I’m frequently asked two questions: Where’s your favourite place in the world? – and – Where would you go tomorrow if you could?
I loathe the first question. It is impossible to answer. There are too many incredible places on this magnificent planet of ours to narrow it down to just one destination. I like different places for different reasons and even then I’d find it hard to narrow a pick of places to just one, say, best beach or favourite city or country with the tastiest food, etc. I tend to answer in volumes of 10s or 20s; one is just never enough.
And so too my answer to the second question: I usually respond that I want to see every country in the world (yes, seriously). But of course, the interviewer will press for the ‘one’ that I’d go to tomorrow with a snap of my fingers if I could. Again I can only answer in multiple choice but here’s my wishlist of countries to conquer next when finger snapping becomes a bona fide means of transport:
Madagascar – This is somewhere I have wanted to go since I was a child (long before the movies of the same name). At the zoo, the strangest animals were always from one of two places: Australia or Madagascar. That’s when/where the country first capture my attention and imagination.
Azerbaijan – For the longest time I wanted to visit this country because I couldn’t for the life of me get my mouth around its tongue-twisting pronunciation (even now I’ve had to use spell-check to write it correctly). I figured that if I actually went to the country I would learn to pronounce it. (Proudly, I now can pronounce it properly but my interest remains.)
Mali – There’s few iconic places that I have yet to get to – the one’s made famous by postcards – but the Great Mud Mosque of Mali is one such place that when I’m finally standing in front of I’ll be pinching myself in disbelief. Timbuktu is also in Mali, another reason to go if only for the cocktail-party cockiness that can come from casually mentioning “I’ve been to Timbuktu and back.”
Maldives – I want to sample white sand, turquoise sea & blue sky paradise before the rising sea claims it.
Sri Lanka – Because I loved India so much and grew up with a friend of my mother’s telling tales of her life there.
South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia – I see this as one trip to discover the beauty of Cape Town, the wonders of the Okavango Delta, and the mysteries of the Skeleton Coast. (If I could scuba dive with the Great Whites off the South African coast, well, that’d be pretty cool too!)
Eritrea – As already mentioned in my posting Fun with Airport Codes because I want to fly into Massawa airport to get a luggage label tag that matches my initials MSW.
Ukraine – To discover the land of my grandfather’s family.
Galapagos Islands – I’ve already been to Ecuador but never made it to the islands. Again this speaks to my love of the odd and the unusual – the strange variety of animals being the example here.
Ethopia – To discover the famed Rift Valley.
Poland – For the opportunity to honour history.
Philippines – I have always wanted to see the Banaue rice terraces that are rumoured to be over 2000 years old – the oldest in the world.
Oman – From afar I always thought the country looked like a cool Middle Eastern mystery. Very 1001 Arabian nights.
Rwanda/Uganda – To commune with wild gorillas.
Saudi Arabia – To get behind the closed doors of the country.
Iceland/Greenland – To sit on top of the world marvelling how people can live in such extremes while discovering the land (Iceland) of my other grandfather’s family and seeing if Greenland really is as big as it always appears on maps.
Not too mention all the places I would like to go back to! But that’s another list …