toast to intrepid leader

cambodian kidsIn 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).

I was lying on my bed in my cow-print pajamas, feeling sorry for myself when there was a knock on the door. Knowing that the whole group were about one kilometre away feasting on a Vietnamese seafood banquet and enjoying a few cold Tigers, I responded in quite an unfriendly manner. I was surprised to be told it was Grant and please open up. There he was, with a paper bag with slices of hot toast and honey! He had checked with Angie if I was alright and asked her if there was anything I might be able to eat and then zoomed off on the back of a motor scooter into the night.

It was one of those kind acts when feeling down, that is never forgotten – though I could have done without the teasing about the cow pajamas “just like his mother would wear”!

Donna Callaghan

Tour Vietnam with Intrepid on trips like these great small group adventures:
Best of Vietnam and Cambodia – 18 days Hanoi to Bangkok
Indochina Encompassed – 40 days Bangkok to Chiang Mai

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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Hi Sally,

How exciting that you will soon be travelling on the Reunification Express! Be sure to download the latest trip notes for some important travel information.

A tip I would suggest is that at this time of year be prepared for some cool weather. Layered clothing is a great idea, because the mornings and evenings can be cool but then the days often warm up, so having layers you can shed makes it easy.

Also in the trip notes it suggests you may want to take a sleep sheet for overnight on the trains. I normally just bed down in comfy clothes overnight and maybe put down my towel or sarong under my pillow, so sheets aren’t that necessary, but if you would like a sleeping bag inner/sleep sheet then my recommendation is get them in Hanoi – I bought great silk ones here that are perfect for travelling because they are light weight and dry out quickly after washing. Only thing is you might want to avoid the bright colours, as these run and you tend to come out of your sleeping bag a nice shade of pink or blue for a while 😉

Happy travels,
Intrepid Express editor'

My family (2 A + 2 C) are going on The Reunification Express tour on 24th December 2008.
Any comments or hints will be more than welcome – so we can enjoy and experience Vietnam to the fullest.

I’m doing the hanoi to bangkok trip in feb, and would love to talk to anyone thats been and get some tips. If anyone feels like meeting up, i’ll shout you a coffee, if you share your stories 🙂
Or just send me an email with anything at all 🙂
Can’t wait to go
This grant guy sounds good'

Grant, where ARE you? We all miss your smiling face!
Mahoney’s looking for you!
Regards from the whole gang,
Georgia, Ella & Jim'
Ngaire Connolly-Hintz / Reply

We were fortunate enough to have Grant as our guide through Cambodia as well. He organised a surprise birthday cake for me so I got to celebrate my 30th birthday November last year, watching the sun set over Siem Reap from the top of one of a temple with a group of new friends….will be hard to top that birthday this year! He was an awesome tour guide and we would have loved to have him on our Vietnam leg but not to be. Will just have to come back again!
Thanks Grant for such an awesome trip 🙂'
Gregg the Action Man / Reply

Paddy should come on our next trip for sure!

I second that!! Although it may be more fun having him as a passenger on our trip! Is Paddy coming on our next trip??'

I only wish Grantley was still going to be tour leader of this trip next year because after telling my mum and dad about the Indochina Loop Tour including regaling them with tales of Grantley and Paddy in action they said “why couldn’t we go on that tour? Let’s do it on the proviso that we get Grantley Hamilton III as our tour leader!”

Just like to say I enjoyed travelling under the leadership of Grantley III, his easy going nature made the trip a pleasure. I don’t remember being offered honey on toast myself but I ‘m sure he would have done so if I were ill and offered to get up to show me the feeding of the monks ceremony had I missed it!!!!'
Eunan "patrick" O'Donnell / Reply

Grantley made us all feel special. However he did laugh at his own jokes a bit too much! And he never finished his beer……!'
Joanus Catherine / Reply

yes, yes of course.
Even though i may have been a “tough” customer..
but Grantley Hamilton III still made me feel special'
Gregg the Action Man / Reply

His last name is Finster? I thought it was Hamilton III!'

We’d just like to say that we also thought Grant was fantastic as a tour leader. He helped us sort out Visas for Vietnam when in Laos and also took us to hospital when James was ill. He was always there when we needed anything and as we said on our feedback nothing was ever too much for him – a true star!! Thanks again 😉'
Gregg the Action Man / Reply

p.s. where was our bread and honey when we were feeling “sick” after too many Beers and Lao Lao whiskeys Grantley??? (; They must have run out of that by the May/June Indochina Loop trip!

Bring on Intrepid India Tour ’09!'

Bummer Grantley! Maybe you can come on the Indian tour as a guest instead and then you won’t have to worry about getting up early to organise the rabble that was us on the tour!!!! Especially that Joanus Catherine! She was one tough customer!!!

All this attention is well-deserved Grant – but in answer to Lou’s request for Grant in India – fortunately we have a fantastic team of leaders in India, including group leaders who have been internationally recognised for their great service to our travellers – so I’m sure you’ll have a fantastic trip and can’t wait to hear about it on the blog! – Sue, Express Editor'
Joanus Catherine / Reply

Grantley Hamilton III, you’re just a pure delight!'

Grant, can you be our tour leader on our Intrepid trip to India next year???'
Gregg the Action Man / Reply

I should have given you the “Leading the Nation” t-shirt Grantley Hamilton!'
Eunan 'Patrick' O'donnell / Reply

Want a beer Grantley?'
Eunan 'Patrick' O'donnell / Reply

Seems like you impress all your guests as much as you did us Grantley! Want a beer?'
Gregg the Action Man / Reply

Grantley Hamilton III you are a star!

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