North Korea wouldn't be on my bucket list of countries to visit anytime soon...and I suppose it's a bit rude to say so but the more I read and hear about America the less I'd want to visit there either...though I'll hastily qualify that and say I would love to visit the Deep South...not interested in the Grand Canyon...don't much care about Yellowstone Park...but one of my all time favourite films is In The Heat Of The Night...so I'd enjoy seeing those dusty little towns with old men sitting outside on porches when it's grown cool in the evening.
And I'd like to travel round the bayous and see alligators and hear the local people speaking French and meet with rangy coon dogs protecting the wooden shacks of the men who catch crayfish...I'd love to drink in out of the way bars and listen to banjo music played by old Black men...such stories they would have to tell.
And I'd love to visit Mongolia and stay in the high mountainous plains in a yurt and ride stout ponies and meet with nomadic herdsmen and drink Yak milk...it would be lovely to see the flowers which come in the Spring and snow-capped mountains and maybe catch a brief glimpse of a mountain lion...I'd like to meet with the little children swathed in heavily embroidered clothes and have their Mothers teach me how cure a Yak skin to make a warm coverlet for a bed.
China would be on my bucket list. Not the teeming cities but the remote villages far from anywhere where I'd try spicy dumplings served piping hot on distant railway station platforms and drink scalding black tea straight from a samovar...small towns on the edge of nowhere where the working people wear padded jackets to keep out the cold and the houses are built of adobe and have a fireplace in the centre of the room and no-one has heard of television or laptop computers...
Peru would have to have a place on my list of countries to visit...to see a Condor overhead and watch women working back-strap looms and perhaps to follow a herd of Alpaca onto the mountain slopes for summer grazing...such huge pleasure I would gain from hearing the plaintive Pan Pipes played by a shepherd and to listen to the distant musical bells on the collars of the Vicuna...
And Siberia. I once planned out a route following the old trading routes which took in Siberia and Mongolia and parts of China...it was possible then, and I suppose it would be feasible now, to travel by train virtually all the way...rattling along across frozen plateaus...stopping at isolated stations in the middle of nowhere...hearing wolves howling when the train stopped in a siding for no reason at all...to re-trace the routes of those Mediaeval traders as they brought spices and furs and pet monkeys and parrots...a dancing bear with his teeth filed down and bolts of fabric dyed with indigo...their pockets filled with little leather bags of amber.
You can keep Monte Carlo and Los Angeles...such places would bore me rigid...
But give me a free pass to see eagles flying overhead in Outer Mongolia...to ride across the windswept steppes on a small stout pony...to travel all the way across Siberia on a slow train with herdsmen and soldiers as my companions...to play chess when we stop in remote sidings with the background sound of howling wolves...to stop and talk with old Black men sitting on a porch in a small town in the middle of Alabama...to pet the wary coon dogs and go out at night with a crayfisherman while the fireflies dance...
Of course my bucket list will never be realised now...but I can read books and I can dream...I can wrap myself in a blanket while I wait for the train to start up again and I can hear the wolves and tip the attendant of the sleeping car to ensure I have clean sheets and hot water in the morning...with some thought I can see the snowy plains and see a traveller with his dancing bear...his head swathed in brightly coloured cloth...gold earrings in his ears and a neatly trimmed black beard. I can recall enough of a game of chess to play with teenage Russian soldiers while we are stuck in a siding somewhere...it is years since I rode a horse but those little Mongolian ponies pose no threat...sure footed over rough ground.
Cajun music has my feet tapping...and I've never eaten crayfish but I can imagine...
You can keep your resorts and crowded beaches...the fine hotels and breakfast included...you can enjoy the bars where the staff ogle the girls and the long queues to enter a 'place of interest'...it is not for me.
I like the remote and the lonely...the backwoods and the wild places.