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100 Top Experiences

A list of my 100 top experiences to date. Which while I am still alive of course, will always be a work in progress!

1.Chinook - Afghanistan 2007
Flying in Chinooks during my time as an embedded photographer with Coalition troops.

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2.Mudhifs - Iraq 2012
Drinking coffee with the Ma'dan in a mudhif in the marshes of southern Iraq.

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3.Cessna - UK 1985
Learning to fly small powered aircraft.
4.O'Groats - UK 2014
Finishing my End to End cycle of the UK.

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5.Baalbek - Lebanon 2004
Visiting the ancient city of Heliopolis.

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6.The Great Wall - China 2005
Walking along part of the Great Wall of China.

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7.Palmyra - Syria 2004
Strolling along city streets old enough to have been mentioned in Babalonian records.

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8.Dog - China 2005
The experience of eating dog on a train whilst travelling through China.

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9.Krak - Syria
Krak des Chevaliers is possibly the most complete Crusader Castle in the world.

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10.Parthenon - Greece 2001
To stand in a 2,500 years old building that may have been built by Pericles.
11.Naadam - Mongolia 2005
Spectating at the centuries old wrestling, horsemanship and archery tournament.

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12.Thesiger, Eton - UK 2003
Attending Thesiger's funeral at Eton College Chapel amongst the celebrated gathering of explorers & expeditionists.
13.Benhaddou - Morocco 2007
Climbing the streets of Ait Benhaddou which featured in Jesus of Nazereth, Gladiator, The Mummy & other films.

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14.Colosseum - Italy 2008
Standing in the Colosseum and trying to imagine the carnage and brutality that unfolded here centuries before.
15.Hercules - Afghanistan 2007
Flying in a C130 whilst in Afghanistan with the troops.

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16.Buddha - Thailand 1996
Seeing the largest reclining Buddha in the world at Wat Po
17.Angkor - Cambodia 1996
Walking in the ruins of Angkor Wat before the Tomb Raider film opened it up to mass tourism
18.Taransay - UK 2000
Spending a year on a remote Scottish island as a participant in an early reality TV program

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19.Bungee - UK 1989
Doing two bungee jumps. Definitely never again!
20.Vatnajokull - Iceland 1982
Ice climbing on Iceland's largest glacier
21.Sigirya - Sri Lanka 2006
Climbing the 660 feet near-vertical cliff to get to the top of Lion Rock

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22.Guevara - Bolivia 2004
Walking the dusty roads of La Higuera where Che Guevara was executed in 1967
23.Leptis - Libya 2008
Standing under the arch of Septimius Severus - the only Roman Emperor born in Africa

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24.Angel - Venezuela 2013
Swimming at the foot of the Angel Falls and looking up at a column of water almost a kilometre high
25.Pyramid - Egypt 1982
Climbing the 455 foot Great Pyramid at Giza (something that you can't do any more)
26.Dug-out - Venezuela 2013
Navigating the Orinoco river delta in a dug out

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27.Gliding - Scotland 1986
Learning to fly gliders as a CCF cadet at school
28.Tarpons - Venezuela 2013
Los Roques - my favourite dive location in crystal clear waters with huge pre-historic looking fish called Tarpons
29.Rafting - Bolivia 2004
Eight weeks white water rafting - expedition in remote areas of Bolivia
30.Thingvellir - Iceland 1984
Sitting in the middle of the Mid Atlantic Ridge and the seat of the original Icelandic Viking Parliament
31.Arrested - Ethiopia 2003
Being arrested in an Addis Ababa slum for photography
32.Geysir - Iceland 1984
Seeing the Great Geysir erupt to a height of over 40 metres
33.Tikal - Guatemala 1998
Seeing a sunrise from the Temple of the Jaguar
34.Channel - England 2012
Attempting (and failing) a Channel relay-swim
35.Victoria - Zambia 2013
Seeing what is arguably the world's largest waterfall, viewed by Livingstone in 1855
36.Danakil - Ethiopia 2003
Walking in the Danakil Depression which has the hottest average daily temperature of anywhere on the planet

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37.Godafoss - Iceland 1982
My favourite waterfall in Iceland and a great spot to camp (upwind of the spray!)
38.Soldiers - Beiruit 2004
Caught taking an illicit photo of a sniper & encountering some serious 'difficulties' with soldiers and undercover police
39.Piranha - Venezuela 2013
Swimming in the piranha infested waters of the Orinoco
40.Pole - Canada 2013
550 km trek to the Magnetic North Pole
41.Tent - Australia 2010
Waking up in the Outback and opening my tent to many magnificent sunrises
42.Sunset - Belize 1998
Sinking a beer at the Lazy Lizard pub by The Split on Caye Caulker
43.Bamiyan - Afghanistan 2007
Seeing the site of the Great Buddhas, so tragically destroyed by the Taliban in 2001
44.Caldera - Cape Verde 2009
Staying at a hotel inside the caldera of an active volcano on the island of Fogo
45.Tississat - Ethiopia 2003
One of the most impressive falls on the Blue Nile and one I often discussed with Wilfred Thesiger
46.Bagram - Afghanistan 2007
Seeing the 9/11 Memorial Parade at Bagram Military Base
47.Petra - Jordan 1999
Walking through the Petra Gorge and seeing the Treasury in the ancient Nabataean city
48.Yonaguni - Japan 2013
Diving on the mysterious Yonaguni Monument
49.Crabs - Vanuatu 2009
Watching giant coconut crabs climb trees
50.Wreck - Cyprus 2014
Diving on the Zenobia which is one of the Top Ten Wreck Dives in the world
51.Mekong - Thailand 1996
Swimming across the mighty Mekong River
52.Freddie - Scotland 1974
Meeting Freddie Mercury in the swimming pool at Peebles Hydro around 1974
53.Everest - England 2003
Meeting 3 member's of the 1953 summit team on their 50th anniversary
54.Stampede - USA 2001
Retracing the Stampede Trail in Alaska (6 years before the film Into The Wild was made)
55.Amazon - Brazil 2007
Swimming in the Amazon in the rain forests of central Brazil
56.Mashouf - Iraq 2011
Paddling a mashouf through the Iraqi marshlands
57.Harriet - Australia 2003
Meeting Darwin's 170 year old tortoise at Australia Zoo
58.Water - Vanuatu 2009
Watching tribal women perform the Water Song in the Vanuatu Islands
59.Streaking - Canada 2013
Streaking at Resolute Bay (-40C!!) after walking to the Mag North Pole
60.Scree - Cape Verde 2009
Scree running down the 9,281 foot volcano on Fogo
61.Cycle - Australia 2010
4,000 kms solo cycle roughly along the route of Burke & Will's 1860 expedition
62.War - Mediterranean 1982
Being on the SS Uganda when it was requisitioned by the UK Government to be part of the Falklands task force
63.Mountains - Scotland 2002
Ben Nevis, Scarfell Pike, Snowdon, Slieve Donard, Carrantouhill = The Five Peaks Challenge
64.Monastery - France 2014
Visiting Mont Saint Michel in Normandy
65.Utah Beach - France 2014
Being in Normandy for the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings
66.G2014 - Scotland 2014
Working at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow
67.Northern Lights - Alaska 2001
Seeing the Northern Lights in Alaska
68.Sea Ice - Alaska 2015
Walking across the shifting sea ice in the Bering Strait
69.Preacher Man - Vanuatu 2009
Preaching in church
70.Zorbing - England 2013
Being rolled down a hill in huge plastic ball!
71.Bania - Russia 2015
Being birched in a Bania in Moscow, Russia
72.USAT Liberty
Diving the famous 400 foot wreck torpedoed by the Japanese in 1942
73.Hadrian's Wall - England 2016
Walking across England, following the famous 2,000 year old wall
74.Garni Temple - Armenia 2017
The sole remaining Greco-Roman temple in the whole of the former Soviet Union
75.Galungan - Indonesia 2017
The week long festival marking ancestral spirits visiting those still on Earth
76.Ice Diving - Russia 2015
Diving with Beluga Whales under the arctic sea ice in northern Russia
77.Earthquake - Bali 2017
Laying in bed on the morning of 09/11/17 and feeling an earthquake
78.Miss World - Mauritius 2013
A chance meeting in a bar that led to me taking photo shoots of Miss World entrants
79.The Pilgrims Way - England 2020
Walking 240 kilometres from Winchester to Canterbury along the ancient pilgrimage route
80.Borodino - Russia 2016
Watching 1,000s in the re-enactment of Napoleon’s defeat outside Moscow
81.Scuba Instructor - Indonesia 2017
Qualifying as a scuba instructor on Bali
82.Rothenburg - Germany 2020
Visiting the medieval town where Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was filmed
83.Castles - San Marino 2019
Walking the ridgelines between the castles in this micro-state
84.Cave diving - Greece 2020
Scuba diving through limestone caves into the jaw dropping Hole of Ha, off Corfu
85.Kotor - Montenegro 2013
Wandering the peaceful, cobbled streets of this ancient fortified city
86.Lake Baikal - Russia 2019
Walking and skiing, 639kms solo across the frozen surface of the world’s largest freshwater lake
87.Fingals Cave - Scotland 2019
Sailing to the Isle of Staffa, via Mull and Iona, to see the magnificent basalt cave and cliffs
88.Tiger's Nest - Bhutan 2015
Seeing a remote monastery clinging to a cliff side high on a Bhutanese mountain
89.St John's Co Cathedral - Malta 2017
Outstanding architecture, breath taking interior. My favourite building by The Knights Hospitaller

Diving Diary

100 Top Experiences

(C) Mike Laird 2023