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The 10 Places I loved visiting (and would love to go back to!)

Carrying on from Sunday’s blog post, here are ten places in the world that I truly loved visiting and, in a heartbeat, would run back to if money, time and common sense were chucked out of the window. I have only been to 35 countries but I have seen a fair few sights which really should be shared with the rest of you. So without a do, here are my top ten places that I have visited and would definitely visit again in a heartbeat:

10) Seychelles.

I know I have a bias towards the Seychelles as it is my mother’s country, but I have to be blunt. I really do love this country. I also love Sri Lanka, my father’s country, but due to its security situation, I really do not want to go back there for pleasure. You see, Seychelles attracts me, not just for family, but for the islands themselves. There are over 100 islands in the archipelago, and I have only seen four of them. And it is not just beaches. Great wildlife, a steamy hot and mountainous interior and wonderful old colonial architecture give the islands one hell of a lot of variety for such a small place. Plus, the culture, a polyglot of the islanders’ ancestery means that this is a fascinating place to see and meet people. Yes, the Seychelles are expensive, they are a pain to get to but it truly is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

(Last visited 2008)

9) San Francisco.

I love America, and I jump at the opportunity to travel there. The country is so vast, and is naturally blessed with some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world. America’s cities are also some of the best that humanity has ever built. New York, Philadelphia and Boston are wonderful places that were launched on the backs of their old colonial past. But for me, San Francisco is the place to get to. A wonderful city in probably one of the most naturally beautiful places on Earth. And it is not too big or small, San Francisco is just that right size where you can explore and relax in equal amounts. A city steeped in history but also at the forefront of modern technology, this really is one of the happiest places on Earth.

(Last visited 1994)

8) Mexico.

All right, I know this is a big one, but Mexico is one hell of a country, and I have to return here one day. From the magnificent ruins of Chichen Itza, to the wonderful beauty is Chiapas and the frenetic capital of Mexico City itself – which I have to point out as one of the best cities I have ever visited!

I saw a hell of a lot of this country, but a visit back is a must for me. I loved my time here, and would happily go back and this time see the north of Mexico as well has head to the coasts for a bit of R&R.

(Last visited 2002)

7) Budapest.

One of three European cities on my list – and surprising, as I have only really begun to explore Europe in the past two years. But Budapest is truly beautiful. Split by the Danube you have the flat and fun Pest on one side of the river and the hilly, snooty but really beautiful Buda on the other bank. One thing, the Danube really shapes this city and its history. I am probably biased to this city, and I have a lot of fond memories of the place, which is also why I do want to hedd back here. But genuinely, memories are not the only thing. Budapest has tons of stuff to see, and has awoken from its communist stupor with vigour. Check it out when you have the chance, you will not regret it! I will certainly be heading back there.

(Last visited 2011)

6) Meghalaya.

The wettest place on Earth may seem like a strange place to recommend, but Meghalaya is truly a cultural gem of this world. Its unique hilltop location on a ridge overlooking the Gangetic plain both isolates and links it to the surrounding country in one fell swoop. Three unique cultures dot the state, and its pristine environment truly makes this one of India’s great surprises. I have never felt do relaxed and refreshed in my life as I have in Meghalaya. Whether it is the excess amounts of water, the wholesome food or the really cool locals, Meghalaya is a place I could visit time and time again.

(Last visited 2009)

5) Yunnan.

One of China’s true gems, Yunnan has it all. Great food, spectacular countryside and a culture that intertwines South East Asia, Mainland China and Tibet all rolled into one easily accessible destination – no small feat for a country as difficult as China. From the border with Burma to the fringes of the Tibetan Plateau there is something for everyone. Dotted with the famed backpacker hangouts of Dali and Lijiang, it is easy to be an independent traveler or to mosey in and relax with the crowd. It is definitely a part of China that I would not hesitate to visit again!

(Last visited 2001)

4) Krakow.

Wow, wow, and wow would be the best three adjectives to describe Krakow.

I know, it is surprising to include this city here, but really, my Poland bias aside, I really have to recommend Krakow and it is a city I would run back to in a heartbeat. To simply put it, there is A LOT to do in Krakow, and Poland’s piss-poor marketing skills means that it is a destination that flies far beneath the radar. Without the crowds you get in other European hotspots (unless it is a stag-do summer), you can feel a little like a pioneer coming here with all the ease of mainstream European travel. There is so much to recommend about Krakow, go on, treat yourself, and take some time out over here.

(Last visited 2011)

3) Xinjiang.

China’s biggest province is arguably it emptiest as well. Yes, there are a hell of a lot of tensions over here, with a separatist movement that is far more bloody than Tibet’s. And it is hard work to travel across here. But it is a culturally fascinating area. Plus it is a desert, now that counts as a huge amount of kudos for me. I have spent an inordinate amount of time here. It really was the first place that I experienced ‘independent’ travel, far cut-off from family, friends and anyone else, having to survive on my own with my interactions meaning the difference between food or nothing. I also crossed this vast area by foot (took me two months and lost a third of my body weight) which drove me slightly nutty.

Xinjiang is definitely a place with strong emotional ties, but I can also safely say that this is a part of the world that has a hell of a lot to give to the outside visitor. And despite beinfg in China, it is ironically the easiest part of Central Asia to visit, and that is a spectacular region of the world to taste…

(Last visited 2003)

2) Berlin.

Surprised? Well, you really shouldn’t be. Berlin has it all. An all encompassing history, easily accessible tourist spots, all at a reasonable price. Whether you are looking for cool bars, great food or simple fun, Berlin has something for everyone. London and Paris may get all the glitz and glamour. Barcelona and Milan get all the cool kids. But Berlin itself is simply magnificent. There is far too much to see and do that can be simply described in a short paragraph. There is so much I have left to see. I will be back here, and probably sooner rather than later.

(Last visited 2012)

1) Assam.

There really is not an order to this list, and while Assam currently takes the number 1 spot, I would go back to any of these destinations if I had instant access to cash. But the reason I value Assam so highly is multiple. Firstly, it was my first destination in India, and so I will always have an emotional attachment here. Secondly, it is so big, and so the variety is there. Thirdly, it is undiscovered; despite its huge size and obvious attractions, foreign tourists are few and far between, partly as it is so cut off.

But Assam is truly a stellar destination. It is easy to get round, once you get there! It is also really friendly, with a shockingly competent Tourist Office that will go out of its way to give you information. With a wide variation in Geography from lowland plains to mountainous, I just did not have the time to see all there was. There is a magnificent history, one of Asia’s great civilisations nestled here in the fields. Lush forests and wildlife that will make your jaw drop (I saw my first Rhino here!)

I will go back to India again, and while there is so much of the country I have not seen, I will have to make a beeline for Assam.

(Last visited 2009)

So that is my top ten of places I have seen, and ideally, would love to go to again. Any comments, drop them in the box below. And have you been to any of these places? Agree with me and what would be your top ten?

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The Wiki-Leaky Cauldron

Wikileaks is back! This time with news that the USA does this and that to get this and that from the world.

I (personally) love the US and the West in general. It is a lot easier to live here. It is because we are free. But it is that freedom that we must constantly be vigilant against. And governments must realise, that they work for us. That is why it is good to see the release by Wikileaks, as we can hold our governments accountable.

To be honest most of the time, we already know what the USA (and its allies) is getting up to, so a lot of these leaks are actually no great surprise, just a confirmation of reality. And to be honest, I do a agree with a lot of what the USA does or what they are on the look out for. Not the bit about killing people in the name of oil, sorry, the Iraq war. But things like looking after their citizens or actually questioning China’s shipment of nuclear materials seems to be in our own interests.

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The Realisation of the American Dream

It is simpler to click here and read my article on OhmyNews on the result of the 2008 US Election. Enjoy!.

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Politicians, the US Presidential Election and how sad it all is.

The UK is a great country. For once I am not being cynical, but actually telling the truth. Go to many other parts of the world and you will find things are just not as nice as over here.

But, there are two very good reasons why I do slate the UK frequently. Firstly, the sheer amount of tax that I pay gives me that right. If I was not contributing, then I would shut up. But hell, I am forced to cough up a large proportion of my pay packet, so you bet I will complain. Secondly, the absolute muppets that lead this country are just asking for it.

This is one thing I appreciate about Britain. The ability to treat politicians with the contempt that they deserve. The fact that politics is openly known as a filthy trade and that all politicians, whatever their political hue are a bunch of wankers. When someone canvasses at your door step for a particular persuasion, they are treated with the respect that is normally meted out to Jehovah’s Witnesses. Elections in this country are a tame, six week affair and even then, we just switch off.

Now contrast this with America – the land of the free. These guys actually believe that their politicians are close to immortality, such are the rallies and gatherings staged in front of the cameras. It would not be so bad, but we, outside the USA have continuous coverage of these gut retching events. It is the American’s business, not mine if McCain or Obama win. I do not pay their taxes so I do not care. Life pretty much goes on the same for us, no matter who rules the White House.

In the UK, our healthy disregard for the political process is probably a class thing Politicians have traditionally been viewed as part of the aristocracy, the elite. That is what happens when you have a monarchy; you cannot get to the top of the grease pole and so from the outset, you know that it is a fixed system. In America, there is the belief that ordinary people can get to the top and become President. Ha! I am no big fan either way for the Royals, but having one less politician has its advantages. Yes, I am mildly in favour of the monarchy, in that it is preferable to having some grinning baby kisser trying to get me to put an ‘X’ in the box every few years.

Can you really imagine the flag waving and hoopla cheering behind Cameron or Brown? Please! I think it would be a choice between cringing or outbursts of laughter. Compare political conferences in the UK with the rallies in America. And the laughable thing is that the Americans also have a Vice President to care about. Whether or not we have a Deputy is up to the whim of the PM and thankfully, it is a spot that is not always filled.

Oh well, thankfully, this farcical process will be over in a few weeks and the news will be filled with something equally irrelevant but far more interesting than the pies that a particular candidate eats or the funny pictures of each guy.

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