This my is my second list of 5 awesome bucket list worthy destinations I would love to visit which you probably didn’t consider. If you missed the first list, click here. There are so many places in the world, so I thought, why not make another list. I have spent a lot of my free time over the last few years researching new places, and reading about awesome places to visit. While the usual suspects, such as the Terracotta Army, Grand Canyon, and Venice often come up, other more obscure places catch my eye from time to time. Here are five more places which are amazing, but you probably didn’t consider:
#5 Sichuan, China
This comes it at number five because, well, I’ve already visited Sichuan. However, when I visited, I was on my way to see the Mauseoleum of the First Qin Emperor (the Terracotta Army) in Xi’an, so I missed two of the three most interesting things in this Chinese province: The Leshan Giant Buddha, and the Giant Panda Sanctuaries. In case you didn’t figure it out yet, the third greatest wonder in Sichuan, is Sichuan food!
The Leshan Giant Buddha is a carving of the Buddha on the side of a mountain, or maybe more accurately said, on the entire side of a mountain! At 71 meters (about 220 feet Americans) tall, it is the largest pre-modern statue in existence. It took over 90 years to carve from 713 CE – 803 CE (not continuously of course, even then, funds were low an progress was slow).
The Giant Panda Sanctuaries are a set of structures that hold at least 30% of all giant pandas left in the world. They also hold some rarer panda species. When I visited, Sichuan had recently been struck with one of the most devastating earthquakes in its history, so the pandas were being moved for their safety and I didn’t get a chance to see them.
These two sites (and the food) definitely make Sichuan, bucket list worthy!
When people think about Mongolia, almost immediately, images of Genghis Khan, the leader who established the Mongolian Empire, one of the largest empires in history, come to mind. What some people don’t realize however, is how scarcely populated Mongolia was then, and still is now. Mongolia and its people have a long history of nomadic lifestyles. Some Mongolians still live the traditional way, with about a third being nomadic or semi-nomadic, which is why it makes my bucket list. In addition, they have a cool festival called Naadam, where Mongolians compete in horse racing, archery, and wrestling. The wrestling is particularly of interest to me because it is said that they compete in an enormous 1024 person bracket, with no weight classes. Can you imagine a tiny guy wrestling an enormous giant? I don’t want to imagine, I want to see it!
#3 Lake Baikal, Siberia, Russia
Three known facts are that Lake Baikal is the deepest (over 1.5km), biggest (about 20% of all freshwater), and probably oldest (about 25 million years old) in the world. However, being in the middle of Siberia, it is not exactly a travel destination most people think about. Let’s be honest, how many people have you heard say, “you know what, this vacation, I would really love to go to Siberia!” Not many I bet. Nevertheless, it’s on my list! There are two things that make this lake a must see.
First: It is said that it may hold a terrible ancient creature. Much like in Lochness, it is rumored that a Nessie type monster might still live here. Given how old the lake is, how large, and how isolated, it is possible.
Second: Out of the almost 2000 species of plants and animals in the Baikal area, about 80% are only found here. There is one fish in particular that has one third of it’s body weight made of oil. This allows it to sink and withstand amazing pressures.
Palau is an island nation to the east of the Philippines which holds one of the most unique attractions of all, the Jellyfish Lake. I am sure many readers have been to an aquarium and stared at the jellyfish longer than other animals. I know, because when I catch myself just looking at them for 10 or so minutes, I look around and the same people are still there! They are amazing and beautiful creatures, in captivity. However, as most of you may know, if you see one while swimming, or worse, while scuba diving, you need to get the hell out of the water. Jellyfish are one of those rare animals that instill fear and wonder at the same time. Don’t you wish you could, just once, touch one? What about swim with them? Well you can in Jellyfish Lake, Palau.
The jellyfish here were cut off from the ocean when the lake was formed. They were effectively, trapped inside. Because their main predators were now gone, gradually over many generations, these jellyfish lost their ability to sting. In addition, the Rock Islands Southern Lagoon where the lake is located was added as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2012 because they show different eras of evolution and transformation in such a small area. Palau is truly unique, and despite all this, is one of the least toured places in the world.
#1 North Sentinel Island
This island takes the top spot because as of right now, no one is allowed to land on it. In fact, no one has ever set food on the island, except of course, for the people already living there. You might have heard of “un-contacted people” living in the Amazon forest who still live as hunters and gathers. What you may not know, is that many of those people are actually aware of the outside world (in a vague sense) and just choose to live the way they do. Some people however, occasionally do visit the Amazonian people to trade, and their language is known by a few experts. This is different. Very different!
The people on North Sentinel Island are the last truly un-contacted people on Earth. No one has ever attempted to talk to them, or even heard their language spoken aloud. There are only about 50-400 individuals thought to exist there and the Indian government (the island belongs to India) keeps them protected from outside influences. To actually be that person who makes first contact would be amazing and a culmination of some of my biggest traveling fantasies. The Sentinelese people however, violently reject any attempt at contact, so I would settle for just looking at them from a nice, safe helicopter.
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