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Peter Mandel

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The World's Top Places To Do Nothing. Absolutely Nothing.

Posted: 02/21/2011 2:47 pm

Juggling things to do is such a humdrum part of life these days that no one gives their tasks or their stacks a second thought.

On a trip when there's so much to check out and check off your list, who has time to relax? Um, I do. And, as a matter of fact, so do you. Things have gone too far too fast if your travel time is taken up by rushed activities that feel like work.

Take some time to breathe. To watch and listen as the rest of the universe moves instead of you. Part of a real vacation is doing nothing at all. Nada. Zero at the bone. One good way to get there is to pick a venue where enjoying the view or dropping off for a pointless nap are just the thing.

I've scoured the globe with this particular goal in mind. After a lot of (mostly lazy) research, I'm pleased to present my personal picks for the World's Top Places to Do Absolutely Nothing at All:

1. The Leela Palace Kempinski Udaipur (Udaipur, India)

The name of this luxury retreat in dramatic Rajasthan may be a bit of a mouthful. No matter. You'll have it comfortably in mind after just one day spent lounging here on the banks of Lake Pichola in a city that is often called "the Venice of the East."

Leela is a fast-growing India-based company that takes as its motto an old Indian proverb: "Guest is God." In fact, I was sure I had become a minor deity as I approached the hotel in an ornate lake boat strewn with cushions.

Once I'd had doors opened for me by crackerjack staff clad as Rajasthani guards and watched the moon rise over the glowing Aravali Mountains, I didn't feel like a guest at all. I was home.

2. Petit St. Vincent Resort (St. Vincent and the Grenadines)

Imagine Gilligan's Island. Now outfit it with an ultra-low-key resort offering exceptional dining and stone and mahogany cottages built into bluffs overlooking stretches of unspoiled beach. Get rid of Gilligan and replace with chatty owner Lynn Richardson. Ditch the Skipper, Mary Ann, Ginger and the Professor, in favor of Richardson's four lazy yellow labs.

Now you've got a basic mental image of Petit St. Vincent, a private island hideout in the Caribbean, which eschews telephones for bamboo message tubes and signal flags used by guests. Yellow means: "I need something." Red means: "stay away."

Petit St. Vincent is the perfect place to play at being a castaway. You may decide to be stranded here for a very long time.

3. "The Ocean" Train (Canada's VIA Rail service between Montréal and Halifax)

Do-nothing meccas need not be designed -- or priced -- for Maharajahs. North America's oldest continuously-operating rail service, "The Ocean," is a segment of its coast-to-coast national railroad. But it's a superb example of Canadian hospitality and has some luxury touches that you wouldn't expect.

Thinking Amtrak? Think again. Try the salmon with maple marinade in the retro dining car or check out views of New Brunswick from the art deco, steel-trimmed dome. There are even onboard guides who chat about the scenery and offer little demonstrations like "How to catch and eat a lobster."

Catch one, did you say? Too much work. You're relaxing. Remember?

4. Bagan Thiripyistaya Sanctuary Resort (Bagan, Burma)

An important part of really kicking back is what you've got on your feet. In humble Buddhist Burma, the national shoe is the flip-flop. Slip yours on to pad around the resort's exotic tropical gardens and take in views of the legendary Irrawaddy River and the silhouettes of high-altitude temples off in the distance.

Walking through Bagan, itself, is like stepping back in time since life here is still agrarian and pleasantly slow. Cows shuffle through the dusty streets. Local families pass on foot and everyone smiles -- even though you're a stranger in town.

Bagan also happens to be one of the world's most fruitful places to tour pagodas. There are fields full of stepped ruins you can scale to catch the sunrise. Or better yet, sleep in and check them out at your leisure later on.

Peter Mandel is a travel journalist and the author of nine books for kids. Contact him at http://www.author-illustr-source.com/petermandel.htm

 
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