Saturday, April 18, 2009

Something to Look Forward to

This is a guest post by Ian Scott - An Englishman Abroad.

Bali, Bangkok, Kyoto, Colombo, Istanbul, Samarkand, Des Moines, Ulan Bator, Rio, Marrakesh….

When I was seventeen, I entered that list in the back of my diary, as I lay on my bed, looking out of the window at the pictures made by the clouds in the sky. I never really believed that I'd ever visit any of those places, but I'd just read On the Road, The Great Railway Bazaar and The Lonely Planet Guide to South-East Asia, and I was so full of wanderlust that I was fit to burst.

One day, I just stood on the road in front of my house and stuck my thumb out. It's really true: the first step is the hardest. I've been traveling pretty well ever since. I have visited 94 countries, but I still haven't been to all of the places on my original list, and, in a way, I don't want to...yet. I want to save a few for later.

I've visited some of them though and who'd have believed that I'd wind up one day riding a bicycle around Bali, sleeping on a tatami mat in Kyoto, staying for more than a year in a house on stilts at the edge of the South China Sea, sleeping in a yurt in the Gobi Desert, or traveling overland, half-way round the world by train from Beijing to London or by bus from Mexico to Chile?

I have kept lists of things to do ever since because I think it's important in life to have something to look forward to. Just before the beginning of every year, I get a new diary and the first thing I do is write three lists in the back: countries to visit, books to read and films to see.

Here are the top tens from my current lists:

Countries to visit:
  • South Africa

  • Swaziland

  • Zambia

  • Lesotho

  • Namibia

  • Mali

  • Ghana

  • Kazakhstan

  • Turkmenistan

  • Bhutan

    Books to read:

  • Miss Chopsticks by Xinran

  • Strangers by Taichi Yamada

  • To the Edge of the Sky by Anhua Gao

  • The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

  • Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami

  • The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

  • Travels with a Tangerine by Tim Mackintosh-Smith

  • Ghost Train to the Eastern Star by Paul Theroux

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

  • Losing Nelson by Barry Unsworth

  • Films to see:
  • The Boat that Rocked

  • Frost/Nixon

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

  • Departures

  • The Reader

  • The Wrestler

  • The Cave of the Yellow Dog

  • The Story of the Weeping Camel

  • Milk

  • Take Care of My Cat

  • Why not try making some lists of your own? Then you'll always have something to look forward to.

    Welcome to


    Daisy said...

    Thanks for the ec drop! I love your colorful blog... and I'm inviting you to my blog again and if you like you can follow me and I will follow you.

    Have a great week!


    Jade Meng said...

    Thanks for visiting. I followed you. From your blog, I can tell you enjoy your life very much, but I couldn't leave a comment.

    jane said...

    Great post Ian!

    Le blÖg d'Ötli said...

    All my support...

    Anonymous said...

    Your words are an inspiration and could get even the most complacent couch potato to get up, get packing, and get the hell out of dodge!

    MarlyMS said...

    Oh you have a lot of countries to visit. Hope your dream will come true.


    Mhar's Display

    Tina said...

    Love this post! Thanks for sharing the idea. Oh, how I'd love to walk in your shoes. Such an adventurous and interesting approach to life. God bless!

    Ian said...

    Thank you so much for your kind comments.

    Kingsley Ukpabi said...

    Hi Jade, you have a cool blog, thanks for the visit. i will always stop by make sure you always stop by my too where you get to learn everything about investment and become rich.
    Your book reviews are great.

    Jade Meng said...

    Ian, it requires a lot of good judgment and discipline to travel through all these countries and places without being hurt.

    I notice several books written by Chinese and Japanese writers. Happy reading!

    tashabud said...

    Good for you. It's good that you're doing all that while you can.

    Perhaps when I retire, I'll be able to travel to some of those destinations you've mentioned.

    Thanks for dropping me an Entrecard.


    ~enlightenedpsych2~ said...

    What a terrific post by Ian . . . and to you kudos for bringing attention to it. You mention having had kept a diary--me too for almost 35 years now ! and I am only 42. Discovered your blog from your usage of VINEFIRE--one of my special Beta projects I see is working its way fantastically through the world wide web ! Pleased to make your acquaintance and do check my blog here too when you get a moment . . .
    sharing the light,
    miss erica hidvegi

    Sherin said...

    Excellent. This is a classic list and appreciate the time you spend to collect this.