The number of official countries in the world currently sits at 206, with the latest to join the party being Kosovo in 2008 and South Sudan in 2011. That doesn’t include the strange, tiny countries (Population: 1) that some people set up in their backyards, complete with Monopoly money currency and a flag knitted from their mother’s old quilt.
For the misanthropes among us, Asinara Island sounds like a dream destination: a remote island just off the coast of Sardinia, crystal clear water, and, according to a quick Google search of the Italian census, a population of one solitary person.
When the quake struck Nepal on 25 April this year, we reached out to our travellers for help. Our target was $40,000. A pretty serious amount of money, but within 6 hours we were well past it. After a few weeks we were sitting at $300,000, with another $100,000 chipped in from Intrepid itself.
Menhir, wild boar, magic potion, Unhygenix, Dogmatix. Sound familiar? Probably because you speak the language of the Gauls and of those mustachioed Roman fighters, Asterix and Obelix.
Travelling along the Trans-Mongolian railway was never a dream of mine. But then I stopped and thought about the enormity of it all for a minute.
Going deeper underground: subway stations that will make you think “wow that’s a really cool subway station!”
Taking the subway’s not usually a memorable experience, unless it’s for the wrong reasons: The dawning horror that you’ve taken the wrong train and getting to the airport in time is now a beautiful distant dream. The realisation that unless you’re a high-level cryptographer you’re not going to decipher the labyrinthine map and find your destination. The unforgettable experience of being smushed up against someone’s armpit in an oven-like carriage; someone who sees showering as a suggestion rather than a necessity.
On 25 April 2015, Tony Hill was mid-way through an Intrepid Nepal trip – some 2000ft above Namche Bazaar – when the earthquake struck. All of a sudden Tony, who by his own admission is “not particularly well-travelled” and his companions found themselves deep inside a disaster zone.
In the western world, we grow up with a few pearls of apron-string wisdom that get passed down through the generations. A friend in need is a friend in deed. One swallow doesn’t make a summer. Don’t run with scissors you’ll have someone’s eye out, seriously put them down now. That sort of thing.
When you’re a kid, everything is an adventure. A pavement is a runway; your arms the wings of a Boeing-747; your mouth and lips the noisey, spluttering engine. You can make magnificent medieval castles out of sheets and you can fight off any danger with your fabled Blade of Mercy (so long as mum’s not using it to mash potatoes).