“I was on cloud nine in Cappadocia!”, is how Melissa Grima describes her sky high adventure in Turkey…
“For years I’ve had a list of things in my head that I have always wanted to do, and through my travels I am gradually realising my dreams. From scuba diving in the Red Sea, to walking over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and rock climbing in Southern China. The next must-do was hot air ballooning.
A countryside blessed with mind-blowing natural scenery, Cappadocia is the perfect stage for a hot air balloon ride. We assembled in a field at 5.30am and whilst the balloon was being inflated, we were given our boarding instructions by Lars, our trusty pilot who is ranked amongst the top ten most experienced balloon pilots in the world. This is a non-smoking flight, all seats are first class and everyone has a window seat!
The Intrepid Foundation has long supported the Animal Care in Egypt hospital on the outskirts of Luxor. Here they work hard to improve the lives of the working animals in Egypt and as Sue from ACE reports, recently spirits were high with the happy tale of Harry…
“Harry Habibi was left outside the ACE hospital, whilst two separate owners argued about who this baby donkey belonged to! With an uncertain future ahead for this little fellow, we admitted him to the hospital until the dispute was resolved. Neither party returned to collect Harry.
We managed to get Harry drinking milk from a bowl and he soon became quite a mischievous character – he would follow everyone around and generally had his nose in everywhere! It didn’t take long for ‘Harry-mania’ to begin and people were closely watching our blog and also emailing for updates on the infamous Harry Habibi!
Many travellers have the amazing temples of Angkor high on their must-see list, but Intrepid’s Anna Harvie chose to set her sights even higher in Cambodia…
“Sunrise at Angkor Wat in Cambodia is always amazing, as you hear the monks chanting their morning mantras and see the golden rays of sun lighting up the thousand-year-old temples. It doesn’t matter how many times I visit, I could never tire of this sight.
But one of my best sunrises was when I went up in a balloon to see this spectacular event. The balloon is certainly cheaper and more accessible than helicopter if you want to witness Angkor by air – and from the sky is the perfect vantage point for a fresh perspective on how it all fits together. At ground level it’s sometimes hard to grasp the size and extent of the Angkor Empire and the waterways they built between temples.
Who would have thought that the humble balloon would bring a child and a small group of Intrepid travellers in China so much joy? Intrepid’s Marina Mildenhall is bursting to tell you her story…
“I was travelling with my fellow Roam China adventurers, when the second of our three epic train journeys started. Of course, there was the usual hustle and bustle of getting on the train and finding our beds, but once we were settled and the train moved off, it was time to meet our neighbours.
It’s over a week now since Jane Crouch, Intrepid Travel’s Responsible Travel Manager, and Intrepid’s five sponsored trainees emerged from their intense three days at The Climate Project Asia Pacific Summit. Now their independent work begins with consolidating their learning and preparing personalised presentations for their audiences.
Each presenter has pledged to do at least ten significant activities within the year, including presenting Al Gore’s main slideshow, engaging the media, politicians and key decision makers and training ‘connectors’ – individuals who are motivated to get active on climate change. Jane shares with us some of her lessons…
Our world is faced with one of its most extreme challenges yet, so Al Gore is preparing his ‘Truth Force Team’ for the road to Copenhagen. After three exhilarating days of training at The Climate Project, Asia-Pacific Summit, held in Melbourne, Intrepid’s Responsible Travel Manager, Jane Crouch reports…
“Intrepid Travel’s five sponsored trainees and I have emerged from an amazingly inspiring ‘incubator of learning’ from a fabulous range of teachers including the Honourable Al Gore, geneticist and environmentalist David Suzuki, eminent scientist Dr Graeme Pearman, Andrew Hewitt, Executive Director of OXFAM in Australia, Sharan Burrow, the President of the International Trade Union Confederation, Gaurav Gupta, Director of The Climate Project India, Agus Purnomo from Indonesia’s National Council on Climate Change and many more.
Al Gore referred to the concept of satyagraha as espoused by Gandhi – roughly translated to meaning ‘holding on to the truth’. So there we were, 300 delegates from 19 countries across the Asia Pacific region, there to be updated on the truth of climate science and solutions to this diabolical problem, and be empowered to go forth and share this knowledge in the coming months leading up to the December summit in Copenhagen. Here’s some of the impressions gained by the enthusiastic bunch of Intrepid’s sponsored trainees:
The Intrepid Foundation’s ‘Intrepid Perpetual Fund’ has chosen to defy the global financial crisis and spend big on three causes we consider very important, timely and worthy.
The Australian Conservation Foundation and The Climate Project AU$40,000:
Congratulations to the five successful Intrepid Foundation-sponsored applicants (out of more than 120 through the Intrepid Travel promotion and over 2000 entrants in total), who will be trained by former US Vice President Al Gore at The Climate Project – Australia Asia Pacific Summit (A-P Summit). They are:
Aarti Bhalla, India – Intrepid group leader and responsible travel coordinator;
Harley Spence, New Zealand – the director of two environmental organizations;
Marita Manley, Fiji – agriculture and forestry policy adviser at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community
Penny Crossley, Australia – account manager with Flight Centre; and
Indira Naidoo, Australia – television journalist, broadcaster and producer.
Intrepid group leaders in Russia are sponsoring two babushkas (grandmothers) in Kyrgyzstan this year. Pensions in this region are inadequate and ‘babushka adoption’ enables these vulnerable women to meet their financial needs. Our adopted babushkas, Alexandra and Nina, look forward to visits from Trans-Asia Express groups when they are in Bishkek.
Alexandra, eighty, was born in Kyrgyzstan, attended school for seven years and then worked on a collective farm. She was married in the village and gave birth to one daughter. After becoming divorced, Alexandra moved to Bishkek in 1953 and started working as a seamstress in “Kirgiziya” factory. She was promoted to a tailor and then a manager and worked for forty-three years.
India is high on so many people’s ‘bucket lists’ and thousands of travellers make a pilgrimage to this country rich in culture and real life experiences.
Intrepid’s Yvette Thompson was overwhelmed by the beauty, contrasts, chaos and spirit of India, but it was the generosity of the Sikh temple that moved her to tears…
“Finally, I have found a religion that makes sense to me! Today we visited a Sikh temple: a place of peace and prayer in the middle of a seemingly disordered, dusty Delhi. As we made our way into the marble entrance, we walked through a pool of cool water, cleaning our soles, or perhaps cleansing our souls, or perhaps both. We made our way up the inside steps, the calm and quiet a vast difference from the perpetual beeping and yelling out on the streets.
For centuries, pilgrims have walked Spain’s Camino de Santiago to reach to the Galician city of Santiago de Compostela, where the apostle St James is said to be interred.
Intrepid Express reader Barbara Reid was among the weary worshippers whose spirits were lifted by the experience…
“My soul soared and reached the rafters with the magnificent censer in the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela. After walking with my daughter through mid-northern Spain, we arrived in Santiago in time for the pilgrim service.