The 2008 Dream List
Go backstage at the Peking Opera. Ponder the cosmos at the Hawaiian observatory. Mush a team of huskies through Lapland. For the fourth year in a row, the editors of Condé Nast Traveler have searched for the world's rarest and most rewarding special-access tours, finding 32 gems you'll never forget. Below, challenge a champion in China.
THE EXPERIENCE: Play table tennis with Zhang Yining, the current women's team and singles Olympic champion. You'll spend 60 to 90 minutes playing a few rounds, with time for photo ops and a chat about her Olympic experience. Your visit will include a tour of the facility where
Olympic badminton and martial arts hopefuls also train, and the chance to meet and speak with the center's staff and coaches.
Cost: $16,500; also available is a similar experience with Wang Tao, the '92 Barcelona Olympics doubles champion, for $9,800, and a two-hour lesson with Wang Tao's former coach for $500.
Source: Guy Rubin, Imperial Tours (888-888-1970; firstname.lastname@example.org; imperialtours.net).
BEST FOR: Those who want bragging rights--how many people can claim to have played an Olympic champion?
BUT BEWARE: Because of her rigorous training schedule, Zhang Yining has limited availability January through September.
For 31 more one-of-a-kind experiences, check out this year's Dream List.