To Do Before I Die

The term “Bucket List” never appealed to me. Instead of planning out a lot of things I’d like to do before I kick it – I’d rather live every day like it’s the one and only.

Some of this stuff is downright crazy, but you only live once (maybe? not gonna pretend I have that answer).

Forget Regret. Live Life.



Chinese orphans photo: sheilaz413


# 1 Volunteer In A Chinese Orphanage.


I remember the moment this became a dream. I was five (maybe six?) and Dateline was on the TV.
Oma was in the kitchen – I can still smell the soup on the stove.

The screen showed a row of baby girls in high chairs in a Chinese orphanage – then the dry voice crackled through the television “babies, just like this are dying every day in China from a lack of human contact.” The anchor woman continued to talk about how – even with proper shelter and nutrition – the lack of physical connection, will lead to the eventual death of these babies.

“We need to go hug Chinese babies, Oma.” I proclaimed as I walked into the kitchen, hands on my hips.
My arms weren’t very big yet, but the dreams were.


# 2 Attend A Proper Tea Ceremony In Japan*
* preferably with Haruki Murakami


Something about the intricate details and dedication to ritual simply enchant me. With each ceremony there is a procession and order that is adhered to, a piece of each family’s history is served through each action.

The tradition is steeped for thousands of years, but your tea for a few perfect moments. What’s not to love about this?



Tea ceremony in Japan photo: mrhayata


# 3 Free Diving With Great Whites


Imagine one of these graceful giants swimming up to you – nose to nose. Just thinking about it gets my palms sweaty and my heart pounding- ready to jump off the ship and into the water.

Where else can you find such a marvelous and vicious creature matching your curiosity ounce for ounce?


#4Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Bhutan


Since my first experience with Meteora, Greece – monasteries have become one of my favorite places to visit.

The lore and fables that have stemmed from this particular Monastery are tied in with the very roots of Buddhism, and I’ve no doubt that when I make the hike up the path, I will wish that I was on the back of a flying tiger, too.


Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Bhutan photo: Göran Höglund (Kartläsarn)


# 5 A Boat Ride in the Congo


Not many little girls live their childhood dreaming of the Congo as a lush playground of possibilities- but I’m not exactly average.

Raised on stories of adventure all over the world, I can’t tell you how many days of childhood were spent playing “Congo boat ride” with impromptu crocodile attacks, pirating, and screams.


#6 Cable Car in Switzerland

Maybe it’s the awesome Ricola commercials but the idea of taking a cable car through the Alps (obviously there’s hot chocolate involved in this fantasy) is one of the very few times I choose to withstand a cold climate.

There appears to be something magical in the stillness of these mountains, and taking them in from above simply captivates me.


#7 Spending The Night Alone On An Island


It could be the city life eating away at any semblance of personal space and solitude, but there’s few things more tempting to me than cuddling up in the sand and letting a blanket of sun envelop me.

The fact that I am the only one on the island is pure selfishness and desire to be FREE.



Elephant Nature Park


# 8 Riding An Elephant / Protecting The Elephants


Uh oh. This actually used to be very high on my list — but since my outstanding & powerful visit to the ENP in Chiang Mai, Thailand I’ve reformed my thinking and am now repulsed by this act. (take a second and educate yourself as to why this is so, so wrong)

Instead of subjecting an intelligent creature to a pointless act for my amusement, my wish has transformed into simply spending more time with these magnificent beings. My favorite ele in the world goes by the name of Sri Prae and in less than a month I will be kissing her trunk, and watching her adorable son, Navann, bring joy to the whole park.


# 9 Write The Story

Everyone has a story inside.

Mine’s been stewing since I learned to string words together, but they never leave me faster than when I sit to write “THE story”.

One day, I will find a way to reach inside and wrap my fingers around these words, pulling them from the deep literary organ* and drag this story out of my body.
Then I will smash my heart against the white screen, watching the black letters follow the flow of the cursor and sit back, praying it came out right. One Day.

*this must be the liver – hence the prolific alcoholic author stereotype


#10 Do What I Want

Oops. This might be considered cheating since it’s not an “event” but a motto — it’s still just as important.
Life is shorter than any of us know.



[quote] This post is part of the Elephant Nature Park Blog Carnival. Elephant Nature Park is celebrating ten years of success protecting the Asian Elephant, educating tourists and tour operators alike that there is another way for us to interact with these wonderful animals.
Please take a moment to visit their website, visit their Facebook, and connect with them on Twitter.

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Help protect these gentle giants. You make all the difference. Thank you [/quote]

In Memory of Adam Bromley, whose life and work made our world a better place.

Brandy Bell loves adventuring around the world. She's been a solo female traveler since 2006 and has visited over 25 countries, made countless international friends, and now writes to inspire you to travel in a sustainable and responsible way.

'To Do Before I Die' have 9 comments

  1. April 9, 2013 @ 12:25 pm Cat of Sunshine and Siestas

    I ove the last picture. Always, always do what you want and be yourself!


    • April 10, 2013 @ 7:50 am brandy bell

      Yeeeeeeeah Cat! That’s what I am talking about 🙂 Thank you for validating that fo me – and more importantly, keep both eyes on the road, missy! 😉


  2. April 10, 2013 @ 3:47 am Fernando Souza

    You just reconciled me with bucket lists, this is how they should all be done.
    Shame “Making a music video in a Thai prison” didn’t make it to the list.


    • April 10, 2013 @ 7:49 am brandy bell

      Fernando – I showed you mine, now please show me yours! There’s still time to participate in the Blog Carnival with your top 10. This is the face of peer pressure — and it’s looking at you!

      Also, our music video shall be epic- may be recorded in prison and certainly will be unforgettable (or un-rememberable?)


  3. April 10, 2013 @ 4:12 am Save Elephant Foundation

    Thank you so much for participating in our 10-year anniversary blog carnival, Brandy. And, thank you for not only taking the time to educate your readers on the plight of Asian elephants, but also for paying tribute to your dear friend, Adam. <3


    • April 10, 2013 @ 7:40 am brandy bell

      Ele’s for life! Ele’s for future generations…


  4. April 16, 2013 @ 6:09 am traveling crone

    Enjoyed the list. I too have never actually created a formal bucket list but found it a great exercise in prioritizing. I was intrigued to hear the story about the music video recorded in a Thai prison.. is there a posting somewhere?


    • April 16, 2013 @ 8:27 am brandy bell

      There WILL be a posting in less than a month – provided Fernando of Wondrlust and myself don’t get deported 😉 Promise to keep you abreast of all the updates, and yes, we take special requests!


  5. May 29, 2013 @ 2:39 pm KC

    Hi Brandy,

    My name is KC Owens, I’m a college student and I love to travel! While cruising the Internet, I found your site and really enjoyed reading your posts. I have been to countries all over Europe with just my backpack and a camera. Since I am a college student and I have significant bills, it can be difficult to find ways to travel the world. However, I have done this several times, with less than ten pounds of luggage and while on a college dime!

    I was hoping that you would allow me to write a post for your site to share my tips and tricks with your readers. I put a lot of time into my traveling, it is my biggest passion and I would love to inspire others by sharing my stories, mistakes and triumphs. I look forward to hearing from you!


    KC Owens


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