Lonely Planet talks up every country in the world, and if you read their guides every city and area seems to have a virtue worth singing. But the fact is that we can’t be everywhere and are forced to choose where to be as individuals on the face of this earth. And some places are just nicer than others.
I’m not talking about quality of medical care, schools and transport links – this kind of stuff is used by the Economist to rank cities around the world and Perth, where I live usually, is consistently in the top ten. I’m talking about my own unique perspective. Particularly if you’re not rich, some places are nicer and cheaper, and, as far as I can see, where I am is one of them. I’d rather walk down the streets of this little village Tham Lot through cool and quiet fresh air and look out on dramatic hills rising clothed in forest and wreathed by mist, than walk down the Champs Elyesses in Paris and look up at the Arc de Triomphe while feeling my wallet haemorrhaging money, sucking down icy cold, emission-laden air, and becoming inured to not knowing a thousand strange faces.
Waking up refreshed. Sitting on the wooden deck in front of my bungalow with quiet embroidered by birdsong, and green lush plants and trees enriching my view in all directions.
Quiet. No noise of cars. No people wizzing down tarmac streets. No brick walls.
All I need is this: a valley with a river running through it, lots of trees, not many people or houses, quiet, birdsong, deep greens, cool, fresh air, wooden structures, smiling neighbours, a communal area to go and eat $3 meals and chat with open minded-individuals. John Donne wrote: ‘Be thine own palace, or the world’s thy jail’. This is true, but it helps if you’re in a place which encourages you to move your body and relax your spirit.
All good dogs agree.