Hello from Tokyo, a dynamic city in the midst of a beautiful autumn and a crippling recession. On the way over to Narita from Manila, I happened to watch the new Tom Cruise movie called “Day and Knight.” It’s an overall entertaining film but one of the most interesting parts — for me, at least — was the scene shot of Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz talking in the airplane about their bucket lists. Cameron Diaz hadn’t been anywhere but Tom Cruise’s character in the movie was a James Bond-type man-of-the-world, and he had an interesting bucket list that included biking around the Amalfi Coast in Italy and kissing a stranger on the balcony of the Hotel du Cap in the south of France.
So, for the rest of the flight, I got to thinking about my own bucket list. With some luck, I’ve been able to strike a lot of things off my bucket list over the past ten years, but I certainly have a whole lot more on it.
These are two things I struck off my bucket list this year:
I finally bit my lip and took the hot-air balloon ride over Capadoccia in Turkey last June. Until the very last minute I was quite anxious about the very idea of it, and it took quite a bit of courage to hoist myself into that basket. But once I was up in the air, I was almost too entranced to speak. The ride was short of an hour, but this has got to be among the most amazing things I have ever done travel-wise. (Caution: Thousands of tourists take this ride every year in Cappadocia. However, there are risks involved in riding a hot-air balloon so anyone planning to do so should be fully aware of the possible dangers.)
The three-night trip from Bangkok to Singapore on the beautiful Orient-Express train is one of the most luxurious travel experiences in the world. The distance between these two cities is about one hour by plane and nowadays, you can get a discount ticket from BKK to SNG for just a little more than the price of a nice lunch. So the idea of spending three days on an incredibly luxurious antique train having five-course dinners in dinner jackets and long gowns, watching Southeast Asia go by as you are wined and dines, is just indescribable. If you can do this even once in your life, go for it.
Both of these were amazing experiences I would certainly recommend to anyone still looking for stuff to add to their own lists. Some other things I’ve had on my bucket list which I’ve been fortunate enough to experience already include renting a villa for the summer in Italy, sailing into Venice on a fabulous cruise ship (that view of the Grand Canal from up on high is just breathtaking compared to any other view of Venice), experiencing the White Nights of St. Petersburg, dinners at Fat Duck in England and Per Se in New York, visit the Romanov villa in Yalta, staying at Cliveden in England, swimming in the Dead Sea, walking the Old Course at St. Andrew’s in Scotland, sailing the Bosphorus, and a couple of other fantastic travel experiences.
I almost struck off climbing the Harbour Bridge in Sydney off my list as well, one visit to Australia, but I woke up too late to do so and got a bit of cold feet. I was staying at the Park Hyatt Sydney then and the Harbour Bridge was literally outside my bedroom window. One day, a couple of friends who were traveling with me made up their minds to join the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb — labeled The Climb of Your Life, and certainly not one for the fainthearted since it involves literally climbing to the very top of the bridge for the most amazing view of Sydney — and I was supposed to join them. It’s quite a scary but it’s also supposed to be an exhilarating experience. I’d already made up my mind to do it the night before. However, the next morning, the thought of being chained to someone else — you’re chained to each other for safety — and not being able to exit if you suddenly decide not to do the climb after all — once you start walking up, there’s no way else but forwards and up — just gave me butterflies in the stomach, and I opted to head for the sumptuous breakfast buffet instead of the meeting point for the climb.
And here’s a (partial) list of some other things I would love to do:
Drive around Tasmania
Stay at the Lake Palace in India.
I actually was on the way to doing this two years ago,
but I ended up in a hospital in Delhi, which made me miss this part of the itinerary!
See the Iguasu Falls in Brazil
Take the Royal Scotsman Train around Scotland