Where very special things happen outside your comfort zone!
They are always my port of call for adventurers and experience seekers, as they have the BEST guides and tour leaders, smaller groups and totally committed to responsible travel through the Intrepid Foundation.
I could talk about all the amazing things I seen and visited, but for me the all-encompassing thing was the wonderful experiences I had, when out of my comfort zone.
Anyone who knows me, knows I love my home comforts and luxuries, so I was quite apprehensive about the trip. I would be staying in basic accommodation including a homestay with a local family. In the homestay, I’d be sharing a room with 8 other girls who I hadn’t met before the trip, sleeping on a mattress with a mosquito net, very basic washing and toilet facilities. And then I’d be taking the overnight train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok – 13 hours on a sleeper train. I can’t lie, I almost cancelled at the last minute……. Which I can admit, would have denied me the most amazing, life changing experiences ever!
Our group gelled very quickly. We had a lot in common, not least the love of travelling, exploring new places and meeting new people. We formed an immediate bond – friendships that I know will last a lifetime. I’m a girl who is so OCD about hygiene, has eaten street food and it’s been the most amazing food I’ve ever tasted. As a foodie, the flavour explosions in my mouth meant I didn’t want to swallow the food as I didn’t want to lose the taste; I’ve drunk cold beers in tiny bars where there isn’t room to sit inside, the owner has set up a table outside with random chairs and tables – in the humid climate, the cold beer was just amazing. We were told there’s no regulation on the local beers – it says 5%, but could be anything up to 15%!
I stayed in the homestay (staying with a lovely Thai family) and was greeted by the most welcoming, friendly and amazing people. It was a small village, we had no WiFi and only basic facilities, but I didn’t care!
The local children came and performed for us, we played card games with the family, we visited the school, I showered outside– and yes, I shared a dorm with a bunch of girls I never knew, but we’d already formed bonds and ended up giggling most of the night.
My entire experience was truly life changing. I embraced this beautiful country and particularly the people. They don’t have a lot, but they are so happy, warm, welcoming. We were made to feel part of the community and I will NEVER forget the kindness shown to us.
On arrival home, I have a renewed sense of purpose, a need to share this experience with others and encourage them to also go out of their comfort zones.
Visit new places but be a part of the community – share with them and give back. You’ll be rewarded in so many ways.