If you’re single and ready to mingle, finding a little travel romance on the road can enhance any adventure – or if not, at least leave you with a good story or two. Few travellers (if any) expect or even hope to find their future spouse while seeing the world.
But that’s exactly what happened to Cindy and James almost a decade ago, while travelling with Intrepid. We caught up with the globetrotting couple to see what they’ve been up to since their serendipitous trip.
Where are you from and where did you meet?
I am Australian but was working as a diplomat for the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea at the time. James is a Kiwi but was working as a hospital scientist in London.
What inspired you to take the trip?
James: I was looking for the adventure and solitude that walking in the world’s most famous mountain range offers.
Cindy: I enjoyed the freedom of travelling solo, but trekking to Everest Base Camp was definitely out of my comfort zone – so I decided to join an organised tour. I picked Intrepid as they have a solid safety reputation and exemplary conditions for guides and porters.
I hoped to find fun travel buddies and have a good time, but never thought I’d meet my future husband!
James: Cindy bounced in late to the pre-departure briefing with her trip roommate, and I thought to myself, “Oh god, a loud American,” because she didn’t seem too worried and was still laughing with her roommate as she sat down.
Cindy: We were laughing because we were embarrassed about getting lost! What stood out for me was that James was tall, handsome and quiet – and carried a huge DSLR camera like mine. Then when he told me he was a Kiwi there was that instant compatriotism that Aussies and Kiwis always have.
What do you think brought you together?
James: At mealtimes in the teahouses found along the trail, Cindy would order a few different items and share them with the group. I would make sure to sit next to her at every meal break so I could have first dibs. My food strategy also meant we got to chat a lot too and we turned out to have a lot in common.
Cindy: From my perspective, I think it was how nice James was – and not just at mealtimes. He would often make jokes or say encouraging things, which kept me going when I was daunted by “Nepali flats” (uphill walking). I often sought him out during rest breaks for his positivity and kindness.
At the end of a day’s trekking, James and I would always be the ones venturing out to explore a little more around whatever village we were in. On the fourth night we were wandering around Phortse and came across a monastery where we watched the sunset together.
Who made the first move?
Cindy: Not sure, but whatever happened, it can be blamed on Long Island iced teas from the infamous Irish pub at Namche Bazaar. Because it is the first bar on the way back down from Base Camp and many of us had abstained from alcohol as per medical advice on the way up, our whole group really made the most of the opportunity to celebrate on our descent… James and I spent hours talking to each other at the bar while our travel buddies partied around us.
Travel can be an intense experience for couples – did you face any challenges that made you realise this person might be the one for you?
Cindy: Actually the main challenge was being apart after the trip. It was pretty clear that we shared a lot of the same values and wanted the same things out of life, but we lived in different countries.
We decided to wind up our respective jobs and, in the spirit of how we had met, leverage that intensity that comes with travelling by spending most of 2015 experiencing Europe and Asia together. This included crossing through 11 time zones on the Tran-Siberian and hiking along the 300-kilometre Camino Primitivo in Spain.
How did your relationship develop after that?
Cindy: Once our big trip came to an end, things moved very quickly – we moved our “home base” to Sydney in 2015, bought a house in 2016, got married in 2017 and had our first child in 2018 – followed soon thereafter by our second in 2020.
We spent the pandemic years in Sydney where James masked up every day and went to his job at the hospital. And then in 2022, I was serendipitously offered an international opportunity. We’re currently in Jakarta, Indonesia and relishing the opportunity to travel; we’ve been to Bali and the islands around Komodo, and we’ve just booked a trip to go to my dream destination, Raja Ampat.
Any more plans to travel with Intrepid?
Cindy: We have Intrepid to thank for bringing us together on such a great trip – as well as our amazing guides (Kush, Breek, Sanjay, Niroj and Shiva) and porters (Ganesh, Tenzee, Lakpa, Surya, Sudip, Bikash and Nokul) and our awesome group “Level 10” with whom we bonded so closely.
We have a lot of pictures of the Himalayas around the house, so our daughters are very interested in visiting the place “where Mummy and Daddy met”. We’d love to take them on the Everest Base Camp trek when they are a little older and it would be great to travel with Intrepid again on a family tour!
Header image courtesy of @lakomofoto.