When you take time to get to know a local community the benefits can include a greater understanding of complex cultural contrasts, as Intrepid Express reader Jeremy Wilson discovered in Thailand…
“A short time back, the BBC reported that a rural school in Thailand risked using their campus for a peculiar experiment: they provided an extra washroom on their grounds; one for boys, one for girls, and one for ‘katoeys‘. The headline read “Thai school offers transsexual toilet.”
If encountered by an individual unfamiliar with Thai culture, such an article will automatically elicit some curiosity on the reader’s behalf. There are so many possible questions that an innocent person could potentially pose concerning this unusual topic. Let’s try to illuminate this murky matter.
Brooke Malley was determined not to spend the next holiday season alone, but little did she know that she’d fall in love with Egypt, in more ways than one…
“London shuts down over Christmas. It’s hard to believe, but the greatest city in the world is a ghost town from Christmas Eve until after New Year. The streets are deserted and the bars and restaurants closed. I know this after spending one cold and bleak festive day wandering the usually bustling Notting Hill in search of Christmas lunch and a drink. I ended up with soggy take-away pizza.
India is high on so many people’s ‘bucket lists’ and thousands of travellers make a pilgrimage to this country rich in culture and real life experiences.
Intrepid’s Yvette Thompson was overwhelmed by the beauty, contrasts, chaos and spirit of India, but it was the generosity of the Sikh temple that moved her to tears…
“Finally, I have found a religion that makes sense to me! Today we visited a Sikh temple: a place of peace and prayer in the middle of a seemingly disordered, dusty Delhi. As we made our way into the marble entrance, we walked through a pool of cool water, cleaning our soles, or perhaps cleansing our souls, or perhaps both. We made our way up the inside steps, the calm and quiet a vast difference from the perpetual beeping and yelling out on the streets.
For centuries, pilgrims have walked Spain’s Camino de Santiago to reach to the Galician city of Santiago de Compostela, where the apostle St James is said to be interred.
Intrepid Express reader Barbara Reid was among the weary worshippers whose spirits were lifted by the experience…
“My soul soared and reached the rafters with the magnificent censer in the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela. After walking with my daughter through mid-northern Spain, we arrived in Santiago in time for the pilgrim service.
Want to look and feel five years younger? According to legend, that’s the result when you bathe in Sendang Gila Waterfall on the island of Lombok, so Intrepid’s Sally Arnold couldn’t wait to take a dip in Indonesia…
“From the small rustic village of Senaru, nestled between the base of Mt Rinani and the edge of the lush rainforest, our journey begins. We head off though the jungle to the waterfall. It’s not long before we come to an aqueduct-type bridge. We climb the staircase and step carefully across the bridge, which is actually a water channel suspended over a ravine about ten metres below – not for the faint-hearted! We continue following a series of irrigation channels until we reach the river, then it’s time to roll up our trousers, hold onto our guide and cross the icy water that’s refreshing in the heat.
The Travel Lab’s Jacquie Burnside hadn’t been back to Bali for 13 years, but she finally put that right last week! It took Bali Bootcamp to get her there, but now she can’t believe she left it so long…
“The minute I stepped off the plane I had a smile a mile wide recalling all the fun times spent on previous trips, the warm and inviting Balinese hospitality and the shy but playful local characters. I was greeted by that very Balinese smell of kretek, clove cigarettes, and air thick with the fragrance of recent rain and there was Made, the cheerful driver sent by the guesthouse to transfer me from the airport.
Ah Bali, beautiful Bali! Where culture, religion and daily life are as one. Where the rice paddies are impossibly green, where the people are so friendly and welcoming you feel immediately at home and where I could happily hang my hat and never leave! The pace of life slows, the head clears and that smile…well, it stays a mile wide for the duration of my stay.
Exploring in countries like Bhutan so often leaves an indelible impression, and that was certainly the case for Cate Gaston…
“LOL as I am writing this in Kolkata, a herd of goats were just ushered by along the main road, I just love travelling!
“Coozoozambo La from Druk Yul”, Hello from the Land of the Dragon.
Well what can I say about Bhutan… Oh so much. I will start with some interesting facts about the last Shangri La…
* Bhutan is a land locked country between India and Tibet
* it is the size of Switzerland
* has a population of nearly 650,000 people
* you have to pay the Kingdom the privilege of entering and touring the country and last year they only issued 17,000 visas
Travelling in Nepal is full of those pinch-yourself moments, like gazing out over a stunning horizon pierced by mountain peaks or sitting in a bustling village square and watching daily life transpire. Express reader Trish Burt was instantly captivated by the wonder of Nepal when she travelled recently with Intrepid…
“Nepal is a breath of fresh air. From my arrival I felt completely transformed by that most foreign and enchanting country. It was a repeat visit, and I asked myself why I waited so long to return.
As an Intrepid leader in India long periods of time spent travelling on rickety buses and bum-numbing camel safari jaunts can, over time, prove to be a little taxing on the body and mind. But Felicity Turland discovers the special treat of living in a country with an enduring history devoted to the healing arts – there is always an Ayurvedic masseur or clinic close at hand…
“Having experienced plenty of massages outside of India, coupled with a fairly extensive layman’s knowledge of, and interest in, Ayurveda (a 2,000 year old Indian holistic system of healing), I approach my first session of Shirodhara with glee. ‘Shiro,’ meaning head and ‘dhara,’ meaning flow, this treatment involves warm herbal oil pouring in a steady stream onto the ‘third eye’ chakra or forehead, for 30 to 45 minutes, followed by gentle scalp and shoulder massage. Regular sessions of Shirodhara claim to improve the function of the five senses, help in fatigue and make oneself calm, fresh and rejuvenated…just what I needed.