What’s your favourite country in the world?

By Abi King | Travel Chat

Dec 19

What's your favourite country in the world

What’s your favourite country in the world?

I’m often asked about my favourite country in the world.

It is, of course, a question without an answer. At least not a real one.

Countries and cultures are complicated things and that’s without getting into what I was doing, who I was with and how I was feeling when I went there.

But to avoid sounding too precious and annoying, I usually ignore all that and come out with something vaguely acceptable. People are, usually, just trying to make pleasant conversation.

 

Paris at Night via @insidetravellab

Paris: beautiful from any angle

My stock response…

 

So I say, for cities, you can’t beat Paris, London, Cape Town. For landscapes, my mind returns to Patagonia, Tanzania, Botswana.

But already the list is growing too long, too complicated, too segmented.

And, to be completely honest, I haven’t even really got started yet.

What about the cultural overload of Japan? The “turn-everything-you-thought-you-knew-upside-down” ness of travel in the US, in Spain, or through the Middle East?

The great food of France, of Quito, of Rome? And the wild night safaris along the river in Borneo? The cool mountain air in Colombia and the lime-scented sunshine of the Caribbean and its unmistakable steel bands?

Before too long, I realise that my answer begins to rewrite the whole of this blog.

And I always end up missing something important out.

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And in a way, I suppose that’s what Inside the Travel Lab is all about, at its heart. A catalogue of all my favourite places as I travel around in search of more.

So instead, perhaps the question should be: in which country have I felt the happiest?

And that, without doubt, is Oman.

The country itself promises those unspoilt beaches, those mountain ranges filled with orchards and date palms.

Desert sands and camels. Turtles hatching on the shore…

A friendly welcome. Incense. Tradition, culture, progress.

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Fish sculpture in the harbour in Oman

Fish sculpture in the harbour in Oman

But I have to be honest.

It was the favourite part of my honeymoon. And then “babymoon” (some years) after that.

And so, these two fish, leaping on the harbour of the capital, make me smile.

They’re not an iconic landmark. They wouldn’t get hearts fluttering on instagram.

But, simply put, they remind me of happier times.

How about you? Where have you been happiest in the world?

 

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About the Author

Abigail King is an award-winning writer and author who swapped a successful career as a hospital doctor for a life on the road. With over 60 countries under her belt, she's worked for Lonely Planet, the BBC, National Geographic Traveller and more. She is passionate about sustainable tourism and was invited to speak on the subject at the EU-China High Level summit at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.Here she writes about food, travel and history and she invites you to pull up a chair and relax. Let's travel more and think more. Welcome!

  • It is always a hard question to answer I know. But I guess if I had to say when I was the happiest and the most in awe, it would be the United Arab Emirates. I only spent a couple of days in Dubai, which was awesome, but the rest of the two weeks I spent in the more remote countryside and it was amazing. At that time, I also spent one day in Oman which I loved so I can see why it was your choice. All the best in 2018!!

    • Abi King says:

      Ah, what a lovely surprise, another favourite from the Middle East! I only spent a couple of days in Dubai while speaking at a conference and it left me a little cold amid the heat. But perhaps I just didn’t go to the right places for me – I wasn’t there for long and am a pretty terrible shopper… I didn’t make it into the UAE countryside at all. All the best to you for 2018 and thank you for the energy, enthusiasm, support and thoughtful comments. Cheers!

  • Victoria says:

    What a great question! It’s easy to think of the countries or cities that I didn’t like as much. When I think “where in the world have I been the unhappiest?” it’s easy to think of the times of exclusion and isolation in Scotland or the melancholy in Prague, even though there were good times in both those places.

    As for where I felt the happiest, I would have to say Slovakia. There were plenty of times where I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe, and those are the kind of moments that keep me searching for my “next happiest country”.

    • Abi King says:

      Ha! Yes, you’re right, it is easy to think of the worst times !(India and the attempted robbery, I’m looking at you!) But laughter always revives the soul – was it the people you were travelling with that made Slovakia so happy for you? Or people you met on the way?

  • Su says:

    My happiest place was no doubt Costa Rica.i went there all by myself and enjoyed a kind of freedom, I thought would not exist anymore. The country full of natural wonders, which sometimes are so intense, that they bring tears to your eyes. The wildlife is awesome but above all, the people there just capture your heart. Some of them I can even call friends now…. while writing these lines I have this smile on my face and all these memories are coming back.

    • Abi King says:

      First off – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Apologies for the slow reply – I took some time away from the digital world and am just emerging now.

      Lovely to hear this story about Costa Rica. I haven’t been and truthfully have heard mixed opinions about the place. But I LOVE finding a sense of freedom and interacting with people so this shoutout is encouraging!

      Won’t be this year for me as my daughter is too young for the jabs and too young to leave alone but I am making a list, so thank you!

  • I get asked the same question a lot too and it is impossible to answer – as you say, so many factors beyond the destination affect it from travelling companions to stages in your life to weather (I usually say Madagascar :) ) Having been to Oman on October it was wonderful and seeing the fish again made me smile too, for my own happy memories.

    • Abi King says:

      Aw – I wonder who designed those fish and whether or not they have any idea how many people they’ve made smile?! Madagascar should definitely be on my WOW list – incredibly beautiful and unspoilt place. Amazing.

  • Favorite country (or destination) in the world? Yes, that is a tough one for travel writers to answer. We get asked that question quite a bit too. People want to know if they should also go where we’ve been. We say: An African safari for a big dose of thrilling wildlife viewing; Turkey for its exotic East-meets-West vibe; Bora Bora for snorkeling right from the deck of your over-water bungalow…

    Interesting how you picked Oman! Interesting that you spent part of your honeymoon and then your babymoon there… That destination hasn’t been on our radar – maybe it should be?

    The question “where have you been happiest in the world?” gets one thinking… We’ve spent many family and extended family holidays in Los Cabos (Mexico); having the chance to combine family visits with sunny holiday time has always lifted our spirits!

    • Abi King says:

      Just the words Bora Bora make me smile and relax – and I’ve never been there! Yes to Turkey and yes to African safaris! All great.

      Yes, Oman isn’t an obvious choice as it’s in the Middle East and so much of what we hear about that region is, well, sub-optimal. But my dad worked in Saudi for a while and we lived there when we were very little so I think, for me, perhaps there’s a family-filled nostalgia to the scents and the heat and the sound of the static on the door? Oman is stunning – and far friendlier and more forward thinking than its larger neighbour. Definitely consider a trip.

      Interesting that you pick a destination that you’ve visited several times with family, too. Perhaps there’s something in that – sunshine plus family = happiness?! Depends on the situation I suppose ‘-)

  • Izy Berry says:

    I was happiest in Paris :)

    • Abi King says:

      You’re certainly not alone in that! Paris is always a good idea?

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