Hot! Next on the List

So, I’ve been thinking about where I want to travel, next time I have enough money to do so.  While I do want to travel pretty much everywhere, I do have a “short list” of places that I most want to visit.  It helps me to stay focused, and to have more concrete, tangible goals.  Here are a few of the places on my short list, as well as descriptions of what I hope to do while there, in no particular order:


I’d like to spend 3-5 months there, on horseback, photographing the nomads, particularly focusing on their relationship with horses.  I found an outfitter that will actually place you with a nomad family for a month to learn certain skills, and I think that doing at least two of those placements would be incredible.  The ones I’m interested in are learning to play the Morin Khuur, Mongolian language training, and learning the Mongolian style of horse training.  Once you’re in Mongolia, it’s quite cheap to get around, but getting there is the expensive part.  This trip will be what The Mongolian Experiment was supposed to be, before I came to my senses.  I will likely start a Kickstarter or IndieGoGo campaign for part of this trip, as half my time will be spent producing photography work.


Little known fact: had I not gone to teach English in South Korea, I was going to teach in Turkey instead, and I almost did.  The mixing of East and West in Istanbul is fascinating to me, and I’d also love to visit Cappodocia and the Lake Van areas as well.  This would be a shorter, 1-2 week trip.  I don’t currently know anyone in Turkey, which makes things a bit more difficult, but with a little poking through my travel network, I bet I can find a contact there.


I am really interested in the Gaucho culture in Argentina.  I have seen some WWOOF placements on sheep ranches in Argentina that are looking for people who know how to ride, and I’d love to improve my skills and learn shepherding in the process.  Plus, Argentina is a beautiful country and I could use some work on my appallingly poor Spanish language skills (especially given that I grew up in Texas!).  About a month seems right for this trip.  I think that learning the Argentinian style of riding would help me tremendously as a horsewoman, and since I have several contacts in Argentina, this trip is likely to happen sooner rather than later.  Plus, it would be a boon for the equestrian side of my photography portfolio.


I’ll be honest – until the last year or two, I really didn’t have much desire to see Spain.  I saw it as hot, dusty, and a bit more inaccessible than some other parts of Europe.  However, thanks to my recent involvement in my Spanish Civil War reenacting unit and learning a lot more about Spain’s history, I am now really intrigued by Spain and its culture, and particularly want to visit the areas of Catalonia and Asturias.  This could be a 1-2 week trip, and it’s one that I think Marc would enjoy joining me on as well, which is always nice.  My family has some contacts in Barcelona, which I suspect could be tapped fairly easily.  The trick with Spain also seems to be to go in the off season months, in the spring or fall.

Thailand (or Vietnam)

This is actually one of my cheaper trips, assuming I can get a good airfare deal.  I’d love to spend 1-2 months in Thailand or Vietnam, preferably staying in one or two places the entire time.  I’d like to rent a cheap bungalow near the beach and spend my days working on getting back into shape.  I prefer Vietnamese food to Thai food, but if there’s a significant cost difference, I’d rather have more time abroad on this trip and save a culinary tour of Vietnam for another trip.  I love beaches and I think that being able to swim every day, plus being able to focus purely on my health for a few months, would do wonders for my fitness.


Ever since learning that Kyrgyzstan is one of the cheapest places to get immersion-style Russian lessons, I have been really taken with the idea of going there for 2 months to learn some Russian.  Like Mongolia, living in Kyrgyzstan is relatively cheap, but getting there is the difficult part.  The language school in question is in the capitol, Bishkek, but it’s rather easy to get out into the gorgeous countryside, so I wouldn’t be totally cooped up in a post-Soviet city.


I find Finland rather fascinating.  It has one of the highest quality of life scores in the world, what is generally considered the world’s best education system, and is snowy and cool for much of the year.  Plus, Finnish is something of a language isolate, which is kind of fascinating to me.  There’s a dog sledding outfit up near the Arctic Circle that takes on helpers for 1 month stints year round, and I think I would really enjoy getting to work with dogs every day.


If you had asked me about Botswana five years ago, I probably would not have even been able to point it out on a map.  Then, I met my boyfriend Marc.  He lived in Botswana for three years while his parents were stationed there with the State Department, and he has been on more safaris than he cares to count.  I am a big animal lover, and as a photographer, the call of a safari is too hard to resist.  Due to Marc’s connections there, we should be able to put something together without bankrupting us.  A trip down into South Africa could be part of the same trip, as that’s somewhere else that I really would like to see, particularly Cape Town.

So, that’s my short list.  What places are on yours?

[Photos by:  Al Jazeera EnglishMrmyamicmolMorBCNtamaranichDefence ImagesVisit Finland, and aftab.]