The idea of bucket list is infinite in my world, or rather I’d say it will be a forever checklist to do. Every time we all plan our vacation’s; we always go back and make sure that we’re ticking off one of our “à couper le souffles”.
Bucket list for some, however, is a dream come true. While some might enjoy a trek to Machu Pichu or experience a bright fairyland in the Arctic sky, for some it could be a picturesque holiday in one of the world’s most beautiful places like Fiordland National Park in New Zealand or Moraine Lake in Canada or even Avenue of the Baobabs in Madagascar.
We caught up with some of the jetsetter socialites in Singapore who have travelled widely across the world. Here’s what they shared about their bucket list stories based on their dreams, passions, inspirations, choice of impactful destinations, and most importantly for a good social cause.
DR IROSHNI CHUA
MEDICAL DIRECTOR AT DR KEVIN CHUA MEDICAL & AESTHETICS, CO-FOUNDER OF SKINCARE RANGE, KEVIN CHUA AESTHETICS
I love high altitude mountainous villages and all that it offers from fresh air to fresh produce to ancient cultures. I have had the opportunity to travel to many of the places I have dreamt about. Visiting all seven continents, I have seen the seven wonders of the new world. I have had close encounters of the wildlife of Antarctica, Amazon, Africa; taken the golden eagle trans-Siberian express; ridden horses across the Gobi desert; cruised through the Galápagos Islands; observed fascinating cultures in Easter Island, Peru, Bhutan; seen the most spell-bounding landscapes in Chile and New Zealand; and experienced some of the most luxurious private islands like The North Island and Laucala.
As to my bucket list, I am looking forward to exploring what Colombia has to offer and experience a cloudless Sky in Uyuni salt flats. I would also like to venture back to the arctic for a polar bear encounter.
I believe Africa is a place that both inspires and intrigues me. I have travelled to many countries of the continent and each visit has been an opportunity to contribute towards conservation of animals and their habitat, the culture, and the people of the continent.
AUTHOR, GEMOLOGIST & PHILANTHROPIST
After circumnavigating the globe and visiting 116 countries, ultimately gaining a Guinness World Record for the feat almost two decades ago, my travels now revolve around family. My daughters Happy (17) and Bee (12) dream of visiting the Maldives, so that is on our bucket list.
Since my husband Jim and I loved Positano, La Paz, and Perito Merino during our world adventure, we want to share these special places with our girls. India and Egypt, with such extraordinary sites and history, will be incredible learning opportunities for them also.
Although I have explored more than I ever imagined, I remain greedy to explore further, like Sardinia, Sicily, Crete, Greece. As a trained gemologist, I would love to visit one of the diamond mines in South Africa or Canada. And, since I have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro twice alone, and once with Happy, I would like to return for a fourth (and final?) time with Bee, when she’s a bit older.
At the end of last year, Bee and I visited Nepal on a mission trip to help build homes for needy families with Operation Hope Foundation. A wonderful bonding time for the two of us, Bee and I agreed that having a service element to our travels gave the experience added meaning and relevance.
ANDREA DE CRUZ
ENTREPRENEUR & MEDIA PERSONALITY
I am a fan of raw, untouched, remote places. On the top on my list is Cuba because it is changing quickly since it opened up to tourism in 2016. It’s still largely untouched – the cars, the music, the cigars, the cocktails, the vibrant colours, and offers the opportunity to experience socialism first- hand.
I am intrigued by countries with deep religious and cultural roots, and history like Iran, Bhutan, Tibet, Cuba, Portugal, Nepal, Israel and Lebanon. Israel is another intriguing country and if I do make the trip, I would travel into Jordan and definitely spend some time in Petra and then make sure I get to Palestine, Bethlehem and Jerusalem. I could definitely benefit from a better appreciation of history and understanding better about other religions such as Buddhism, Islam, Judaism etc.
However, if there was one country that I could make an impact on, it will be Bhutan. I would like to teach English to young girls in the nunneries, providing them with a few decent meals, and telling them how inspired I am with their strength.
ACTOR, AUTHOR, PHILANTHROPIST
As a child I memorised the atlas on a purple shag rug in the late 70s, as I wrote in my book ‘Close to the Bone’. I have lived in around eight different cities and travelled relentlessly since I was 16. My travel dreams have evolved dramatically in the last few years. Mindful and eco-conscious travel is more on my agenda now. I have been to most of the place I craved to see, now it’s about returning to places that resonate with me. The only places on my bucket list left are Norway and the Scandinavian countries.
Some of the places that bring me to peace are spiritual and wellness retreats in Bali and the Himalayas. My other passions of kayaking, hiking and wilderness trekking are fulfilled in Nelson BC in interior British Colombia where we have a home.
Creating impact for me means helping local economies and empowering women and children. My travels to small towns and hamlets in India have shown me that a lot can be done there. I also want to support Cambodia as a lot of healing and relief work is much needed.
FOUNDER AND MANAGING DIRECTOR OF MERCURY MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS
I’ve been blessed to have checked off almost all the destinations on my bucket list, but my dream is to be able to explore these places with my sons. On the wish list remains Portugal, Brazil and Egypt.
One of the most charming places to me is Africa. It has a rhythm all its own, and is so unlike any other continent on the planet. It’s truly the cradle of civilisation, grand, glorious and incredibly humbling at the same time. When in Africa, I really feel connected to nature, the entire continent pulses with its own wild heartbeat. I’ve visited Kenya and South Africa so far and looking forward to be in Zimbabwe in the near future.
We’ve been making annual trips to Cambodia with Singapore-based charity Operation Hope Foundation, where we worked with them to create a family-friendly experience “Holiday for Hope” incorporating sightseeing and amazing experiences of the destination and also lets the families provide hands-on aid to the schools and beneficiaries supported by the charity. Last year we made the trip to Nepal with OHF. Travel can be an education, especially when you stray off the beaten path, and choose destinations that are meaningful and enriching.
PROPERTY DEVELOPER & FASHIONISTA MOTHER
I love travelling especially with my family. I have not been on African Safari, (Masai Mara) and that’s something on my bucket list. I believe Skiing brings out the best in me, even though I am not the best skier (an understatement) but I love the sport, and really do put in my best effort.
My husband and I also enjoy snowshoeing which is hiking in the snow. The last place we went Skiing was Courchevel. It was a 10 km trek in the snow, uphill and downhill, extremely exhausting but an unbelievable experience.
When I was 21, my parents arranged for us to visit an orphanage in India. It was a true eye-opener for me. I have always wanted to go back. My sister-in-law and I also want to reach out to Nepal.
I’ve never been to South America, and it’s been my dream for years to plan a family trip around the continent. Machu Picchu, Rio, Buenos Aires, Colombia, Cartagena…these destinations are filled with such a long and incredibly rich history, and I’ve always wanted to visit to learn more about such a vibrant culture.
For the past few years, we’ve made it a tradition to do a few weeks in the summer in Italy with some of our closest friends, and each time it’s been a novel adventure as we all lead each other in different directions.
Being a designer, I also find its art and fashion scene to be deeply inspiring. I strive to imbue my jewellery and fashion sense with the elegance and refinement of the Italians — a few years ago, when I was designing the interior of my house, I took a trip to Milan by myself just to pick out Italian designed furniture which is the ultimate in style and comfort in my opinion and of course stock up on a few must-have shoes of the season!
CO-FOUNDER, BANYAN TREE HOLDINGS
Travel destinations for me are age-specific. Romance in Bali forest resorts was a memorable experience when we had no children; the vastness of land in New Zealand and its 3 million sheep was a delight with growing children, followed by the delights of major cities and adventure trips from European cruises to mountain trekking becoming our purposeful travels when children got older.
One country that I would like to explore now is Japan. At the same time, I would like to travel to China because of my love for its history and culture. I hope to find the time, space, place and mentor to stir my historical imagination in order to re-interpret my heritage and appreciate the transformation arising from the great migration across oceans by my forebears.
I believe Mindful travel can be virtual and it is as far and good as technology could enable you. I am connected to different people in different places by Zoom lately to compose a mindful community based on what we care about – environment, women, sustainability, hospitality, entrepreneurship, books and values. The impact is self-directed, virtual, viral and global.
DR ELAINE KIM
CO-FOUNDER & CEO OF TREHAUS SCHOOL
I love travelling, especially with my family. I’ve got three kids, Nine, seven and three and as a doctor and entrepreneur, it’s sometimes hard to give them the focus they deserve in the busy-ness of life in Singapore. When I travel with them, it’s a cherished opportunity for true quality time with the children, and a chance to create memories that will shape them, and an opportunity to expand their horizons (I’m a big believer of learning through travel).
The world is so big and there are countless destinations on my bucket list. We particularly love far-flung locations that offer a chance for some adventure. Next on our list is probably an African safari, as my husband and I have loved our safari adventures, and can’t wait to have our kids come along now they are old enough. It’s also our ten year wedding anniversary this year, and we had a trip to Greece planned to celebrate. We also love cruises, the boys love Disney cruises in particular and we plan to take a boat to Antarctica, which we were one strait away from reaching on our last trip to South America.
Travel also offers me a chance to learn myself. I am the co-founder of a preschool called Trehaus School, which takes inspiration from the latest research-based pedagogies and philosophies from around the world. I’ve have learned a lot from visiting schools around the world and experiencing the education system in different countries, and we have adopted philosophies at Trehaus from inspiring schools I visited in Silicon Valley, UK, Reggio Emilia and Finland.
Finally, as my life is guided by a desire to create an impact, I also often travel to try and make a positive difference in the places we visit, especially on trips with the children. I also co-founded a non-profit social enterprise called Crib –that has a charity arm – Crib Gives Back, and we created this signature program called ‘Holiday for Hope’. It engages women entrepreneurs and leaders to create an impact on women and children in need around the world. We have done trips in Cambodia where we worked with local villages to help provide medical check-ups, build proper sanitary systems, school libraries and children’s playgrounds, and in Nepal where we helped to rebuild homes for families hit by natural disasters.
DR BERNARD CHEONG
WATCH COLLECTOR & HOROLOGIST
I am grateful that my family has completed our bucket list. Whenever we travel it is about luxury of choice and no longer about a destination. The travel places we choose, now focuses more on the colour and feel of the atmosphere and the framework of society within the country. I would love to go close to Arctic Circle and maybe Homer Alaska.
The Komodo Islands has been a place close to my heart and a destination that has brought the best in me. The idea of just chilling and unwinding on a private comfortable 180-foot yacht with ten friends and 5 to 8 bedrooms is something I look forward to. A beautiful experience to only chill and no effort is required for the travellers during the stay on board: no diving, no fishing, no cooking, no maintenance. A crew of 18- 23 does all the work, providing the best hospitality and to be a guide to the islands.
An impact as a traveller would be the Japanese towns that are culturally intact after 1950.
Inspirational livelihoods and frameworks for me would be the minimalist aspects of Japanese lives in the remote areas. ◼
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© This article was first published online in July 2020 – World Travel Magazine.