As with most things, when I get my mind set on something, I go all in. So when I heard about Transun’s bucket list blog competition to win a trip to see the Northern Lights, I immediately began soul searching to come up with my top three bucket list destinations. The Northern Lights is number one on my husband’s bucket list so like any devoted wife, I wanted to do all I could to win him that trip! Isn’t it great to be able to change lives, one blog at a time?
My Bucket List
Dreams and plans change as you grow and evolve as an individual. Therefore, the bucket list I refer to today will likely not be the same that I reference fifteen years from now. As I tried to focus in on just three dream vacations I set two criterion:
- I want the three destinations to be representative of my bucket list as a whole.
- There must be a sense of urgency and timeliness about the choices; these places must face an imminent risk of change.
I took the above criteria into consideration. And, voila! My top three bucket list vacations, covering the breadth of the world, by air, land and sea are:
1. Touch the heavens from the comfort of a yurt in Tibet
2. Ride to the ends of the world on the Trans-Siberian Railroad
3. Cruise around Antarctica, to the ocean’s edge and back
Note: As I have not yet traveled to any of these places, I will be using other’s photos. Sources will be cited.
Touch the heavens from the comfort of a yurt in Tibet
Known as the “roof of the world“, Tibet touches the heavens in two ways: with an average elevation of 16,000 ft (4,900 m) it is the highest region on earth; it is also the spiritual/traditional home of the Tibetan people as well as several other ethnic groups. Despite a challenging history, Tibet has remained a home for Tibetan Buddhism, led of course by the Dalai Lama.
Tibet is a very special place in my mind. Seeing this region and being able to contextualize its place in history is important for me, as a scholar of China and Asia more generally. My culinary bucket list will also remain unfulfilled unless I can try Yak Butter!
SnowLion Tours offers a Tibet vacation described as: “Spend a week visiting local Tibetan and Mongolian nomadic communities and try your hand at milking yaks, herding sheep, and riding horses. At the end of the day, relax while drinking butter tea, eating yak jerky, and swapping stories with the locals.” With five nights of camping, this tour is sure to satisfy my yurt craving. [Approximate total cost for two: $6,000]
Tibet has had and continues to have a tumultuous history, during which it has spent some periods functioning as an independent entity and others ruled by Chinese and Mongolians. As Tibet is still a source of political sensitivity it is unclear what its future holds.
Ride to the ends of the world on the Trans-Siberian Railroad
Emperor Alexander the Third’s dream, the Trans Siberian Railroad, which began construction in 1887, once constructed, was a major source of economic stimulation for Russia. The railroad greatly increased the country’s ability to circulate goods and resources across the massive country. With a length of 5,772 miles it is the longest railroad in the world.
I don’t know what it is, but something about communist countries has always intrigued me. I’ve studied the Chinese language since I was a teenager and find Russian literature to be mesmerizing. Add that to the fact that I work in public transportation, and the Trans-Siberian train ride from Moscow to Beijing is clearly my dream vacation.
The Real Russia website allows you to book the trans-Siberian journey. I found this post, by “The Man in Seat 61” to be very comprehensive. It answers all questions related to the journey and even provides illustrated trip reports. I’m most interested in the Moscow – Beijing via Mongolia route, first class of course. [Approximate total cost for two: $5,000]
I’m happy that Russia, while not a “friend” per se, is still allowing Americans to cross her borders, however, my dystopian inner demon worries that may not always be the case.
Cruise around Antarctica, to the ocean’s edge and back
Home of the South Pole, Antarctica is the world’s southernmost continent. It is also the coldest, driest, windiest and highest (in terms of elevation) continent on the planet. Only discovered by humans in the 19th century it provides a protected look into a world that is pure nature.
There is no place on Earth like Antarctica; a world traveler’s passport of life cannot be complete without a visit to our seventh continent. Also, who can resist those penguins??
Several luxury cruise lines provide itineraries in and around Antarctica. I like to do things right, so I have my eyes on Seaborn’s luxury 21-day trip to Antarctica and Patagonia. [Approximate total cost for two: $25,000]
As the earth’s climate changes, it is the habitats on the edge of the climate spectrum, like Antarctica, that are facing the greatest risk of extinction. While it is unclear exactly how, and when, climate change will visible alter the Antarctic environment, I personally don’t want to take the chance of potentially missing out.