Now we’ve done all of our research and we know exactly where we are going to be and when, we thought we’d independently list the top 10 things we are looking forward to. It’ll be interesting to compare this to our view when the trip is finished.
It’s impossible to rank these, really. There’s going to be something exciting about each location, each arrival, each new language heard. We’re pretty sure some of the experiences here will leave us exhausted; challenge our secret fears and phobias or push us into the unfamiliar. But this is a once in a lifetime trip; not a holiday.The sun-loungers can wait. We have just 57 days to see the world.
J: Siem Reap: This will be beautiful, relaxing…and luxurious. But it’s at the bottom of the list because Cambodia is the last stop before home.
N: Tobogganing down from the Great Wall of China: after getting a cable car up and exploring one of the most iconic man-made structures in the world, there really is only one way to come down.
J: Hiroshima: This trip’s about history, as well as geography, even if some of it’s grim or unpalatable. We need to learn, even if we can’t understand.
N: Dinner overlooking Queenstown: a gondola ride to the top of a mountain to eat whilst looking over the amazing scenery of the south island of New Zealand. Food and views. Perfect!
J: Rocky Mountaineer : I love rail travel. I get a kick out of hurtling from Ludlow, through Abergavenny, down to Newport. I think the views from this cross-Canadian service might just silence me, though.
N: Tasting wines in Napa Valley: a tour around beautiful Californian scenery, trying some great wines. Guessing it’ll be just like in Sideways (or not …!)
J: San Francisco: Flowers in my hair…or a place to leave my heart: it’s inspired so many songs that it must be a highlight.
N: Photographing bears and eagles from the Rocky Mountaineer: I’ve always been a keen photographer and the chance of snapping the wildlife and scenery of the Canadian Rockies is a boyhood dream.
J: The Great Wall of China: More than 2,000 years old; more than 13,000 miles long. I just can’t wait to set foot on it.
N: Trying sushi at the world’s largest and busiest fish market (Tsukiji in Tokyo): an early start to catch the tuna auctions, but one for my camera and to try the freshest sushi anywhere.
J: Hong Kong: Stunning sights; buzzing city streets-I want to feast my eyes on the colour of this place after a tram ride up to Victoria Peak.
N: Trekking through the paddy-terraced mountains in northern Vietnam: I’m like a sponge when it comes to new experiences. In two days, we get to experience a way of life that we can’t even begin to imagine.
J: Queenstown, New Zealand: So many sights to see, and a special friend to visit. But the promise of a ride on the Skyline Gondola-reputed to be the steepest lift in the southern hemisphere-should, for someone not mad keen on heights, be both breathtaking and beautiful.
N: Kaiseki: the excitement of being brought an exquisite Japanese feast in a traditional inn (ryokan), with no idea of what to expect.
J: Vietnam: Trekking in Sapa might be tiring, but the chance to see villagers in their mountain homes will be worth the climb.
N: Exploring Vietnam’s Halong Bay by junk: a touch of luxury, whilst taking in one of the most amazing sea sights in the world. Just my scene.
J: Miyajima: Travel’s all about trying the new; tasting the unfamiliar. Checking in to a traditional ryokan inn before a 10 course banquet that’s a million miles from Yo Sushi…could fit that bill.
N: Angkor Wat at sunrise: one of those ‘got to be done’ moments. Not only Cambodia’s jewel, but one of the wonders of the world. I’m expecting it to be magical.
J: Tonga: out of all the places my father travelled to in his work; this is the one that inspired me most as a child to see the world. I’m determined to raise a glass to him while the sun sets over the South Pacific.
N: Touching down in my 50th country (Japan): a 30 year old ambition fulfilled.
We also thought it might be useful to air a few things that at this stage are niggling us.
Toilets! I’ve been known to drive another fifty miles in Europe because motorway service station loos were less than clean. I think there could be some less than sparkling conveniences along the way.
Stripping off. I’m a private person. I’m not Kate Moss.Plunging into a traditional communal Japanese bath (yes,single sex, thankfully…) is something still ‘under consideration’.
Insects: I loathe them. But I’d rather eat a deep fried locust any day over being bitten by a beastie and suffering a bad reaction.
The buses from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Phenh and from there to Siem Reap. The pictures of the buses don’t look too bad and I’m sure the scenery will be amazing. But it’s a long way and I’m not sure what to expect.
Getting round Beijing independently with no Mandarin. Many people have told us this is tricky. No English signs, no English spoken. We’ll need our wits about us.
Such a tight schedule. There is very little margin for error. An illness, a transport failure or some other misadventure will most likely mean missing places we desperately wanted to see.
We want you to be part of our planning, and of course, the journey itself. We’ll keep you up to date with what we’re working on – from jabs to accommodation, from trips to what to pack – but your advice and thoughts will be invaluable.
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To read Jane’s piece on what inspired her wanderlust, click here.
To read about Nigel’s long-held travel goal, click here.