big break in india
We asked Intrepid travellers to join in our anniversary celebrations and re-live their favourite trip moments. Tom Gettings won’t forget his India adventure, that was tops for real life experiences…
“Congratulations on 20 years. I wish I had discovered Intrepid earlier. It’s odd looking back on it that I have not taken that many Intrepid trips, but they provided the most memories and best travel stories. Your organisation also has a great sense of responsibility. Some of the most memorable stories came from my 2002 Unforgettable India trip.
During one afternoon, when we were out walking to look at some petroglyphs in an area away from a remote village, a bunch of the local children were running along to join us. It’s likely the main Westerners they’ve met are the Intrepid groups coming by once in a while. One of them decided to do a cartwheel to show off in front of us and tragically broke his arm. Your tour leader and my fellow travellers stepped right up to the plate, splinting him up and a couple of us carried him home on our backs.
His mother had left the family, his father was a drunk, and it was apparent the locals were not going to do much for him, so Kate, our Intrepid tour leader, found his uncle and packed the two of them up in the jeep. We went back to the small town where we were staying, but as the medical facilities here were minimal, Kate travelled with them both on a longer jeep ride so the boy could be fixed up properly. Then she brought them back and put them up in the hotel for the night and got them sent home the next day. It was an utterly exhausting effort for her, but I’m sure the child would have been disabled for life if he had not received this medical attention.
I’m 45 now, and live in Midwest America, so most of my friends and colleagues (pretty well regardless of age) seem to think of vacation as Disneyworld or Jamaica beaches. One thought that occurred to me during that afternoon and evening during all of this was this was not exactly like my friends’ Disneyworld trips. I tell a lot of stories from that trip, but that’s one I have never told them.
There were lots of memorable stories from that trip. Another was when we were in Chanderi (once again, where Westerners are not often seen). I woke up at 3 or 4 am and could not get back to sleep, so finally at 6am I went for a walk before breakfast out of sheer boredom. I walked around and wandered down to where there were some old ruins and looked at those.
Walking back into town, it was apparently the same time as the children make their way to primary school. I noticed the kids were starting to cluster up behind me, following me, and as I got closer to town the group kept growing and they kept edging nearer. When I stopped they would come a bit closer every time. Finally I stopped and one little girl came up from the group to talk to me. As soon as we started talking they all came running up, asking questions and wanting to talk, have their picture taken etc. I walked on in to town with them and we all found it very entertaining, and they are now some of my favourite photo album shots.
There were other stories, like showing up at a town of normally 10,000 people and unexpectedly finding literally hundreds of thousands of people there (plus the 10 of us). It was a special religious event where literally millions go to bathe in the river, and wandering around an absolute wall-to-wall packed sea of people was incredible.
There are a number of reasons I like to take Intrepid tours. It’s very convenient and I do not have to spend lot of time planning or dealing with most of the annoyances of backpacking independently. I’ve found I always have great people to travel with (most are well-travelled, but all loving travel or they would not be on a Intrepid trip), but one major reason is it forces me to see things I would not do on my own. I’m a typical business-minded American, so on my own I would tend to go to India, fly between the major tourists areas, get my photo taken in front of the Taj Mahal and check off another must-see site and country. I would not end up travelling 12 hours across rural India by a combination of public buses and jeep to reach a wonderful small town in India, and I would never end up in front of a crowd of 400,000 at a religious festival by the river!
By the way, I still contribute to one of the charities I discovered through Intrepid, so I like how you find charities that we can trust.
Have a great anniversary year. I’m going to try and put work aside enough this year to make myself take another Intrepid trip.”
* photo by Shelley Seale – Intrepid Photography Competition