Intrepid prefers to use local transport when possible, because as well as being an environmentally responsible way to travel, it’s a great opportunity to interact and feel less like a tourist. Christine Larsen explains why she loved bussing about in Turkey…
“The bus system in Turkey is run like a well-oiled machine and as a mode of public transport, it is magnificent. On arriving at the bus station (Otogar) you are confronted with a huge departure hall containing countless booths and workers offering destinations all over Turkey and beyond. The ‘touts’ are frenetic and offer the unsuspecting traveller a multitude of opportunities to secure a safe passage to their desired destination.
Ian Mallory, a.k.a. @MalloryOnTravel, has just returned from his first Intrepid trip. So how did he cope with being cooped up on a group tour?…
“Taking a tour of Cuba with Intrepid Travel was an eagerly awaited prospect as it was to be a completely different experience. To date almost all of my travels have been arranged independently with a sprinkling of package holidays just to keep more cautious friends happy. As specialists in small group tours, providing a bespoke, comprehensive service that includes arranging as much as individual travellers require, it seemed a good compromise.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Our Intrepid Bundu team in South Africa used this Nelson Mandela quote as their inspiration to invest in the local community school in Zandspruit. As their celebration of Mr Mandela’s 94th birthday on 18 July, the team decided to plant fruit trees at the primary school and then teach the children how to take care of these trees. It was a fantastic day and Intrepid’s Lorell Strydom fills us in on what it was like to be filled with the spirit of Mandela…
A bit about Zandspruit…
Zandspruit is an informal settlement in the West Rand of Johannesburg. This is like a forgotten community as it is too small (although 70,000 permanent residents!) to be recognised by the authorities. It started in 1994 just after the election, when people came to Johannesburg with a dream in their hearts for a better future – today housing and primary living conditions are still a daily struggle. This community has 2 primary schools – 1 that looks after Grade 1 to 4 and the other looks after Grade 5 to 7. There are no secondary schools, libraries, youth centres or parks and recreations areas, and a lot of children are still not getting the opportunity to be educated.
Barcelona’s biggest festival reaches its crescendo on 24 September, which is a public holiday to coincide with the pre-eminent annual event. In the preceding 3 or 4 days the city celebrates its regional culture, traditions and arts and you can expect there to be over 600 events and 2000 performers taking part. So you can see why Intrepid’s Jacqueline Donaldson was so excited to be amongst it all in Spain…
“I arrived in Barcelona in late September and immediately fell for this remarkable city. Its mixture of historical and modern, city and coast, tradition and avant garde and its energy and beauty captured me completely. That and the amazing 4-day festival I happened across.
When your visit coincides with a festival, not only do you get to join in the fun, but as Intrepid’s Paul Chea explains, it’s a special opportunity to enjoy a real taste of local life…
“I would like to invite you to my home – Cambodia – in October for one of the most important festivals in the Khmer calendar. We call this celebration Pchum Ben, and its literal translation is “gathering and offering of food”. This is when we spend time with our families preparing food and offering it to the spirits of our ancestors, and the hungry ghosts who walk the earth during this time.
In an unusual religious twist, the 12th month of the Hindu Brahmin lunar calendar heralds a time of celebration in Thai Buddhist culture. Although its roots lie in India’s Diwali ritual, the practice has evolved over time to become the Thai’s annual festival of Loy Krathong.
Every year, under the glow of the full moon, Thai people carefully place lights, flickering candles and ornate lanterns on lotus and swan-shaped krathongs (floats or rafts), and release them in the canals of Bangkok. These beautiful offerings to the Thai Goddess of Water, Phra Mae Khongkha, drift throughout Bangkok’s waterways evoking an extraordinary atmosphere in this usually chaotic city.
A few weeks back we asked our global community the question “what inspires you to travel?” Well, the results are in – and thanks to you guys we now know a little bit more about what gets our travellers out of a daydream and into the real world.
When it came to inspirational people, perennial Intrepid favourites such as Shackleton and Nelson Mandela got plenty of love, as did Sir Edmund Hillary, who was clearly responsible for more than a few honorary base camp climbs. Also, apparently a few of you are sporting Che Guevara T-shirts in your wardrobe, because this mustached revolutionary (along with the Buena Vista Social Club) managed to get plenty of you dreaming about sipping Mojitos in Cuba.
Yvonne Wakefield is a spirited artist with a can-do attitude, which helps explain her decision in 2004 to leave behind a secure life in the Pacific Northwest and head to the desert state of Kuwait. Over the course of six years she taught art to university aged Muslim women, earned their trust and learned the consequences of freedom of expression. Yvonne shares her extraordinary experiences in her new book, Suitcase Filled with Nails: Lessons Learned from Teaching Art in Kuwait, and this excerpt gives us an inkling of the riveting, revealing and enlightening read…
“Ramadan, the fasting month, is supposed to begin this year about October 4, although the exact date is never clear until a cleric sights a new moon, that celestial hangnail scratching the Middle Eastern sky at some point. Some say a high-ranking Kuwaiti declares the start of Ramadan to best suit his business or travel plans. His decision must agree with a Saudi of equal standing. I don’t know if there is any truth to this because I am an observer, not a follower of Ramadan.
It might seem crazy to attempt a mountain climb at night, but Jess Klaebe, from My Adventure Store in Brisbane, Australia, has set her sights on this for a long time and couldn’t wait to experience the unusual pre-dawn trek in Indonesia…
“It’s dark outside, the air is hot and steamy. It’s 2:30am and my group is waiting for our transfer to Gunung Batur – one of the many active volcanoes in Indonesia. Our first stop is a little house in a local village where coffee, tea and banana pancakes are served. The perfect kick-start snack to wake you up and get you ready. Then the trek begins. In pitch black, and merely by the light of our head torches, we start walking.