A trip through Iran, a cruise on a traditional Dhoni boat around some Maldivian islands, a trip along the Pamir Highway in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan by 4×4 and by train on the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Beijing, the National Parks in Southern Africa and the Victoria Falls, West Africa and Ethiopia – my travel wish list is long and instead of getting shorter it is getting longer and longer.

For 2019, Iran and the Maldives were at the top of my bucket list. In Iran, I would like to visit Isfahan, Shiraz, Yazd, Persepolis, Kerman, Abyaneh, Kashan and Tehran and spend a night in an old caravanserai. Instead of visiting the Maldives on a cruise with a huge cruise ship or spending a week or two at the same hotel, I would like to sail through the South Malé Atoll with a traditional Dhoni boat. Since November, the travel plans for the upcoming year are completed and my long-distance trip is booked. I chose to take a Dhoni cruise in the Maldives.

 

ITB in Berlin

But first, on March 5, I will head to the ITB in Berlin. Already in August, I booked my flights from Cologne to Berlin and back. Originally, I wanted to stay four nights, spend two days at the ITB and one and a half days in Berlin. But because of the Maldives trip, I will only stay in Berlin for two days and I will fly back in the afternoon of March 7 instead of March 9.

 

Maldives

Already one day later, on March 8 in the evening, I will be flying to the Maldives. But different than many times, I will not travel alone. This time, my boyfriend Bengt will travel with me. It will be our first common trip together for a long time, although we have been together for more than sixteen years. But in the past few years, he neither had time nor money for such a holiday. In addition, we have different preferences in terms of travel. While he loves tranquility, likes to go fishing and can imagine to  spend a week or two in the same log cabin in Canada or at a fjord in Norway, I love big cities and want to see as much of a country as possible even in a short time. However, for me, a solid relationship is not a contradiction to solo travel, quite the contrary. We always have a lot to talk about afterwards. However, the trip to the Maldives is perfect for both of us because we will see something new every day without constantly changing hotels.

We will land in Malé in the afternoon and spend the first night in a hotel. In the morning of the second day we will meet our group and drive together to the port of Malé, where we will board a Dhoni. Dhonis are traditional boats that were formerly used for fishing and transporting goods. Our Dhoni offers space for a maximum of eight passengers, a local guide and four crew members. Therewith, we will cruise through the South Malé Atoll for six days, go snorkelling and swimming, visit sandbanks and islands and mingle with the locals on an inhabited island. We will also sleep on board.

Afterwards, we will spend four more days in a small hotel on the inhabited island of Maafushi, before we will fly home on March 20.

 

Inspirations for You

Are you still looking for a travel destination for 2019? Then you should definitely consider a trip to China.

 

China

I have been to China eight times already and lived in Beijing from August 2017 to January 2018. At the latest during my second stay in the Middle Kingdom in spring 2013, I fell in love with the country if not even before. Three of my best trips ever were my first China tour, which took me through the southwestern Chinese province Yunnan and the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) in July an August 2010, my first Eastern China trip in spring 2013 and my journey along the Silk Road of China in October 2014.

Mingsha Sandduenen Dunhuang Gansu China ASIENThe Mingsha Sanddunes near Dunhuang – Photo taken by John He (my local guide)

In the Chinese capital, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall of China are absolute Must-Sees. Many tourists visit the section of the Great Wall in Badaling, which is well preserved, but crowded, especially on weekends. More worthwhile are the Great Wall at Mutianyu,especially during the week, or the unrestored section in Gubeikou. In Beijing, a visit to the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace and a walk or a tour through one of the Hutongs may not be missed. The Confucius and Lama Temple as well as the 798 Art Zone are also worth a visit. The Daoist Dongyue Miao Temple near the Worker Stadium is a real insider tip and is also unknown to many locals and foreigners living in Beijing.

Yonghe Gong, aka Lama Tempel, in Beijing

From Beijing you should definitely fly or take the train to Xi’an and visit the Terracotta Warriors. You also shouldn’t miss the Great Mosque and the Muslim Quarter – the latter especially in the evening -, the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower. Shanghai with The Bund and the skyline of Pudong are also very worth a visit. If you want to see the Giant Pandas, you should travel to the Panda Breeding Sanctuary in Chengdu. In addition, the Ancient Town and the People’s Park should be on your itinerary. Yangshuo and Guilin in Southern China are captivating with their beautiful karst landscape along the Li River. In Yangshuo, you can take a boat or a bamboo raft ride on the river and participate in a cooking class with an included visit to the local market, rent a bike and explore the area for a day or two and watch Zhang Yimou’s Sound & Light Show.

Pandas Chengdu Sichuan China ASIENPandas in the Panda Breeding Sanctuary in Chengdu

If you are in China between the end of December and the end of February, be sure to fly to Harbin, Heilongjiang Province in the Northeast of the country and visit the world’s largest Ice festival, the Harbin Ice Festival. I was there in January this year and I fulfilled myself a long-cherished dream with this visit.

Harbin Ice and Snow Festival Ice and Snow World Harbin Heilongjiang China ASIAHarbin Ice Festival

The title photo shows an island in French Polynesia in the South Pacific and was provided to me by Marie of Senioren um die Welt.

With this blog article I take part in the blog parade “Destinations 2019 – Inspiration and tips for your vacation” by Saskia from the travel blog Ai See the World. There, you will find further suggestions from other travel bloggers.

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