Mongolia, Jordan, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, Great Barrier Reef, Australia, Pantanal Brazil, South Africa
(CNN) -- We've all got them: places that live large in imagination or memory, begging us to hop on a plane to uncover their delicious mysteries.
As the new year kicks off, a handful of our very well-traveled CNN correspondents -- who've been places and seen things many of us may never see firsthand -- share their destination wishes for 2013 and beyond.
Where are you dreaming of visiting this year?
Mongolia Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman set his sights on Mongolia early in life. "Back when I was, I think, nine or ten years old I read a book about Marco Polo, how he traveled with his uncles on the ultimate business trip to the Mongol Empire at its height," wrote Wedeman, who recently moved to Rome after an assignment in Cairo."The trip lasted almost a quarter of a century, during which he grew up, mastered Mongolian, gained the confidence of the Mongol emperor, Kublai Khan, and then eventually returned home with fantastic tales of strange lands and stranger people.
The story hooked me." Wedeman socked away money from his first job delivering newspapers with an eye toward a $3,000 trip to Mongolia advertised in the Sunday New York Times magazine. "Making around $30 a month, it would have taken me more than eight years to come up with the money."
He read about Mongolia in the meantime but spent most of his teenage years in the Arab world, where he learned the language and became interested in journalism, "for better or for worse, a busier profession in the Middle East than in Mongolia, for example."
Wedeman took courses in classical and modern Mongolian while studying for his master's degree and found it "beastly difficult." He still wants to visit, in the spring or summer, he said. "Mongolian winters, when temperatures drop to −30 °C (−22 °F) are not for me, thank you very much."He says he would hire a guide and horses and set out for the vast steppes.
"I know it's changed radically since I first latched on to the idea. For one thing it's no longer part of the communist bloc, it's no longer isolated, and its economy is growing rapidly fueled by a mining boom (which is destroying the traditional nomadic lifestyle, and severely harming the once pristine environment)."
The price today with an upscale company is reasonable, he said, "compared to the $3,000 it was back in 1971."
"Today the same trip is around $5000, which though a still hefty sum, is, in terms of inflation, a steal."
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