Hitting the road on holiday
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At TID we love hearing about what our customers get up to on their holidays. We’re all passionate travellers so there’s a little vicarious pleasure and a touch of envy when you share your tales from on the road. But mostly it’s fascinating to learn of your adventures, big and small, mild and wild.
In this week’s blog post we wanted to share some inspiring stories from our customers … if you’re not always thinking about new places to explore, we hope these might inspire you.
One of our travellers recently spent time in Asia and the Middle East. She offers some valuable and interesting insights into being a smart, savvy traveller, particularly in the Stans, and how medical treatment and facilities in foreign lands stack up:
“Other than a sore bum from mini-vans on desert roads (which probably gave a richer, ‘Silk Road camel ride’ experience) I have returned unscathed. The smog in China (continuous from Urumqi to Beijing) and local spit, predisposes a good chest infection, but I was fully prepared… I was wary in Iran because 3 days before I left, Smartraveller suggested not to go there unless necessary. On the ground in Iran, we found that in Tehran only, it was necessary to stick to the Shah’s Palace and the National Museum precincts, because Israeli Moshad agents seem to do car bombs and shootings near Government and nuclear sites. So, not hard, didn’t go to those precincts.
We were made to feel very welcome at historical sites and local neighbourhoods and the people in the streets were very curious about us, and very happy to assuage our curiosity about them and their lives, as well as to practise their English skills. Esfahan is a magical city by any standards. Mashad is a pilgrimage city with the trappings of Mecca, but safe to check out. Mashad was the only place where breaches of etiquette would probably not be tolerated with alacrity. When in Rome…
As for the Stans, no worries. One of our party was an 81 year old Australian, who required 35 stitches in her leg in Tashkent when she missed the upright bolt in long grass at a deserted village site. Locals were extremely helpful; the hospital treatment as good, if not better than Australia; pharmacies well-stocked; medical advice in Tashkent and Almaty realistic, but expensive because we are used to Medicare. The only thing we could not find was elasticised bandages – sterile gauze had to do when we ran out of ‘home brand’ ones.
We travelled wherever possible by train. Locals told us to make sure we communicated with the driver and took his photo before we boarded, which we did; trains are always behind schedule and drivers will try to make up time at night, to the point of rocket launch speed, unless the ‘cargo’ is ‘special’.
This trip was up there with trekking South America, being in Berlin just after the wall came down and wandering China in the 1980s – probably safer…
Maybe when I’m 81, I might need to claim for gauze bandages – be ready!”
Another fascinating story comes from Benj Binks and his amazing journey through Mongolia. He’s created a documentary called Mongolian Bling about a small group of Mongolians who are using hip-hop to try and salvage their country’s flagging democracy:
“Forget about nomads and monks! It’s hip hop that’s making Mongolia move in the 21st century. Mongolian Bling jumps into the thriving music scene in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, and follows stars as they rap nationwide with their bitches, cars, and jewels. But beyond this bling lies a failed democracy, and a dying ancient culture that the elders mourn the loss of. While many artists still aspire to the West, a handful are using hip hop to try and salvage their country’s flailing democracy, and bringing Mongolia’s rich musical history into their modern beats and rhymes.”
You can watch the trailer here, http://mongolianbling.com – it looks fabulous.