In a world where money ceases to exist, the idea of travelling the world, without a care in a world has never been more tantalizing. Imagine winning the lottery, they call out your number, the lucky number three, tears stream down your face, you’re weeping with joy. The faint buzz of the songbirds outside as they frolic around the trees, becomes the soundtrack to your winning streak, and as you wonder what you will spend your winnings on, like a lightbulb moment it comes to you. You watch the songbird caress each others feathers gently, as they circle each other in a passionate embrace. It reminds you of the day that you got married, as you stared into your partners eyes, as you were bound as one for all eternity. But after your ‘wedding night’ you never got the chance to travel to far flung honeymoon destinations, where the sun would rise out of the sky and bathe you in its golden light or dance under the milky splendor of a thousand stars twinkling. Then something changed and your winning streak began, those numbers called out to you and victory was yours.
You wrapped the lottery ticket up in tissue paper and placed it gently in a small square box. You presented it to your partner and they carefully opened the box, unraveling the tissue paper that had become the lottery tickets home. Their eyes widened and their smile deepened, today was your lucky night and you danced under the stars once more. You wanted to travel until your money had gone, you wanted to feel the heat of the Arabian sun and sink into the tropical waters of the Maldives turquoise depths. You would eat all the sumptuous delicacies and buy all the souvenirs that your heart desired and together, you and your partner, would travel the world, until you found 10 honeymoon destinations that would capture your heart left, right and centre.
You boarded the plane from London Heathrow to Phucket City, in search of a magical honeymoon abroad, in the beautiful island of Phi Phi. It reminded you of a drag queen you knew called Phi Phi and you were entranced by its seductive blue waters, lapping at its sandy shore. 13 hours later and you stepped into your villa for the week, a charming luxury resort, that was moments away from Laem Tong Beach. You walked on the golden sand barefoot, hand in hand, skirts and hats blowing in the wind, falling into each others arms as you plunged into a mermaid world that lived beyond the sea shore. You became mermaids and merman on a magical underwater quest, diving through coral and seaweed, until you found what you were looking for. A rainbow school of fish, chattering amongst themselves, waiting for the mermaid and her merman to enter thy kingdom. Reds and blues swam together in chaotic harmony, while their children nuzzled gently at your chests, waiting for you to take a leap of faith and enter their kingdom, as one.
You spent the evening playing cards with the fish and the seas magical creatures, but as you plunged into inky black darkness, you swam back to shore, where your tails transformed into legs and you were land mammals once more. A private chef arrived at your villa, ready to transport you into authentic Thai cuisine. The spices came together like an explosive orgasm and he guided you both through a cooking class, breathing culinary genius into both of your hearts. You whipped up a Thai Green Curry, fragrantly laced with lemongrass and Jasmine rice, your senses came alive under the heat of the spices. Together, the couple and the chef watched the stars come alive, as the inky black sky was scattered with millions of falling stars, in a constellation that represented the symbol of love. Time had no essence here in Phi Phi, you did nothing but swim, eat and sunbathe, but it was what you needed and you felt refreshed by the island’s golden touch. On your last night, the mermaids came and joined you at your villa, as you embraced the sustainability of nature and breathed in the sweet, fragrant air.
Indian Ocean: Maldives
Your lust for continuing your journey as a part time mermaid had not yet dissipated and as one trip ended another one began. When scouring through your bucket list of honeymoon destinations abroad, the Maldives stood out to you as clear as day. You imagined the swaying palms trees watching over its mistress, ‘The Goddess of the Ocean’ as its leaves cascaded over tranquil waters, as it swam to be with its love once more. You imagined the flowers, lush green and vibrant, playing peekaboo in the fauna as you charged out of the sea sopping wet. Giggling you collapsed onto the hot sand, silky grit across your bodies, entwined. You became castaways on your own private island, nestled between jungle and azure waters, as you climbed through leaves and swam through martime kingdoms. You were king and queen of the jungle, but you acted as subjects in awe of the beauty of nature, as you smiled at the cheeping turtledoves and the chitter chatter of the flying foxes, so few land mammals allowed in this world. But in the sea Maldives came alive.
You snorkeled with sea turtles, spellbound by the way it moved so gracefully through the open waters and you dived with stingrays, up close and personal with the ‘Martime Kingdom’s’ greats. You watch the dolphins put on a show, grateful that in the wild they are free to be themselves. They twist and turn and dip in and out of the water, with the playful gracefulness of a ballet dancer. The sea foam sprays you with a cheeky wave, beckoning you to explore its tranquil depths once more so you go surfing, riding the waves without grace or aplomb. But no matter, you laugh at each other, as you struggle to keep your balance and plunge into the sea with reckless delight. Exhausted you swim back to shore, as you are taken to another island, to have a romantic dinner at sunset, gazing blissfully into each others eyes as you feed each other like lady and the tramp. You love the mischievous twinkle in their eyes and hide a grin as their dimples come alive, the private waiter leaves and you return back to the villa, exhausted but satisfied once more.
After all that sun, sea and sand, you craved a culture trip, where you would be transported into another time, a world apart from your own. You would go back to the beginning of time and explore an ancient civilization, light years ahead. Beyond the pristine white sand beaches and its seductive sea mistress, there lay a Mayan pyramid, with a chamber of secrets that you could only visualize in your dreams. The stone slabs were smooth against your faces and you both felt the ancient energy coursing through the pyramid’s nine stages, representative of the 18th month Mayan calendar. Its name was pyramid-kukulcan-chichen-itza and every ‘equinox’ its namesake ‘Kukulcan’ the feathered serpent God ‘returns’ to commune with his worshipers, by putting on a ‘witchy light show’. You are just in time and the festival begins; unlike ancient times there are no sacrifices to be made, instead this ‘New Seven Wonders Of The World’ welcomes you and your partner into the light, where the boundary between magic and reality is blurred.
Mesoamerican fascination aside, you leave the revelers drinking and dancing as you slink into your private villa, where the moon sings you both to sleep and the sun becomes the morning alarm clock. It’s a busy day ahead and as much as you would like to sink your toes into tranquil waters, you pursue another travelers path. You indulge your green thumb, nostalgic for a garden that reminds you of back home. And then you see it, Las Pozas a sculpture garden created by the surrealist and eccentric poet Edward James, whose time in ‘semi-exile’ (1947) created a welcome oasis in contrast to the concrete jungle that you knew back home. It was breathtaking and you watched your partner wipe a tear from their eyes, clearly moved by the beauty of the sculpture gardens. And when at last you decided that you would spend the remainder of your honeymoon destinations abroad trip in Mexico – at least for the time being- you knew that the ‘hidden beach’ was the most magical place on earth. It was mesmerizing;a wide, sandy cavern with the blue waters of the Pacific rushing in, as the mermaids and merman rode together on the seas of love. You sank into each others arms gratefully and fell into eternal slumber, where time stood still and the only thing that mattered was the pitter patter of each others heartbeats, that chimed together in perfect harmony.
Cambodia: Siem Reap
Cambodia had never crossed your mind prior to your honeymoon destinations abroad trip, but you decided to venture outside of your comfort zone and try something new. You visit a floating village, hand in hand, watching the locals at Kompong Khleang fish in saltwater lakes from the comfort of their floating homes. You watch the sunset at Srah Srang, gazing out into the vibrant red and purple sky, casting light and shadows over the manmade lake. You learn that there was once a floating temple, that was known as the guardian of the lake, but all that remains are the sculptural serpents which watch over the shore, their mistress long gone to her grave. You go temple hopping around Angkor Wat, rubbing your bleary, just woken up eyes as together you make your way to the archaeological park, just before sunrise , watching the sun bathe its temples in a mothers caress and delight. But when the midday sun hits and you feel your cheeks flushed with the heat, you head to the ‘Tombraider Temple’, Ta Prohm, shaded by tightly-knotted banyan trees.
You wander through the night market watching the locals try and sell their wares. Among the more unusual dishes like rats and tarantula’s which make you squeamish as a vegetarian, there is ‘Angor What’ at Pub Street, a bar that promises a good chilled night, with drinks all night long. And while you are not much of a drinker, no matter for Pub Street has plenty of restaurants, clubs and pubs to tickle your sweet spot. You grimace at the thought of trying fried tarantulas but your partner, always up for a challenge sees no problem with chowing their way through the Cambodian delicacy, which apparently tastes like crab. You decide to have something much more delicious like a banana blossom salad which you pair with Num Ta Leng Sap (Khmer Vegetarian Pancake), vegetarian delights that in your mind tastes much more delicious than a rat. Strange delicacies aside, you have a culture trip of a lifetime as you pack in more temples in seven days than you have had in your entire life and its a beautiful blessing.
At the top of your bucket list is the jewel of the Mediterranean ocean, Greece, paradise in a world governed by hate and greed. There are the infamous blue and white houses, stretching out for miles, preening under the warming rays of the Grecian sun. But it is your journey into Kos that spellbinds you to Greece for all eternity. Beyond the sandy white beaches and the little fishing boats that conform to the ‘postcard image’ of Grecian aesthetic is time travelling into the past, into a Kos where Hippocrates , the father of medicine taught his students, where the emperors reigned over their Mediterranean kingdom and where the tombs of the greats were worshiped and guarded by generations of Grecian’s to come.
Today museums like the Archaeological Museum Kos (Kos Town) take us back in time, where we circle the mosaic floors and pay our respects to the funery slabs that mark the moments that their loved ones passed into the afterlife, welcomed by Hades the God of the Underworld, who embodied the inexorable finality of death. He was revered and feared in equal measure, a God who was depicted as stern, harsh and unforgiving of anyone who tried to escape or cheat death. In short, you are both glad that you were born into the modern world. Facing enough death for one day, you escape the museum and wander into Santorini, where you hike from Fira to Oia, marveling at the whitewashed, cubiform houses that cling to cliffs above an underwater caldera. You take a winery tour and enjoy the best wine that Greece has to offer, which you pair with mouthwatering Posa cheese, matured in a rich red wine. Sumptuous and delectable you are plied with large round green olives, juicy and plump, popping them into your mouths like cherries. And as the sun sets, Greece comes alive, a riotous display of folkloric dancing and live music, as you drink and eat until the early hours of the morning. You lie in, as the sun streams through the windows, caressing your partner, in a game of big spoon, little spoon. You win, of course.
As you fasten your seatbelts wearily, you sink into a dreamless dream, where nothing and everything collide together in one paradoxical vision. But then you land and as you step off the plane, leaning on your partner for support, you come alive once more, blessed by the Balinese air that brushes the shadows that cling to you with desperation, away.Morning has broken and you both wake refreshed and ready to take on the miracles that today will bring. You start with exploring an alternative side of Bali, where an underground street movement is emerging from behind the lush green rice fields. Local artists use art as an expression of their distaste towards the politicization of their society, where their colourful murals pay homage to the corruption of its very own government. You feel the rebellion course through your veins as you too are incensed by the injustice of how the locals are treated. But despite the hardships they have faced, they do seem happy, content to show you around their temples like Tanah Lot, a floating sea temple that is anchored to the sea like a pair of entwined lovers.
You feel the spiritual energy moving through the temples with the fluidity and grace of a ballet dancer, while you watch the waves beneath you spray you with salty sea foam. The air is ripe and pregnant with possibilities and it spells out a new destiny for you and your partner. You were once a tourist, but now you are both nomadic travelers, backpacking around the world in the search of honeymoon destinations abroad that will take your breath away. You chow down on Nasi Timbel (rice wrapped in banana leaves), washed down with a refreshing glass of coconut milk, topped with fresh fruit and a hint of coconut cream. But it is your journey to ‘The Broken Sea’ (Pasih Uug) that takes your breath away, as you watch turquoise and blue merge together, like a painters canvas, as they caress the rock arch in a passionate lovers embrace. Their master was once a magnificent cave, who looked after all her children and lovers, with a kind and generous hug. But over time, she watched herself slip away, until one day, she was a fragment of her former self. But her children and loved ones, pointed out the humans who came to worship her, who reveled in her imperfect beauty and she felt consoled, reassured by the flattery of a million strangers. And you too felt the divine call of the rock arches power, that reached out to you and banished the demons, throwing them into the cavernous blue waters that stretched out below.
You are both animal lovers; ever since you were a little girl, you would dream of taking in stray animals and giving them a forever home. You would cleanse their wounds and nurse them back to health, you would give them the life that they deserved, away from the pain and torture they had faced. There would be cats and dogs and rabbits too, but you would also adopt animals in the wild, giving them a chance to thrive in a habitat that they were born into. Here in Borneo, you feel the same affection rushing back as you are tickled pink by the cute little monkeys in Klias Wetlands, who swing through the trees, without a care in the world. But it is the baby Orangutans at Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary that makes your heart melt, who were saved from poaching, after the poachers killed their mothers. You have to wipe away tears angrily, so stumped by how anyone could be cold hearted enough to kill such beautiful animals and you pledge to raise awareness.
You sign petitions and together you and your partner campaign in the streets, against the poachers who think its ok to harm critically endangered animals. And its not just orangutans either; the edges of the reserve are fringed with mangrove swamps, that provide secure shelter for dolphins and dugongs, that are constantly being tracked by poachers. Day three arrives and you leave the animals behind , albeit reluctantly in search of the next adventure that Borneo has to offer. You climb Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia’s highest peak, marveling at the sunrise as you reach the peak, feeling like you are standing on top of the world. And when at last you are tired beyond belief you unwind at the beautiful Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, 5 islands of pure, unadulterated bliss.
Middle East: Abu Dhabi
You leave the beaches behind and step into a modern world, where skyscrapers dwarf the desert landscape, where cars are worth more than your entire house and where moonlight dinners seem to be the order of the day. You are welcomed into Abu Dhabi with a pomp and flourish, as you step into a Middle Eastern Metropolis that is flanked by five-star resorts, immaculate beaches and designer boutiques. You begin with a trip to Ferrari World the world’s largest indoor theme park, located in city’s Yas Marina Circuit, where the annual Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is held. You both scream and laugh in equal measure,as you race down the worlds fastest roller coaster, before gasping at the photos that captured you on the rollercoaster. It was hilarious. But nothing could have you prepared you both for the thrill of sandboarding down dunes in a dessert safari, which encompassed camel riding, dinner and belly dancing all in one evening of guaranteed fun. You raced in the 4 x 4, as your tour guide was on hand to take you through traditional desert culture, drawing you into a world of semi-nomadic Bedouin peoples.
You rode a camel through the sand dunes, watching as the sun set, creating a patchwork of inky black shadows, across the sand. But it was the adrenaline rush of grabbing a ‘sandboard’ and surfing down the sand dunes, that made you laugh, as you watched each other struggle to conquer your sandy mistress who reveled at you falling into her silky soft sand arms. Exhausted you sat before an open fire, grateful for the Arabian Barbecue that was coming your way; your partner feasted on kebabs while you had delicious hummus and fresh salad, as you watched the belly dancers before you who writhed like snakes in open flames. And when they suggested that you both get hennaed you welcomed the suggestion with an open heart, marveling at the intricate patterns that snaked down your hands and fingertips, in a beautiful shade of brick red.
You were coming to the end of your honeymoons abroad trip, but you still had two countries to go and up next on your list was Beijing. You decided to seek a hidden world, away from the Great Wall Of China. a world that the locals had taken great care to preserve as though they still lived in the past. There was the Forbidden City that sat on the northern edge of Tiananmen Square, an intricate labyrinth of squares, halls, gates, pavilions, sleeping quarters, and temples. At the epicenter of Beiiing, the Forbidden City, otherwise known as the ‘Imperial Palace’ houses a 500 year history of sordid secrets. Once home to 24 emperors from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Quing dynasty (1420 to 1912), its walls has seen rebellion, abdication, war , damage and even a fire set by Li Zicheng. Zicheng was head of the rebel forces who after capturing The Imperial Palace decided that he would become emperor of the Shun Dynasty at The Forbidden City, which was previously at the seat of the Ming Dynasty.
You wander into the Imperial Garden after witnessing the Palaces bloodthirsty history and you are soothed by the flowers that are vibrant and bright, soothing in their simple nature. You escape the concrete jungle of Tiananmen Square and breathe in the fresh air that Beihai Gongyuan encompasses. You take a ride in an ancient pagoda, overlooking the green space that has been preserved as a sanctuary for over 1,000 years. The trees curl up together for comfort and you and your partner do the same, lulled by the gentle tranquility of Beihai Park.
Vietnam: Phan Tiet
You both glance down at your bucket list, all but one country ticked off the list, Vietnam it is time. You leave your bags behind at your hotel in Phan Tiet, ready to experience Vietnamese culture. You take a dip in the ‘Fairy Stream’, walking through this hidden stream, which weaves through limestone formations in vibrant shades of oranges and pinks that dance along lush green woodland in natural harmony. Your feet are wet but refreshingly so and as you walk past fishing villages, your mouth hangs open agape. A dramatic waterfall cascading and majestic stands before you, a towering symbol of strength. After all that walking you are famished and recommended by the locals, you head to Deja Vu Vietnam, a cozy, casual restaurant, where you can watch a traditional Folkloric culture show, every Wednesday. You watch in amusement as locals tuck into what they call a ‘Jungle Set’ which encompasses frog, snake, ostrich, scorpion and crocodile, thanking your lucky stars that as a vegetarian, you can have ‘less exotic’ dishes like thick noodle veggie soup or rice and tofu. Your partner decides much to your relief that they will be a vegetarian for one night only, not quite as pleased to find crocodile on the menu as some of the other tourists.
Stomachs full, you go quad biking across the sand dunes in Mui Ne and Phan Tiet, feeling the rush of the wind on your face, as you whizz around the dunes, without a care in the world. You hear the waves crashing an the children laughing , before you fall into the sand and roll around like a pair of teenagers who are puppy sick with love. You dip your toes tenaciously into the oceans waters , but the mermaids are nowhere to be found so you go exploring instead. There is a castle and his name is ‘Princes’, sitting atop a deserted French estate on Ong Hoang Hill. The stillness is almost eerie, as you explore its haunted grounds but it is the nearby tomb of Vietnamese poet Han Mac Tu lie, that marks the finality of your trip. As your plane crashes back to reality ad you enter the office world once more, you remember the memories shared abroad, where the only thing that mattered was making the most of your short sweet lives. But in eternity, hands clasped you will remember, all the 10 honeymoon destinations abroad that you and your partner visited, in those short sweet six months.
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