People often ask me to name my favorite country, or my favorite vacation. But I can’t. I tell them that asking me to do this is like having me choose between ice cream and chocolate. I like both. I’m going to eat both. So instead of telling you about my top travel experience, I’m going to share my top ten thus far (while enjoying a bowl of ice cream topped with chocolate sauce).
#1: Hiking the Inca Trail
I mean really, do I need to provide a caption or explanation for why this is number one? Look at this. And the picture doesn’t even do it justice. It was four days and three nights of hiking at high altitude, sleeping in tents, and seeing world wonders. It was challenging but oh-so-rewarding. I went through a company called Enigma and would highly recommend.
#2: Exploring the Angkor Temples
I always loved Indiana Jones when I was a kid. I loved the idea of exploring something for the first time and feeling like I was discovering important historical artifacts. So this is why the Angkor complex in Siem Reap, Cambodia was a traveling highlight. The decaying, crumbling towers full of incredible statues and scripture is breathtaking, especially set in Cambodia.
#3: Taking a Jeep tour through Bolivia’s Salt Flats
Three days and two nights of riding through desert, past lagoons dotted with flamingoes, cacti over fifteen feet high, and stretches of salt as far as the eye can see. Traveling in Bolivia, especially around Uyuni was otherworldly.
#4: Walking on the Great Wall of China
When I was little my favorite movie was “Big Bird Goes to China.” I must have watched it over thirty times (sorry, Mom and Dad) and became obsessed with the idea of digging a hole and winding up on the other side of the world. While I never dug a hole deep enough, I did get there, and now I’m living in the country. I will likely go again before I leave. (Post edit: I did go again, and this time I went camping on the Great Wall of China!)
#5: Hiking a Glacier in Patagonia
Patagonia in general was an amazing trip. I spent a month traveling from Santiago, Chile through the lake districts and down to El Calafate, before returning to civilization in Buenos Aires. A highlight was definitely putting on some spikes and hiking up and down a glacier. Oh, and being rewarded with a glass of Bailey’s on “the rocks.”
#6: Taking a Cruise Around Halong Bay
I think I paid something like $70 to sleep a night on a junk boat, in my own room, with a view of the sea and limestone mountains. And it included meals and a kayak outing. There’s a reason Halong Bay in Vietnam is high on many traveler’s bucket lists.
#7: Strolling Through the Bamboo Forest in Japan
I could make a whole list of my top experiences in Japan alone. The country is rich with culture, temples, and amazing food. But the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in Kyoto is nothing short of magical. This might actually be my favorite photo of all time.
#8: Diving the Great Barrier Reef
This was a recent trip of mine, and I loved everything about Australia (except the price tag). But getting my scuba license, and diving the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns was something else. And now that I’m certified, I look forward to a whole other world of traveling. For more information, see my post here.
#9: Dancing (and watching) Tango in Buenos Aires
For me, Buenos Aires has the same romantic appeal that Paris does for most. I actually rented an apartment in San Telmo for a week and enjoyed the city like a local, with mutual local friends. I ate dinner at 10pm, drank wine at sidewalk cafes, and danced until sunrise. But my favorite part was watching the tango shows in the squares of the San Telmo neighborhood, especially on Sunday during the market.
#10: Living Like a Monk in Korea
When I lived in Seoul, my friends and I often took weekend trips outside the city with Meetup.com. One of my favorites was experiencing a temple stay. It was two days and one night of experiencing life as the monks do, from waking at dawn and being silent, to participating in moonlight meditation walks. Definitely an experience worth having!
I love to hear from my readers! What’s your number one experience? What should I add next to my ever-growing list?