My neighbour once asked me an important question about this book, a basic yet crucial perspective: “Who is your intended readership?” We sat down over a glass of wine, and after a few minutes of my rambling about discovering places most people do not consider venturing to, about the satisfaction of finding an awe-inspiring vista or unwrapping an ancient sight few have heard of, he summed it up magnificently. It is a book for travellers, not tourists.
I had two criteria for the stories and places included in this book. First, the destination had to be away from the main tourist track. Second, the experience had to have left a lasting impression. I was looking for unforgettable memories in incomparable places that most people never see. Thousands of people a year visit Iceland’s Skaftafell National Park, which showcases stunning natural glaciers, yet a day’s hike away lies the virtually vacant Lónsöræfi region. Sri Lanka’s old centre of Galle packs visitors inside its stony walls, but travel farther north and you can watch while history replays itself. At the rock temple of Mihintale—the same hilltop location where Buddhism was first introduced to Sri Lanka—we were the only foreigners to join pilgrims practising century-old traditions during a poya (“full moon”) ceremony. Searching for Unique helps travellers uncover such enigmatic experiences in distant lands.
Whether you prefer active adventure or more subdued cultural encounters, the themes covered in these chapters are sure to ignite your desire to get out and explore our wondrous world. Chapters One and Two are targeted for the active traveller who enjoys trekking and hiking. The third chapter explores ancient temples that have come alive with modern-day devotion. Rare festivals that pushed the boundaries of our expectations are captured in Chapter Four. The book then unveils fallen kingdoms, some of which have been brought back to life, while others remain dormant. The last chapter is for those who like the action of cities but still crave a vacation that feels a little obscure. Overall, these six chapters will take you across five continents, fourteen countries and over twenty-five specific destinations.
Every section recreates the essence of a place and concludes with on-the-ground travel advice. So whether you are an armchair traveller or you are planning your next trip abroad, this book will explore unexpected destinations that feed your traveller’s spirit.