Day Seven – Hoi An
Our first day in Hoi An! The bus trip from Hue was around four hours including a couple of stops along the way. We stopped in between Hue and Da Nang at the Hai Van Pass, where our bargaining skills were really put to the test. It’s likely your bus will stop here and you will not be approached, as much as mobbed, by vendors selling necklaces, bracelets, ‘real pearls’ and drinks. But the views were worth stopping for – and most of us ended up with jewellery we didn’t really need too.
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.”
When a young man from Ghana announced his goal to ski in the Olympics, you could imagine the responses. But he’s done it! Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong has just qualified and will be Ghana’s one-man ski team in Vancouver next year. A great good news story to come out of Ghana, and here’s another from Intrepid’s Erin Farmer..
“It’s 6 am and I’m sitting on the veranda watching the mist roll through the mango orchard and listening to the echoes of the school choir practising their hymns. As I sip my coffee and coax my eyes to open fully, I think of the day ahead.
What is it about a volunteering adventure that makes the experience so special? John Holland has travelled the world and spent six weeks backpacking around South America after joining Peru Teaching & Building, so it was easy for him to pinpoint why this trip was a personal highlight…
“Forget the work, it’s the people that make an Intrepid Volunteering project brilliant. First are the local villagers: friendly, hospitable and they love any excuse for a party. Second is our own group of volunteers, a knock-about group of Poms, Aussies and Irish who shared everything for a period of up to six weeks with no major whines, issues or arguments.
Together with eight others I signed up through Intrepid, who works with local partners to organise community projects around the world. Sometimes they build schools and teach. Other projects, such as the one I am doing, involve providing a safe water supply for the village of Peccacacho, high up in Peru’s Andes mountains – an hour walk from the small town of Chinchero and an hour drive from Cuzco, the former Inca capital and well-known jumping off point for Machu Picchu.
Walking Italy’s fabled Cinque Terre trails isn’t something you should simply tick off your list. Let yourself be swept up in the romance of the region and immersed in the colourful culture, is the advice of Intrepid’s local leader extraordinaire, Federico Campoli…
“Cinque Terre means literally ‘five lands’ and is a place known as one of the most beautiful and evocative in the world. A mix of many delightful natural and cultural ingredients make the Cinque Terre, a little corner of Italy in the Liguria region, absolutely unique, even in the eyes of the most routinist traveller.
Some people visit the ‘five lands’ because it is a renowned UNESCO World Heritage site, others simply for the beauty of the sparkling cobalt sea and charming pastel-coloured villages along the coast. Some travellers come to enjoy the exquisite, traditional and healthy food of the area, while others want to experience a little part of everyday life with the Ligurian fishermen. But whatever your reasons for being here, the best way to appreciate the true essence of this place is to walk through it.
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.
Where in the world made your soul sing? We posed this question to Intrepid Express readers and Breanna Rivett knew instantly that for her, that place was Syria…
“There is something wonderful about visiting a country you know very little to nothing about. You have no expectations, and therefore can only be amazed and fascinated by what is uncovered. I discovered this about Syria, which I visited in December-January 2008.
Sitting on the Great Wall of China sipping Great Wall wine seems a very suitable celebration, even though China is not known for the quality of its western-style wines. More famous are the Chinese-style wines, such as the strong Mao Tai, and there is also a local rice wine renowned for having a bite to it, as Express reader Jennifer Rodger discovered…
“I am a most adventurous traveller and am willing to try almost anything, so when the opportunity arose to try Snake Wine on a recent trip to China it was too hard to refuse.
It is a combination of alcohol and fermented snakes that have been slit and gutted and left to ferment in the alcohol for a ‘period of time’. There is an ancient Chinese belief that to drink this wine will give you good energy and it will promote wellness and good strength.
Intrepid’s Danielle Watts has an extra spring in her step. The sun is shining and her breakfast of freshly baked croissants tastes delicious. The reason for all of this excitement… she is headed to one of the most famous, picturesque and revered wine regions not only in France, but throughout the world, Burgundy…
“Walking through the townships, looking at all the wonderful little shops, appreciating the old world charm and observing the locals is a fantastic way to spend the morning. However, the wine aficionado in me is eager to get in there and try some of the best wine in the world.
For centuries, people the world over have fermented grape concoctions, adding various herbs, spices and other curious ingredients, in hope of producing a life-changing elixir. In Croatia, Intrepid’s Shannon Moore sipped a medicinal brew that is considered much more than mere wine…
“Most people come to Korcula and spend their time lounging on the beaches or wandering around the cobblestones of the old city. When I was last on this magical Croatian island (rumoured to be the birthplace of Marco Polo), I found myself on the less-travelled interior of the island, dining with new friends on a farm and vineyard in the tiny town of Pupnat.
Pupnat was originally settled by the Iryllians, has only 300 inhabitants, and is situated at the highest point on the island. From our dinner table on a simple, unadorned terrace, we were treated to views of vineyards and fields of flowers as far as the eyes could see.