Around the World

Places Around The World That I Shall Never Forget

Derek Perspectives, Travel Tales 95 Comments

Around the World
Who would have thought that sitting on a stone wall in the middle of the jungle would play such a role in my life? It was 1999. It was Angkor Wat, Cambodia. It was the location where I first decided that a life of indefinite travel might be the life that I was looking for.

And as that random idea slowly became reality, and the years of wandering around the world passed by, I made sure that I never forgot that stone wall. I made sure that I never forgot the mesmerizing, ancient temple that was in front of me at the time or the dense jungle, the first jungle I had ever seen, that surrounded me.

While I always talk about the people I meet being the most rewarding aspect of a life of travel, let’s face it, sometimes people can truly ruin our day. Since I started traveling, I’ve been vomited on, spit on and hissed at. I’ve been peed on, yelled at, chased down the road, pickpocketed, threatened, shoved and hit by a car. I’ve been ripped off, tricked, cheated and just absolutely screwed over.

I still love people of course but man, I must admit that I’m also grateful for those special places out there, those spots and locations around the world that have provided me with some time to just be alone with my thoughts, those spots and locations that have etched themselves into my memory or have changed the course of my life forever, for one reason or another.

That wall, that temple, that jungle at Angkor Wat, Cambodia, back on December 31st, 1999, is one such example for me.

This post is to celebrate the locations that prove so meaningful to each of us during our adventures. And it doesn’t matter how well-known or unknown a particular place may be or what other people think of the place either. All that matters is that a single spot on this planet had a major impact on our life at some point in time.

My Favorite Spots Around the World

It’s not every day that I find myself in the middle of nowhere, in Yemen, standing on a massive rock jutting far out over a valley below, with a view so appealing that I could have spent one month right there without moving or ever closing my eyes. Why would I want to close my eyes when I had such a sight before me?

Bokur viewpoint, Yemen

Luckily, however, I didn’t spend one month there in the end. If I had, I would have missed the opportunity to stand in a location that even fewer people will ever get a chance to see, a place so spectacular that even six months after my visit, I still had a difficult time believing was real. The only reason I know it wasn’t actually a dream is because I still have a piece of my boarding pass from my flight to Socotra Island

Qalansiya, Socotra Island, Yemen

Other locations have forced me to realize how lucky I am to be traveling, how lucky I am to be in a place that I never would have known about had I not thrown that backpack on my back and taken that first step into the world…

Magura, Romania - hiking

That might be the Piatra Craiului Mountains above, in the heart of Romania or surreal Fanning Island, Kiribati, an island of 300 people way out there in the middle of the South Pacific, both of which have helped shape who I am…

Fanning Island, Kiribati

There’s no way I can explain the feeling I had when I spent a couple of days along the too-gorgeous-to-be-real Napali coastline on the Hawaiian island of Kauai or when I drove from Darwin to Broome, straight through the most absolute nothingness I have ever seen, up there in the northwest of Australia, or when I just sat under the trees in the zocalo of Valladolid, Mexico, listening to the sweet tunes of a mariachi band, all while observing, and welcoming, the thoughts, the questions, the answers, the inspiration, the clarity, that those surroundings provided me.

And as I stated in my last post, you can call me a tourist for visiting, and enjoying, Las Vegas. Well, you can also call me a tourist for stating that I’ll take that touristy cable car up to the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa any day, or that I’ll gladly contemplate life while looking out over the magnificent New York City skyline from 88 floors above the ground.

NYC from 88th floor

I’ll also always remember, as a younger, more naive traveler, crossing that rickety foot bridge over the Hunza River, just outside the small village of Passu, Pakistan. I remember stopping for a few moments half-way across, wondering if I was still on planet Earth as I stared at the magical Karaokaram Mountains, and knowing full well that after a visit into this remote, unchartered land, my life would never be the same again…

Passu, Karaokaram Mountains, Pakistan

So, as I sit here today and allow my mind to wander through the years behind me, I instantly recognize that, from the Geirangerfjord in Norway to the Gros Morne National Park outside of Cornerbrook, Newfoundland, from the brilliant views of colorful Bundi, India while high up on the hill above town to my stay at the remote Bengstskar Lighthouse in the Archipelago Sea some 25 kilometers off the coast of Finland, I have repeatedly been inspired by so many remarkable places that I have visited during my travels.

Geirangerfjord, Norway

Bengtskar Lighthouse, Archipelago Sea

And these are the kind of places that, for me personally, didn’t simply make for good photos. These are the kind of places that had such an impact on my life, both due to the location itself as well as the period of my life that I happened to come across them, the kind of places where I distinctly remember a change, maybe a change in my way of thinking or in my beliefs or maybe a change in my goals or dreams.

Yes, I love the people I meet every day during this adventure of mine, but heck, I sure won’t forget many of the places I’ve been to either.

And I’m certain that every traveler would say a similar thing.

What are some of the special places that have had a major impact on your life? For those who have yet to travel, what are some of the places you absolutely can’t wait to experience?


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Comments 95

  1. Felicity

    Glad that you put the Geirangerfjord in Norway on the list. I wonder whether you’ve been to Preikestolen in Stavanger or not…it is a spectacular place.

    What about Mt. Bromo in East java- Indonesia? and Raja Ampat islands (Papua-Indonesia)…. hoping that you will have chance to go there, or have you?

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Felicity – I’ve been to Stavanger and Preikstolen actually, another beautiful place of course!

      I have not been to Java though, one day…

  2. Nate Webb

    Hey Earl!

    I know I’m a little late to this post, but this was very well written and speaks to all travelers. By far one of my favorite posts. I remember sitting on the rocky shore of Corniglia, Italy watching the waves crash and feeling the mist fly by with some of my best friends, contemplating my life and finding out that I wanted something more than the 9-5 american dream that many of my classmates dreamt of. It is because of wanderers like you and many others that I hope to one day (in the near future) travel for a living and (crossing my fingers) start a successful travel blog. Thank you for everything you do!

    Nate Webb

  3. Tyler

    Hey Earl,
    I LOVE your blog man!! I only check out a few on a regular basis and your one of em’! I am currently beginning what will hopefully be a very loooooong travel in May starting in Oz. My own blog emptytravels.com is brand new and in its juvenile stages but any advice for an aspiring travel blogger would be much loved!! Thanks!! Tyler.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Tyler – Congrats on your upcoming trip and on your blog as well! If you want to send me an email through the site, we can discuss your blog in more detail.

  4. Caolyn James

    I also really enjoyed your post about being up in the clock tower for an hour & a half, and how it cleared your mind. Being around water, or somewhere up high does seem to help with clarity. Somebody told me once that a lot of spiritual communities are situated in such places. It may be the negative ions! Here’s a mainstream article about it: http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/negative-ions-create-positive-vibes

    Myself, I am dreaming of swimming in the cenote in Yucatan some day. Any trip with lots of swimming and maybe some high places too … perfect.

  5. Stendhal

    This is a great post and i totally agree! The moral of the story is you will really never know what place will have an impact in your life! Keep on rocking Earl!

  6. Betty

    Earl, thanks for another inspiring post. What incredible pictures! One place I won’t soon forget is the region in Michoacán where the monarchs migrate to in the winter. I was there 2 weeks ago at the El Rosario and Sierra Chincua Biosphere reserves and seeing the monarchs huddled en masse on the oyamel fir trees and fluttering when the sun came out, was truly magical. Another place is Erg Chebbi in the Sahara at Sunset. Stunning.

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  8. Laura @ RoamFarAndWide

    Walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain changed me. It gave me a new confidence about traveling.

    Crete is my special place. Sometimes there is no explaining why you feel so “right” in certain parts of the world. It was in Crete that I declared that I am never going to return to my old life. New paths have to be made and I am willing.

    Namibia is next on my list. I leave in a week and I am giddy with excitement.

    Great post. Got me thinking.

  9. Tati

    Earl… I have being reading your posts and various other blogs trying to prepare myself for the worst that can happen during my travels. However I can’t seem to form a scene where I will be “peed on”! How does one live through that? lol

      1. Crazy Sanchez

        Indeed. When you wrote “Since I started traveling, I’ve been vomited on, spit on and hissed at. I’ve been peed on, yelled at, chased down the road, pickpocketed, threatened, shoved and hit by a car. I’ve been ripped off, tricked, cheated and just absolutely screwed over,” I was half-expecting you to add “and that was in my first hour outside of Delhi airport.”

        It also would have made me chuckle if you’d said “And that was in the my first week in Switzerland.”

  10. Mark Mitchell

    Great post….The Mountain Hostel in Gimmelwald, Switzerland. Rustic little place tucked away high up in the Swiss Alps, only reachable by cable car, but wow is it worth the stay! Absolutely awe-inspiring, nothing like waking up in the morning, walking outside and being smacked in the face with pristine beauty of the top of the Swiss Alps. It’s like visiting the inside of a postcard…images that will never leave me, one of those places that just force you to sit back, breathe deep, and be thrilled to be alive

  11. Nick

    The beaches and cliffs of Cabo de Gata in Spain have to be the most beautiful and awe striking places I’ve seen in my life. I haven’t been to many places YET, but to end a trip to Almería by seeing the incredible landscape next to the vast Mediterranean Sea had me speechless. I had a hard time leaving because I could have just stood there all day to gaze upon such perfection! The rocks, the water, the setting sun, the warm sand, the mountains behind me; there’s nothing else I could have asked for that day! That time spent on the coastline will forever be a reminder of why I must continue to travel. It was a flawless end to an ideal trip.

  12. Sergio Romero

    One of the most recent life changing moments which has truly proven to shift the direction of my life that I didn’t expect prior was spending New Year’s Day on a motor boat with two other beautiful souls in Syracuse, Sicily. The light that glistened a silvery light onto the surface of the water from the over-cast sky changed me so, so much that I did not extend my teaching contract this semester in Rome, Italy and I’m well on my way to travel the seven seas, literally.

    Earl, your blog posts are always a breath of fresh air to the soul. I’m very glad you’ve had many transcendent experiences while pursuing your passion. I too hope to have many more.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Sergio – Seems like quite a powerful experience you had…anything that changes the course of our lives like that is something you will never forget I’m sure. Thanks for reading as always!

  13. Kate (The Lost Londoner)

    My moment probably came when I was in Barcelona and I had this overwhelming urge to stay there and learn Spanish. I wondered what I was actually doing with my life and worried that I couldn’t change it as rapidly as I would like.

    This year I’m travelling for a year across Asia and Australia. I absolutely cannot wait. Reading about your adventures spurs me on through the fear of leaving my secure life behind.

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