Sarajevo valley

On my last evening in Sarajevo, just as the day was coming to an end, I decided on a whim that I was going to race up a nearby hill to capture the fading light.

It was quite a sprint.

Along the way, I ran past rows and rows of white tombstones (reminders of Sarajevo’s siege in the 90s), and up uneven cobblestoned streets.

Cemetery where many victims of the siege of Sarajevo between 1992 and 1995 were laid to rest

When I finally got to the viewpoint, my shirt was soaked through, though the temperature was just slightly above freezing (it was early spring after all).

But what a view it was.

Bascarsija square (Pigeon square), Sarajevo

From where I was, I could see the entire Sarajevo valley, and the myriad churches, mosques and synagogues which make up the city.

And it was a magical moment when I finally saw the sun set over the city.

The thing is, this probably wouldn’t have happened if I had planned my trip to the tee.

Not that planning is a bad thing (and there are certainly trips that you must plan for), but over-planning could cause you to miss out on some spontaneous event that could turn out to be the highlight of your trip.

Erqi Square, Zhengzhou

Like that time I was in Zhengzhou in China’s Henan province.

To me, Zhengzhou was rather drab and uninteresting, and I had an entire day to spare before I was due to catch a train back to Tianjin.

So I decided to head to Nanjie Cun (village).

And that turned out to be the highlight of my trip to Henan.

Nanjie Village

Located about two hours away by bus from Zhengzhou, Nanjie Cun is known as the last Maoist village in China.

And today, it is a refreshing throwback to how China used to be like just a couple of decades ago.

Statue of Mao Zedong, Nanjie Village

In this village, there are no commercial advertisements.

Instead, there are banners and billboards extolling the virtues of Maoism.

Nanjie Village

There is also none of the hustle and bustle of modern China.

For the most part of the two hours that I spent wandering around the factories and blocks of identikit apartments in the village, I was alone.

Nanjie Village

It felt as if I was walking through a town that has been frozen in time.

And I don’t know about you, but I found the place really fascinating and creepy at the same time.

Hue Citadel

Not planning can also work to your advantage in other ways.

I was feeling bored in Hue in Vietnam after seeing most of the major sights and I thought I should move on.

And I could, because I did not book my accommodation for a second night.

Catholic Church in Da Nang

That decision allowed me to explore Da Nang – a city I would have skipped otherwise – and discover some of its charming riverside eateries.

So what about you? Do you prefer a planned trip, or a more spontaneous one?

Leave your comments below.

Da Nang