Whilst in China on a cruise of Guilin’s beautiful Li River, Nick and I spent a lot of time on the top deck chatting to a guy from New Zealand named Ian. Despite meeting 4 months ago, fortunately he had not forgotten us when we reached his hometown of Christchurch recently and he was even kind enough to invite us over for dinner (thanks again Ian!).
Anyway, to cut a long story short, Ian has travelled quite extensively and over dinner he was telling us about his top 10 list of travel moments/experiences/places, whatever you want to call them, basically anything that had made his jaw drop and left him thinking wow!
This got me thinking about my top 10 moments of our travels so far. We’ve been away from home nearly 300 days, are currently in our 10th country and are close to the half way point in our journey so it seems a perfect time to reflect.
I started jotting down places, experiences, moments etc that have been wow moments for me, moments that will never happen again and those that have shocked, moved and surprised me. This soon became a list of over 40 so I had to reign it in and after a lot of deliberation my top 10 had to become a top 15. This isn’t in any particular order, as that would make it even harder, but here goes…
1: Six Glacier trail, Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Canada
It may have been 6 hours of some of the most strenuous walking I’ve ever done but the two views below were more than worth it. Lake Louise has to be the most beautiful lake in the world and being able to look down over it from high up in the mountains was amazing. On the same walk I also saw my first ever glacier and to date it’s still the best I’ve seen.
2: The Notre Dame Basillica, Montreal, Canada
I’m not a religious person but I don’t think you have to be to appreciate just how beautiful this church is. From the second I stepped inside I was in awe of the colours and detail around me, it’s no surprise there is a 4 year wait to get married here!
3: Todaji Temple, Nara, Japan
We visited so many temples in Japan but this one in particular sticks in my memory. It is the largest wooden building in the world and houses 3 absolutely ginormous Buddha’s.
4: The Skyline, Hong Kong
When travelling you visit a lot of cities and therefore see a lot of skylines. Many look the same, bright lights, tall buildings etc but Hong Kong took my breath away the first time I saw it. Even after seeing New York, Shanghai, Tokyo and Singapore, Hong Kong still remains in a league of it’s own for me.
5: The Terracotta Army, X’ian, China
This place is fascinating and it’s understandable why it’s named the most significant discovery of the 21st century. To think that over 2200 years ago a power hungry king had this army of hand built warriors created for his afterlife is just crazy. The detail and sheer effort that must have gone into building such an army back then is hard to get your head around but one of those things you’ll probably never see again.
6: Watching the sunrise – Cat Ba Island, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Waking up on a secluded island in Vietnam to watch the sunrise goes down as the most peaceful moment of my travels to far. I’ve never been anywhere so quiet and being able to step out of our beach bungalow to watch the sun rise between the unusual landscape of Ha Long Bay’s mountains will be hard to beat.
7: Secret beach, Koh Samui, Thailand
Absolutely loved this beach, it’s my favourite beach in the world (so far!). It was extra special because we found it by complete chance after hopping off our motorbike and going for a walk. It was completed secluded, surrounded by palm trees and there wasn’t a soul in sight. I loved how the warm water was only knee deep for hundreds of meters, we walked out to a raised mini sand island and had the most beautiful 360 view around us.
8: Railay Beach Viewpoint, Krabi, Thailand
Getting to this viewpoint was quite a challenge. We had to scramble up wet, muddy and very slippery terrain to get there but wow, what a view when we did! It was one of those sights that just sums up the beauty of Thailand.
9: Diving White Rock, Koh Tao, Thailand
Like many people we learnt to dive in Ko Tao, Thailand (because it’s so cheap!). We did 4 dives around the island but one in particular called White Rock makes it on to my list. This one was amazing, the visibility was great and we saw so many schools of hundreds of colourful fish as well as a jellyfish close up. The moment we sat on the seabed with our instructor whilst he interacted with this little family of 3 Nemo type fish will stick with me.
10: Sukhothai ruins, Sukhothai, Thailand
Sorry another one for Thailand, can you tell it’s been my favourite country so far?
11. Elephant experience, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Ok last one from Thailand, I promise. Our day with elephants was an unforgettable experience and something I’d recommend to anyone visiting Chiang Mai. Visiting them high up in mountain in their natural jungle like environment was beautiful in itself but actually getting to feed them, bath them and just spend time helping with their daily routines was such fun.
12: Dharavi slum, Mumbai, India
This one makes it on my list for a completely different reason. Obviously it wasn’t a place of beauty or somewhere I’d like to return. However, it was the most moving and thought provoking experience of my travels. I was surprised that seeing how these people live, and in some cases prosper, didn’t leave me feeling sympathy towards them. Instead their determination and positivity left me fascinated, I had a lot of respect for their way of life.
13: Akshardam Temple, Delhi, India
You’ll probably notice The Taj Mahal hasn’t made it on to my list. And that’s because, to be completely honest, this temple actually impressed me more. Whilst it doesn’t have the history and reputation the Taj does, The Akshardam is on another level when it comes to the detail in it’s architecture. Literally every single square centimetre inside and out is hand carved from pink sandstone. I couldn’t believe the accuracy and detail, it’s a must see in India!
14: Sleeping under the stars, Arthurs Pass, New Zealand
Some of the best moments happen when you aren’t expecting them and this was one of those moments. We had fallen asleep in the car at around 11pm but seen as sleeping in a car isn’t the comfiest of places, I must have woken up a couple of hours later. When I woke up the sky was completely black and littered with millions of bright stars. It was the first time I’d seen the Milky Way and unlike any night sky I’ve ever seen, and probably ever will. I gave Nick a nudge and we both sat with our heads hung out the window for about an hour taking it all in.
15: Skydiving, Fox Glacier, New Zealand
I’ve always wanted to do a sky dive so when we reached Fox Glacier in NZ my time was up. It’s often dubbed the 2nd best place to do a skydive in the world and as the 1st is mount Everest (which is apparently $35,000), this was the best I’d get. I was petrified about jumping out but it was over in a flash and the short period of free falling was exhilarating. Really want to do one in Dubai next!
I’ll update this closer to the end of my travels, I’m sure much of it would have probably changed but for now these are my favourite 15 moments, places or experiences 🙂