.

May 11, 2008

Future vacation destinations

7 Abandoned Wonders of the Former Soviet Union: Deserted Cities, Buildings, Bases and More and 7 (More) Abandoned Wonders of the Former Soviet Union: From Mining Towns to Oil Rig Cities.
I’d really like to visit Neft Daşları (Oil Rocks), located in the Caspian Sea about 45km offshore of Baku, but apparently getting permission from SOCAR is next to impossible.

October 15, 2007

Looking ahead: Pyongyang and Mount K

“Where are you going next? And DON’T say North Korea.”

“Uh, China, I think, and maybe a weekend in Pyongyang.”

Despite my dad’s wishes otherwise, I’m still determined to get to North Korea by 2010, as I mentioned a few years ago. For a limited time this year, the North Korean government issued visas to American citizens for three day tours of Pyongyang and the DMZ. I’m hoping this continues in 2008, so that I can end a week/week and a half in China with a trip to North Korea. And while this trip is entirely dependent on the whims of North Korean bureaucrats, there is also the matter of finances and where I will be, say, six months from now. And yes, I do realize that the concept of voluntarily visiting North Korea sounds completely insane to a normal person, which I’ve certainly never claimed to be.

North Korean travel advertisement

Also, my friend Katerina called me a few days ago and declared that she would like to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, to which I replied “Dude, I’m totally up for that.” So apparently we will be climbing Kilimanjaro sometime in the next few years…before we’re 30, which is a scary thought in and of itself. In order to climb Mount K, we’ll have to start a training regimen that involves a lot of hiking, or whatever. To accomplish this, I will have to move back to California, because the “mountains” on the (l)east coast are mere hills. Also, I will need to win the lottery or rob several banks à la Point Break to fund this expedition.

February 26, 2006

Most dangerous travel destinations for 2006



Forbes has released its list of most dangerous travel destinations for 2006. Potential tourists, take note of the places you might want to avoid:

• Afghanistan
• Burundi
• Cote d’Ivoire
• Democratic Republic of the Congo
• Georgia
• Haiti
• Iraq
• Liberia
• Pakistan
• Papua New Guinea
• Russia (Chechnya)
• Somalia
• Sudan
• Zimbabwe

Damn, and I was totally going to hop on that Moscow-Grozny train next time I was in Russia.

Actually, one of my next destinations is on that list. When I visit Liz and Taline in Armenia, I’m going to take a quick run into Georgia for some khachapuri and shashlik. I have no idea when I’ll be visiting Armenia, but hopefully it will be in the next year or year and a half. Granted, this is entirely dependent on my future employment status, etc., etc. but I’d really like to go to Armenia and Georgia (and all the “-stans” while I’m at it).

That’s one way to burn off the shashlik

June 19, 2005

North Korea by 2010?


A few years ago, when a group of us were planning a weekend trip from Moscow to St. Petersburg, we went down to the train station to purchase our tickets. Somehow we ended up at Yaroslavsky Vokzal, which was across the street from Leningradsky Vokzal, the station with the Moscow-Petersburg ticket office.

Nevertheless, we took a few minutes to scan the list of trains departing for eastern destinations : Beijing, Ulaanbaatar, Vladivostok, Pyongyang…wait, Pyongyang? There is a train that runs from Moscow to Pyongyang? We cracked a few jokes about ditching Petersburg for a trip to North Korea, and then headed across the street to Leningradsky Vokzal, where we should have gone in the first place.

Since then, I’ve been fascinated with the idea of traveling to North Korea, primarily because no one goes there (it’s not exactly a “hot spot” for travel, eh?) and I think it would be interesting to see what it’s like to visit the closed society that exists in the the world’s last Stalinist regime.

Lately I’ve been looking up how exactly you go about visiting North Korea and reading the websites of people who have been there. It seems like you have to go with a group, or, you could go “independently”, but will be escorted by a guide and driver at all times.

The tours leave from Beijing, which is perfect because I’d love to spend a week in China anyways. The only problem is getting a North Korean visa. I e-mailed Simon over at Koryo Tours regarding the visa issue, and he said that Americans are currently unable to get a visa. Damn! If only I had a second passport…a British passport…hmmm…must find British husband.



So, I have a travel goal: IF North Korea starts issuing visas to American citizens again, then I’m going. Of course, that is also dependent on finances and work, however, I’m going to try and get there by 2010. Everyone thinks I’m crazy for wanting to spend a week in North Korea, but if anyone wants in, let me know.

Also, I still want to visit the Chernobyl ghost town of Pripyat (especially after reading this article), but Taline and Crystal were like “Uhhh…no.” Any takers for that one?

June 10, 2005

I want to go on this trip!

Everyone at LSE received this e-mail today:

Announcing the…
LSE/OXBRIDGE CUBA TRIP – an LSE/OxBridge premier!
(open to all students, alumni, staff, faculty and family)
The Che Guevara Tour
Tour Dates:
13-23 July 2005 (confirmed)
24 August-3 September 2005 (subject to demand)
Celebrate the culture of Cuba – while Fidel is still around!
Marlins, 30 degrees, Che Guevara, Cuban cigars, jazz, rum, Mojitos, Hemingway, Castro, fun in the sun, beaches, sportfishing, Caribbean nightlife, salsa lessons, stunning ecological reserves and eco-tourism activities, cultural immersion lectures at the University of Havana, and more!
11 Unforgettable Days in Havana, Vinales & the surrounding beaches/countryside!

I’ve always wanted to go to Cuba…it’s supposed to be amazingly beautiful and I’ve heard that the people are incredibly friendly. At $2,300, the trip is just a bit too expensive, though! Someday I’ll make it over there.

February 3, 2005

Let’s See Europe…and other continents?


My spring break is coming up…March 18 – April 25 (yeah, I know, an incredibly long spring break). I’m trying to figure out where I want to travel. For those of you not at the LSE, the running joke is that it actually stands for “Let’s See Europe” and not the London School of Economics.

To give you an idea of where I haven’t been, check out this map:


See all that gray? That’s where I haven’t been…we need to change this. So, I need some suggestions on which countries to visit. I know many of you have done that “backpacking through Europe” thing, so tell me which cities/countries are “must see”, and any places you hated.

I’ve already got one trip planned…I’m going to Budapest, Hungary from March 19-24. That should be awesome.

I’m seriously considering a week in Egypt…or maybe Morocco.

Anyways, give me some suggestions.