Well-travelled Malaysian looks back at his past trips with fond memories

Angkor Wat is a charming sight in Cambodia. — Photos: CHRIS BEH

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The wise Dalai Lama said, “Once a year, go some place you’ve never been before.”

I have thought much about these words lately as I have to be content with just being an armchair traveller amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

A planned trip to Turkey in April 2020 was cancelled, and sadly we only had the tour fare refunded. It was a 100% forfeiture of the airfare as that was the airline’s policy. We were allowed to postpone the trip, but due to all the uncertainties, our group decided not to proceed.

A proposed trip to Japan in October this year also had to be aborted, after nearly a year of preparation.

What’s for certain is that once the pandemic situation improves, Turkey will top my travel list!

For much of last year, Malaysians were reminded to stay home. With the recovery movement control order currently in force until the end of March, I

will continue to stay home and put my thoughts and my travels in writing.

Most of us are so busy making a living that we sometimes forget to take the time to smell the roses. We should make every day count.

The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. So, take every chance in life to fulfill your bucket list because in the end, we will not remember our time spent in the office or mowing the lawn. Go climb a mountain, sky dive or bungee jump!

We travel not to escape from the grind or boredom, but so that life does not escape us. Travel is the only thing you “buy” that makes you richer, not in terms of money, but in experience and outlook. We get to witness so many things while we travel, including seeing how other people live their lives.

Travel also opens our eyes to new perspectives and teaches us to appreciate what we have, as well as to count our blessings.

Porta Nigra in Trier, Germany is a large Roman city gate made from blocks of local sandstone fastened in place with iron clamps.Porta Nigra in Trier, Germany is a large Roman city gate made from blocks of local sandstone fastened in place with iron clamps.

St Augustine’s words remind us that “the world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page”.

I am thankful and blessed to have ticked some items off my bucket list.

I have marvelled at some spectacular sights and wonders of the world like the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, Great Wall of China, Taj Mahal in India, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Eiffel Tower in Paris, France and the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.

I have also visited Unesco World Heritage cities and sights such as Halong Bay in Vietnam and Trier in Germany. Halong Bay is one of the new “Eight Wonders of the World” while Trier is the oldest city in Germany where the historical Porta Nigra city gate is located.

Everyone should try visiting Kashmir, India at least once in their lifetime. Often dubbed the “Switzerland of Asia”, it is paradise on Earth, with majestic mountains surrounding its three sides, and the picturesque Dal Lake which houses the world famous shikaras and houseboats.

I appreciated the beauty of Swarovski crystals, having visited the factory in Tyrol, Austria as well as well as downing pints of beer during Oktoberfest.

I have made a spiritual journey to Varanasi, the spiritual capital of India. There, I witnessed the religious ceremony known as pooja which is held every evening along the Ganges River in honour of the goddess Durga.

I have seen the wonders of Luang Prabang, Laos, which is a Unesco town where Buddhist monks carrying bowls walk barefooted in the early hours of the morning for food and alms.

Being a nature lover, I took a two-hour hike around Lake Eibsee before taking the Eibsee-Seibahn cable car to the highest peak in Germany for breathtaking views of the Alps.

I have stood at Summit Cross, the highest point in Germany marvelling at the snow-capped peaks of the mighty Alps extending over Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland.

I have also hiked up Arthur’s Seat which is an extinct volcano and is the main peak of a group of hills in Edinburgh, Scotland.

If one is relatively fit, the hike to the top can be reached within two to three hours, and of course as with most mountain climbing, there are varying degrees of challenges.

Given my advanced age, I may not be able to do many strenuous things in the coming years.

However, God willing, I do hope to see more of the ancient and new wonders of the world. This includes Machu Picchu in Peru, the Grand Canyon in the United States, Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, Angel Falls in South America, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Victoria Falls in Zambia, Kruger National Park in South Africa, and the Northern Lights in Europe.

Closer to home, I would also love to visit Borobudur in Indonesia.

Given the current state of affairs and borders being closed, at the end of the day, perhaps it is not such a bad idea to explore our own backyard first.

The views expressed are entirely the reader’s own.

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