After reading a lot of blog posts about ‘places to see before I die’, I decided to make my own list. Now this is VERY difficult because I want to go practically EVERYWHERE. If someone handed me tickets to go to anywhere in the world, I’d say yes in a heartbeat. But this becomes difficult because no one has handed me a ticket yet :P.
So here’s the list of places I want to see before I die. Note that this is not in an order of preference or anything. I probably want to see all these places equally.
One of the cradles of human civilisation, this country has some of the most beautiful ancient history. Persepolis, Pasargadae, Bam, lovely mosques and tombs of poets. Sigh. In spite of the country’s current political situation and a complete change following the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Iran still remains completely alluring. It is also supposed to have some of the friendliest people! The once great Persian Empire – what a beautiful country.
Armenia (including Nagorno-Karabakh):
Absolutely gorgeous region with a rich, but forgotten history (to the world, not to Armenians). Officially the first Christian country, Armenia was once part of the Soviet Union. It suffered greatly under the Ottoman Empire and in 1915 saw one of the worst genocides in history. Despite the brutal history, Armenian people are well known for their warm hospitality. It is full of lovely monasteries and greenery. I want to go here so badly and though it doesn’t normally feature on such a list, I’m in love with the country’s rich heritage already. Does anyone want to hand me a ticket :P?
Georgia (including Abkhazia):
Armenia’s neighbour – again full of history and culture. Imagine going to the land of the Golden Fleece or the abode of the Svans, or the Black Sea. Absolutely fascinating and beautiful country with so much to offer. Yet it doesn’t usually feature on ‘lists of places to go to’.
Sounds so much like a death wish, considering the condition of the country now. But isn’t it fascinating, going through one of the most difficult terrains in the world, which has such deep history? The country has seen so much in recent history, the Soviet invasion, the Taliban, the US led invasion. I want to visit this place just once and see the place where the Buddhas of Bamiyan once stood, and where the Minaret of Jam still stands. Visiting Babur’s tomb in Kabul would be another highlight.
It’s strange to put Armenia and Turkey on my list together, considering how hostile the countries are towards one another. The main reason I want to go to Turkey is for the amazing ancient historical sites it harbours. Being a country between Europe and Asia has lent it some very unique history and culture. There’s Troy, the Hierapolis, Istanbul, Nemrut, and a host of other historical sites. Would be a joy to to try Turkish delight or even baklava on a trip there.
Possibly another death wish, but I can’t help ogle at photos of Samarra and Hatra, and I wonder what it would be like to visit Mesopotamia, Sumer and Babylon. It hurts to think what this country has come to now.
Here’s another place which has so much to see. I had fixed an itinerary last year in case I made a plan to visit. But what can I say, the anti-Assad protests began and this beautiful country went tumbling down into a state of bloodshed and disrepair. I hope democracy prevails and that Syria finds lasting peace. The reason there is so much to love here is of course the lovely history again. Some of the oldest continually inhabited cities of Damascus and Aleppo are here. Syria is also one of the last places where Aramaic, or the language of Christ, is spoken. Wonderful historical sites such as Palmyra, Bosra, Hamah and Homs are there just to explore and discover. And the food is apparently brilliant. Does anyone know how to make some fattoush?
Well, this has been on my list for a LONG time. I want to see Borobudur, Prambanan, Raja Ampat, Bali, Sumatra, Indonesian Borneo, West Papua…I could go on. Who’s buying me the ticket?
Well this is a place my Dad visited and LOVES. He’s been to many many many countries, so if Laos is on his favourite countries list, it must be something. Anyhow, I personally prefer non-touristy countries. Laos is full of divine sights such as Luang Prabang. The countryside and the forests are beautiful too I hear.
Probably one of the first countries I wanted to go to ever. I was a big Egyptology buff during my childhood and I always dreamed of seeing the Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, Abu Simbel, Saqqara, Karnak (and can this list ever end? I don’t think so).
Technically I’ve been to the Addis Ababa airport too many times, but I never actually made it outside, which is an enormous pity. Ethiopia is one mythical country that is full of incredible history (again). Some of the most unique churches, such as those in Lalibela are here. The country was mentioned in the Iliad and the Odyssey. It was also called Abyssinia in later history. Not only that, the Queen of Sheba was possibly Ethiopian too.
Again, another childhood dream. I was also a Greek mythology lover and spent a lot of my time poring though some Greek mythology books written by Robert Lancelyn Green. I also finished reading the Iliad well in time to criticise the movie ‘Troy’ for its inaccuracies. The beaches in Greece were not the first things that attracted me, but sights such as the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena, the Temple of Zeus, and again I could go on, but I won’t. You get the point.
Who cannot be interested in Rapa Nui? But Chile is not only about Easter Island. It’s a lovely country, skinny on the world map, and greatly overshadowed by Argentina and Peru. However, it has some amazing colonial history, as well as recent history (Allende and Pinochet for instance). Filled with natural beauty to the rim, the country is probably not as frequently visited as its neighbour Peru, but is not devoid of sights enough to charm everyone.
China has some 43 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, only surpassed by Italy and Spain. But does that say something about the country? Not only does the amazing history and architecture of this country enough to astound anyone, but its natural beauty cannot be surpassed. You just need to take a look at some of its national parks to understand that point. Best thing of all is how these traditional sites and natural beauty are incorporated into this ever-developing upcoming world superpower. I’ve been to Hong Kong (before its official handover), but it’s mainland China that fascinates me.
Who cannot love Japan? Apart from the ever-so-frequent earthquakes, Japan is stocked with beautiful traditional buildings and shrines, and stunning Japanese gardens. It is a land of beautiful landscapes and history. The flipside tends to be that you need to be really rich to go there, but it doesn’t cost to dream now, does it?
Unsurpassed natural beauty everywhere, lots of different kinds of terrain, and untouched nature. How would anyone want to miss that? For me the icing on the cake also happens to be that the Lord of the Rings trilogy was shot in this beautiful country, but that’s not the prime reason :D.
Right, I’d better stop here because I could go on and on. I’d love to visit absolutely every country and this list is in no way exhaustive. But it’s time to stop. What are some of the countries you’d love to visit?
UPDATE: Visited Indonesia in mid-2013 and went to Borobudur, Prambanan and covered a bit of Bali. That should ideally mean that it should be struck off my list, but I definitely want to go back again because it was just not enough.
P.S. I would like to thank all those photographers who took these pictures. The copyrights belong to them. Unfortunately you don’t get a credits page on the internet, so it’s impossible for me to know. But a BIG thank you!