In the last decade, orphanage tourism has become a growing phenomenon, where well-meaning travellers arrange to go and see orphanages and other children’s institutions in foreign countries – for a brief visit or to volunteer for a short time. This has perhaps been partly fuelled by the media and celebrities visiting developing countries to ‘rescue’ children from their impoverished situation.
We are now hearing many research and anecdotal reports about the problems and many scams that await. Naive travellers are in many cases unknowingly doing more harm than good and their donations may be lining the pockets of corrupt and exploitive people, rather than helping the neediest children. We are receiving this news from across the world – from Central America, Bali, Cambodia, India, Eastern and Southern Africa. Sadly wherever there’s poverty and vulnerable children, coupled with low level government regulation of institutions, there will be people exploiting kids.
Want to discover a suburban oasis admid the jam-packed city of Bangkok? Intrepid Urban Adventures provide the bike, so as Christina Ward discovered, all you need bring is your sense of adventure…
“My mother and I just did the Intrepid Urban Adventure – Bangkok Bike and had a fantastic time. We cycled along the Chao Phraya River to a local ferry, then loaded our bikes aboard and crossed to the other side, known as Thonburi. It really is like another world over there, it’s quieter, less high rises and a labyrinth of canals.
Some cities in the world give you the impression that they haven’t changed for centuries, and then there is a metropolis like Beijing! China’s capital is an ever-changing intermix of past and present and as Intrepid’s Graham Stanley discovered, it’s worth coming back…
“I first visited Beijing when I started working for Intrepid back in 2003, as a group leader. I only worked in China for about 6-months before working in another region and leading more Intrepid trips, but I always knew I wanted to go back. Still with Intrepid, I recently went on a business trip to Beijing. I was so excited to have an opportunity to get back here and see how much it has developed over the last 7-years. I simply can not believe how much it has changed.
One of The Intrepid Foundation’s top-selling Global Gifts this Christmas was ‘Equip a Porter in Nepal’, providing a porter with trousers, boots, socks, gloves, sunglasses and a protective jacket.
Contrary to the belief that porters are adjusted to the cold and the altitude of the Himalayas, every year many porters suffer from a variety of illnesses such as altitude sickness, snow blindness, hypothermia and frostbite, and tragically some even die as a result.
Keeping these possible consequences in mind, in 2009 the Kathmandu Environmental Education Project (KEEP) set-up the Porter’s Clothing Bank (PCB) with the objective “to provide ill-prepared porters with better clothing, suitable for their treks in a mountain environment.”
Interacting with locals is so often the highlight of your trip. But get lost travel magazine suggests you might want to think twice before taking part in these five fanatical local past-times…
1. Soccer – Bolivia
It sounds like an easy challenge: a game of five-a-side against a woman as old as your grandma in an ankle-length skirt and a bowler hat. But in the world’s highest capital city, La Paz, you’ll be gasping for air before the game’s even started. For Bolivians, futbol is the source of life. For you, it’s the source of extreme humiliation.
Amazing wildlife, both on land and underwater, is the drawcard of the remote Galapagos Islands. It’s not an easy part of the world to reach and you need a good sense of adventure to explore the rugged terrain, but as Intrepid Express reader Michele Delaforce discovered, the Galapagos have a unique way of making it worth your while…
“Swimming with the sea lions at San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands was one of the most exciting and memorable times of my life. We had to walk for an hour to reach a cove that was quite difficult to get to, but the rewards were worth it!
Travelling through China may be a challenge for some, but when Rachel Wasser was an Intrepid leader she loved helping her groups discover why the effort was worth it…
“A highlight of the Beijing to Hong Kong trip is definitely the time we spend in Longji. This area is such a unique and breathtaking sight, it’s hard to compare it to anything else!
It’s an absolutely epic journey and one of the world’s greatest train trips, but during the times when the Trans-Siberian scenery becomes a bit monotonous or when it’s actually dark outside, Intrepid group leader Denis Sobnakov has some tips to pass the time…
“As you may know, the longest railway in the world is Trans-Siberian railway in Russia. It’s about 10,000 kilometers (6215 miles) and more than 7 days straight on a train. The famous train attracts travellers from around the globe and on our Intrepid trips we take part of the journey, which is 4 days of virtually being confined to our carriages. So the question arises – what to do when you get bored?
What can you get for $10 these days? In most cities the answer would be “not much!” But Shelley Seale made it her challenge to spend less than this during a whole day in Bangkok…
“If you’re traveling on a budget, South East Asia is a great place to do it. Once you get here, it’s easy to keep the cost of living very low, and have an amazing time on just a few bucks. Take your pick from our recommendations to build your itinerary for a great day in Bangkok, for less than $10 – and easily around $5: