The Best Moment of Your Life

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Although I’m now 10 years away from Lonely Planet they’re still nice to me and ask me to lend my expertise (whatever there is of it!) to projects like the annual Best in Travel and to assorted new publications.

▲ Creg-ny-Baa corner on the Isle of Man TT Mountain Circuit, fail to make this corner and you’re straight in the front door of the pub. I drove around the course in a rent-a-car and that was quite fast enough, the motorcycle lap record for the 60km circuit is over 215kph, over 135mph.

Last year I contributed a couple of chapters for Lonely Planet’s Epic Drives. I wrote about the Targa Florio and other racing circuits you can drive on (like the TT Circuit) plus the Gibb River Road and other Australian outback tracks. This year I wrote the foreword to the new Lonely Planet Travel Atlas.

Plus I contributed one of the 100 ‘Life-Changing Travel Experiences’ to The Best Moment of Your Life. I wrote about walking the Mt Kailash Kora, a classic Tibetan pilgrimage circuit. At Shiva-tsal you’re supposed to undergo a symbolic death and reincarnation which you mark by leaving behind some reminder of your old life. A drop of blood or a lock of hair will do, but I joined the pilgrims who discarded an item of clothing from their old life. In my case the spider underpants which I quite liked but Maureen was never enthusiastic about.

▲ My spider underpants and a Mani stone with the Tibetan Buddhist chant Om Mani Padme Hum – ‘Hail to the Jewel in the Lotus’

The other 99 ‘best moments’ featured some which have already got a tick beside them on my bucket list and quite a few which I’d really like to do. Here are five categories:

• It’s another pilgrimage trek – walking the famous Spanish Camino de Santiago like Andrew McCarthy – and it’s been on my must do list for a long time. Last year I even helped launch a novel, Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist’s Two Steps Forward, which takes place along the Way of St James to Santiago de Compostela. Walking the Cornwall Coast Path, like Paul Bloomfield, also appeals.
• Some years ago I co-authored Lonely Planet’s scuba diving guide to Tahiti & French Polynesia with Jean-Bernard Carillet so his account of swimming with humpback whales off Tahiti definitely has me in the water.
• Greenland is another place on my ‘must do’ list and I might even get there in 2019. Meanwhile I can enjoy Nigel Tisdall’s Greenland dog-sledding adventures and Richard Mellor’s essay on Greenland solitude and tranquility. Yemen has been on that list for even longer, so I’m jealous of Suzanne Joinson’s mountain gazelle account.
• I’ve swum with the whale sharks off Exmouth in Western Australia a couple of times, the first time one of my fellow swimmers went on years later to experience the whale sharks off Djibouti on the horn of Africa. So does Georgina Wilson-Powell and I’d be happy to try them again.
• There are other islands still to visit and Madagascar is another place I still haven’t got to … yet. Emma Greg explores Madagascan forests. Or if we want to be really remote Tristan da Cunha, Lucy Corne goes there.