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world wide wednesdays :: six places you must visit after you die

happily ever after
so many travel articles insist on adding the stipulation that their suggestions should be acted on "before you die". my reaction to this has generally been a sense of confusion that being alive was something that needed to be specified. going hiking in the himalayan mountains is tricky once your blood has stopped pumping, although, to be fair, the thin air is less likely to be a problem. but for years, this trope has continued, to the point where i started wondering, if there are so many lists of places to visit before you die, why aren't there parallel lists for the metabolically challenged? so to offer just a little bit of balance, i've come up with my own humble list of trips that are absolutely best taken dead.

post-life travel, of course, has some challenges. you will need a spouse, friend or family member with a good sense of humour, profound sense of humour and stunted gag reflex. on the plus side, you may be able to save a little money by having yourself checked as luggage rather than buying an additional ticket. these are details that are at the discretion of the individual traveler.

some of these excursions could get pretty expensive, but then again, so are funerals, and they don't seem nearly as fun.

sapânta, romania :: i apologise to any romanians reading this article, because i know the spelling of the town name is off, but blogger/ chrome just isn't giving me access to the characters i need to get it right.

can i have this dance for the rest of my life?
spelling aside, this tiny town in the north of the country boasts a place rightly named the "merry cemetery". in it, you'll find a treasure trove of colourful folk art telling the stories of those who lived and died in sapanta from the early part of the twentieth century. the graves were initially made by local artist ion stan patras and upon his death in 1977, he was succeeded by his protegé dumitru pop.

if you're feeling at all depressed about your recent passing, this place is pretty much certain to cheer you up with its innocent, charming artwork and on-point limericks [for those of you who read romanian] that tell the tales of the people who have lived there.

ahmedabad, india :: most restaurants get all snotty if you try to bring a corpse on the premises, like those hypocrites don't serve chopped up animal corpses every day. but you don't have to fear that sort of alive-ism at the new lucky restaurant, because they have their own corpses right on the premises to keep you company. open since the 1950s, the dining establishment was originally on the outside of the adjacent graveyard, but has since expanded so that some of the neighbours are permanent residents. to date, there have been no zombie incidents, and the restaurant owner treats his dead guests with great respect, keeping them neat and clean. we're not quite sure how this works with the health inspectors, but if they don't have an issue, there's no reason anyone else should.

don't talk too loud, you'll wake the dead
madagascar :: i haven't seen the dreamworks film of that name, but i'm pretty certain that it didn't include the tradition of famadihana or "the turning of the bones".  the malagasy people practice this in honour of their ancestors and it is considered something joyful and life-affirming. most westerners with their hangups about the body and what happens to it after you-know-what probably aren't going to feel at ease with it right away.

the tradition involves digging up the remains of one's ancestors and then dancing with them. so if you're dead already, you need not have that adolescent fear that no one will want to dance with you and that you'll feel hellishly awkward. your lifeless state pretty much guarantees you'll be the belle of the ball. you might even get someone to slow dance with you. [i actually imagine that most of the dances are pretty slow, because going all riverdance would likely result in the guests of honour quite literally falling apart.]

sagada, philippines :: big cities tend to be a little judgmental when it comes to a traveling corpse, so why not get really off the beaten track and kick up your heels in the remote town of sagada, famous for its heady rice wine, stunning mountainous landscape and hanging coffins.

hangin around
for likely two thousand years or more, tribes of the area have been mounting their dead in small wooden coffins affixed to the sides of mountains, believing that this brought loved ones closer to heaven. the coffins themselves tend to be a bit restrictive, so there is a decent chance that your traveling companion[s] will have to break your bones in order to allow you to hang out with the locals, which will leave you a little the worse for wear, but the views are pretty breathtaking [not that that's a term that applies for you any longer, but you get it].

tibet :: although you'll want to leave this to near the end of your trip, it's hard to overstate the powerful ritual of sky burial. this is a ritual whereby the body is wrapped in white cloth in the fetal position, under the watchful eyes of monks, who then carry it to the "charnel ground", where it is dismembered and laid out for the angels to claim. the angels in this case take the form of vultures and they claim the body by devouring it, but what the hell do you care? you're dead anyway, so someone might as well eat you.

it is important to note that photography is strictly forbidden during these ceremonies, as the tibetan belief is that it could interfere with the ascent of the soul. so, no matter how tempting it might be to capture the moment when you're eaten by vultures, no selfies.

space :: in theory, the angel vultures are supposed to eat all of the body, but you might want to ask your travel companion to hold back just a wee bit of you in order that you might take the ultimate post-life holiday. that's right: you're going to infinity and beyond.

i'm a rocket man
for less than the cost of a typical earthbound funeral, you can be fired off anywhere from low orbit to the gemini module [well, only some options are cheaper than a regular funeral; the gemini option costs about $60,000usd]. and you'll have awesome company! timothy leary and gene rodenberry have already taken this option, so you can spend eternity picking their incredible brains, or at least you could have if their capsule hadn't fallen out of orbit and been destroyed on reentry in 2002.

nevertheless, you have to admit that it would be pretty cool to know that your body [or whatever the vultures leave of it] could be circulating in space, creating cosmic litter for eternity. life is fleeting, but you could revel in the glory of death for all time!

so that's a quick look at just a few of the exciting destinations you should consider after you're done visiting all those places you simply must see before you die. remember: our greatest voyages must be unchained from the tyranny of breathing. the best experiences you'll ever have are probably those that will happen after you're dead, assuming that part of you is somehow around to enjoy them. live long and prosper or die young and explore; the choice is yours.

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