When an endearing child with big wide eyes implores you to buy the shell necklace her mother made; when a friendly man in a funky bar wants you to join in the local ‘tradition’ of knocking back a shot of snake wine; or when the market stalls have an abundance of very attractive tortoise shell bracelets, hair combs and spectacle frames for sale…what do you do?
“Half past eight in the evening and it is closing time in the large Bia Hoi behind Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum, which locals know by its address, 19A Ngoc Ha, rather than its name.
The shouts of “mot, hai, ba – yoh!” (One, two, three – bottoms up!) are getting fewer and further between. An hour later the last red-faced patrons stagger out and the staff sit down for a quick meal before the final clean-up.
Intrepid travellers to Bangkok, in April and May 2013, were amongst those who took part in research for ‘The Child Safe Traveller’ (World Vision, 2013). This study looked deeper into tourist perceptions of child exploitation in connection with tourism in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam.
The research also assessed tourist reactions to child safe tourism communications. A total of 268 tourists from across the globe, representing different traveller types, ages, genders and socio-cultural backgrounds, completed surveys and interviews. Participating tourists had been in Thailand for varying lengths of time and many had travelled (or were travelling) elsewhere in South East Asia and beyond.
“How did people build a temple as big as Angkor Wat 1,000 years ago before machines?”
“Why does $1USD buy so much of the local money?”
“Why were Americans fighting in Vietnam?”
These were some of the many questions my children asked during our two weeks travelling through Vietnam and Cambodia with Intrepid. They also asked more unanswerable ones, like “Why would Pol Pot kill people just for being educated?” Or less perplexing, but equally tough to answer, “Why is everyone always beeping their horns?”
Qinnie Wang describes herself as “just an ordinary girl” who lives and works in Canberra, Australia’s capital, and loves to travel.
But it was during her Great Indochina Loop trip with Intrepid late last year, that the seed was planted for a major change in her life purpose and direction. Qinnie explains more…
When your visit coincides with a festival, not only do you get to join in the fun, but as Intrepid’s Paul Chea explains, it’s a special opportunity to enjoy a real taste of local life…
“I would like to invite you to my home – Cambodia – in October for one of the most important festivals in the Khmer calendar. We call this celebration Pchum Ben, and its literal translation is “gathering and offering of food”.
There’s no doubt cycling gives you a chance to meet the locals in ways that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
Handle-bar height gives you the best view of Vietnam and as Jo Gilbert discovered, once you rise to the challenge of the roads for the first time, you’ll be freewheeling all the way!