One of the things that Denis Sobnakov loves most about being an Intrepid group leader is introducing travellers to inspiring local characters. Mongolia is a perfect example of how in one day you can come away with a lasting impression of a country and its people…
“Despite being a gorgeous and wonderful land, nowadays Mongolia has a lot of social issues that are not easy to overcome in a hurry. One of the biggest problems is the high rate of abandoned kids. Fortunately there are some generous people who have made it their priority to help the local community, like those who run Lotus Children’s Centre.
At Intrepid, we’re always on the lookout for inspiring adventures and travel stories. And right now, what’s really got us thinking is “what inspires us to travel?” So we asked our staff a few questions on what, or who, is the motivation behind their most memorable escapes.
It turns out our team has a lot in common when it comes to certain things, like art and history – the majority of people quizzed would pick London, New York, Paris and Berlin as their top picks for galleries, and as for iconic people, there was definitely a trend for Mandela, Shackleton and Che Guevara-inspired adventures.
If you’ve been looking for a reason to visit Jordan, then this is the year! 2012 marks the 200th anniversary of the re-discovery iconic Petra and the whole country is celebrating. But the excitement and inspiration doesn’t stop there, as Lauren Jones discovered on her Intrepid trip…
“The first day of our Jordan adventure and we’re driving into the desert of Wadi Rum. As opposed to endless drifting sand hills, Wadi Rum is a beautiful and bizarre landscape of sand valleys (wadis) sunk beneath huge stone monoliths. We leave the bus behind and switch to 4WD jeeps for a bouncy ride that changes by the minute as we navigate these giants. The rocks have innumerable variations, from cliffs upon which the sand dunes break and build to sandstone crevasses of cool shade, where wind and rain have conspired to melt the rock into wedding-cake formations.
Combining culinary adventures with your travel journeys is a must, especially in Japan where you can enjoy the freshest sushi, be tempted by tempura and even design your own okonomiyaki! And this is where delicious (and healthy) fast food meets super-fast local transport, as Aaron Davis explains…
“Part of the enjoyment of travel is getting from place to place. What can seem a chore in many countries is an enjoyable, speedy and sociable treat in Japan.
Like so many girls living in rural poverty in Cambodia, Wattana was forced to leave school in grade six to help support the nine people in her family. To make money, she cut wood for a pittance in a nearby forest. Wattana always knew she was capable of much more. So, when she heard that a Plan partner in a nearby town offered restaurant and tourism training, she decided it was precisely the opportunity she needed.
The course provided young people like her with hands-on training in restaurant and housekeeping services, and included office and English skills to help them get jobs in the Sala Bai tourist industry. However, the training involved an intensive, 12-month course away from home, and her mother believed this to be inappropriate, given Wattana’s gender. She thought her daughter should remain in the village like the other girls, cutting wood and getting married and raising children.
“No pain no gain” they say, but is it really worth the sweat and tears to steam yourself in a sauna, sizzle in a solarium or dirt-up for a mud bath? All Denise Ellson really wanted was a hot bath, but she got more than she bargained for in Turkey…
“Going to Turkey and not having a Turkish Bath is like going to Sydney and not seeing the Opera House. Or so I was told, as I steadfastly refused to even contemplate the idea of being bathed by someone else. I had never felt comfortable having a massage – in fact I had never had one, and having some complete stranger give me a scrub did not sound like something I simply had to have.
Saidia is based in Gilgil, north west of Nairobi in the Rift Valley of Kenya. Extended family networks are very strong in Kenya and orphaned children are usually taken in by their relatives. But a sad reality is that in this region many families have lost the entire parent generation to HIV/Aids.
A recent survey of single Aussies reveals that travel makes you more attractive. The Intrepid Travel poll of more than 880 singles on RSVP.com.au found that over half (55%) of respondents thought having travel listed on a potential mate’s profile makes them more attractive.
“The attitudes of singles show that a bi-product of travel is that it adds to your sex appeal,” said Jo Stewart, Intrepid Travel Spokesperson. “Travellers are generally considered curious about the world, open minded and adventurous – all of which are attractive qualities.”
If they made a movie of this man’s life there wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house, because to see what can be achieved by one person’s commitment to helping others is very moving and inspiring. KOTO stands for ‘know one, teach one’ and that’s exactly what Jimmy Pham has done since founding the not-for-profit hospitality training organisation in Vietnam in 1999. Hundreds of disadvantaged youth have benefitted from Jimmy’s vision, passion and dedication and now’s your chance to travel with him to Vietnam on a very personal Intrepid journey.
Jimmy Pham, KOTO CEO and Young Global Leader 2011, is returning to his roots in Vietnam to take you on a very special journey departing 5 August, 2012. It’s an exciting full-circle for Jimmy, as his concern for street kids in Hanoi started when he was an Intrepid group leader and the travel company supported him in his efforts to give these children a better future. The Intrepid Foundation has been a long-time benefactor of KOTO and Intrepid travellers enjoy being taken to KOTO restaurants to see for themselves what a difference the hospitality training is making to these young lives.
It’s just 5 weeks to the end of The Intrepid Foundation’s financial year – a time when we tally up all the travellers’ donations received in the last 12 months and Intrepid Travel doubles it by matching donations. Then we speak with 50 fabulous organisations to let them know the good news of how much of their work we are able to support. Jane Crouch, Intrepid’s Responsible Travel Manager, shares the joy of this role…
“I was just talking with the ever-smiling Rith, from Ptea Teuk Dong in Battambang, Cambodia, yesterday and he gave me an update on their marvellous vocational programs for vulnerable young women in their community. Their programs include literacy, vegetable cultivation, sewing and weaving, as well as hospitality training. Rith says they have approximately 30 girls in their programs now, but the demand and need is huge, and with more funding they can build their capacity to take up to 80 girls.