This list used to be only three but when I did the fourth it just had to be added to the list so here goes. I arranged this according to how difficult it would have been for me to achieve each but then again our judgments may vary.
1) Dine at a revolving restaurant – You can choose any restaurant anywhere in the world as long as it’s a revolving one. You know, the one that rotates 360 degrees as you dine without noticing or feeling it. As the view around you changes it leaves you wondering and mesmerized, truly a must try. I had mine at Hyatt Regency’s Al Dawaar in Dubai. Some recommendations are Cape Town’s Top of the Ritz, Perlan in Reykjavik, Iceland, Stratosphere Hotel’s Top of the World restaurant in Las Vegas, Summit Restaurant in Sydney and Drehrestaurant Allalin in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. All offering spectacular views as they take you to new culinary heights.
2) Stay at the world’s most luxurious hotel – Dubbed by the media as the world’s only 7-star hotel although the label remains unofficial, Burj Al Arab in Dubai is consistently voted the world’s most luxurious hotel. An all-suite hotel (no rooms), the opulent duplex suites’ size start from 170 square meters and are all spread in two floors, each featuring its own jacuzzi and personal butler, allowing you to live like a king or queen even for just one day. Check-in is done in the privacy of your suite so there’s no queuing at the reception desk. And there’s no telling who’s the prince or the pauper, because like in Las Vegas, they don’t treat you differently from any millionaire, you can expect service par excellence. Be sure to check the Assawan Spa on the 19th Floor offering a bird’s eye view of the city and some ultimate pampering. By the way, I was so blessed to have stayed here for free but that’s another story.
3) Go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem – If you’re a Christian and you’ve traveled around the world but have never been to Jerusalem then you haven’t really seen the world yet. Nah, that’s just me saying. But really, you have to make it a priority to go. Contrary to what the media portrays and/or any other anti-Semitic propaganda you’ve probably read, Jerusalem, to me, is the safest place on earth. Just like in any other city, you still have to remain vigilant and look out for any signs of danger of course. But anywhere you go you’ll see young IDF soldiers making you feel safe.
Ever heard of an entire city that goes silent for the whole day except for the barking of the dogs? During Yom Kippur, the Day of Repentance or Day of Judgment when Jews dig deep and search their souls, the streets are deserted, no music can be heard. The city is so quiet that you can almost hear a pin drop. Really. I was so amazed by such discipline, people observed the silence automatically, Jews and non-Jews alike. So awed by the city, as tears streamed down my face as I stood on a hill overlooking Jerusalem during Yom Kippur in 2005, I begged God to let me stay there for good. He didn’t but that moment will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Although they’re not that friendly the Jews are not rude either. You would notice that some of them are reserved and understandably so considering the anti-semitism that has permeated the world since time immemorial and still prevalent up until today. You’d also see poverty pervading the city and a handful of people begging. Even so you can’t help but see Jerusalem as the Holy Land with your spiritual eyes. Just imagine walking where Jesus and His disciples might have walked, sit where He might have sat, stand where He might have stood, it’s just incomparable. I had never felt so ‘holy’ (or made aware of my sinfulness that I felt so scared of committing any sin, not even a hint) until the day I went to Jerusalem. His presence was so pervasive it felt like He was tangible I could almost touch him.
Walking through the Via Dolorosa is a walk every professing Christian must aim to take. It will leave you crying for more of Him and help you to almost grasp the true meaning of “In Christ”, i.e., being one with Him in His suffering and the triumph He achieved thereafter. And don’t forget to check out the Wailing or Western Wall, the sight of it will leave you breathless.
4) Go on a game drive or African safari in Maasai Mara (alternatively Serengeti in Tanzania) – No, not like the one in the Middle East where you go dune bashing. I’m talking about the real desert safari – open-top vehicles, rifles, wild animals and all. Close your eyes and imagine lions, zebras, giraffes, hippos, hyenas, warthogs (considered the world’s ugliest animals), antelopes and so many other wild animals that you’ve probably never seen before roaming free, as in literally; rolling brown hills as far as your eyes can see; flat-topped trees dotting the landscape – that’s Maasai Mara National Reserve. You can’t help being reminded of what life was like in the garden of Eden. Here you’ll witness the fascinating circle of life taking its course daily.
Watch a cheetah go for a kill, go on a wild goose chase hunting for the Big 5 – lion, rhino, cape buffalo, elephant and the elusive leopard, enjoy heart-stopping lightnings that are so close you think it can strike you anytime, watch jaw-dropping sunsets as the animals relax in the foreground or wake up to an enthralling sunrise as the African savanna turns gold while the sun slowly rises.
You might be surprised to find out it doesn’t cost that much except maybe for your airfare. Well, depending on where you’re coming from. We took advantage of a package from Sharaf Travel, a travel agency based in Dubai, and we were completely satisfied with their service. We stayed at the relaxing Flamingo Hill Camp inside Lake Nakuru National Park on our first day and Mara Leisure Camp right outside Maasai Mara on the second day. Both offered excellent service and facilities. If you would like to stay up close and personal with the animals, stay at Governors Camp which is inside the reserve. It’s a bit pricey though but I was told it’s really worth it. They do offer promos so check their website often. We were quite blessed with a very accommodating tour guide with whom we have kept in touch until now.
As with the list of countries one must visit, I always encourage friends to come up with their own and not rely on others’ opinion. This is my ‘must do’ list and should serve only as a guide and inspiration. You only need to do one of these, all four or nothing at all as you come up with your own list based on your preference. Some have ‘bungee jumping’ or ‘skydiving’ on their list. It can be as simple as ‘being in two places at the same time’ popularized by the movie “A Walk to Remember”. I came up with my list as I went along, as I continued traveling around the world and experienced each.
Whatever you decide I hope you’d follow your dreams as I followed mine. Some people will stop you, some will laugh at you, some will mock you but don’t let anyone stop you. Dreams do come true. I come from humble beginnings and I never imagined that I would be able to do any of these let alone travel across five continents in 30+ countries in numerous cities but I did. I never thought I’d be able to tick off all items on my bucket list long before my retirement age but I have. So in the words of Mark Twain, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”…”So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31