I was eight years old when I took my first ever international flight – a family holiday to Singapore. I remember how excited I was about the concept of flying; my dad had given me a window seat and I spent the entire three and a half hour journey looking out of the window. I remember being thrilled at takeoff, when the city I call home became smaller and smaller until all I could see were clouds, which seemed like endless rows of white cotton puffs. I remember the fear as the scenery didn’t change for three hours, asking my dad if we were standstill in midair, and if we would fall to the ground anytime (even at that age I fully understood the concept of gravity). I remember the excitement returning as Singapore became larger and larger.
Last weekend, I was performing the really exciting task of cleaning up my Mac when I came across a Word document I’d made as a child. It was a list of countries in the world that I wanted to visit before I die. Even at that age I’d known that I wouldn’t get to travel the entire world. I’d made it after my first trip abroad, with some research on the most beautiful places in the world.
I remember the look and feel of a new foreign land – different infrastructure, strange people, stranger food, stunning scenery, beautiful architecture – different colours all around me. And that wonder still hasnt ceased to exist – as I turned 22 on Monday, I have realised that travelling the world, meeting new people and becoming aware of different traditions not only bring new adventures into my life, but are also the things that have really shaped me into who I am today – a cross-cultural, multilingual tolerant human being.
So to celebrate my 22nd birthday, here is the list I’d made as a child, in no particular order. It consists of 75 countries, which contributes to 40% of the countries in the United Nations, and if I do get to visit these in my lifetime, I’d count myself incredibly lucky.
If anyone has any suggestions or what to add/remove, do tell!
Qatar (in 2020)