This is my year.
It’s common knowledge that I travel. A lot. In recent years, the travelling urge came with such vigorous impetus that I, admittedly, had to use every trick both in the book and beyond it’s pages to get out of work.
Before turning freelance last year, work was simply getting in the way of travel. I left a full-time permanent job at the BBC as a TV News Reporter. Leaving in such uncertain times is unheard of. But I knew I had to do it. The world was calling.
2013 is my year. I’m embarking on trips that will challenge my norms, far remove me from every single one of my comfort zones and come with a very real set of personal concerns, some of which many fellow travellers have openly said they wouldn’t themselves do.
My year looks loaded with delicious, delectable and life-changing journeys.
JANUARY: NORWAY kicked off the New Year in serious jet-set style.
Based at The Grand Hotel, undeniably the most plush hotel in town, I really was whisked off my feet and pampered. From ski and snowboard to the fjord, opera, bars and gourmet restaurants, Oslo is the most scenic financial capital I’ve ever visited.
FEBRUARY: BURMA / MYANMAR, leaving tomorrow!
A long-awaited and highly anticipated trip. Leaving tomorrow, I’ll fly First Class on British Airways via Bangkok, to Burma for a few weeks, I’ll travel right through the country. Highlights will include:
1. Hot air balloon ride at sunrise over the thousand golden pagodas in Bagan
2. Riding a tricycle along a village river floating market to watch locals buy and sell fresh local produce
3. Heading into the mountains of Shan State to find a recently-discovered elaborate intricate cave system which houses thousands of golden Buddha statues
4. Taking a canoe boat through the backwaters
5. Visiting the Cat monastery
6. Watching fishermen balance on boats on one foot whilst steering waters with the other to catch fish on Inle Lake
I envisage the trip to be very spiritual, peaceful and enlightening. The Burmese seem a whole-hearted friendly and curious people. I’m expecting beautiful big smiles and warm hearts.
From my research so far, I’d compare it, as a journey of discovery, to my travels through Indonesia, Kerala, India, Peru, Jordan and Thailand. I’m expecting to be inspired by similar spiritual, cultural and humane elements.
Entry and exit is via Bangkok
I’ll be spending a few days in the city either side of Burma / Myanmar. Having visited a few years ago and fallen in love with the Buddhist temples, night markets, floating market, food, shopping, bustle, Tuk Tuks, traffic and massages, I’m excited to re-visit. I only hope I don’t fall ill. Because shortly after my return, I’ll be embarking on a trip I’ve longed to do for many years.
MARCH: ETHIOPIA – the truest emerging destination!
The cradle of civilisation and the seat of humanity. Surrounded by landlocked countries and highly dangerous borders, Ethiopia is very much overlooked as a tourist destination. Music to an emerging destinations writer’s ears!
Highlights I cannot wait to see:
1. Lalibela: World Heritage Site‘s rock-hewn cave 12th century Churches
2. The Simien Mountains: World Heritage Site, affectionately known as Africa’s highest mountain range, staying in lodges surrounded by Gelada monkeys and waterfalls
3. Addis Ababa: hustle & bustle as one of the world’s most populous cities and the 3rd highest city in the world
4. Axum: the home of early civilisation, home of the Queen of Sheba and the Ark of the Covenant
5. Cruising aboard a small boat on Lake Tana to visit monasteries and Zeghe peninsula.
7. Spectacular Blue Nile falls in Bahar Dar.
Ethiopia is going to be tough, of that I have no doubt. I’m going it alone on a small group tour who I’ll meet at the other end. So I’ll be without the comfort of a friend or confidant. Because of the concerns around travelling internally by road, particularly near the borders, I am a little anxious.
Being a male-dominant land, yet one in which I’m told equal rights are strongly in action, I’m eager to see the reception I receive. Of course, aspects such as dressing conservatively in a reserved country are standard. Overall, safety is a concern for me. As is being alone, personally. But I’m travelling with a renowned tour operator who’s been in the game for long enough to make me feel secure and convinced that it will be a truly unique adventure.
I adore photography and though I’m barely even an amateur, SLRs can fall under the vague ‘professional’ category, which means they can be removed from visitors entering the country and retained by customs.
But I’m still convinced I’ll return having seen something so unique and special that so few have seen or even know of, as a destination, it will be worth any angst pre-travel.
It will, personally, take a massive dose of courage and guts to get onto that plane feeling unwavering confidence and security. If I can get through Ethiopia without major hassle, I just know I’ll return feeling able to travel anywhere alone. And that, personally, would be a lifetime’s achievement.
APRIL: FIRST CLASS TO NEW YORK & WASHINGTON!
Jumping to the opposite extreme, a week after I return from my Ethiopian Odyssey, I’ll be flying First Class to New York and Washington. Pampering, shopping, sightseeing, food and coffee-fuelled gluttony abounds. And, this marks my firs time into the Big Apple! This usually surprises people. But, as an emerging destinations-lover, I always felt that New York was available and accessible at any time whilst other destinations needed to be discovered before the masses. Now is the time though!
MAY: LISBON, CASCAIS, ESTORIL & SINTRA
I’m excited to be returning to a European city to which I lost my heart late last year; Lisbon in Portugal. The Brazilian influence, concoction of cultures and lifestyles, stunning seafood and charming picturesque tiled and vibrant pastel-hewn cobbled streets have spear-headed my vow to return. This time, I’ll get a chance to visit the striking picture postcard scenes of nearby destinations Estoril, Sintra and Cascais. And I’ll be going with close friends, which always makes such a trip much more cherished!
And this takes me to May. The end of the month is my birthday and I always go away somewhere exotic… perhaps the BVIs, Turks & Caicos or Cayman Islands… or perhaps Oxfordshire with my dog! Whatever makes me happiest at the time!
LATE 2013: THE WORLD’S MOST EXCLUSIVE PRIVATE ISLAND…
The latter half of the year is going to be mind-blowing as I stay at THE world’s most exclusive private island. I’ll reveal more nearer the time. Trips to South America, back to Africa, Sri Lanka and Pondicherry & perhaps back to Maldives, more Europe, hopefully re-visiting Oslo and Zurich, and a big adventure tour are in the pipeline to round off 2013 (and my wallet) with a travel glow to match.
I’D LOVE YOU TO JOIN ME ALL THE WAY:
You can follow the year as it promises to be the best I’ve ever had.
Join me right here or on Twitter: https://twitter.com/anishahbbc
Or on Instagram http://instagram.com/anicheworld
And if you’d like to get in touch, drop me an e-mail: niche firstname.lastname@example.org
2013: let’s make it an incredible one!
- Fun Facts of Ethiopia (yabbedoo.wordpress.com)
- Viator.com Unveils Top Travel Destinations for 2013 (prweb.com)