During the recent unrest in Thailand we caught up with our two Intrepid Foundation beneficiary charities, to see how they are faring: Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) and Baan Unrak Children’s Village.
Soraida Salwala, the Founder of FAE writes: “I went to Bangkok for FAE bank transactions but became stuck and unable to return. I had to rely on working by SMS and email, however I talked to Motala and Mosha via mobile phone. My staff had the speaker on and held the phone near them. They were surprised at first but became used to hearing my voice over that small object. Motala reaches her trunk and touches the phone. Mosha will have her trunk up in reply to my greetings “Sawasdee kha!”
Some books inspire us to seek out new adventures, while others make great reading while on the road. Intrepid Express reader Arapine Walker recommends a book that turned out to be her perfect travelling companion in Italy…
“In 2008 my 3 girlfriends and I travelled from New Zealand to Italy to celebrate the first of us turning 50 (the new 30 by the way!) Just before we left Auckland I bought a book that I could read on the long flight to Rome via Los Angeles & Frankfurt. I bought Patricia Grace’s book Tu about three brothers during the second world war. It took me a week or so to read, as of course there was so much going on for a first-timer in Italy, however it was absolutely the right book at the right time and place.
Dining in Croatia is a wonderfully relaxed experience, but don’t be fooled into thinking that they don’t take their food seriously.
Croatians are fabulous cooks and as Intrepid Express reader Karen Keenan discovered, you’ll feel so satisfied after a local meal that you won’t want to move a mussel…
If you’ve got a stomach for adventure and won’t let it put you off your own travels, here’s a great book for your backpack recommendation from Intrepid Twitter follower Bob Kane…
“The Darkest Jungle: The True Story of the Darien Expedition and America’s Ill-Fated Race to Connect the Seas.
Navy Lt. Isaac Strain’s 1854 expedition into the Darién Gap was one of the first to explore the remote, seductive jungle and, without question, one of the unluckiest. They were unable to obtain native guides. They didn’t carry enough provisions. Existing maps were a joke. Vampire bats drank their blood when they were sleeping. Worms hatched under their skin and starting eating their flesh.
There is something inspiring about following a path that is over 2000 years old, especially when that trail travels along the Great Wall. Intrepid’s Alison Mead took a wander along the iconic wall to get a different perspective of China…
“Our adventure started at the off-the-beaten-track village of Gubeikou, around 3 hours from Beijing. Accompanied by local guide Chen, complete with his t-shirt stating ‘feeling good’, our small group of six begin the steady climb over exposed ground to reach the wall.
Parts of the wall were completely ruined, other sections were overgrown, but all the way it was clear this was the mighty Great Wall of China. Round another corner, up over another tower and the views were spectacular, so much so that we forgot our weary feet and knees. And if we did remember our aches, Chen’s great story-telling quickly took our minds off any pain.
Founded in 1949, Tatra National Park (TANAP) is the oldest national park in Slovakia and the former Czechoslovakia. It was created to protect the large coniferous forests, alpine meadows, glaciers and many endemic species of plants and animals. It is home to the chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra tatrica), plus marmots, bears, wolves, lynx, deer and several birds of prey. Intrepid group leader Tomas Palenik shares with us his concerns about the future of this spectacular region and suggests a way we can help…
“In my role with Intrepid, I visit the Tatry mountains regularly with groups of people from around the world. These people holiday in Solvakia because of the uniqueness of an environment that never disappoints. I am proud that I can guide visitors through my country, its mountains and wilderness. For these reasons I find it unbelievable that there is a plan for so-called ‘development’ that does not respect the protection of nature and is not based on the real values of the region.
A great way to get to know a place and its people is having a local show you the best bars. Recently we asked Intrepid Express readers to tell us their favourite place for a beer, so our thirsty travellers have done the leg work for you and now all you need do is sit back and enjoy a cold ale or two…
Spain: “One of the most vibrant and interesting bars I have been to was one we stumbled upon in Granada, Spain: Bodegas de Castenada. Stood at the bar, often four deep, we thought it was going to take a while to get served. And then from behind us orders were being shouted over our heads. We realised the only way to get served was to lose our English reserve and do as the locals do, by shouting our order at the bar man: dos calicasas por favour!
In the World Heritage-listed town of Melaka you instantly step back in time and absorb the atmosphere of this historically important port. With her Intrepid leader cap on, Hannah Bound takes us on a wander through one of her favourite towns in Malaysia…
“Hareem Street is a small winding road lined with Straits Chinese mansions. The Straits Chinese were early settlers who integrated their culture with that of the Malay to create a unique cultural fusion.
For 13 years now Intrepid is proud to have supported the great work of the Fred Hollows Foundation (FHF), in restoring sight and improving eye health across Indochina. In recent years The Intrepid Foundation’s contributions have gone towards some of their fantastic work in Cambodia and Daniel Martin at FHF has recently updated us on their progress…
“I am very proud to report that the program in Cambodia was a great success in 2009, partly due to great support received by Intrepid. Some of the key achievements of The Fred Hollows Foundation Cambodia Program in 2009 include:
– 48,169 people screened
– 4,470 cataract and 1,398 other sight-restoring surgeries performed
– 5,432 spectacles distributed
– 6 surgeons and 11 mid-level personnel clinically trained
– 357 community health workers trained
– 445 people attending continuing education
– 1 new secondary eye unit constructed
– AU$377,817 of equipment supplied.
Sitting on little plastic stools and drinking from thick glasses with more imperfections and bubbles than the beer they hold, this is what Intrepid’s Bruce McPhie loves about enjoying a Bia Hoi in Vietnam…
“Xin chao, Bia Hoi, hello!” Over the non-stop horns and rumble of Hanoi’s crazy street traffic, the man’s voice booms out. I glance across to the other side of the road, being careful not to walk into a weaving motorbike or a street seller with loaded bamboo pole strung across her shoulders, but I already know the owner of the voice and his familiar call. With fond memories, I acknowledge his friendly smile and wave, as he stands in his old black suit on the opposite pavement.