My Top Must Sees

I found this piece, written seven years ago, buried and unpublished!

My Top Must Sees. (Written 2009)
The problem with this topic is that there is probably nowhere I don’t want to see, and anywhere I have been, well I’d like to return to most of them. Actually, I’d like to return to all of them – even the ones I didn’t particularly like/enjoy at the time – because I reckon now, with the perceived wisdom that age allegedly brings, I might see places in a new and different light.
These are my top picks, in no particular order:
South America and Central America in general, and Machu Pichu in particular. For some reason, South America has always held a fascination for me. I suspect it may be because I remember, some fifty plus years ago, being told my uncle had gone there on business – by banana boat! I defy anyone not to be enthralled by that story, admittedly in retrospect, possibly apocryphal!
St Petersburg and the Hermitage Museum is next. I read stories of the Russian Revolution, Dr Zhivago, War and Peace, so that is where that wish originated. I would also love to see the Faberge Collection.
Chengdu in China, and the panda breeding programme is high on my list, along with seeing orang utans in Borneo and gorillas in Africa. For anyone who likes animals, seeing these in the wild has to be up there.
The idea of Mongolia has always appealed, I have no idea why!
Burkina Faso in West Africa sounds awesome. I wasn’t even aware of its existence until my son was at university and mentioned that one of his economics lecturers was an advisor to the government of Burkina Faso, and there began my interest.
I have always thought I would like to drive a camper van through the ‘stans, south of Russia. I do realise that wish is unlikely to happen, given the safely issues which would arise in places like Kurdistan, and I suspect my children might not be too happy either. Having said that, it may be that an old/older woman travelling alone could be safe as houses – who knows? We’ll see.
The Himalayas must be seen, and I’d take any of the countries round the range, Tibet, Nepal or Bhutan, though in an ideal world, Bhutan would be the one I’d choose. Why? Mostly because it is still the most. unknown and unexplored of those, and thus untainted by the outside world.
Every time I think or talk about it, I always come up with somewhere else to add to my list, but these are the places which have been there for quite a while, and wouldn’t it be nice to realise some dreams?

How interesting it was to return to my earlier wish list, and to see just how many of those dreams I have realised!
South America, well Ecuador and Peru including Machu Pichu, was in 2014, and was everything I hoped it would be.image
I’ve also been to the panda breeding centre in Chengdu in China, and while it was thrilling to be there, I was a bit disappointed. I’m not sure what I expected, but I had hoped to see the pandas a bit more closely and in rather less zoo like surroundings. For me whole thing was slightly too obviously commercial. Having said all that, I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.image
Burkina Faso was on the agenda for Autumn 2015, and I even had my ticket to Oughadougou booked. Two days before I was due to leave, there was a coup d’etat, the first in years, and all borders and airports were closed. So Burkina Faso remains on the list!image
I have also been to some of the ‘stans’ south of Russia, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, but unfortunately not in a camper van! The latter three was an incredible trip, much of it along the Silk Route used by the Chinese to bring goods to the west since the beginning of time. image
And Afghanistan was one of the most thought provoking places I have ever visited.image
In the Himalayas, I didn’t make it to Bhutan, but I have been to Tibet, and it certainly was not second best. It was one of the most wonderful times, and I would go back tomorrow!image
There are still lots of places on this original wish list, but most countries in the world are on my current must see list! Definitely, the more I see, the more I want to see!


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