No one can bring our tours to life better than those who have seen, done and experienced it all first-hand, so we’re opening up the blog to our wonderful customers who want to share their amazing Wendy Wu adventures!
Here Mark Keightley takes us on a fascinating journey around the world by diverse and diverting forms of travel.
“I told you we should have gone to Jersey”, cried my wife, Julie as she clung, rather too tightly, to my arm, as were whisked by rickshaw through the back streets of Delhi on the start of our Golden Triangle Tour of India with Wendy Wu Travel.
“Cow”, shouted Julie at which point our driver expertly veered to avoid the animal wondering absently into our path. Cows are considered sacred in India and allowed to wonder at will, wherever they choose, including apparently the roads. The cow turned and looked somewhat contemptuously at us before meandering off to check out the rest of the market.
At this point I glanced up and saw a monkey, one of many who live in the city, lying in a make shift hammock made of a tangle of electric cables that carries power around Delhi. He seemed unperturbed by the ominous sound of the buzzing and crackling of the wires as he enjoyed a banana that he’d recently stolen from one of the market stalls. I hoped for his sake, that he didn’t accidentally bite into one of the cables whilst enjoying his ill-gotten gains.
“Hold on” shouted our driver above the noise of the market before we set of again to continue our whirlwind tour of the area. It was almost too much to take in – traders, metal workers, goats, cows, rickshaws all going about their business in what can only be described as organised chaos – a way of life that had been going on in exactly the same way for hundreds of years.
Although we didn’t know it at the time, we were in for some more exciting rides: upon our arrival at the road to the magnificent Red Fort we were asked to board jeeps that would take us up the narrow, winding road to the entrance of the fort. With everyone aboard, our convey of vehicles scrambled to be first out of the car park.
I had to admire the tenacity of the souvenirs vendors as they tried to sell their goods to the visitors. It was incredible to watch a youth in his late teens hang onto the back of the open topped jeep in front of us, rolling out carpets to show to the vehicle’s passengers and all the while never breaking from his sales patter.
Our ride in the rikshaw and jeep was one of many forms of transport that I’ve experienced on my numerous tours with Wendy Wu: On our recent visit to Brazil and Argentina we were excited to visit a ranch in Argentina to watch Gauchos in action and learn a little about their life in the saddle.
On the day we travelled to the ranch there was heavy rain, which although luckily, had stopped, by the time we reached the road leading to our destination that on a good day was dirt track was now a mud bath.
After some animated phone calls between our guide and, I presume the ranch head, I heard the revving of an engine and over the horizon came what appeared to be an old army personnel carrier. Our group scrambled into the back of the truck with the help of one of the farm hands, before setting off towards our destination.
Fortunately, the ranch wasn’t too far away and we were all relieved when we finally stopped outside the ranch house to be greeted by the owner who led us inside and offered us a pre-dinner drink and allow time for our bodies to realign themselves after the trip.
Julie and I are both keen horse riders; so, we couldn’t wait to be introduced to our mounts before riding out with the Gauchos to explore the countryside. The saddles used by the cowboys are very different from the English style we are used to. Built for comfort, the saddles are lined with sheepskin, rather like an armchair, as the Gauchos often spend many hours in the saddle.
Riding through the fields enabled us to spot many different species of wildlife including birds of prey that live in the area.
I can’t of course, omit our trip to China: The Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Terracotta Warriors and my favourite, the Great Wall. As I gazed at these incredible sites, I found it almost impossible to grasp how far Chinese history stretches back, with customs and stories so different from the West, our visit was nothing short of breath taking.
China is of course, a vast country, so in order to reach these iconic sites necessitates some considerable travel, bringing me nearly back to the theme of my writing: modes of travel. For me the most incredible way to move around the country was by its aptly named Bullet Train: A young train guard, immaculately turned out in his uniform, snapped to attention and saluted the train as it silently drew out of the station. It wasn’t long however before we were reaching speeds of over 200 kilometres an hour on our way to Beijing. Despite this the ride was incredibly quiet and smooth. With large, comfortable seats and spacious carriages, it seemed a far cry from my journeys on hot, overcrowded trains in the UK.
With world travel currently ground to a temporary but frustrating halt it gives Julie and I time to plan our next trip. Without giving to much away, I have persuaded my wife to postpone our trip to Jersey. Our next adventure may well involve the use of Sherpas and yaks.
Thank you Mark for this fascinating article!