vale bill raymond

bill raymondThe Intrepid flag is at half mast, with the very sad news that Intrepid Vietnam leader, Bill Raymond, passed away in Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok on Tuesday 23rd November. Bill was travelling with his sister in Cambodia the previous week when he suffered a brain haemorrhage and entered a coma, from which he could not be revived.

Our prayers go with Bill and to his sister Helen, her partner Michael and her daughter. A Buddhist memorial service has been held in Bangkok, also there have been memorial gatherings in honour of Bill in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi and an evening is planned in Melbourne.

David Mannix, General Manager of Intrepid Vietnam writes: “Bill led trips throughout Vietnam and South-East Asia for the last 15 years, making him Intrepid’s longest serving leader anywhere in the world. He was one of the best leaders we have ever had and is a true Intrepid legend in every sense of the word. Living in Vietnam for such a long time, away from his homeland of New Zealand, the people of Intrepid became Bill’s family. It was especially his fellow leaders, whom he considered brothers and sisters, that Bill inspired as a friend and mentor.”

“Perhaps Bill’s most defining characteristic was his love of Vietnam – anyone who met Bill could feel his passion and respect for the country and its people. He made such an impression on Vietnam and touched the lives of so many people, that in a way he became part of the landscape. It is fitting that Bill’s ashes have been brought back to Vietnam, where he will remain part of the landscape for eternity and the legend will live on.”

Over the years Bill trained many Intrepid group leaders, including several of the early western leaders. Some of these leaders have shared their thoughts:

“I learned more about Vietnam and the Vietnamese way of life from Bill than any guide book could tell me. A man with a passion for the country and its people, Bill could turn any incident into a moment of discovery. He made tour leading more enjoyable, life in a foreign country more exciting and helped all fellow leaders with the culture shock and trials and tribulations that we ourselves endured.” Grant McClelland

“The Intrepid Vietnam family has now lost an iconic and unique character, a man of self-deprecating and sardonic good humour, wickedly cynical at times, but always generous of spirit and willing to help anyone. For many of us, he was our mentor and our mate. Bill was always generous in sharing his time, friendship and assistance with me, his travellers and anyone he met on his travels. ” Bruce McPhie

We know that thousands of Intrepid travellers had wonderful experiences travelling with Bill and we are pleased to share some of their recent comments…

“Bill had a remarkable knowledge of Vietnam, its culture, history and people. He had a good sense of humour, nothing was too much trouble. Brilliant all round.”

“The whole experience was fantastic, but in my opinion it was the knowledge, care and constant attention that Bill took to look after the whole group and their many needs that made the experience that much more enjoyable and memorable.”

“Bill is a diamond, he let the group find its own dynamic but was always there with helpful advice, all the information we could ever need and a friendly face to help us out. We always felt we were in safe hands.”

“He obviously loves what he is doing, and his enthusiasm and genuine interest in the places he was taking us made all the difference to our enjoyment of the trip.”

“Bill was informative, fun, warm and friendly. If you love food and trying the local beers, Bill’s your man. He is exceptionally well educated on all things Vietnam, and is highly respected by the locals.”

Vale Mr Bill – you will be very much missed!

In memory of Mr Bill – Melbourne, 7 December, 2010
A memorial dinner will be held on Tuesday 7th December at a central location in Melbourne. We welcome anyone who would like to join us on the night and please email if you wish to attend.

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.

Similar Posts

Peter & Gwenda Wright / Reply

Tribute to Bill Raymond While planning our third Intrepid trip, Peter and I wondered about our first leader, Bill Raymond. We were very surprised and saddened when our Google search for Intrepid Bill Raymond produced ‘vale bill raymond’ on the Intrepid Express Blog. In November 2007 we were very privileged to have Bill as our leader on your ‘Vietnam Experience’ 15 day comfort tour from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi. Bill probably thought ‘what have I got here? ’ We thought the same. First impressions can be very wrong. We were a group of 50 to 70 year olds, two doctors, 3 teachers, a lawyer and other professionals, six couples who did not know one another, 6 Aussies and 7 Kiwis including Bill. Game on. We all had so much fun slinging side comments and keeping the Aussie/New Zealand banter going at every opportunity. We endorse the many comments about Bill’s excellent knowledge and love of Vietnam, his ability to look after the whole group, his wicked sense of fun and irreverent but sensitive comments. We collected a list of ‘Billisms’ on our 2 week tour. Bill was thrilled, in his modest way, a tear in many eyes, when we presented the list at our farewell dinner. Bill received our standing ovation then as he does now. Bill you will be sadly missed.
Others might enjoy this sample of Bill one liners; Chappy, chappy, chappies! Listen up guys. Have a good look around. There’s ABSOLULELY NO NEED TO RUSH!
Bill’s disclaimer clause- Everything and anything can go ‘pear shaped’.
Bill’s two main food groups- caffeine and nicotine.
Traffic lights in Vietnam- just add color at intersections.
A vehicle off the side of the road or in a table drain- Vietnamese angle parking.
Beautiful, tall Vietnamese girls, behind a counter or on a motorbike- half girl, half shoes.
Bars, cafes and groovy places to be seen- places to be obscene.
Everything is made in China but things are left in Vietnam.
Duck & pig butchering at the market- short back and no sides.
Even Stevie Wonder could drive in Vietnam- everything is done by noise.
Girls who serve on planes, trains or boats- trolley dollies and bucket babes.
International rules in a queue- elbows, knees and shove.
Locals found in your overnight train compartment- just upgrading to 1st Class.
Peter & Gwenda Wright. Echuca, Victoria.

Like my two other Tawa (and college) mates, I have very fond memories of our adolescent years together mainly socialising with Bill at his parents house. As Chris mentions we did try to track him down a few years back for our Tawa Lads Reunion and knowing that his last known whereabouts was with Intrepid Travel we joked about how he must’ve gone bush in some exotic place with no communication – i had however tried to leave him a message when i contacted IT but to no avail. I’m not surprised at the level of respect he had gained in his work and travels he was a man made of great stuff and i know i share the same thoughts, feelings, memories and laughs of the Tawa lads and those whom he encountered post NZ on his intrepid journeys. Affectionately known as Billy odd bod – mate you will be missed by us all… noho ora mai ra me kia manawa e hoa'

Countless hours together with friends running, playing soccer, table-tennis and flagons of beer in the rumpus room. Must have been 20 years since I last saw Bill at Paraparaumu when we spent a great day together. He seemed ready for a change and obviously found his calling. So sad I didn’t get to see him again despite our best efforts to find Bill for the Tawa lads first reunion in 2007.
RIP Billy odd-bod

Bill was a childhood mate of mine and a dozen other characters all hailing from Tawa just north of Wellington in NZ. We tried to find Bill 4 years ago as we were having a reunion.but we could not fine our old mate -the mystery man. Until one of the boys found this -several weeks too late. As a teenager Bill was one of the hardest trainers when it came to running that any of us ever knew-Bill was a top nz sprinter and then became a very competitive distance athlete. Bill certainly knew how to have a good time though and the drinking sessions at Bills place was the stuff legends are made of. Bill loved his flipflops,jandals ,thongs and would risk his life to preserve an old pair! It sounds like Bill stayed true to himself through out his life.
Kia kaha Bill to your wairua as you pass into another place.'

A group of Bills friends from Tawa College ( 1974 – 1978) in NZ have been wondering for some time about Bill’s wherabouts for a number of years and we had been recently discussing this at the NZ Rugby 7’s last weekend in Wellington NZ. We will fondly remember him and the booze ups in his Rumpus Room at his parents house in Duncan St ,Tawa. He was a great bloke who was a gifted Sprinter (running not drinking) but it sounds like it became drinking in later years. A number of the lads have passed away over the years and they will be up there with Bill reminising together about the good times we had

RIP from the lads in Tawa- NZ (we will have a drink “several” for you at our next get together)'

So long Bill. It was a great privalige to have known you and to have worked and played with you. Truely one of life’s unique characters. Loved our times together; your advice, our deep and meaningful conversations and all the laughs; heaps of laughs. My frequent return visits to Vietnam will never be the same knowing I will no longer run into you somewhere along the track. RIP mate.

Brian Kuhl
Former Intrepid Leader'

Knowing Bill, talking with him was always a fun experience in which you could always find something to learn. It could be a professional experience sharing, a warm friendship from a “big brother”, a personality or sometimes just a joke to wash away the tension of your work.
“Hello brother!” “How are you brother?”. Intrepid brother leaders will miss your saying, your tight handshakes, your jokes and your brotherhood mate.
Rest In Peace Bill. God Bless You!

Le Sy Quyen
Formal Intrepid Leader.'
ngan-former-intrepid-leader / Reply


Bill was my tour leader through Vietnam in 1999 and I still think it was one of the best trips ever; thanks to him.

No one quite like you Bill. Sorry the world lost you.

Vale Bill Raymond (aka Mr Bill)

Bill’s was a life lived larger! Bill might have corrected this and said a life lived at large. In many ways Mr Bill was larger than life – his effervescent presence filled every room he entered. People just gravitated towards Bill and he welcomed everyone – well nearly everyone! He was always a friendly face, some-one to turn to – even after a big night when he wasn’t looking or feeling too friendly! He loved Vietnam, the people, the food, the beer – especially the beer!

As a colleague he was always ready to help with suggestions, ideas and advice. I will always remember his casual smile, cheeky grin, self-deprecating humour and his fierce parochialism – he was always a Kiwi, never an Aussie.

RIP Mr Bill. Your memory will live on.'

Bill Raymond
(Bo Bill Bung Bia Beo Bu) – Rest in Peace

When I first heard the terrible news that my dear colleague Bill Raymond was in a coma and not expected to survive, I was stunned. Then the sadness really hit me, and I keep remembering so many things about the Mr. Bill I have known for over 13 years – from those first of many shared iced coffees on the street outside the Orchid Hotel in Saigon in 1997, until recent days. Then, when I learned that Bill had indeed passed away, the sense of loss and grief has only increased, and words fail me.

Anyone who ever knew Bill will have their own special stories and memories, including good times shared over iced coffees, and stronger beverages. Now we must somehow deal with his sudden passing, and our sad loss for our Mr. Bill …. or, as he fondly liked to call himself: Bo Bill Bung Bia Beo Bu.

Mr. Bill was the last remaining Intrepid Leader in Viet Nam who was here when I first joined the small Intrepid team of 12 western Leaders in 1997. From the first day we met, Mr. Bill went out of his way to help me settle in and adjust to my new life here, and was always generous in sharing his time, friendship and assistance with me, his travellers and anyone he met on his travels.

The Intrepid Vietnam family has now lost an iconic and unique character, a man of self-deprecating and sardonic good humour, wickedly cynical at times, but always generous of spirit and willing to help anyone. For many of us, he is our mentor and our mate. For me, things will never be quite the same without Mr. Bill just being there.

No death is ever easy, no matter how inevitable it is for all of us. In trying to lessen the grief, I try to find some consolation in that Bill lived the life he loved right to the end, and died in a place he loved, with family there with him at the time, and thankfully he was spared a long, debilitating illness.

If there are Intrepid tours in Heaven, Mr. Bill will be there, in his shorts and flipflops and his straggly, long, curly hair, and his mischievous grin, leading his travellers on the time of their lives.

Bo Bill Bung Bia Beo Bu – Rest in Peace

Bruce McPhie
Intrepid Vietnam.'

I was one of four women who had the pleasure of Bill’s company on what was probably one of his last trips, through Vietnam in October of this year. OUr small group of four, Carol, Rachel, Helen and I, had a complete ball with Bill, who’s profound knowledge of the country kept us spellbound, and dry wit and humour had us in stitches. Thank you, Bill, you had a deep affect on us all and will be sorely missed but many, but remembered with complete warmth and admiration by us all.'
Sue Cumpston & Lori Mowen / Reply

We had a wonderful trip to Vietnam with Bill as our leader in March of 2006. We have had many travel adventures and we can truly say Bill was the best leader we have ever had. It seemed as everyone in Vietnam knew him. No matter if we were in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, there were greeting shouts of “Mr. Bill from many locals. We thought he showed more respect for the culture and people of a country that any leader we had ever experienced. He lives on in the memory of those of us whose lives he enriched.'

What a terrible loss. He was a wonderful person – and I will never forget him. I’m truly shocked and upset by the news and my condolences go out to his family.

A great loss, Thanks for so much Bill.

Bill was a one-off, his knowledge and love for Vietnam was admirable. All leaders had the up most respect for the infamous Bill. Thoughts are with his family, both of blood and those at Intrepid. Nicki – ex Intrepid Indonchina Leader'

Most sincere condolences to Bill’s family and the Intrepid team. Having done a lot of trips with Intrepid I can honestly say that Bill had the most amazing wealth of knowledge about Vietnam and Cambodia tahn any other leader I met. His genuine love of the country rubbed of on us- thanks Bill.'

I was part of intrepid indochina family, the time that i considered the best year, it changed my life. Bill was the man that i always heard of and was willing to meet. He was such a great person, the one that you could not praise enough, respect enough… Please rest in peace, YOU ARE ALWAYS LOVED BY US.'

We do remember Bill.
He stays in our heart & forever.
He’s a good man & all time we met him he shows us nice smile unchanged!!!!

Love u Bill  ..Wish U stay at peace!
Siem reap, Cambodia'

Build was a fantastic tour leader. When he came to office he said to us Choup reap Sour with Cambodian word, English mean (Hello). It make me miss him very much. He was a friendly and funny guy.

Rest in peace Bill.

Bill was the fun leader and friendly, I am very saddened to hear of him passing.'
manfred siebrecht / Reply

Bill was the best,I enjoyed his company and having a drink with him after a days travel,I am saddened by his passing.'

Having just read the sad news of Bill’s passing I would like to share my story of Bill. My first Intrepid trip was the Indochina Loop in November-December 2006. Our orignal tour leader was called away at the start of the trip so we were to have Pick for Thailand and Laos and Bill for Vietnam and Cambodia. Our trip was full of adventure and action with a bit of an accident during a storm on an overnight boat trip on Halong bay, after this we were all a bit shaken, shocked and unsure of ourselves as travellers. This was when Bill arrived, he picked us up, dusted us off and held us together and made us feel safe. As a result the group grew stronger, and fully enjoyed the rest of our time in Vietnam, Cambodia and our return to Thailand to complete the loop. I don’t think anyone one else could have done such a wonderful job of this as Bill. He was one of a kind and I’ll never forget him.'
Liisa & Eric Walter / Reply

Bill led us on our honeymoon trip through Indochina. It was our ‘virgin’ tour with Intrepid & encouraged us to book others with them. Intrepid has lost one of the BEST. He was a true people person with a knowledge of the area second to none. RIP Bill travelling with you was an honour.'

I am very saddened to hear of Mr Bill’s passing.
He made my first trip to Vietnam an experience that has inspired me to return to S E Asia many time since.
I have never had a better tour guide in all my years of travel. Memories of Mr Bill and his beer T Shirts will always remain with me, especially when I am travelling.
I will take the time on my next trip to Vietnam in March 2011 to pay honour Mr Bill.
May God make you as welcome as you made me feel.'

We spent one of our most memorable Christmas & New Year vacations with Bill as our leader. His passion for all things beer, leave us with a lasting legacy of Beer Lao, Ankor Beer, Tiger Beer, and assorted beer T shirts. we’el think of Bill fondly whenever we put one on.A great leader with a true passion for the people.
Jon & Cathy'

Had the pleasure to have bill as a tour leader in vietnam, what a competent and interesting man he was.I had the pleasure of catching up with bill every couple years to have a few cleansing ales, what good company he was!'

Bill made my trip to Vietnam a fantastic experience. A friend recently did the same trip and had the same comments about Bill. Lets hope there are flipflops in Heaven with Heaven printed on them 🙂'

Bill was my tour leader in Vietnam, my very first trip with Intrepid, and he remains the best leader i have ever had. I am honoured to have met and travelled with him. Rest in peace Bill.'

Bill was the best tour guide ever! Made my trip through Vietnam one of the best tours I’ve ever been on, he’ll be sadly missed.'

Bill lead the Northern Exposure in December 1998 and made this the most memorable travel experiences that I have ever had. Great guy!'

Bill was a fantastic tour leader. Extremely funny, great company and so much knowledge. he made my trip through Vietnam very special.

Leave a reply