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).
In June, Gayle Martin and her husband travelled on Intrepid’s Central Europe Encompassed trip and wondered if Barry had made this journey before…
“This photo was taken at a monastery we stayed in in Montenegro. Now remember, this was a holy place where there were rules i.e. men and woman slept in separate rooms, 10pm curfew, lights out by 10.30pm followed by silence. In general, our tour group of 12 were expected to walk around calmly and quietly in this holy place!
At the monastery there were various holy pictures dotted around the walls. We noticed that religious people who were staying here would walk from picture to picture and pray beneath them. As Barry and I had one bag between us, I had to sneak into the ‘boys’ room to grab a few things from time to time. When I walked out of the ‘boys’ room I noticed this holy picture staring down at me from the wall. I thought, “this is a picture of Barry!”
Elisse Jo Goldstein’s most memorable food experience (and recipe) is from Vietnam…
“My husband and I recently took excellent cooking classes at both the Vietnam Cooking School in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and at the Red Bridge Cooking School in Hoi An. We shopped at the local markets and farms, and then learned how to make a number of dishes, including tiny and delicate Vietnamese spring rolls, steamed rice-flour crepes and clay pot fish… but I also asked our chef-instructor in Hoi An for the recipe for the amazing “chili salt” served to us at the Dakbla restaurant in Kon Tum that I’d fallen in LOVE with – and he gave it to us! This condiment makes Anything wonderful!
Intrepid’s Chotie Moloney was staying with friends on the Coral Coast in Fiji when she first tasted Banana Cassava Cake and simply had to have the recipe…
“Their housekeeper was a marvelous cook, and the daughter of a chief, so you entered the kitchen at your own peril! This cake is so moist – you will love it.”
Maybe this is not a book that inspired me to travel, but it is definitely a book that inspired me to read in English! I am a native German speaker (Swiss) and was on my first long (3 months) trip to Australia. I did bring some German books to read, but they did not last long.
As it is (or was then in 1990) nearly impossible to find German books in Australia, I had to start reading English. The first book I graped in a backpackers was called Queenie by Michael Korda and it was BIG – 650 pages! I had no idea what it was about, but I was in desperate need of reading, so I started it. The book was so exciting, I didn’t want to stop reading, I nearly stopped travelling to finish the book!
Australia love its BIG THINGS – there are hundreds of big objects all around the country from the Big Koala to the Big Banana. Plus there are the biggest and heaviest trains in the world – iron ore trains in Western Australia’s remote Pilbara region and rugged road trains, as Intrepid leader John Kirk explains…
“If you travel along Australia’s remote outback roads, you will most likely encounter a road train, road-legal behemoths that truck heavy loads around the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Queensland and northern South Australia. Road trains in the mining industry max out at a staggering 200 tonnes, but most consist of a prime-mover and 3 trailers (called ‘doggies’) with a combined weight of up to 140 tonnes and around 54 metres (177 feet) in length. That’s almost 10 average car lengths and with more than 60 wheels, these giants are a tyre-kicker’s paradise!
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.
The magnificence of the Himalayas goes hand-in-hand with the kindness of the Nepalese and Intrepid’s local leaders get great satisfaction from introducing you to both. Abhi Shrestha has loved being a group leader in Nepal for over 4 years and it’s clear why…
“I came into this line of work, principally, to quench my passion for travelling and to be in the mountains. The Himalayas have always fascinated me, from the day I first gazed at them and was taken aback by their pristine snow-clad beauty. Something about these amazing mountains upholds my belief that they are living and breathing beings luring us towards them. Look at them, in solitude, glistening on a moonlit night and feel them speaking to you – and you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
Nothing beats chancing on untapped lands. India’s eastern state of Orissa is one such place, as Intrepid leader Pulak Mohanty reveals…
“Returning to my home state is akin to rediscovering the essence of travel. Back to basics and the timelessness of rural life. Palm-fringed rice paddies shimmering in the morning sun. Fishing boats returning to shore, women carrying bamboo baskets brimming with fresh vegetables and the chime of brass bells ringing out from the temple.