5 Places I Would Revisit in a Heartbeat

I travel to collect memories. I want to look back at my life, many years from now, after my body has packed in and my mind is on its own visceral way out, and hope that snapshots of my travels will be one of the few, clear experiences that I cling onto like glue.

There are some places I’ve been that have stayed with me more than others, impossible to forget. They are all incredibly different but share a propensity for being close to nature, which is something that only dawned on me until I had written this list. I live in London, and I love cities, but clearly they are no match against what Mother Nature has to offer: She has a beauty I can do nothing but surrender to.

So without further ado, here are 5 places I would revisit in a heartbeat.


Svalbard, Norway

Svalbard landscape, ice floes

If you follow me on facebook you will know that I am completely infatuated with this place. It’s been nearly a year since I visited this glacier-coated island and there is not a day gone by that I haven’t thought about it. See! I even talk about it like I’m a love-sick teenager! But can you blame me? Just look at it.

However, this place isn’t all about looks. It’s about how it makes you feel. The exhilaration you get when you know there is not a single thing you’d rather be doing. That’s how Svalbard made me feel.  It’s tormenting, so in a way, I hate it too.


Sabah, Malaysian Borneo

Sabah, Floating Villages

Half of my family live in Malaysia so I have an affinity with this country. It was the first country I visited outside of Europe when I was seven; I remember the mango trees, sticky humidity, stray dogs, marble floors and cockroaches: everything felt so exotic and it was at this point in my life that I was bitten by the travelbug, along with a million mosquitoes.

However, my family live on Penninsula Malaysia, I didn’t visit Sabah which is separated from Peninsula Malaysia by the South China Sea, and is geographically part of Borneo, until I was nineteen. I loved Kinabalu – its capital – small in size with a local feel mixed with a cosmopolitan buzz but without all the skyscrapers you’d find in Kuala Lumper. And not far from the city you can find floating villages, endless forest, mountainous landscapes, and extraordinary wildlife.


Yosemite National Park, US

Yosemite National Park, river

If someone says Utopia, I say Yosemite. I love this place and dream about going back so I can throw shapes up in the air, spot another bear, and sing-a-long- to the Sound of Music a à la Julie Andrews style. As night falls I then retire inside a cosy log cabin and snuggle up inside a blanket and listen out for encroaching animals.

During my visit to Yosemite, I stayed in a tent cabin with my friend, Harriet. It was basic but all we needed. However, we made an unexpected friend in the middle of the night: a little mouse that had squeezed its way into our tent and became caught somewhere between the crevices in the material. We tried to let him out but he was a nifty, little thing so we accepted defeat and tried to go back to sleep. But he wouldn’t let us. He spent the night furiously trying to scratch his way back to freedom. But there were no winners, he didn’t escape and we didn’t sleep. In the morning we changed tents and that night we slept like dogs, however, next time I’m in Yosemite I want to stay in a log cabin – somewhere a little bit more mouse-proof!


Anhui, China

Buddhists, Anhui, China

This province in China is full of nature and local life. I lived here when I was 21 and I’d love to relive some of the memories I have of this place, and I’m very interested to see how it’s changed. Even in the short time I was there new buildings were constantly being erected and I could see marked urban differences from when I arrived to when I left.

Although I enjoyed finding a nice, quiet spot along the Yangtze River not far from where I lived in the city of Wuhu, and took pleasure in seeing how hoards of elderly people gathered together playing marjong in the parks, Anhui is best for its beautiful landscape away from the cities. Don’t miss Yellow Mountain (Huangshan) where Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was filmed, and whatever you do, don’t missed Mount JiuHua, one of the four great Buddhist Mountains of China. The views. Oh the views.


Stradbroke Island, Australia

Stradbroke Island, Australia

One night on Stradbroke Island is not enough; it’s a haven of dramatic cliffs, white beaches and miles upon miles of oceanic views. To get here you need to take a boat from Brisbane and once you arrive you’ll feel like you’ve hit the jack pot. The biggest jack pot came for me when I climbed to a look-out point and spotted whales swimming not far away from the bottom of the cliff face. Even thinking about it now makes me sigh with a certain kind of fulfilment (mixed with a strange envy towards the 19-year old me in this photo).


Where would you love to revisit?

A travel & culture blog specialising in Scandinavia and the Arctic, peppered with the rest of the world in between.

'5 Places I Would Revisit in a Heartbeat' have 16 comments

  1. August 30, 2014 @ 11:16 pm Charlie

    Thanks for nominating me 🙂

    These places all look incredible. I’ve been to Iceland but never experienced anything in the same league as Svalbard, would really love to visit there.

    I’m struggling to think of ‘revisiting’ anywhere… I have incredibly fond memories of a lot of places – Taiwan, in particular, but also China, Poland, Sweden… I always feel like there is so so much more out there to be explored that I’m not ready to revisit. Maybe in 10 years time that will change though.

    Oh, the beautiful world…


    • September 2, 2014 @ 4:45 pm admin

      Svalbard is incredible, for someone like you who loves nature then I think you’d find it very intoxicating.

      I’m the same, 9 times out of 10 I would prefer to visit somewhere new but then there are some places that gnaw away at me and I can’t get them out of my head. You mentioned another one of those places – Poland – that’s a very, very, very, very special country.


  2. August 31, 2014 @ 12:29 am RealGunners

    I would’ve thought Madrid would be in the list. So no to ideal man and yes to husband material city 😀
    I wouldn’t mind revisiting London and Tokyo, just because my previous visits have not felt enjoyable but I know they have potential to be so much more!


    • September 2, 2014 @ 5:02 pm admin

      Haha, if I had done something like my top 5 cities, then Madrid would have been in there (I did think about him when I wrote this. He’s still on my mind ;-))

      “I wouldn’t mind revisiting London and Tokyo, just because my previous visits have not felt enjoyable but I know they have potential to be so much more!” – I love that you want to give places a second chance. So many external factors can determine whether we like a city or not, and more often than not it’s never the city but rather ourselves or the whether or something equally common. London is an awesome city, and I’m dying to visit Tokyo!!


  3. August 31, 2014 @ 1:26 pm Pam | a Blonde around the World

    Such incredible places! The Svalbard islands are so high on my bucket list and so is the Yosemite Park! I like the fact that you listed a lot of nature in this list, as you said, cities are great but they are no match against what Mother Nature has to offer! I totally agree with you!!


    • September 4, 2014 @ 8:41 am admin

      Svalbard and Yosemite are my favs too Pam! It’s perfect when you find a place that has both city life and nature – like your beloved Stockholm!


  4. August 31, 2014 @ 5:18 pm Mary {The World Is A Book}

    These 5 places are all gorgeous! I can only attest to Yosemite though. We never made it to Stradbroke Islands like you recommended since we didn’t have enough time. I always love how you portray places and can’t get enough of your Norway photos. Thanks for the nomination, Shing!


    • September 4, 2014 @ 8:46 am admin

      Thanks Mary! You’re so lucky to live in California, with places like Yosemite within reach! Looking forward to seeing where you choose!


  5. August 31, 2014 @ 8:58 pm jenny@atasteoftravel

    Thanks for the nomination Shing. If we love a city or country we’ll often go back and revisit. Even though there are many places I haven’t been to I do love the familiarity of returning. This year we’ve been back to Croatia and Turkey is on the list for next month! I’d go back to New York and Paris when ever I could! Actually you could add Rome to that list and Piemonte too. Oh I forgot Sicily! There are so many places! I really must visit your beloved Norway though!


    • September 4, 2014 @ 3:53 pm admin

      I agree Jenny, it’s a really nice feeling to return back to a place. It’s impossible to get to know somewhere from one visit. It can be tempting not to return to places because the world is so vast and wide and beautiful and the lure of visiting new places is great, but one must try!!

      I’d love to save some money, go back to New York, and try some of those restaurants you recommended. Mmmmm that would be heaven.


  6. September 1, 2014 @ 12:15 pm Jared

    Fantastic post Shing! Love that you chose some more unusual destinations.


    • September 4, 2014 @ 4:02 pm admin

      Thank you, happy you enjoyed seeing them Jared! 🙂


  7. September 10, 2014 @ 6:11 pm Agness

    I really want to see you back in Norway. Your photos from there were so amazing!! x


    • September 23, 2014 @ 7:05 am admin

      Agness, I really want to see myself back in Norway!! I’m happy you like my photos of Norway, thanks chica! X


  8. November 5, 2014 @ 12:09 am Anne Chung

    Thank you for nominating Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Its been 30 years since I left and I keep wondering why I haven’t returned all these years. Maybe now I have a reason to return to visit.


  9. November 29, 2014 @ 3:55 am Again And Again And Again - Colleen Brynn Travels

    […] in this blogger contest relay, once by my friend Rika (Cubicle Throwdown) and once by the lovely Shing (The Culture Map). These are two blogs that I LOVE, and the ladies behind the content are equally charming and […]


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