50 Places of a Lifetime By Intelligent Travel

Today I read the blog on Intelligent Travel on this post – ’50 Places of a Lifetime’.

What a great post. It has inspired me to look at what is my own list so far. I was amazed at how many places I have seen and how many more places I have yet to see.

The list includes the link to National Geographic site for each city with detail ranging from hotel, restaurant, entertainments, must-do lists and photo gallery. This will be my must-check before we plan any big vacation. I’m a sucker of completing a list. So I will have to try my best to check this one of mine!

Here is my list. I have managed to see 20 out of 50 places. I guess it helps that I lived or live in 3 of the cities.

Atlanta – My current hang out. A great city of the South.

Bangkok – My birth country. There is no place like home and there is no food like Thai food.

Beijing – Oh.. Beijing.. I would love to go back there to shop on Silk street.

Boston – Bean town. I went there over a decade ago. So a lot might have changed.

Chicago – The Windy City. And they are not joking about that. I went there during Winter.. Duh.. What was I thinking about!

Dublin – A quick side trip on one of my business trip. Lovely country.. Really…

Florence – I don’t think you can go wrong with any city in Italy. Just the history alone will make you feel smarter already.

Hong Kong – With our recent trip to Hong Kong, I still want to go back there again. The food along will be so worth it.

Las Vegas – The Sin City. Do they provide daycare in the hotel? :)

London – It seems like a lifetime ago when I visit the Big Ben. It’s about time to revisit.

Los Angeles – With the biggest Thai population in the US, I can get my Thai food fix from here. If only I live closer!
Miami – Our old playground. Ironically, we went there only a few times whenever we have guests. So recently, we just had to become tourists ourselves.
New York – I was there in 1997 for the countdown in Time Square. I did!!! And I don’t think I will ever do it again. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime-experience. Let’s just say I have a very small blader.
Paris – City of Romance.. No I didn’t go there with Mr. Rojo. It would be nice.

Philadelphia – It was Mr. Rojo playground when he was young(er).

Rome – I had such a wonderful time there with my mom and my little wanderlust brother.
San Diego – My favorite city in California. Ok.. maybe after San Francisco.
San Francisco – I think San Francisco is the most romantic city. And I went there when I didn’t even have a boyfriend!
Singapore – Hmm.. Orchard street.. shopping.. food.. clean..
Washington D.C – I can’t wait to go back. That’s all I can say.

Most of my conquer on this list was done before kids and family and marriage and housework and mortgage.. Needless to say, I really want to go back again with Miss J and Mr. Z. I want them to see the world and learn about different cultures, to open their mind and their eyes to all kind of possibilities.

And here is the rest of the list that will be on my to-do now.

Buenos Aires
Cape Town
Mexico City
Rio de Janeiro
St. Petersburg

I have to say I like this list much better than the famous 1000 Places to See Before You Die book. It’s nice to have a huge goal in your life. But come on.. 1000 places? I’m tired just to read it and I didn’t even start my trip yet.

50 places are more manageable. Maybe.. just maybe after I’m done with my list of 50 places then I will move on to the bigger list like 1000 places.

So tell me.. what cities you have been? And what would you like to add to your list?

Happy traveling!

Carnival Cruise – Day 6 – Orcho Rios

Welcome to Jamaica. It’s our final port on our 7 nights cruise. Oh.. I couldn’t believe that we had been on this big, huge ship for over 6 days already. We took the Jamican Irie attitude to heart. We woke up late and grapped our breakfast. No rush here.. We booked the Bamboo Club excursion which basically a beach club. I knew from some of the cruise forum that the beach club is just a stone throw from the pier. So we weren’t that worry about being the first one off the ship.

:: Getting Around ::

We knew that first thing we had to do was to get my Hard Rock Cafe pin. We missed it in Grand Cayman and I wouldn’t want to miss it again here. We got off the ship and checked out the excursion tent to find out what we need to do. The lady there from Bamboo club told us that she would prefer us to go directly to the beach club. But after we insisted that we really wanted to walk around first she said she will wait for us. We headed out the pier area and walked to Hard Rock Cafe. I have heard about how Jamaicans are very persistent in offering you their service. I can totally understand that. It’s their livelihoods. I have no problem with that.. A big smile and a polite ‘no’ will do. We walked a good 10 minutes to the cafe and picked my pin. Mr. Rojo got a teddy bear. Yes.. that’s right.. Teddy bear but he is so cute.

:: Things To Do ::

Then we walked back and checked out the Island Village. Basically, it’s a compound with a lot of stores in a nice setting. We walked around and got a few more shopping here. I think we made the most damage here than any other ports. :) I guess it was the last port and we missed out on the shopping in Grand Cayman so we felt obligated to shop to make up for the missing opportunity. We were also looking for a place to get Miss J hair braid. But believe it or not, we couldn’t see one. We got approached by one lady but she wanted us to follow her to her place.. Ehhh.. No. Thank you! Guess she will be one of a few kids who didn’t get her hair braid in the Carribean. Well, we can’t get everything we want in life. Good lesson here, heh?

After about an hour and a flat wallet, it’s time to head to the beach. When we got back to the excursion tent there wasn’t that many people left and the lady from Bamboo beach wasn’t anywhere to be found. No problem… Another lady showed us how to get there. It was really easy. We signed in and they quickly found us a host to take care of us. The food and the drink weren’t as good as what I expected. Basically, you had 2 choices of drinks (lemonade and rum punch) If you want something else then you would have to buy it from the bar including soft drink. Doesn’t make sense too me.. I would think soda is cheaper than alcoholic drink. Maybe not. Food was some chicken and pasta.. It wasn’t that great.

No worry.. The staffs were so friendly and nice. So food wasn’t a big deal for us. Plus we weren’t that hungry anyway.. I mean.. come on.. After 6 days of all-you-can-stuff-in-your-face food.. we could possibly stay for a small meal for one day. The entertainment throughout the day was great. The DJ had the music on pretty much all day. I think if you love to party, this is the place. Also if you love to watch people dance and do funny things, this is the place as well. But some of the dance move could be non-kid friendly. Luckily Miss J was spending much of her time in the water and Mr. Z was busy building his sand castle.

I have said this before and I will say it again that I won’t judge Jamaica with just my one small trip to a beach next to a pier. I know I can’t expect much from that. And I’m glad I didn’t. The water was murky and had a lot of algae in there. It’s hard to not compare with Grand Cayman or even Cozumel. How could I not.. Either way, the kids still enjoyed the day there. We also enjoyed the music and had fun watching other groups danced. We spent a few hours there before heading back to the ship.

:: Back on The Ship ::

We went up to our regular hang out in the Lido Deck after we took a quick shower. Soft serve yogurt couldn’t taste better. We sat at the back of the ship with the view as the ship pulled away from Ocho Rios. It was a nice day and certainly a place we need to come back. I know there are more that this place has to offer but right now our kids are too young to do any adventure activities. But next time we might leave them on the ship.. Well, not in our room of course. This is one of the benefit with cruising. You can drop your kids at the Camp Carnival and enjoy a day at port for any adults activities.

It was a formal night and this time we were smarter. We just realized that there were several photo session setup throughout the ship on Promenade and Lobby decks. Mr. Z was so hyper that he almost pulled down one of the background. Boy! I thought the guy was gonna throw him out. hehe.. We took only 2 sessions. I’m glad we just only did that two. I thought we migh have to take a loan to get those pictures.. Gosh!!! $20 for an 8×10 picture. Come on!!!

After walking in the high heel for a while, it was time to change to my comfy outfit. We headed back to our cabin and was greeted by our lovely monkey. We changed and dropped them off at the Camp Carnival. They had face painting and color bookbag. I got to do some laundry. I know.. I know.. I’m crazy that way. I like to get my laundry done on the ship. This way it won’t be too smelly. Plus it wasn’t as much as what I had waited for me at home.

This was the night I was looking forward to. The Midnight Gala Buffet. I wasn’t sure if *WE* will be up at that time. Well, I sure did. But after stuffed ourselves for the past 6 days, even the most tempting chocolate and cake couldn’t even get Mr. Rojo to eat after midnight. I was able to get in line to take pictures just to show that I was up! Maybe next trip we will eat less (yeah.. right..) and can enjoy the midnight buffet. ;)

Carnival Cruise – Day 5 – Grand Cayman

Here we were in Grand Cayman. We woke up early than usual today. I had packed what we need for the excursion today the night before. I knew that we would have little time to prepare. I’m glad I did. After quick breakfast, we headed down to get our tender ticket. It was so easy. I thought we might have to wait for a while. But we got the ticket and they told us to head down there right away. The time zone was a bit confusing for me. I didn’t bring my brain to work during vacation. But basically, Cayman Islands is 1 hour behind the ship time.

When we got of the tender ship it was around 8am ship time. So it was still 7am local time.. Way too early for anything to open. I had booked an excursion with Captain Bryan. The meeting time was at 10am local time.. We had about 2-3 hours of free time. So I had to change my plan. Originally, I was planning to go on excursion first and then check out 7 miles beach afterward. With so much time on hand we decided to go to the beach first. I’m glad we did.. I will tell you why later..

We took a short walk to check out where we were supposed to meet and then headed back to the port area to catch a taxi to the beach. The ride was quick and not that expensive. $4 per person. They dropped us off at The Reef Restaurant. We walked to the beach area and were in awe. The beach is so beautiful and it was so peaceful. Got there early enough we felt like we own this private beach. In the beginning, the kids were afraid to get in the water. They just played with the sand and the wave. But soon enough, we all were in the water trying to catch some waves. The sand was soft and fine.. We could have stayed there all day. Next time, I wouldn’t bother book any excursion.

After about 2 hours, we packed up with a lot of resistence from the kids. I was sad to leave as well but was also excited for our next adventure to the Sting Ray City. We rinsed off at the restaurant and caught a taxi back to the meeting place. Now that we got accustomed to the time, we started to worry if we would get back on-time. The schedule for this excursion was from 10:30am-1pm so it means we would get back 2pm (ship time).. Very close to the last tender time of 3:15pm.. I was glad we did the beach first since I don’t see how we can fit the beach time after the excursion. So they were several fellow cruisers who were worried about the timing as well. They were talking about leaving earlier so we could get back sooner.

We got on a bus around 10-ish and headed to the pier. I guess it was the loading/landing site for all boats to Sting Ray City. The reason we picked this excursion with Captain Bryan was for the sail boat. And he didn’t disappoint us at all. The crews were very nice. The boat ride took about 30 minutes. It was a nice relaxing ride. Once we got to the Sting Ray location, we saw several boats from various companies. At first we planned to just take turn going into the water. But the water was shallow enough that we took the kids down with us. We still had to hold them but it’s manageable. Miss J was afraid in the beginning. But later on she felt clamer. I got to kiss one of the sting ray. They said I will have good luck for 7 years. We will see about that. :) The sting rays swam all around us. It was an amazing experience. So much fun.. The skin was as soft as velvet. It wasn’t what I expected. After 30 minutes in the water, we headed back on the boat and headed to the snorkeling sites. The excursion included 2 snorkel sites. I wasn’t too impress with what I saw though. There weren’t as many fish as what we saw in Cozumel. I guess it was more for diving than snorkeling.

Then it was time to head back to town. Mr. Z felt asleep on the way. I would have done the same way if I didn’t have to hold on to him. It was so nice. We had such a great time there. The water as blue as the clear sky above.. We got back on the bus around 1:30pm local time which means we had about 45 minutes to get back to the port. The bus ride was very stressful for us since we kept checking our time. The bus arrived at 2:14pm.. Got 1 minute to spare. But when we saw the line for the tender boats, we started to feel panic. We didn’t know if we will make it to the boat. But then we realized that most people in line were also on the Victory. We made it! But we didn’t get a chance to pick up any souvenir at all.. Not even rum cake or my Hard Rock Cafe pin. Well, guess we have to come back.

Once we got on the ship, we took shower and planned to take a quick nap before dinner. Guess what.. We all slept till the next morning. We were that tired.. We didn’t even make it to dinner that night. What a fun day in Grand Cayman!

Carnival Cruise – Day 4 – Another Fun Day @ Sea

Day 4 on our trip .. We got another Fun Day @ Sea. We took it easy today. Slept in and had late breakfast. Oh.. this is what I call V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N.. No set plan. After breakfast, we got ready to explore and enjoy the ship. We started off at the swimming pool. I found that the pool in the morning hours were more child-friendly. There were more kids in the pool than drunken adults. I guess they still hung over in their cabins.
After a good couple hours in the pool, we dried up and picked up a set of putt-putt ball and clubs. We didn’t get to try it on the first day. It was very busy. Mr. Rojo thought he was in a real golf course and felt the need to show golfer etiquette and wanted to let another group ahead of us. I had to remind him that.. it’s a putt-putt.. Plus we were on the ship.. what’s the hurry.. Also the group in front of us wasn’t gonna be any faster than us.

We dropped the kids off at Camp Carnival after the golf game and headed to our cabin for some power naptime. Mr. Rojo went to visit his familiar faces in the Casino. He did pretty well in the casino. We are not big gambler. We set a limit of the money we are willing to loose and that’s his fun money. It’s just like purchasing another ticket to an excursion. :)

After dinner, we went to the Bingo game and Magic Show. It was a fun night. We didn’t win anything but the kids enjoyed the show. The guy was pretty funny. After that we headed back to our room and was greeted by Mr. Dino.. A big day ahead of us tomorrow. Grand Cayman!

I know there were a lot of activities at night that we could join. But for me, that’s the beauty of cruising.. You can do as much or as little as you want. There is no rule.

Check out what we have done so far on this cruise here.

13 Countries I Have Visited

This week Thursday Thirteen is all about the countries that I have visited. I don’t list it in any particular order. Enjoy!

1) China – I went there during a couple of business trips with the company I used to work for. What a great experience! We got to see the Great Wall, Forbidden City and shopping at Silk Street. If we have a chance, I will go back in a heartbeat.

2) Hong Kong – We went there a couple years ago during our family trip back to Thailand. It was like a family reunion trip with my mom, my sister, my brother and my cousin. We had so much fun there. What a lively city and the food was incredible and exotic.

3) Mexico – Our recent cruise had a stop in Cozumel. We only spent a day there. So I know that I will have to go back there to experience and explore more of this beautiful country.

4) Cayman Islands – Love it, love it, love it!!! Another port of call on our recent cruise trip. Oh what a beautiful beach! I think I can just stay there by the beach all day long.

5) Jamaica – Colorful and interesting country. We didn’t get to explore much this trip. But I know that we will find another opportunity to go back and be more adventurous next time.

6) England – I went there about 10 years ago with my mom and my brother. Big Ben, London Bridge, Trafalgar Square and Harrod’s.. Too little time, too many things to do. I need to go back there before my friend moves away.

Picture by fraise

7) Switzerland – On the same trip to London, we also went to Switzerland. Checked out watches and stayed in a beautiful B&B. What a beautiful country!!

8) Germany – I couldn’t believe it has been 10 years already from that trip. We stopped by Heidelberg. Checked out the castle and enjoyed lunch at the town square.

Picture by mattwyn

9) Italy – Rome.. what can I say.. No need to explain. We have to go back. One trip is not enough for this country full of history and great architectures.

Picture by RZen

10) Scotland – A business trip took me to this lovely country. We got to check out the Edinburg castle and visited Glasglow in Ireland. Very peaceful place. I would love to go back there with Mr. Rojo.

Picture by sZelee

11) France – Shopper heaven.. Not so much for me at that time. As a poor student, I didn’t get to enjoy all the brand name stores. But who can forget your experience in Paris. There is no other city like it.

Picture by idreamofdaylight

12) Bahamas – The Carribean paradise. Our first visit was for our honeymoon and followed by our first cruise. We had a great memory there for blue ocean and great snorkel.

13) Singapore – Another great oppotunity from my ex-company. We got to live there for over a month. What an experience!

Picture by travellingzenwolf

Since a handful of the countries I visited were from way before the digital camera era, I didn’t have the digital copies of those pictures. Thanks to the internet I am able to find great pictures from other flickr users.

Check out other TT participants here.