Recognised as the oldest freshwater lake still in existence, Lake Baikal is also measured as the deepest continental body of water and the largest freshwater lake by volume. Completely surrounded by mountains, it’s no wonder this massive lake has been the scene of many a great tale and Intrepid group leader Denis Sobnakov shares one of the region’s popular legends…
“From ancient times native people of Baikal region believed in the sacred powers of nature. Lake Baikal seemed to be atop of the world and people called it “a grandfather”. Many legends and stories have been told over time, but one of the most renowned is the story of his “daughter”, Angara, the only river that flows out of the lake.
“Man, can you do a flic flac yet?” “Uh-huh no, but you dude watch me juggling with those 3 balls!”
Surprisingly enough, this is a conversation between two street children in St Petersburg, Russia. Normally children lacking their parents’ attention and care would spend their time drinking dreadful canned cocktails or beer and smoking with friends, wandering about the subway stations asking for money or skipping school. But these two boys are somewhat different – they are circus artistes in the Upsala-Circus, an autonomous non-commercial organisation in St Petersburg.
Today, the food of Malaysia is a centuries-old blend of foreign influences and a delicious combination of cuisines. Just like in countries such as India and China, the ideal balance of any savoury dish is six senses – sour, sweet, pungent, salty, acidic and hot!
A much-loved thing about travelling is getting to taste these mouthwatering local dishes and one of Malaysia’s most famous is laksa. It’s so prevalent that the smell of laksa almost permeates the whole country, and as Intrepid Express reader Sarah Evans reflects, learning to cook the dish when you get home can bring your luscious memories of Malaysia back in an instant…
Glassy lakes, imposing mountains and spectacular glacier-studded canyons. You could be forgiven for thinking we are describing Switzerland, but as Intrepid leader Boris “Bob” Golodets explains, this is Kyrgyzstan…
“There is an impression that after the collapse of the Soviet Union former Asian republics have returned to their half wild conditions. Kyrgyzstan is a bright example, despite being politically unstable, on the brink of civil war, and struggling with poverty, corruption and production setbacks. The upside is that people are too busy struggling with each other to damage nature.
Intrepid’s Tara Kennaway has spent a fair portion of her life on trains, both in her role as a tour leader in Russia (multiple Trans Siberian laps!) and in her own travels. So she’s decidedly qualified to judge the T27 from Beijing to Lhasa, and what a train journey to Tibet it turns out to be…
“I can say that this is definitely the nicest, cleanest and most modern train I’ve travelled on by far! Clearly built and planned with the tourist traveller in mind, the soft sleeper cabins are spacious and beds actually soft. Toilets, one western, one squatter, are regularly restocked with toilet paper (imagine!) and whether it is that the carriage is not so full or the passengers observe some kind of reverence for the journey they are taking, the sink area seems to be remarkably spittle free.
One of our great travel loves is trying local treats and where better than in Japan. The food is not only fresh and delicious, but as Aaron Davis explains, some of the best dishes come to you…
“Though Japan is famous for its Bullet trains, it’s a train of a different type that is my favourite. A visit to one of the many sushi train restaurants is a must. After a long day of walking around town we came across one with a queue of people outside, so we waited patiently, shuffling up as diners were seated and eventually it was our turn.
One of the best travel experiences is being stopped in your tracks as you come across a breathtaking landscape. It’s hard to top the Grand Canyon for that kind of reaction and Intrepid’s Graham Stanley enjoyed a rush just like that on this top trip…
“On my California Discovery trip we spent an incredible day exploring the Grand Canyon National Park. You can meander along well-marked paths on the canyon rim and at every turn discover a new vista of the incredible ravines. It is almost too massive to comprehend, but occasionally, deep down in the canyon, you can catch a glimpse of the river that has carved its way through the massive rock. Only on seeing this tiny slice of river does the true scale of this place become apparent. It is grand!
Like millions around the world, we have watched the recent events in Egypt unfold, with much concern for our local friends. Sadly, the Animal Care in Egypt (ACE) centre in Luxor, supported by our staff and travellers via The Intrepid Foundation, has not been immune from the unrest.
Co-Founder of ACE, Kim Taylor writes: “So far we have had no animals actually injured directly by the problems. But the cost of feed and medicine has already doubled and we have no idea how bad this will get. The poorest people will struggle to feed their working animals and may push them harder to make ends meet, which will make the ACE hospital even busier. The real problem that the hospital will face now is funding, as we will have no tourists visiting and leaving donations for awhile, plus inflation due to the civil problems will hit everyone.”
Sure, stories like Eat, Pray, Love will try to have you believe that holiday romances are possible, but really, what are the chances? Well, here’s a wonderful Valentine’s Day travel tale from Chelsea Fitzgerald that reads like a real life fairy tale…
“My story is quite like a romantic movie. I graduated from college and had gotten through two years of being single and feeling great about it. I had time to discover myself and what I really wanted and set out to accomplish those goals. One goal was to go to Vietnam. I searched for an Intrepid trip, found Hanoi to Hong Kong and booked the July 25th trip. I flew to Hanoi with the most calm and exciting feeling rising up inside of me, as if I knew this would be the trip to change my life.