But even as she journeyed in a battered, Soviet-era 4x4 Furgon van deep into the mountains to rendezvous with the horses, the press of her everyday life began to recede and was replaced by feelings of connection with nature, authenticity and freedom. Despite having to pitch her own tent each night and the ordeal of brushing her teeth with frozen river water each day, the award-winning filmmaker and TV presenter had found what she was looking for: an overwhelming sense of wellbeing and enrichment.
“I personally prefer active rather than passive experiences as I’m looking to expand my mind and heart, to feel inspired with new ideas and to feel grateful, which I do, every day,” says the 30-something, who also curates and designs art exhibitions, flies a microlight, studies long-dead ancient languages and is learning to play polo.
“It's a much greater commitment in terms of the time and effort required - one has to build up to it - but while the risks and commitment level are higher, the rewards are also,” she insists. “This sort of trip allows and invites you to be fully present.”
Rather than marking her apart, this particular over-achiever’s quest for a sense of fulfilment places her in a growing and increasingly international demographic, one of successful individuals for whom the acquisition of wealth and the tangible signs of achievement are no longer enough.
"When people have a certain level of wealth, how do they add meaning to that?” asks Laura Warby, Director of Strategic Insights at consultancy Crowd DNA. “They do it by finding enriching experiences.
“These are people who are successful and ambitious but they’re also incredibly grounded and optimistic and they’re always looking for ways to self-improve. They’re hard working and what differentiates them is that they’re looking for more value in the way they are living their lives..
“Financial success and stability is important to them, but they’re combining that with a desire to do something meaningful.”
Warby’s data is backed by insight. Earlier this year, Crowd DNA conducted an in-depth global ethnographic survey, spending time in the homes and workplaces of 52 individuals across eight locations worldwide, which was supported by extensive qualitative research.
“The sample had a number of different segments including those who had inherited their wealth but also professionals and entrepreneurs and the next generation of high net worth individuals,” Warby explains.
“They’re often self-made people who may have started from relatively humble beginnings, which is one of the reasons why they want to give something back by sharing their experience, skills or money in a meaningful way.”
Crowd DNA’s research was commissioned as part of a wider body of work by HSBC Jade to create the Enrich List, a curated portfolio of experiences designed to act as a source of inspiration and to help with self-enrichment.
For HSBC Jade, this wasn’t about locating the hottest travel destinations or restaurant openings, but about exclusive access and unique opportunities; the effects of which you can’t put a price on.
Organised around four key pillars - Curated Adventure, Ultimate Wellbeing, A Purposeful Life and Game Changers - the list contains personal experiences that are designed to nurture and challenge the mind, body and spirit, as well as socially engaging opportunities to work with NGOs, charities and disadvantaged communities.
For our Singaporean adventurer, the next excursion on her to-do list is an item under the Enrich List’s Curated Adventure pillar called ‘Tea & Horse’, a trekking and camping experience that follows millennia-old trade routes through the mountains of Yunnan province in southwest China.
The Enrich List also includes more celestial options - stargazing in Oman - and more extreme: journeys to the Amazon and deep-sea excursions to the Titanic, alongside experiences for those seeking inspiration of a more philanthropic nature: Bpeace, for example, allows businesspeople to become ‘Skillanthropists’ by mentoring entrepreneurs in challenged economies.
Tapping into the zeitgeist, the Enrich List embodies a new and expanded sense of the value of wealth that can be harnessed as a force for self-enrichment as well as for the greater good.
“Yes, financial success and stability are still important to people, but they’re increasingly combining this with a desire to do something meaningful,” Laura Warby explains. “Success is about more than material possessions. It’s about family, about building a legacy and about helping others.”