"what is my one favorite place in the world?." But I always come back to the same response - "it depends on my mood!" Today, I'm in the mood for India.
Human beings are instinctively obsessed with the past and future, life and death, the yin and the yang. These reasons are why China is such a fascinating place to visit at the moment.
I just returned from China and was once again reminded why it is a country that shows you much about your past and gives us a glimpse of how the future will look. So much of what we eat, do, think, and how we live today took root in China many years ago. For instance, pasta has been incorporated into many of the world's delicious cuisines and without which many of the scrumptious Italian dishes would not be the same; paper which lead to books, printing and a vehicle by which to educate; silk which is omnipresent in fashion and house wears; iron and steel which is found in almost everything we use today and without which we could not build skyscrapers, large ships and bridges and other important structures; porcelain dishes on which we eat today; Buddhism's various philosophies such as Buddhism and feng shui.
China is one of the most ancient civilizations in the world. While the Chinese are proud of their legacy, they are busy creating a new future for themselves and the world. China is changing so quickly that the China we know today will probably be a different place in our lifetime. The Chinese thinking is also changing almost as quickly as the urban landscape. Every time I return to Beijing and Shanghai I am amazed by the newest skyscraper and the ever present cranes, which guides love to refer to as China's new national bird. China is also taking steps to decrease pollution in Beijing which is a source of a lot of discussion.
China is a fascinating country. The time to go is now. Zoom Vacations recently upgraded all hotel offerings in China with the best service and locations at each destination. Check out the detailed itinerary and you will see why.
Before you take a trip, it is always a good idea to talk to friends who have been to the destination, and pick their brains for tips and ideas of what to do, and the best places to stay and eat. Especially if you have a lot in common with them, or travel the same way, their advice can be invaluable.
One word of caution. When someone tells you the name of a hotel where you just have to stay, or a restaurant that is the best restaurant in town, you always have to remember that destinations are not static, and the latest and greatest thing to see when you friend visited may not be the latest and greatest thing now.
New hotels pop up or older properties go through extensive renovations almost every year in virtually every city in the world.
So, by all means, talk to your friends, but always stay open to your own adventure.
When I look back on 2013, it is interesting to review which memories stand outfor me. It wasn't any of the bigger purchases I made.
No, the first and most important things that come to mind are several of the trips I took, and the unique experiences I had in those destinations.
A few highlights include watching a cheetah stalk an impala in South Africa, drinking caipirinhas with new friends on the beach in Rio at sunset, and snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
Traveling has the power to inspire the mind, heal the soul, and energize the body. It gives us great memories to think about when things aren't going well, and it helps us create tighter bonds with the people who matter to us. Just like people matter more than things, to me travel matters more than things.
We have had guests on our tours whose lives have been changed for the better because of the unique travel experiences they have had or due to relationships they have built through traveling. And the more you travel, the more you make connections between similar things in different countries.
Traveling isn't merely a part of a fun life. It is an essential part of a healthy life, and maybe even a healthy planet. I am reminded of one of my favorite travel quotes:
"Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends."
~ Maya Angelou