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Published: September 21st 2013
Photo from blog [diary=452582]
So, this is it, the first day of the last month of your time here on earth.
Yeah, I know, bummer...
But, sad though it may be, the fact remains that in just thirty days you’ll pass, fortunately for you peacefully in your sleep, and that, as they say, will be that. Time’s up. The clock’s ticking...
Luckily you’ve still another 29 days, happy and healthy, to catch up with friends and loved ones, get your estate in order, tie up any loose ends and generally live the high life, eating your fill of ice-cream and jelly.
But all that can wait.
Today is different.
Today is the last day you’ll ever travel...
Still, that’s enough of the doom and gloom. On a more positive note, I just happen to have a teleport you can borrow, if you like. Unsurprisingly it’s in big demand, so you’ll only have it for this one day; best make the most of it, don’t you think? But, just for today, starting wherever you may choose, you’ll have up to five teleports to take you anywhere you like in the universe, and when you get there, money’s no object.
That sounds like my kind of day.
There’s just one other little catch.
You can only go to places you’ve already been, do only things you’ve already done, so any blanks on the bucket-list will just have to remain forever un-ticked.
Other than that it’s up to you, a chance to live out your dream day...
So here, without further ado, for what it’s worth, is mine...
Tempting as it is to start with a lie-in, I suppose this is one day we really should be making the most of.
So instead, as the first rays of light rise over the hills around Luang Prabang and filter through the slatted shutters of our room, I ease myself quietly out of the crisp linen sheets, strap on my sandals and slip out into the cool morning air to await the monks on their morning’s pilgrimage. As they walk through the streets towards their temple for morning prayers their vivid robes match the glow spreading in the eastern sky. Once passed, I follow the peach-hued snake down the narrow lanes, watching Laos come to life as the
Manta Magic in Palau
Photo from blog [diary=632438]
shopkeepers and restaurateurs blearily start their day. On reaching the temple I split off from the pack, climbing the hill to its peak to watch the rays of the morning sun work their way along the mighty Mekong, lighting up the streets and houses as they go, washing away any last remnants of sleep from my slumber-filled eyes.
Back at the hotel I find Debbie up and about, and we take breakfast on the terrace, a simple affair, the aroma of home-baked bread mixing with the freshly ground Lao coffee to fully awaken the senses. We lash on a hefty helping on butter and jam, followed up by a tempting fruit platter to freshen the palate. Below me in the courtyard I watch as a practised Dutch couple cram their gear carefully into the panniers of their motorbike and head off on the next leg of their year-long adventure.
But we’re not going with them.
We’re going somewhere else entirely.
Eight-thirty finds us skimming our way across the flat waters of the bay heading out to sea in the stunning Palau archipelago, the twin outboards churning a huge
The Blue Hole, Palau
Photo from blog [diary=632438]
plume to our aft as they power us out towards the watery horizon. To our sides the deep blue of the water is pierced by vivid green, as the myriad of islands, crammed to overflowing by the lushest rainforest on earth, thrust up like giant moss-covered pyramids.
But it’s not the forests we’ve come for. Instead we’re heading down into the blue, quite literally taking the plunge as we gear-up and back-flip down the vertical cave-walls of the Blue Hole, descending 35m before escaping through a submerged archway to cruise along the sponge encrusted wall towards Blue Corner, where our buddies the sharks await us. Hooking onto the reef-crest we allow ourselves to be encircled, as curious of them as they are of us, and after chilling a while with our fang-toothed friends we weigh anchor once more and allow the current to glide us over the reef to the safety of a wide channel where the boat awaits.
Back on board we charge over to German Passage, a man-made gash cut clean through the reef a hundred years ago, allowing the Kaiser’s warships to come and go. It’s now a safe haven from the ever-present currents for
the largest of the big pelagics, who flock here for a spot of R&R, taking a morning freshen-up of their own as they allow themselves to be pampered by the hundreds of little wrasse at the cleaning stations. Sharks and mantas alike circle endlessly above our heads as we kneel patiently beneath and gaze up in wonder from the seabed.
From there it’s just a short scoot to the sheltered lagoon at Bablomekang, a tiny island oasis, for a break of our own. Paddling the crystal-clear waters of the bay, I watch the forked-tails of the shearwaters spiralling high overhead as the tropicbirds alight on the treetops, and it suddenly occurs to me I’m starting to feel a little peckish. Time, once more I think, for a change of scene.
Midday in Salamanca in the Plaza Mayor, we take a seat at one of several hundred tables scattered around the edge of the square, tucked up beside the sandstone walls of the terraced town-houses that encircle this Spanish masterpiece. As we watch the world go by, the waiter rolls up with icy fresh water and complimentary bread rolls, and I
order a bottle of his fullest-bodied Spanish Rioja and a handful of Tapas plates to keep us topped up through lunch hour; tasty marinated olives, fried calamari, manchego cheese and patatas bravas with divine chorizo. Time to chill, taking in the passionate discourse of the locals’ daily banter while we surrender to the wine’s anaesthetic charms. Ninety minutes later, we’re just about ready for a siesta, but as time is somewhat precious today , perhaps we should find somewhere else to mooch away the afternoon.
So let’s see, where should we go next?
At 2200 metres, the air’s a fair bit fresher up here, but with the sun’s rays still smiling down on us and the hazy afterglow of the wine we’re plenty warm enough. We gaze lazily over the wall at the cobbled stairway as it leads through the endless twists and turns of the village down to the depths of the valley below, and are heartened that, this time, we’re not one of the poor weary souls trudging their way back from Annapurna Base Camp, cursing the weight of their backpack with every step. Above us, across the
Stone Steps, Nepal
Photo from blog [diary=675380]
valley, soars the 6900m sacred slope of Fishtail Mountain, its snow-capped peak glinting in the mid-afternoon sun, but we’ll not be admiring it long. After a quick apple-pie and lemon-tea pick-me-up, we’ll be leaving Chomrong and descending the 1600 steps down the opposite side of town to one of the great little hidden secrets of Nepal, at Jinnudanda Hot Springs.
Here we’ll soak away the rest of our day in one of the three thermal springs at the valley’s apex, as the gushing waters of the Modi Khola race chillily by just a few feet away, ready for a bracing plunge for anyone feeling brave enough. Above us the Himalayan vultures wheel in the sky riding their own thermals, and across the river in the treetops, troops of langur monkeys crash and frolic their way noisily by.
At length, once we’ve had our fill, we’ll walk the little way up to Jinnu village and partake in a late afternoon beer on a cafe balcony, overlooking the neatly tended gardens and terraced rice paddies below. From here we could retrace the 1600 steps back up to Chomrong, but seeing as we’ve got a teleport today, as a certain vanquished
Koh Tao Gecko, Thailand
Photo from blog [diary=440901]
Aussie politician might say, I think it’s time to zip.
Magically back once more in a high vantage point, we peer out over the Gulf of Thailand as the sun dips towards the watery horizon. We’ve swapped our Everest beer for a nice cool Chang, which we sip contentedly as we shuffle on our stools against the woven reed walls of this charming little hillside restaurant.
Far from the crowds on the main beach at Sairee, we’re up in one of the few little secret hideaways that remain true to that old-time Koh Tao vibe, a tranquil haven away from the construction-site madness down below.
As day turns to night we watch the flickering lights of the fishing boats spring to life one-by-one out at sea, and order ourselves a simple but generous Pad Thai, taking a seat on the cushioned floor and allowing the lime-juice to trickle lazily down our finger-tips before tucking merrily in.
Later we’ll ride the Yamaha down to the hill and take a stroll on the beach in the moonlight, the kerosene lamps strewn along the water’s edge lighting our way. At its
Koh Tao Shrine, Thailand
Photo from blog [diary=440901]
end, where a steep stone promontory rises up to block our path, we’ll take to the water itself, wading out a little way to a small hump of rock marooned by the incoming tide, just the right size for two to sit in silence and ponder life’s mysteries in solitude beneath a star-lit sky.
Eventually the teleport breaks our trance, beeping away eagerly to warn us time’s running out for one last quantum leap.
We’re still sat staring up at the self-same starry sky, but now everything’s canted at an angle, and, hey look, there’s the Southern Cross dipping down towards the treetops, the Milky Way blazing a trail directly overhead, its reflection spreading across the waters before us at Crossing Pool.
As Millstream-Chichester National Park lies deep inland in Western Australia, there are few other folk to cause light pollution, and the night skies are as bright as anywhere else you’ll find. Not too many souls stray this far from town, so we’re all alone, a campfire burning at our feet the only other light-source. Chocolate-filled bananas are steaming away in Al-foil, ready to be washed down with
a hefty swig of cheap cask port, one last sugar-hit to re-energise us for a late-night river-swim in the cool waters off the banks.
Soon enough midnight will come around and our carriage will turn back to a pumpkin as we’re whisked safe and sound back to our beds at home.
Till then we shuffle out onto a bough overhanging the water and take in the evensong of the frogs and cicadas, a chirruping chorus of nature at its best as we reflect on the world and all its wonders, the people we’ve met, the places we’ve been, the moments of magic and inspiration stretched all around the globe, and the good fortune we’ve had to have lived at least part of our lives out on the road.
So that about wraps it up.
To celebrate the fifth anniversary of my first post on Travelblog, I give you my dream day.
So now it’s over to you...
Pick your six hottest spots around the world and let us know...
Where would you go, and what would you do???
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