The urge to hot-foot it to somewhere other than where you started is nothing new. The oldest tales in history or even religious faux-history all seem to centre around travel. Likewise many treasures, songs and works of art all seem to have that much more gravitas if they come from somewhere far, far away.
Mass exoduses, diasporas and wanderings are the the stuff of stories from the bible to beowulf, from The Grapes of Wrath to Gulliver’s…well, Travels.
It stands to reason that this would inspire adventurous or entrepreneurial young minds to seek out the furthest flung corners of the world, but the presence of strangers in strange lands tends to bring a whole set of new woes to the lands in question. It’s not long before ‘alien’ diseases and invasive hitch-hiker animal species – rats being the classic example – start to come along for the ride, themselves afflicted with a wanderlust and possessing a dangerous-to-the-environment adaptability much like our own.
Inevitably, before long what seemed like a paradise is just another tourist spot, or worse – somewhere to exploit and sometimes literally ‘strip-mine’ for resources. Paradoxically, when somewhere is prized for its natural beauty, it tends to get overrun by visitors and loaded up with commercial businesses. As the truly natural spots get progressively rarer, more people visit them… And so the cycle continues.
Think on this… Less than 10% of the world’s land is more than 48 hours from the nearest city. Honestly, and we’re talking land travel only. Trains, cars or donkeys. Scary huh? No matter where you go, civilisation is only two days away. Given the above information, it means that ‘remote’ is becoming a thing of the past, and critically, we are only probably a couple of days away from screwing up any remaining pristine natural areas. The Amazon Rainforest is pretty well connected – rivers help – and most deserts have a road network these days.
All this leads me to wondering, what next? Technology is leaping ahead of where most of us could have ever imagined, so, just where will the age-old and inherent human ‘wanderlust’ and urge to visit the unknown take us, when we have been, known and in turn influenced ‘everywhere’?
Here’s a few ideas that seem to be in the pipeline already!
‘Challenger Deep’ – The Mariana Trench
Situated at the very bottom of the western Pacific Ocean, to the east of the Mariana Islands, the Mariana Trench is a narrow but almost unimaginably – if not unfathomably – deep ‘slot’ in the seabed. With an average width of a suggestive 69 kilometres, it’s already sounding slightly wrong by my description… Sure to attract the 18-30’s crowd then. But, be warned, its not quite Ibiza…
The very deepest part is known as ‘Challenger Deep’ and is dark, wet and under massive pressure, which kind of sounds like the Welsh valleys during January. So if technology allows, we could create a modern Atlantis for future generations to visit. Twinned with Pontypridd, naturally.
The Tibetan Plateau (Qingzang)
In complete contrast to the aforementioned Mariana Trench, this 2.5million kilometre elevated land mass is often called ‘the roof of the world’. Roof parties are often the stuff of legend, so why haven’t the hedonists headed to the hills quite yet, you ask?
It happens to be surrounded by massive mountain ranges, and the only ‘rain’ is hailstones, but there are some redeeming features. The Tibetan Plateau contains the world’s third-largest store of ice, after the polar regions. Perfect for that sneaky pear cider… If climate change doesn’t thoughtfully create a giant rooftop swimming pool before you get there!
The final frontier? Well, supposedly, space is infinite… that doesn’t strike me as very final, having no end and all. But still, space flight is becoming ever more viable, and there’s about every kind of possibility ‘out there’.
Sun worshipper? Guess what, you could actually ‘go there’. It would seem popular, as no traveller would ever return home. I’ve heard that said about Jersey in the 1990’s though. Just saying.
Winter break? Mars, Mercury and Neptune are all frozen gas planets. Get’cya ski on, cosmic style – it’s time to buy that North Face parka that you figured you’d never be cold enough to need!
Even colder, and with a name and nature that suggest ‘where the sun don’t shine’, we have the seventh planet, Uranus. I’d like to avoid the tasteless jokes, but it does, according to my research, have a complicated planetary ring system. I guess if there was a divine creator, he liked it, and took Beyonce’s advice. If it’s good enough for a deity who can go wherever he pleases, then perhaps we should see if we can go there. Unfortunately, with humans track record of planetary responsibility it’s highly likely that we’ll f**k it anyway.