Each January, the New York Times Travel section comes out with a list of 52 places to go in the coming year, with the 52 signifying that you could spend a week in each place on the list. As with many of their articles, it’s necessary to separate the slag from the super. For instance, No. 16 is Scotland – the whole country. I’m not saying that the NYT Travel bureau is being lazy when they list an entire country, but when no. 9 is one of the world’s largest caving systems – Quang Binh, in Vietnam, no. 19 is the home of the largest wild zebra population on Earth, Laikipi Plateau in Kenya and no. 42 is Subotica, Serbia’s more than credible attempt at Napa County, a country that speaks English as a first language shouldn’t be on a global must experience list.
Others on the lazy list include:
- Downtown Los Angeles (no. 5) – Food trucks do not a downtown rebirth make.
- Calgary (no. 17) – Calgary?! Really?? Please miss me with any talk of venturing to any Canadian prarie province for a exciting time.
- Dubai (no. 23) – For a paper with a supposed liberal conscience, the ignoring of the U.A.E.’s continued enslavement of SE Asian guest workers shouldn’t get a pass. (This article is crushing.)
- Niagara Falls (no. 52) – Even Torontonians think Buffalo is boring. Yes, that’s a shot at Toronto, which is the emotional opposite of the picture below.
Ideally, I’d like the list to have 52 places I’ve never heard of. The world is still big enough, right?
I only say this because at No. 18 the Times earns a blue ribbon. Ishigaki is a small island in the chain that is Okinawa province, Japan. Okinawa is over 470 miles away from the southernmost Japanese island, Kyushu, and the entire provincial chain stretches over 620 miles. Ishigaki itself is actually only 170 miles away from and at a lower latitude than Taipei, Taiwan. I find this totally fascinating
Where am I going with this, since this isn’t a geography blog? Sorry, good question.
Ishigaki has beaches on beaches on beaches on beaches on beaches – that’s right, I’m giving it 5/5 beaches!
Here’s the blurb the Times wrote:
“The yen is the weakest it’s been against the dollar in years — down 25 percent from a year ago — putting Japan more within reach in 2014. For low prices coupled with laid-back attitudes, look way south to the island of Ishigaki, 250 miles south of Okinawa Island and far from the bustle of Tokyo. The 85-square-mile island, largely undiscovered, is home to sunburned surfers, sandy beaches and beautiful coral reefs. And it’s never been easier to reach: A new airport opened here in March 2013, and Japan’s new low-cost carrier, Peach, just began service from Osaka.”
That last sentence, especially the part about Peach’s new route, was what caught me. I went to Peach’s website and found that the Times was telling the truth – I could fly on many days in July 2014 from Osaka to Ishigaki, or Ishigaki to Osaka for around $73, which is a crazy deal!
On our upcoming trip this summer, SF Republic and I plan to travel southwesterly from Tokyo to Nagoya, Kyoto and as yet unknown cities and eventually make our way to Osaka and Ishigaki. I think nothing would be better than to lay low snorkeling in coral reefs after spending a couple weeks in one of the densest countries on Earth. I’m also guessing that the seafood quality is celestial.
Anyway, I encourage you to check out the full Times list, and get that travel bug infection as soon as possible!