Exploring in countries like Bhutan so often leaves an indelible impression, and that was certainly the case for Cate Gaston…
“LOL as I am writing this in Kolkata, a herd of goats were just ushered by along the main road, I just love travelling!
“Coozoozambo La from Druk Yul”, Hello from the Land of the Dragon.
Well what can I say about Bhutan… Oh so much. I will start with some interesting facts about the last Shangri La…
* Bhutan is a land locked country between India and Tibet
* it is the size of Switzerland
* has a population of nearly 650,000 people
* you have to pay the Kingdom the privilege of entering and touring the country and last year they only issued 17,000 visas
In April/ May I travelled through Cambodia and Vietnam with Intrepid under the leadership of Grant Finster. Although initially Grant seemed quite reserved and quiet for a leader, it did not take long for his qualities to shine through – his quiet fund of knowledge, mutual affection and respect of the local people and skill at making everyone in the group feel included. Grant did his utmost to ensure that all of us got maximal enjoyment from the trip, despite personal interests and differences.
My own “special story” is set in Hoi An where I spent a couple of days quite ill with Campylobacter gastroenteritis. On venturing out at the end of the second day to have dinner with the group, I became quite nauseated and returned to the hotel. Before I left, my “roomie” and great trip mate Angie asked me, with some concern, whether I could manage to eat anything. I responded that the only thing I could imagine eating was toast and honey, just like my mother made when I was sick in the stomach (many years ago).
The exact numbers of cyclo drivers in Phnom Penh is uncertain, but what we do know is that the people who do this exhausting job are amongst the poorest of urban poor in Cambodia. In 1999 the Cyclo Centre Phnom Penh was established to improve the welfare of cyclo drivers through the provision of support services, basic medical care and livelihood support.
We are very pleased to announce that the Cyclo Centre is now one of the beneficiaries of The Intrepid Foundation Community Project Fund and donations received will be used to increase the profile of the Cyclo Centre, highlight the situation of cyclo drivers and to seek ways which increase the drivers’ self-sufficiency and sustainability of the Centre.
South Americans are not all poncho wearing pan pipers or crazed futbol fans, there is also a serious majority of the population who love their seafood. In fact, for centuries there has been a friendly rivalry to produce the tastiest ceviche and now this gastronomic battle is being contested between the majority of Latin American countries!
Peru and Ecuador both claim ceviche as their own, as both countries have an impressive variety of fish and shellfish, but historians are leaning in favour of Peru. Every Latin American country gives this seafood salad recipe its own individual flavour, particularly with the garnishes they choose. In Peru, ceviche is served with slices of cold sweet potatoes or corn-on-the-cob, while in Ecuador it is accompanied by popcorn, potato chips, or corn nuts. In Mexico ceviche is even served as a taco filling.
There’s no doubt that exploring Machu Picchu in Peru, now voted one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, will make you feel on top of the world, but for Intrepid’s Martin Ruffo he was just trying not to feel like a dead man as he made his way to Dead Woman’s Pass…
“Day 2 of the Inca Trail is perhaps the hottest topic among travellers in Peru. Extremely hard for some and a walk in the park for others, everyone is quick to share their experiences, feelings, fears, failures and successes on the most challenging day of the trek. And this is mine:
Some say you’d be mad to travel to Mongolia in winter, but as Kate Sykes discovered there are precious rays of sunshine to be enjoyed even in the freezing temperatures.
Kate visited Mongolia as a volunteer for Lotus Children’s Centre, a dedicated non-government organisation that has been operating since 1995 and benefits from the support of The Intrepid Foundation and Intrepid travellers. There are 300 days a year of sunshine in Mongolia, but it’s the smiles of those children that warms Kate’s heart most…
“Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital city, is generally not a pretty city, especially in winter. The weather is bitterly cold, the building facades grimy, the pavement is cracked and undulating, making walking difficult even without the slippery ice, the haze grim and the cacophony of tinny car horns in rush hour punctuates what could possibly be calm mornings. There are a few diamonds in this rough place though, and certainly make a visit, even in winter, worthwhile.
One of the exciting aspects of Intrepid is that our responsible travel philosophies can translate into assisting local communities in a variety of ways. Intrepid Thailand is involved in a three-way partnership with Nakhon Sri Thammarat Rajaphat University and the Thailand Community Based Tourism Institute (CBT-I), to help students become confident local guides. Travellers on our Colours of Asia trip get to spend time with these wonderful young people and later this year we look forward to excited students joining some of our trips for special work experience.
Peter Richards from CBT-I has recently returned from Nakhon Sri Thammarat, where each Monday and Tuesday Colours of Asia travellers are looked after by the student guides who escort them to the birthplace of Thai Buddhism, Wat Mahataad Temple, and to a Shadow Puppet show by the nationally recognised master artist Suchart Subsin.
At Intrepid we figure fundraising should be fun and our Intrepid Cambodia team put that into action when they raised money for the Sala Bai Hotel School For Underprivileged Cambodians. Jane Dearden, Responsible Travel Coordinator Cambodia, tells how Team Intrepid enjoyed the recent festival and managed to stay afloat for a good cause…
“After a gruelling week of rowing training and only once upturning our boat, our team felt like we were dreaming the three words ‘Muy, pii bei’! The Cambodian cry of ‘one, two, three’ signalled the start of our daily training ritual for the annual Bonn Om Touk in Siem Reap.
Wow! The race weekend finally arrived and suddenly the once quiet river banks were overflowing with Khmers ready to celebrate the Moon and Water Festival.
Travelling the length and breadth of a giant country like China takes an extraordinary combination of trains, planes, automobiles and even donkey carts, but for Intrepid travellers traversing the Middle Kingdom by train regularly rates as a highlight.
On many routes we travel ‘hard class’, but as Intrepid leader Joseph Kornides explains, doing it hard in China is an easy way to have fun…
“One of the great things about an Intrepid trip is the use of local transport. It really gives you an insight into how people go about their daily lives, rather than being cooped up in a luxury coach completely separated from the action.