I am on a roll when it comes to visiting palaces.
I have so far ticked off China's Forbidden Palace and Summer Palace, Korea's Changdeukgong Palace, Britain's Windsor Castle and France's Palace of Versailles.
But there is still a heap more palaces and castles I'd love to visit; with Highclere Castle (where Downton Abbey was filmed), Hampton Court Palace and The Winter Palace in St Petersburg on my to-do list.
Apart from Windsor Castle, which is still actively used by the royal family, most of the palaces mentioned above now serve as museums.
There is something ethereal about these grand places and I feel a slight thrill whenever I enter these grounds.
Here am I walking the same ground that was trodden on by the kings and queens of the past!
On my first trip to China to visit the Forbidden Palace, I could barely contain my excitement at the idea of being able to touch the heavy-duty palace doors that were built more than 500 years ago.
I pushed in with the crowd gathered around the King's private bedchambers, and I imagined how grand the palace must have been once.
I think my level of "being in awe" of palaces went up 100 notches when I visited France's Palace of Versailles this year. I walked around the entire palace and its gardens with my mouth gaping like a goldfish's.
Everything in the palace was magnificent, from its gilded walls to its intricately designed rooms, exuding wealth, power and luxury.
My favourite room was the Palace's Hall of Mirrors, adorned with hanging chandeliers and according to my tourist pamphlet, the paintings on the vaulted ceilings "illustrate events in the life of Louis XIV, from the time he began his reign in his right in 1661, until the Peace of Nijmegen in 1678."
I was enthralled and spent most of the tour trying to imagine what life would have been like for Marie Antoinette and her predecessors.
And if they'd ever have imagined if one day their home would be opened to thousands of visitors a year, treading on the very floors they once walked. Gawking and pointing at every image and object in sight—or in my case, trying to snap as many photos as possible, while keeping an eye out for my friends lest we were all swallowed by the crowd.
But of course, neither the emperors of China nor the kings and queens of France could have imagined the treasures they collected over their reign would one day be placed in a museum, their once heavily-guarded abodes accessible to the public for a small entry fee.
Our perishable earthly treasures
Visiting the palaces reminded me of the Scripture which warns us against storing our treasures on earth. Matthew chapter 6, verse 19 says 'Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and vermin destroy, and where thieves break and steal.'
Of course, this verse is also applicable not just to royalty but to the average Joe as well, who may be storing wealth in forms of the latest material luxury. There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to enjoy nice things, but it is wrong when we start valuing it far above anything else.
I am not immune to nice things and I've my fair share of adding 'new treasures' such as a new dress or a pair of new sneakers to my wardrobe.
But over time, my dress starts peeling after one too many washes and my new sneakers have mud marks and dirt all over them.
My 'new treasures' have effectively aged and will soon be found in the recycling bin.
As we speak, my iPhone 6 which I had paid good money for three years ago is already making a quiet exit from the market.
Earthly treasures depreciate the minute we break open the packaging, snip the tags off our newly bought clothes; or in the case of cars, the moment we drive them out of the showroom.
Heaven is where we should really store our treasures
The Bible says we are to store our treasures in Heaven. I often ponder about how that would be possible, considering Heaven has gold far outweighing that found in earthly palaces.
But I believe the 'treasures' we are to store in heaven are more about living our lives the way God wants us to: such as doing the hard bits like forgiving our enemies, praying for one another, living with a heart of generosity, and above all, putting God first in our busy lives.
This is all definitely easier to talk about than to carry out but, like any diamond in the rough, these can be achieved if we take the time to chip away at it.
And that's when we will find treasures that are worth storing.
Michele Ong is a former regional news journalist with a passion to be a voice for the marginalised and disenfranchised. Writing is as essential to her as breathing and she believes words contain life which is to be used to inspire, inform, and influence readers. Michele attends Auckland's City Impact Church with her family on the North Shore.
Michele's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/michele-ong.html