While I was able to visit most of the places that I set my heart on in Asia, there is never enough time to do everything you want. Sometimes, it is because work takes priority; sometimes because health does; and sometimes because family does. But I am grateful for visiting the countries that I did!
Here are 3 places I would recommend you to visit in Asia:
Forts, palaces, deserts, and wait lakes?! Yup, Rajasthan has all that and much more.
Start from Jodhpur, India by visiting Mehrangarh Fort and the hidden queen's stepped well. The Fort is so huge that you may need days to really experience every nook and crany of it with due appreciation. In fact, I would also recommend going up the Fort to the Mata's temple. Remember to remove your footwear before stepping up the temple!
Next stop, Udaipur - If you take a flight, you will land by a lake. Then take a taxi to the City Palace. In the early morning light, the quiet and solitude you experience around the Palace is refreshing.
Then, Jaipur - A different vibe altogether with busy streets that were wide enough from generations ago, to accommodate the increasing city population. Every few blocks, you will be able to find good eats, yummy local curdy drinks, and fascinating historical buildings like the Hawa Mahal.
And, if you would like to, Pushkar - You will find many tourists here visiting the Bathing Ghat. But beware those who ask for money in exchange for prayers. My recommendation - stay aloof and focus on the ghat itself as the sun sets behind the buildings in the city. If you are interested, you may even take a few minutes in the day to visit Hanuman Gali, named after a popular Hindi TV show.
Inle Lake, Myanmar
My favourite experience in Myanmar was the boat ride along Inle Lake, known for its fishermen who row the boat with one foot while using their hands to hold their coned nets and catch fish.
Taking the bus to the Lake was an experience in itself. On a top of the line VIP bus, served by an usher, provided fresh snacks for the night journey, and surrounded by earphones with which we could watch our own private movie on the seat in front of us. And, a reclining chair. Wow!
Once the bus stopped at the village close to the Lake, the next 10 minutes were spent in a private car, and the car (when requested) took us to a local service provider for boat tours.
As I sat in the boat, I covered my head with a scarf, to shield my eyes from the sun. We passed floating farms with cows and chickens, houses on stilts with clothes hanging outside to dry, and tufts of green dotting the lake. We also visited tourist centres where we could buy souvenirs, not my thing!
Soon, I was told I could lay on my back, while the boat drifted on the water. How could I refuse?
As I slept there facing the sky, I could see the clouds. And, each time the boat passed a fenced gateway, the water level would drop, and the boat would take a small nose dive into the water.
The best moments in life are in nature, silent, feeling fresh waves and a beautiful breeze.
Lantau Island, Hong Kong
Hong Kong is built for tourism you could say, with its transportation pass (Octopus Card) that allows you to access trains and buses, pay for food, and even jump the line at tourist attractions.
With a handy dandy tourist map from the airport, all you need to do is select where you will be visiting and take off to a nearby station. Then follow the train map that is pasted at the top of every door on the train and find your way to the train station closest to your destination.
In fact, I highly recommend staying at Beepackers; although the bathrooms in reasonably-priced hostels in Hong Kong can only fit one toilet seat and you must learn to shower over it. You will have fast access to the park close by, the harbour, and the station which I recommend you take to see the Big Buddha. Along the way, stare out the windows as you near Tung Chung station - you will be able to see tree stumps jutting out the waters, ship yards, and green islands.
Hong Kong was one city that proved that it can be a natural hub too!
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Cambodia is known for Siem Reap, and Siem Reap is known for Angkor Wat. But did you know that Angkor Wat is part of a temple complex that also contains Angkor Thom and other temples.
Grab a map from the payment centre the day before, pay for your visual identification, and plan an early start the next morning. Arrive at Angkor Wat before sunrise and pick a spot within the temple to watch the sun rise in the distance. Make sure you have your day rickshaw ready to take you to the next temple - Google what you should be paying for a day rickshaw drive (do not trust the drivers).
You will be amazed by faces of the Buddha on the sides of the temples, large elephants carved into the bases, and the vastness of the temple complex is incredible too. Remember to carry multiple bottles of water with you, as you climb each temple!
Of course, there are also other places I would recommend that you visit like
Sri Lanka - a train ride is the best way to do this; Vietnam - to the stepped farms and national parks in the North; and Malaysia - to the Chinese temples with red lanterns showering wishes over your head.
But, the above three places gives you desert, lake, and green for the perfect trifecta!