Thailand: a country where cares and worries ooze away… by Catherine Graham
“Thailand has so much to offer it is difficult to pinpoint just one element and still truly capture its magic. The experience gained from this country culminates from so many separate novelties on so many levels, I guess I just don’t know where to start…the Thai manner, service and friendliness, the temperature, the frantic yet exciting atmosphere of Bangkok, the peace and beauty of southern islands, the delicious cuisine, the quaint stalls and markets, the list goes on.
If I could cover every positive element from my two week holiday in Thailand, I would. However I will have to settle for one outstanding evening on Ko Pha-Ngan, down on party central: Haad Rin beach.
It can be easy to put a foot wrong when we travel, but thanks to our Intrepid Russia team, here are some responsible travel tips to help you get it right…
In Moscow it won’t cost you a ruble to visit the Sakharov Museum, which tells the history of repression and human rights in Russia from the revolution onwards. Another great option is the newly-designed ‘Eco Walk’ to Vorobyovy Gory. The walk to the city’s highest point marks Moscow’s first attempt at recycling bins, bird feeders for the local wildlife and information about the nature of the area.
What could be sweeter than Italy, when the roses are in bloom and the weather is warm? And as Intrepid traveller John Kirk attests, don’t put your Italy trip on ice, because a wonderful gastronomic adventure also awaits…
“Italy offers many tantalising treats, but none so sweet and addictive as its gelato in summer. I pretty much did a gelato tour of Italy with Intrepid’s La Dolce Vita, having at least one, but more often two cones (cono) or cups (coppa) each day.
Within an hour of checking into my hotel in Rome, I was standing at the amazing Trevi Fountain trying to decide which of the many gelateria surrounding the fountain would provide my first taste of real Italian iced confection. I joined the queue in the Gelateria di San Crispino, not knowing at the time that it has reputedly the best gelato in Italy. What a way to start my adventure!
With the arrival of spring, a special festival has just taken place in China and Intrepid’s Sunny Bin helps explain the history behind the local traditions…
“I always think that the Chinese farmer’s calendar is more sensitive, and really makes you realise the passage of time. This calendar divides the whole year into 24 segments based on the slightest change in nature, such as the walking of the insect and the first spring rain.
It seems like only yesterday I was introducing the Spring Equinox customs to my Intrepid group on the way to Great Wall on 20th of March, then all of a sudden, I’m in southern China on the 5th of April telling them stories about Qingming, or Grave-sweeping Day.
It’s not easy to find some free time with renowned photographer Steve Davey. In between photographic assignments, writing his new book, Footprint Travel Photography, and launching a new range of photographic tours in conjunction with Intrepid UK, we found a rare moment to catch up with the man behind the lens…
You’ve travelled throughout the world with your camera – where’s your favourite place to photograph?
Undoubtedly it has to be India. I love the pace and the chaos and the love of life. I love the colours and the faces and the exuberance of the religion. I love the people, the history and of course, the food!
For any of you who have been wondering where the rich cover for our 2009 Asia brochure comes from, it was taken by Intrepid traveller Jennifer Broomhall in Varanasi, India.
The woman in the photo was a guest at a wedding and she was going to fill her urn with water from the Holy Ganges. Jennifer says she loves the “brightness” and the way the sun catches the jewels on the sari. “The contrast of her work-worn hands holding such an ornate urn adds to the beauty of this special moment.”
World-class gymnasts, Dracula and Ceaucescu – that’s the most many of us know about Romania. But when Intrepid’s Tina Gerets decided to study in this East European country it opened up a beautiful world of adventures and walking in Transylvania was her favourite way to spend the weekend…
“I put in my application and was accepted at the University of Bucharest. While Bucharest has a lot of cultural attractions, like the many movie theatres and cheap opera and ballet performances, it is a big city like many others. So on the weekends we explored the Romanian countryside. One of my favourite places was the stunning medieval town of Brasov. A trail leads from the centre to the top of one of the mountains that surround the town. The view from the summit is simply breathtaking. On your way up you meet local families and friends going for a pleasant stroll and a picnic.
“Our train pulled into Hue station around 8.30am. We were all struck by how quiet Hue was compared to Hanoi. The roads were almost empty (and easy to cross) and there were few other tourists in the vicinity of our hotel. We spent our morning familiarising ourselves with the town, wandering around shops and grabbing some of Hue’s famed pancakes at the Mandarin CafĂ©.
Who better to give us some great tips on how to save some travel money than avid travellers? Intrepid Express readers have come up with some fantastic ideas and this super list of tactics to save cash for travel comes from Express win-a-trip winner Colleen Moses…
“From one who has champagne taste but, alas, a beer budget, I’ve got a few tips I’ve learned over the years on how to save money for holidays without having to do without…some of my best tips are as follows:
1. This one’s my absolute favourite….if you’re on the dating scene or simply enjoy fine dining but can’t afford a three course dinner for two, most fine dining restaurants do a fantastic breakfast for a smidgeon of the cost – impress your date with a gourmet breakfast at the best restaurant in town without breaking the budget. It also makes for a nice change from the traditional ‘dinner and a movie’ – go for breakfast and a walk along the beach instead, just as romantic but not so costly on the hip pocket!
For many people, Russia is synonymous with Russian dolls (matryoshki), fur hats (shuba), samovars and Soviet memorabilia. So it’s not surprising that these are the most sought after souvenirs on visits to Mother Russia. And luckily Intrepid’s Tania George knows just the place to shop in Moscow…
“Located close to metro stop Partizanskaya and the Izmailovo Hotel complex, the Izmailovo markets seem to go on forever. Open daily from 10am till 6pm, you can buy literally everything here. Locals shop for clothes, shoes, household utensils, tools, fabric, illegally copied CD’s and DVD’s, etc. If you get hungry, you can enjoy cheap local snacks and drinks at one of the many food stalls.
All this is great, but for the souvenir shoppers among us, there is an even more interesting part… Vernisazh.