Travel To Explore

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There are a growing number of travelers who are fed up with the crowds that are visiting the more popular destinations and so they turn to seeking destinations where fewer are going. Our world is a big one and there are many areas that are somewhat unexplored by the traveling public. And, there are multiple reasons some regions are not attracting many visitors.

Reasons can be: difficulty in accessing certain regions; political problems; countries promoting anti-American sentiments; poor climate; and more.

Some 20 years ago I was asked by an investment company to travel to Albania to see if it would be worth it to purchase waterfront property in order to construct tourist hotels. Albania is located just across the water from Corfu and next door to Greece, so it has a Mediterranean climate. It has influences from Italy and Greece and it still is affordable. Some say it is Europe’s last frontier. In the past, it has suffered from a poor government and has not generated good news for travelers. Much of that has changed now and tourists are very welcome.

The word is getting out now about how nice Albania is for tourism and tourists have just begun to travel there. So far, it is still a hidden gem. It is probably best to be part of a tour rather than traveling there alone without a guide. If you speak Albanian, you should be OK.

The history here is very interesting and you should be in condition to do a lot of walking. It was a Communist state until 1991 and in 1967 became the world’s first atheist state. During this time hundreds of mosques and churches were destroyed. More recently religion has grown in importance. Approximately 70 percent of the population is Muslim, and the various religious groups seem to live in harmony.

In Albania you will find fascinating historical sites, stunning scenery and friendly people. Be sure to visit the towns of Gjirokastra and Kruja, both built in very scenic locations. The site of Butrint is also a very interesting architectural site.

The weather there is much as you would experience in Greece or southern Italy.

How about Papua, New Guinea? It is located not too far from the eastern side of Australia’s tropical area. It is an island nation. The land mass is shared with Indonesia. Until the last 60 years little was known about the place and only since 1950 have travelers come to the island for sightseeing. The people in the countryside remain quite primitive, especially in the highlands. In the “back” areas the people celebrated “pay back killings”. A “payback killing” would occur if one of your clan killed a member of another clan and that group would payback with a kill in your clan. Get it?

I saw this occur twice during visits in the 1960s. It doesn’t end there. The body of the slain is smoked and then eaten by the family of the dead person. I was offered a piece of human, but declined the offer. Yes, this is true.

You may have an opportunity to witness a Sing Sing in the New Guinea highlands. At this event you would witness members of more than 100 tribes decorated with feathers, beads, paint, foliage and mud. A New Guinea Sing Sing is two days of high energy dancing and posturing – a surreal spectacle.

You would also want to take a boat down the Sepik River where you will see natives in their small villages doing their daily chores. Once, years ago, I was in a small boat going down the river and we passed a village that was having its Sing Sing and when they saw us, they stopped their celebrating and simply stared at us. We applauded and they simply stood there and after about a minute they applauded us back. Our guide said this was the first time they had seen foreigners. Marvelous experience.

As part of your Papua, New Guinea itinerary you will visit three very different areas: the Sepik, New Britain and the highlands. You will be hiking through dense and beautiful forests, plus traveling the river and meeting these interesting people. Go soon before it catches on with tourism.

For many years India has been on the tourist map and there are many areas to visit. When you go there you will want to see the famous Taj Mahal (in Agra), the Tigers (in Rathambore National Park), and ride on an elephant (at the Amber Palace in Jaipur), and stay in a local village called Pachewar and walk up a hill to see a temple in Pushkar.

The train rides in India can be memorable and well worth the time to do so. Try and book the best available accommodations for the route you wish to take. You’ll be glad you did. India is a very large country and you should study information carefully in order to decide which parts you wish to visit.

Again, I suggest an organized tour for the first time traveling there. Be prepared to see the very poor while traveling through areas that are run-down.

Cambodia has seen a troubled past, but today the area is safe for tourism. Most people travel there to visit and walk about the famous temples of Angkor Wat and Angkor Tom. You have probably seen photos of these temples with a reflecting lake, but to actually visit the area is still a surprise.

The only problem is the heat and humidity you will experience here. You should be of good health because any visit requires a lot of walking. What’s so special about these ruins? Almost every surface of Angkor Wat has carvings depicting various subjects of life. Fascinating! I have had the good fortune to have visited many temples all over the world and those of Angkor Wat and Angkor Tom rank number two and are just below those found in Egypt.

Definitely plan to visit here in an organized tour. You will have all your accommodations reserved in advance plus have the knowledge and experience of a local tour guide who will impart information you will need in order to fully enjoy the sights.

As part of your Angkor Wat experience, plan to book a tour that includes Thailand, Phnom Penh (the capital of Cambodia) and a good hotel in Siem Reap, which is near the temples.

Cambodia is no longer off the tourist map, but still well worth seeing.

If you are a cyclist, consider joining a cycle tour in several parts of Europe.

You can experience some of the world’s most interesting sights with other cyclists, beginning perhaps in southwest France on the Atlantic Ocean riding through the Pyreneese Mountains. Your trip will include meeting fascinating locals in France and end on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in Spain.

Or take on the classic climbs of the Alps exploring the most dramatic climbs of the Tour de France through the gorgeous French Alps. This will include 21 switchbacks of the Alpe d’Huez. You’ll be soaking up the scenery of Alpine glaciers, high-altitude meadows and interesting mountain towns. You can try tasty foods such as crepes, fondue and fine red wine. You could also cycle through Tuscany in Italy or Provence in France.

As we often say, the world is your oyster. Try it for taste.

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