Kidding around in Vietnam
You’re never too young to get bitten by the travel bug, but luckily for Adam Slater he found a way to scratch that travel itch by joining the very organisation that was responsible for his first overseas trip…
“When you work at a travel company – it doesn’t take long to realise that wherever you go, there’s always someone around the office who has been there before you.
So when these well-travelled, Gandalf-looking staff members gather us young Hobbits around the campfire to regale us with tales of their Intrepid adventures, I’m always quick to remind them that I too have had a pretty unique Intrepid experience. An experience that they’ve well-and-truly missed the boat on.
Yep, I was lucky enough to see an Intrepid Family Adventure through the eyes of a child. And not in a weird, out-of-body experience type way. I actually was a child when I went on my first Intrepid trip. A real-life, yo-yo slinging, youngster.
What was it like? Well take all that excitement, ants-in-your-pants energy that you get before you go on a holiday as an adult, and double it. I was excited about everything, from getting my first passport to the dreaded 8-hour plane ride.
I spent the months leading up to my trip in the school library, pouring through history books and learning about Vietnam. It was my first overseas trip, and I was pretty sure that no other kid I knew had been somewhere so exotic. Even my friend who had been to Disneyland was jealous!
Even though I was still a kid, I remember so much about my first foray into the big wide world. I remember the smell of incense and sticky South-East-Asian heat that greets you when you step off the plane, the frenetic traffic of Hanoi and the taste of fresh mint in a rice paper roll. I remember seeing the karsts of Halong Bay approaching on the horizon, diving off the boat into the warm emerald waters and waking up in the middle of the night just to look at the stars.
When you’re a kid, your imagination is so much sharper. Our overnight train to Hue became an Indiana-Jones style adventure that culminated with us exploring the ruins of an Imperial City. Climbing through the Cu Chi tunnels was an expedition into an underground world. But unlike our normal family holidays, there were a bunch of other kids there to play with.
And when it came time to pick up some souvenirs for friends back home, I went berserk. My mum gave me a few hundred thousand dong (about $20), and set me loose on Ho Chi Minh City’s Ben Thamn market. The stall owners – delighted to be bargaining with a kid who was as cheeky as they were – gave me high fives and called me ‘spiderman’ because they thought I looked like Toby McGuire. With our local leader there to translate, I got a real kick out of haggling down the price, getting a good deal and feeling like a grown up.
From sheltering from an afternoon shower in one of Hoi An’s colonial cafés to meeting the residents of a floating village, my memories are all so vivid, it may as well have happened last week.
Even though I’ve been on plenty of trips since then, this one seems to stick in my mind. I guess it’s because before that, I associated travelling with caravans, kids-club resorts or visiting the relatives. I was young enough to be captivated with absolutely every element of the trip – and I genuinely felt like I was doing something that none of my friends had done. When you’re a kid – that makes you feel pretty cool.
So now, when Intrepid talks Family Adventures, I like to think of myself as a bit of an expert. Because really – who else around here can say they know what it’s like to be a kid on an Intrepid trip? My co-workers may feel young-at-heart, but that’s one experience that they’ll never be able to claim.”
If you want to prove to your kids that the world is much more exciting than Angry Birds and real experiences trump Facebook ‘likes’ any day, check out Intrepid Family Adventures!
Photo: Darrell Wade in Vietnam