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 travel here 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.
Aside from Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dr Evil, the most famous things to come out of Belgium are definitely food and drink related. Everyone immediately envisages beer, waffles and chocolate when thinking of Belgium, but as Intrepid’s Hannah Cartmel explains, that’s not even the half of it…
“Did you know French Fries were actually invented in Belgium? Mussels, often cooked in beer, are another local favourite. The Dutch influence has made stoemp, braadworst and speculaas national dishes – these respectively being, a type of mashed potato, a bloody sausage and a spiced biscuit. French flavours include a local version of boeuf bourguignon and Salade Liegoise, which is a take on the famous Salade Nixoise. The endive (witlof or chicon) is often deliciously gratinated, and yes, the Brussels Sprout is commonly eaten in the country’s capital city, only it’s usually drowned in butter.
We are delighted to be returning to Timor-Leste in 2010 with 4 departures from July to September. Places are filling fast as the word spreads that Timor has the welcome mats back out, and our friends across the country are eager to see Intrepid travellers again.
Jane Crouch, our Responsible Travel Manager and resident Timor-phile took a world music choir over to tour the country last August. Jane writes, “It was simply sensational returning after a two-and-a-half year absence. As we travelled around many of my favourite communities across the country, and visited some that were new to me, my heart and soul were filled with the feeling that we were in the right places at the right time. At our gig in Baucau, Timor’s second largest town, around 400 people of all ages came out for the evening and joined in the dance and songs of the 5 performing groups. At a smaller gathering in Los Palos in the east, after we sang the moving song Walk With Me, we were overwhelmed when a young musician said “We want you to walk with us.”
It’s been a long time between drinks for this part of Australia, so this week’s top trip is an exciting new 4-day adventure that soaks up the spirit of the [...]
There are so many brilliant spots to enjoy a lager or two, but here’s a couple of the best bars from our Intrepid team…
Skyline Bar in Riga, Latvia: It’s at the top of what’s probably the tallest hotel in the city and has an almost 360 degrees view. Best to go at night for a drink, but arrive early for a window seat. It is a trendy place and locals go there as well. The beer might not be as cheap as in the city’s cool little basement bars, but the view is awesome!