The Travel Lab’s Jacquie Burnside hadn’t been back to Bali for 13 years, but she finally put that right last week! It took Bali Bootcamp to get her there, but now she can’t believe she left it so long…
“The minute I stepped off the plane I had a smile a mile wide recalling all the fun times spent on previous trips, the warm and inviting Balinese hospitality and the shy but playful local characters. I was greeted by that very Balinese smell of kretek, clove cigarettes, and air thick with the fragrance of recent rain and there was Made, the cheerful driver sent by the guesthouse to transfer me from the airport.
Ah Bali, beautiful Bali! Where culture, religion and daily life are as one. Where the rice paddies are impossibly green, where the people are so friendly and welcoming you feel immediately at home and where I could happily hang my hat and never leave! The pace of life slows, the head clears and that smile…well, it stays a mile wide for the duration of my stay.
Now I am back home and still pining for the warmth and excitement of Thailand; my wonderful group; and our superstar leader, Ben!
Ben really ensured we all had a great time throughout the trip and cajoled those of us who were intimidated by food we weren’t familiar with, to give it all a go! Although my mission was to try as many Thai curries as possible, Ben gave us even more fab food adventures. Although porridge is my breakfast staple at home, the Thai version (with meat balls and egg) she introduced us to was a real feast to start the day!
There’s no going back now – digital cameras have opened up a whole new world of photo opportunities!
They’ve made it easy for us all to be a photographers and capture those magic moments then share them quickly with friends and family. But there is still an art to getting it right and Intrepid’s John Kirk comes to our rescue with some great tips for taking the perfect shot…
“I just love the challenge of night photography and capturing spectacular images of city lights. However, there are a few tricks to getting good results. I have some proven tips that I share with my Intrepid Australia groups to help them take home superb night photographs of city lights, harbours, campfires and the endless starlit sky.
Is there anything New Zealand group leader Kim Bowden doesn’t know about the Land of the Long White Cloud? Kim takes us on a bird-watching adventure to learn that the kiwi’s feathered friends can be very cheeky…
“Would you believe that the bat is the only land mammal native to New Zealand? With Australia as a close neighbour, visitors to NZ shores are often surprised to discover that this land is snake, crocodile and kangaroo free.
The explanation lies in the fact that New Zealand separated from the ancient landmass of Gondwanaland before most mammals were on the scene. Prior to the arrival of Maori and then European settlers, many of New Zealand’s birds had adapted in remarkable ways to fill the niche occupied by mammals in other countries. Couple this with New Zealand’s location in the roaring 40s at the edge of the Southern Ocean and you can be sure to spot both weird and wonderful birds on any NZ travels.
We’ve all done it – felt confident trying out a few local words, only to end up with hot sauce instead of mild or a one-way ticket when we wanted round trip. But that’s all part of the fun, as Express reader Ewa Malinowska explains…
“This is a story of a friend whom I was traveling with in Poland. In Polish water is ‘woda’, and vodka is ‘wodka’ – the extra ‘k’ turns the word ‘water’ into an endearing term. During our travels, I taught my friend many words and phrases, and one day he decided to do the breakfast ‘shopping’ by himself.
Emma Brady and her boyfriend travelled on Intrepid’s Essence of China trip in July and are still raving about the experience…
“China!! What a country, even after talking to people about it who we’d met along the way we still weren’t sure what to expect? What we can say after spending 3 weeks here is that it’s truly amazing and every single person we have met and talked to has been super friendly and helpful and every place we have visited has been a pleasure!
Exploring in countries like Bhutan so often leaves an indelible impression, and that was certainly the case for Cate Gaston…
“LOL as I am writing this in Kolkata, a herd of goats were just ushered by along the main road, I just love travelling!
“Coozoozambo La from Druk Yul”, Hello from the Land of the Dragon.
Well what can I say about Bhutan… Oh so much. I will start with some interesting facts about the last Shangri La…
* Bhutan is a land locked country between India and Tibet
* it is the size of Switzerland
* has a population of nearly 650,000 people
* you have to pay the Kingdom the privilege of entering and touring the country and last year they only issued 17,000 visas
Mark Harrison admits to being an avid reader of all things travel related and gives us a few great book recommendations (particularly in relation to Italy, his all-time favourite travel destination)…
(1) Vroom with a View and Vroom by the Sea, by Australian Peter Moore, are terrific books in regard to uncovering some of Italy’s jewels. Written with a great dose of humour and a passion for travelling through Italy by Vesper, Peter entices the traveller to see Italy from a different perspective. Both books are ‘easy reading’ and not too large to carry in a backpack.
(2) When in Rome and See Naples and Die by transplanted Australian, Penelope Green, are also easy to carry in the backpack and offer a first-hand insight into two of Italia’s greatest cities. Penelope also writes about some of her own struggles to live in a foreign country.
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!”