Imagine if you knew when Shwedagon Pagoda (Golden Pagoda) A CITY ON SPEED Shanghai
and how you would die.
It would probably change CAdAvenLtuLreING Wai-O-Tapu SHANGHAI, CHINA Ye Olde Station Shanghai restaurant
the remainder of your Make 2016 the year you fulfil your ambitions to see
life. And the shorter the somewhere spectacular, to visit the place of your dreams WALKONTHEWILDSIDE You can feel the energy as soon as you touch Things to do include a
time you had the bigger and experience the trip of a lifetime. Norah Casey shares down at Pudong Airport. Shanghai is five trip to the antique market on
the changes you might her own incredible journeys to whet your appetite. ROTORUA, NEW ZEALAND times bigger than New York, it’s pacier and Dongtai Road, it’s packed with
make. Most people, when asked, more beautiful than Hong Kong and it makes treasures. Head to the east to find
say they wouldn’t want to know in A STEP BACK IN TIME The smelliest and most surreal place I have Tokyo feel tame. It’s a vibrant, fast-moving city an exotic market of birds, fish and flowers
advance when that moment might ever visited is Rotorua. Not the town – it’s drab and no other city feels more alive. and jars of prize fighting crickets. The Bund
be. There is good and bad in not and dismal – but the geothermal wonders are is the fashionable art deco riverfront, great
knowing. But, if you were only spectacular. Richard and I drove there from Speaking of warp-speed, you’ll feel a little for people watching. Head to the rooftop of
destined to be alive for one more Auckland for a memorable few days. You can smell dizzy after the journey in from the airport on the M on the Bund for a cocktail with a great
year you might not want to spend the sulphur for miles but, amazingly, after a while board the Maglev, the world’s first high-speed view. Bring along a favourite dress or jacket
it working, paying the mortgage you don’t notice it. It is one of the few places on magnetic levitation train. It reaches a speed and your bargaining skills and head to the
and doing all the humdrum day-to- earth where you can see first-hand the intensity of just over 430 kilometres an hour and takes South Bund Fabric Market where hundreds of
day things that carry us forward in of volcanic geothermal activity. Television less than eight minutes to reach the centre in tailors will compete to create the garment of
time. The notion that life and time documentaries can never do justice to the showy Pudong – a journey that would take at least 45 your choice.
should be lived full on, especially spectacle of the planet’s awesome power. minutes by car, if not longer. Shanghai has some fantastic restaurants but
when it is rationed, inspired the for an incredible dining experience head to Ye
2007 movie The Bucket List, Thermal parks, volcanic crater lakes, geysers, Shanghai is really two cities in one. The Olde Station Shanghai (Shanghailaozhan.cn),
where two terminally ill patients boiling mud pools and psychedelic sinter terraces high-rise, futuristic Pudong east of the river an old French monastery and home to former
(Jack Nicholson and Morgan more than make up for the uninspiring town. and the ancient Puxi side, west of the river. empress dowager Cixi’s train carriage dating
Freeman) travel the world to fulfil Rotorua sits on a vast volcanic field with an The Puxi side is by far my favourite, back to the Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1911). It
all of their ambitions before they incredible geothermal eco-system but head for combining ancient China with strong is by far my most memorable meal in China
died (kicked the bucket!). It also the more managed areas like Wai-O-Tapu where colonial influences. The Pudong side for the food and the sense of history that
sparked a frenzy of list-making you can see the full glory of Mother Nature right is spectacular, a glimpse into a future surrounds you in that ancient railway carriage.
and goal- setting among the up close. It might look as scary as hell but it is of vertical living where impossibly
worried well. very safe to walk along the trails, just don’t fall in! tall buildings house homes, schools,
Bucket lists became a thing. We wandered through bubbling hot mud pools, shops, workplaces and even hotels.
In the movie the two men set off steaming ground, huge craters and hot springs –
around the world ticking things don’t miss the hypnotic fizzling Champagne Pool. My favourite place to stay is a
off the list – skydiving, driving Head to the park early to catch the 10.15am daily boutique hotel near the former French
a mustang, seeing Everest. But eruption of the Lady Knox Geyser. Concession with a great restaurant and a
it also included some emotional buzzy bar. URBN Hotel is a very chic 26-
journeys we all might like to make A must-see while you’re there is Te Puia, where bedroomed hotel that makes Shanghai more
before we pass away like mending the Pohutu geyser (among the world’s top five human-sized and is China’s first carbon-
fractured relationships and telling geysers) erupts up to 30m in height up to 20 neutral hotel. We organised fashion shows,
people how much they mean times a day – sometimes for a few minutes or cocktail evenings and lunches there a few
to us. Bucket list fans however several days. Back in 2000 it erupted for 250 years ago and the staff were fantastic to work
usually lean more towards lists days. It’s powerful to watch. This an area steeped with. URBN is friendly, efficient and stylish
of awesome experiences and are in Māori culture and there are plenty of traditional and once I discovered it I never went back
less about enjoying life and the performances on offer, we even learned the Haka. to the fabulously swank but impossibly high
wonderful people we get to share So take a walk on the wild side and head to smelly bedrooms of the five star hotels in Pudong.
time with. The list sometimes but splendid Rotorua.
drives how they live their life, On my first trip I stayed in the world’s
ticking off those items becomes tallest hotel, the Grand Hyatt which starts
all important; swimming with at the 53rd level rising to 87 floors of the
dolphins; walking The Great Wall 88 storey Jin Mao Tower in the business
of China. And in truth some of district. I feel uneasy from the fourth floor
those bucket list items never live upwards in any building so a stay on the 70th
up to the expectations – they are required enormous amounts of courage, mind
often crowded with tourists and distractions and wine.
nothing like the fantasy we have
built up in our mind’s eye. YANGON, MYANMAR ancient Asian cities might have been like had they get used to the spectacle, the sense of spirituality The Strand Hotel
I am not a fan of bucket lists not been touched by development. This remains pervades. This is a very sacred Buddhist place and it
and have never had one. The joy Fellow travel writers urge me to head for Cuba a country that time forgot, the street vendors, is always crowded with worshippers, monks, nuns
of travel and exploration is often before it is utterly changed by the dramatic markets, bicycles, the people and especially the and hundreds of volunteers who constantly sweep
in the random encounters and improvement in relations with the US this year. ethereal and strange vistas of crumbling facades of and clean the area. For a small price a guide will take
unexpected swerves that great For me, Myanmar is the place where you can previously grand buildings. you through the major attractions. You visit barefoot
adventures should bring. I have truly travel back in time to a bygone era and a so early evening is best when the ground is cooler.
listed the memorable journeys I civilisation virtually untouched by tourism or Yangon offers you something you will never Dress modestly as this is the country’s sacred capital.
have taken in over 20 years as external influences. see anywhere else – one of the most extraordinary
a travel writer in the hope that sacred places in the world. You can’t miss the If you can afford to, then follow in the footsteps
you might ditch the bucket list in Myanmar – formerly Burma – is slowly opening stunning 2,500-year-old Shwedagon Pagoda of Somerset Maugham, George Orwell and Noël
favour of a great adventure. its doors to tourism so you now have a chance (Golden Pagoda) which rises majestically from a Coward and stay at The Strand hotel (Hotelthestrand.
to glimpse life in this previously closed and sea of gilded shrines and temples on a hill above com) which is steeped in history and restored
troubled country. When I visited a few years ago the city. The towering stupa is made from 60 tons faithfully to its colonial past. This grand hotel,
it was still rare to find outsiders, let alone media of gold and is encrusted with rubies, sapphires and formerly a sister to Raffles Hotel in Singapore, has
representatives. We went there the year before my jade topped with an enormous 76 carat diamond. withstood turbulent times over the past century and
husband, Richard, died to visit a close friend of his The majesty of the glittering splendour of the retained the essence of elegance which marked it as
who had taken up the post of British Ambassador. Golden Pagoda is only part of the attraction. one of the world’s great hotels. The Strand now has
He was based in Yangon (Rangoon). There were All around the base, stretching out to five acres marble laden bathrooms and is richly decorated with
no banking facilities or ATMs, no mobile signals or more, is the most extraordinary selection of over 100 tonnes of teak, lavish carpeting and Burmese
let alone Wi-Fi. Now, all that is changing but shrines, Buddhas, smaller pagodas and temples all tapestries. Wherever you stay try to plan a visit while
there is still time. The best thing you can do in with colourful, blinking light displays. Once you you can still glimpse the wonders of the past.
Yangon is soak up the atmosphere of this slowly
transforming city and see first-hand what other
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A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY The temples at Angkor Wat ATRRAOVAEDLLLEEDSS Kauai
SIEM REAP AND ANGKOR WAT, CAMBODIA BBQ Snakes! TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN ISLANDS FOR THE ADVENTUROUS
Margaret Casey in Cambodia
Cambodia is probably my favourite place the trip, would take time out from the When I visited this former Russian state you HAWAIIAN ISLANDS, USA
in the world. I went there by chance a few heat and sit for an hour or so happily could have filmed a wild life programme from my
years ago when plans to do business in surrounded by children. bedroom. Thankfully, at the last minute I packed I chose to include Hawaii of all of the islands I have visited because it combined the
Vietnam were cancelled at the last minute a mosquito sleeping bag because it gave me best snorkelling I have ever experienced and a night-time walk to see first-hand the
and I diverted to Siem Reap for five days. The art and craftsmanship in Cambodia some respite from the flying insects, cockroaches red-hot bubbling lava lake in the world’s most active volcano. I was lucky enough
There are many reasons why I fell in is stunning – I waited a day or so for a and vermin which had taken up residence in the to lecture there on a few occasions and spent time on my two favourite islands –
love with the country, among them the fine silversmith to make me two beautiful dilapidated hotel. The bats had commandeered the the smaller and quieter Kauai and Big Island (also known as Hawaii Island). Don’t
people, the culture and the magnificent elephants that live either side of my hallways and I got used to shaking out unwelcome waste your time in Oahu (Honolulu) and Maui which are touristy and crowded. The
archaeological remains of temples dating fireplace now. We booked a guide through guests from my boots and jacket every morning. stunning Waimea Canyon in Kauai (the wettest place on earth), the spectacular cliffs
back to the ninth century. This vast the hotel and you will get so much more on the Na Pali coastline and the incredible snorkelling on the beaches in Kauai (50
historically significant area, the heart of out of your stay if you invest if one of I was there with the World Health Organisation miles of white sand) made this one of the most beautiful islands I have visited. The
the Khmer Kingdom, stretches across 400 these knowledgeable locals to show you doing media sessions with women from Uzbekistan people are beautiful, gentle and serene. Kauai is lush and green and the oldest in the
square kilometres and is now a UNESCO around and fill you in on the history. and neighbouring countries, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Hawaiian chain.
World Heritage Site. Everywhere there are He also introduced us to the local food Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, and Turkmenistan.
reminders of the Khmer Rouge genocide and gave us an impromptu lesson on Formerly a republic of the Soviet Union, it We stayed on the Coconut Coast but drove all over the island daily to visit the best
which killed two million people in the the difference between the meat of the declared its independence in 1991. The ancient beaches. If you ever visit, head for Lumahai Beach where Mitzi Gaynor, ‘washed that
late 1970s. And despite the unimaginable python, cobra and the everyday water Silk Road trading route transversed Uzbekistan man right out of my hair,’ in the film, South Pacific.
horror people endured, what emerged snake. And he gave us a lecture when we and the country is home to the most impressive
from that darkest of times is a beautiful were squeamish. During Pol Pot’s era he and historically significant Islamic architecture, Big Island is a world apart from Kauai and the attraction is the world’s most active
and proud race of people. told us that he and his family would have mausoleums and mosques in central Asia. volcano Kīlauea which has been erupting continuously since 1983 (there are three
died had they not lived on snake. active volcanoes on the island). The island is still growing because of the lava flows.
We visited a wonderful home for street And yet I am guessing few people other than If you can, visit the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park at night – it is one of the most
children, run by an Australian woman Snakes and spicy crickets aside, the those in the travel writing business know much of amazing experiences to see the broiling red lava pulsating at the heart of the crater.
who fell in love with the country and food was of a very high standard and its treasures. But it is slowly being discovered by
wanted to make a difference. We spent a the service was always with a smile. The the adventurers who want something At the Kaumana caves you can climb over ancient volcanic rock and into the lava
day with an amazing man whose family temples are beyond incredible. You can’t out of the ordinary. You will never tubes left behind as the molten lava drains away. If you are planning a trip then
were killed by Pol Pot who transformed hope to visit them all, we spent each encounter anything like it. I follow the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Daily Update (Hvo.wr.usgs.gov/
his family home and estate into a morning visiting the more historically stayed in Tashkent and happily activity/kilaueastatus.php). This isn’t a Disney experience and the volcano
ramshackle school with corrugated lean- significant and chose a selection of others it is now home to some decent alert level changes constantly. It’s a chance to witness the awesome power
tos. Over a thousand kids came to learn from different eras and cultures which hotels and international of nature with 70 million years of volcanic evolution. This once in a
each day from teachers who donated their were off the beaten track. There is a sense chains. The people are lifetime experience is not for the unadventurous but believe me it truly is
time as and when they could. The children of beauty about Cambodia which will incredibly friendly and worth it. At the time of writing, Kīlauea was erupting at its summit and the
who follow you everywhere are clever and always remain with me. When I have everywhere you go you will lava lake was still active but only low levels of seismic activity were being
charming, they captivate you with smiles visited everywhere I want to go in the feel welcomed (but make no reported. This is a surf and turf experience like no other.
and trinkets. My mother, who came on world I plan to go back. We stayed at the mistake this is a harsh police
Park Hyatt Siem Reap. siemreap.park. state). Astounding architecture The active volcano, Kīlauea
steeped in ancient history, beautiful
ceramics which still grace my kitchen
table, gallons of green tea and the toughest bread
I have ever eaten are among my many memories
of this fascinating place.
Uzbekistan is definitely a road less travelled and
you will have to work hard to find its treasures –
but that’s what great journeys are all about.
Whatever is on the list for 2016 and beyond I
hope you enjoy great adventures that take you
places you have never been before. Embrace
the unexpected and enjoy the splendour of
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