With its heritage of British occupation, Intrepid’s Melissa Cannon never expected Sri Lanka to have such difficult-to-pronounce place names – but how wrong she was…
“The first challenge I encountered on our Circle Sri Lanka trip was at Panduwasnuwara, a ruined palace we explored en route to the fort of Yapahuwa, where the lion perched at the top of the ornamental staircase features on the 10 rupee note.
Tongue-twisting names such as Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and the ancient fortress of Sigiriya are some of the ancient city ruins that comprise Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle.
In a country where our pronunciation and tone of the word “ma” could mean we are saying mother, hemp, horse or even swearing, it’s no wonder we try to speak Mandarin in China with some trepidation. But giving it a go is all part of the fun and as Intrepid’s Rachel Wasser knows well, when all else fails, laughs prevail…
“One of the cities we visit on our Silk Road trip from Beijing to Kashgar, through the Xinjiang province in northwest China, is called Jiayuguan. Travellers in my groups often find it hard to get their tongues around this name. I don’t know if people can’t say Jiayuguan, or find it difficult to remember, but I pride myself on my Mandarin pronunciation skills and still when I say it to a local, they have no idea what I am talking about!
Is there somewhere you’ve travelled that, given the chance, you would go back to again and again? Intrepid’s Rachel Wasser can normally be found leading Intrepid travellers through China and Russia and loving every minute of her Trans-Siberian adventures, but she admits to having a weakness when it comes to La Dolce Vita, splurging on the good life in Italy…
“For me, Italy will always be my guilty pleasure destination. Roundtrip airfare from the US in high season is almost enough to put me off my visit but, in the end, it is totally worth the splurge!
There are countless ways to spend your time (and money!) wandering the cobblestoned streets of this enchanting country. If shopping is your travel treat then you can’t go past the gold stores on the Ponte Vecchio or the leather markets of Florence, in Venice the allure is unique blown Murano glass and in Rome street after street is lined with boutiques of big name designers.
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.
One of the exciting aspects of Intrepid is that our responsible travel philosophies can translate into assisting local communities in a variety of ways. Intrepid Thailand is involved in a three-way partnership with Nakhon Sri Thammarat Rajaphat University and the Thailand Community Based Tourism Institute (CBT-I), to help students become confident local guides. Travellers on our Colours of Asia trip get to spend time with these wonderful young people and later this year we look forward to excited students joining some of our trips for special work experience.
Peter Richards from CBT-I has recently returned from Nakhon Sri Thammarat, where each Monday and Tuesday Colours of Asia travellers are looked after by the student guides who escort them to the birthplace of Thai Buddhism, Wat Mahataad Temple, and to a Shadow Puppet show by the nationally recognised master artist Suchart Subsin.