Published on January 4th, 2013


You Simply Can NEVER Keep a True Nomad Down!


La Dia de Dos Noches, Costa Rica, 1991

Don’t get me wrong.  While I’m decidedly happy to be settled here in beautiful Dalat, Vietnam, that by no means would suggest that I’m likely to stay put here perpetually for the entirety of 2013. Indeed, for a wanderlust like me, not exploring a new corner of the globe at least a smidge every few months is just plain crazy talk. And of course, exploring this half of the Planet is precisely why I moved over here to Asia to begin with.

So… on these first few morns of the sparkly New Year, I’m already pondering where I might wander in the not too distant future.  For starters…

Given my somewhat obsessive fascination with the magic of total solar eclipses (instigated by the singlemost amazing travel experience of my entire life:  witnessing a SEVEN-MINUTES-long TOTAL  solar eclipse on a sunny beach in Costa Rica in 1991, along with the near total eclipse I witnessed more recently in Oz), my first bit of dreamy Googling involved of course pecking “2013 eclipse”.

And the result?  Well it turns out that total solar eclipses are most rare indeed here on planet Earth, and there are but two such spectacles predicted for 2013.  Alas one happens to be viewable only on a distant continent from the one I’m currently perched on, and worse – the solar eclipse will appear total only along a thin corridor across the Atlantic, the path ever narrowing as it diminishes across the somewhat dicey African countries of uh, Gabon, the Congo and the tippy top of Uganda.  This on 3 November, with a predicted duration of totality whilst over the African continent of a whopping whole minute at best.


1,000 islands, anyone? The Solomon Isles in Oceania

Clearly not a prime candidate for purchasing a $grand+ air ticket.

Ah but the other…  Yes, yes, the other lies at least in the vicinity of the Asian continent, albeit out in the middle of Nowhere. Then again, I am nothing if not quite familiar with said middle of FREEKIN.NO.WHERE so the solar eclipse on 10 May looms a bit more promising.

With a near 200 mile wide path, and totality lasting a sweet 5 minutes or more, the destination choices for the May solar eclipse include a trio of relatively nearby options.  I could view it in northern Australia of course, but I’ve just recently pretty much “been there, done that”, so that leaves but two other options.  Both decidedly obscure, but hey – I rather favor obscurity in my travels:

Either a teeeensy remote isle at the southern edge of Papau New Guinea, else… an even more remote isle to the east in the Solomon islands.


Sleep in a CAVE within steps of the sea? Oh yeah, I am so THERE!

Suffice, with but a smidge of preliminary research, the latter (Solomon isles) looks most promising (indeed, even Lonely Planet has them listed among their Best in Travel for 2013).  Even better, check out THIS most intriguing cave lodge for a sleep option.  I mean, sleep in a CAVE for 60 bucks – now how kewl would THAT be?

Then again…  While total solar eclipses don’t come around often (the next after 2013 isn’t til 2015 – in the ARCTIC OCEAN) but still…

May’s a tad early for a new TL adventure as I’m presently negotiating a new teaching gig here in Dalat (more on that soon) that won’t start ’til after the Tet festivities (Feb 9-14) here in Vietnam.  So might be more prudent to grab a 6 month contract and then look at the possibilities for… say August/September.

Which brings me to… a whole ‘nuther fantasy option I ran across (coincidentally just south of the Solomon Isles) – a a volunteer gig in Vanatu (yes, yes, as immortalized in Survivor, Season 9 “Islands of Fire”).  This, I could do in September, and I must say – as I’ve had a good bit of experience gawking at sea turtles nesting along moonlit shores in Costa Rica, the thought of a near month of assisting in sea turtle research surely tickles my travel toes.

And finally (leastwise in my dreamin’ research to date) just this morning, yet another tantalizing option fell into my lap.  A chum in Bhutan just returned from a visit to Japan to witness the Snow Monkeys frolicking in the hot springs at Jigokudani Park near Nagano, Japan:


Now I ask ya – is that not enough to make you drool with wanderlust?

In any case, sooooo many wondrous choices.  The globe, a most delicious sandbox of new sights, experiences and challenges.  Just dreamin’ here now.  Preliminary research.

I mean – the last time I was in this mood, I ended up  milking yaks in Mongolia, so g-only knows where I’ll actually end up next.

And now – let’s hear from YOU.
Any fabulous places I should consider for my next romp on this merry Planet?

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About the Author

Off-the-beaten-path travel is my passion,and I’ve always lived life “like-a-kid-in-a-candy-store” – eager to sample as many flavors as I can. Indeed, my life motto has long been: This ain’t a dress rehearsal, folks!

10 Responses to You Simply Can NEVER Keep a True Nomad Down!

  1. chenritzo says:

    Have you seen the northern lights? That’s something I want to see. Total solar eclipse is something I hadn’t thought of… but it’s also a cool ‘excuse’ to check out new places!

    • TravelnLass says:

      Nope, not those dazzling Aurora Borealis yet – but they’ve looooong been up near the tippy top of my bucket list. I understand that we’ve just entered a new phase where the ABs will be getting more active. So I’m definitively always open for a chance to see them (maybe… the Harbin Ice Festival next January???)

      And yes, yes, if you ever get a chance do go for a total solar eclipse. Partials aren’t much to write home about, but to witness the entire earth turning to night in the middle of the afternoon, is quite awesome indeed.

  2. Graefyl says:

    “for a wanderlust like me”
    You could always head for China and those “Avatar” mountains in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. Though I think there’s a bit of a kaffufle about them at the moment. If I ever get out East, that’s one place I’d like to visit.

    • TravelnLass says:

      Wow Graefyl (I just Googled it and) those mountains are AMAZING! The inspiration for the Avatar floating mountains indeed! Is that the present “kaffufle”? The rivalry between Zhangjiaje and Huangshan’s Yellow Mountains? No contest. From the pics I’ve seen, Zhangjiaje is the clear winner.

      Goodness but this little Planet is simply chock FULL of fantastic sights. How’s a lass to get to even an nth of them in a single lifetime?

      Thanks for the tip. I’ve been to China, but looks like I need to spend a YEAR there to see all of its wonders.

  3. Ruth says:

    Well, if you don’t go for the eclipse it’ll be a while before the next one and maybe that will be in an awkward location too. I had a friend who did a placement on the Solomon islands when she was a medical student and she loved it.

    On the other hand, the snow monkeys look pretty awesome. If I was them I wouldn’t ever want to get out of the hot spring! One other place I’d heard about that makes me want to visit Japan in winter is the Sapporo snow festival, famous for its ice sculptures.

    • TravelnLass says:

      OMG Ruth – I just Googled the Sapporo festival – woa! I’ve long wanted to see the Harbin Ice Festival in China, but this looks just as kewl (and a lot closer.) Looks like the festival is in February. What a great combo – those amazing Snow Monkeys, AND the Sapporo Snow festival!

      LOL, clearly not your “tropical” wiggle-toes-in-sunny-sand kinda getaway, but there’s always plenty of that here in Vietnam, yes?

      O.k. so I guess I’ll put you down for a split vote: Vanatu 1; Monkeys 1.5; Eclipse .5

  4. All three sound fabulous, but I’m partial to the snow monkeys. Though it looks pretty darned cold. I’d be tempted to get in the hot springs with them.

    • TravelnLass says:

      Yup little Ferret, cold is not normally my cuppa travel tea either. But those monkeys sure are tempting. I was just Skyping this morning w/ my friend who was just there in Japan a few days ago. Apparently the monkeys have no fear of humans, and you can poke your camera right up to their noses! (see 1:17 on the video)

      And yes – I understand that you CAN hop in the springs WITH them!

      O.k. so that’s Vanatu 1; Monkeys 1; Eclipse 0

      Thanks for voting!

  5. Paul says:

    I vote for Vanatu – mainly because I’ve never heard of the place.

    The snow monkeys are a close second.

    • TravelnLass says:

      Ah, so you’re not a rabid “Survivor” watcher, Paul? I’d never heard of it either til that show (which was… gosh, I just Googled it and Season 9 was waaay back in 2004!) And yes, I’m presently leaning toward the Snow Monkeys. Japan’s bound to be pricey, but oh so interesting.

      O.k. so that’s Vanatu 1, monkey and eclipses 0 😉

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