Sure, being in love with a real-life, actual person can be pretty great – we wouldn’t deny that. But sometimes being in love with a place can be pretty special too. It might be the food your place-crush feeds you, the beach strolls it takes you on or just that you met your real-life, actual-person lover there. Whatever the case, places deserve some loving too.
This Valentine’s Day then, we want to know which country – or city, or place – has a hold of your heart.
“How did people build a temple as big as Angkor Wat 1,000 years ago before machines?”
“Why does $1USD buy so much of the local money?”
“Why were Americans fighting in Vietnam?”
These were some of the many questions my children asked during our two weeks travelling through Vietnam and Cambodia with Intrepid. They also asked more unanswerable ones, like “Why would Pol Pot kill people just for being educated?” Or less perplexing, but equally tough to answer, “Why is everyone always beeping their horns?”
We love the lengths that some Intrepid travellers will go, to raise funds for a good cause! In mid October, Garry West-Bail of Melbourne, will be running and cycling across Vietnam, to raise funds for KOTO.
KOTO is well known to Intrepid travellers, for serving delicious food through their restaurants in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City – which are the fronts of a great organisation which helps support young people in leaving a life on the streets, through training in hospitality and life skills. Intrepid and The Intrepid Foundation have been proud supporters of KOTO since KOTO’s founding in 1999, by former Intrepid tour leader Jimmy Pham.
“How the heck am I supposed to choose from any country in the world?” This was the question that Evie Ott asked herself for years, from the moment Evie’s aunt told her that she would take her anywhere for a week. Evie’s aunt happens to be Sherry Ott, travel blogger extraordinaire and brains behind The Niece Project, so when Sherry said “anywhere”, Evie knew she really meant it…
“Thinking about all the options was just about enough to give me a headache. Finally I decided on three points of criteria for picking my destination. I wanted to experience culture shock, great food and non-touristy. Though it didn’t quite make my decision evident, it surely helped in the process. I ended up picking Vietnam as my first International destination, and it was the best decision I could have made.
For over 2000 years we’ve had an obsession with the soy milk wonder food known as tofu. First created in China, it became popular throughout Asia and of course, now the world. There was a time in Japan when this luxury food could only be eaten on special occasions, but today it’s accessible to everyone and for a local food experience it’s hard to top ordering fresh tofu from markets and street food vendors, as Heather Scott discovered in Vietnam…
“All travel anywhere is a culinary experience. Whether it be mung bean ice cream in China, choking on hot mochi in Japan, millions of masala dosas in India. Pepito au chocolat in Paris, round seasame-covered bread and cans of beans in Greece. I could go on, but I already digress.
You’re never too young to get bitten by the travel bug, but luckily for Adam Slater he found a way to scratch that travel itch by joining the very organisation that was responsible for his first overseas trip…
“When you work at a travel company – it doesn’t take long to realise that wherever you go, there’s always someone around the office who has been there before you.
So when these well-travelled, Gandalf-looking staff members gather us young Hobbits around the campfire to regale us with tales of their Intrepid adventures, I’m always quick to remind them that I too have had a pretty unique Intrepid experience. An experience that they’ve well-and-truly missed the boat on.
Always wanted to go to Vietnam? Jeremy Bookman explains why he gives it the thumbs up…
“This journey was a long time coming, but even with all the anticipation my Intrepid adventure still exceeded my wildest dreams. I finally found myself on the Vietnam Express trip going south from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. After a day or two adjusting to life in South East Asia, we left the kinetic pace of Hanoi behind for the serenity of Halong Bay.
In its April 2013 edition, the influential New York-based Travel + Leisure magazine, which boasts a monthly readership in excess of 4.5 million, has listed the Hanoi Cooking Centre as one of the best cooking schools in the world.
Founded in 2009 by our very own Intrepid Foodie, Melbourne chef and cookbook author, Tracey Lister, the Hanoi Cooking Centre was one of only four schools in Asia to make the list of 27, which includes the likes of internationally acclaimed Culinary Institute of America (CIA).
When Intrepid’s Eliza Anderson headed to Vietnam to get a firsthand taste of our new Food Adventures she expected to completely indulge in all the flavours of this fascinating country. But never did she anticipate discovering cures for everthing from dull skin to an upset tummy…
“I was there to cook, but suddenly I had a higher purpose. It seems food isn’t my enemy, but my knight in shining armour. According to the Vietnamese, there is a herb to cure any aliment or vanish any beauty flaw. I was sold! It’s easy in the West to view food as your adversary, but for people in Vietnam, food isn’t just about flavour, it truly feeds their soul and fuels their lives.
Exploring the world one meal at a time sounds like a fabulous way to travel. Macca Sherifi, gapyear.com travel editor, loves letting his stomach decide where to next and he enjoyed getting a local taste of Vietnam with Intrepid…
“One of the things that I love about backpacking and travelling is the food. There are so many tastes and smells that I associate with countries around the world, and many of my memories from my gap year involve food and drink somehow. There’s nothing quite like having dim sum for breakfast in China, a creamy and sweet curry for lunch in India, or a fresh and sour Som Tam salad for dinner in Thailand. If you’ve been to any of these countries you’ll know exactly what I’m on about; you’ll also know that they’re infinitely better than having a take-away at home.