55 Victoria Rd, Farnborough, United Kingdom
www.explore.co.uk - Tel: 0870 333 4001 Fax: +44 (0)1252 391110
Explore! Farnborough Reviews
Aug 07, 2007
I'm fairly new to the Travel game but I want to see as much as I can as soon as I can. With this is mind I started thinking about where I wanted to go and how I wanted to do it. I've got the utmost respect for 'do it yourself' backpackers but didn't have the nerve to carry it through myself - well not yet anyway - so I decided to look around for an experienced company that specialised in escorted travel. I cam across Explore and decided to throw my lot in with them and didn't regret it. My first holiday with Explore was " A Journey Through Indo China" which took in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. That was in November 2006 and I was so impressed I booked up with them again for " The Everest Tea House Trek" which started in Kathmandu, Nepal beofre flying to Luckla for some trekking in the Himalayas. Our guide in SE Asia was Simon Sweet who's knowledge and experience was invaluable. He lives in Thailand and speaks Thai and also speaks some Cambodian. He employs local guides for City Tours and was very good at recommending bars and restaurants. He excelled in problem solving and updated us daily on what we would be doing, where we would be going and schedules. On the Reunification Express he took control when the train derailed, arranging for all of us to be looked after for a few hours in a small local village and sorting out transport for us to be conveyed on to our intended destination. When a couple of members of our group were taken ill (including my wife, Debbie) he accompanied them to the local hospital and ensured that they recived the neccessary treatment. He also kept us entertained throughout our 4 weeks in SE Asia and although some his stories of heroism seemed 'extreme' (I'm sure I've seen a film about him where he wore his underpants outside his trousers)you couldn't help but give him the benefit of the doubt and believe that he had actually wrestled a bull to the floor and inserted his hand in to someones stab wound to clamp their bleeding liver.
In Nepal we had a local called Sudarshan KC (Su to all of us)as our guide. Again he was a credit to the Explore company and catered (along with the Sherpas and Porters he employed)for our every need.Nothing was too much trouble for him and he was the first person you'd see in the morning and the last one you'd see at night. He carried a massive medicine chest and happily dished out tablets to those of us that suffered altitude sickness or gastroenteritis ('Delhi Belly'). He, along with the others waited on us hand and foot, arriving with tea first thing in the morning folowed by a bowl of warm water for washing, shaving and teeth. Then it was down to breakfast where we were served porridge, eggs (any way you liked them), cereal, toast, pancakes and copious amounts of tea. Water bottles were topped up with fresh water and off we went. We'd stop for lunch and Su and the Sherpas would always dish up our food and make sure we were happy before sitting down to their own lunch. The same happened in the evening. One of the Sherpas would run ahead and have tea and biscuits waiting for us when we arrived at our accommodation. The rooms were sorted out already so we given our keys and off we went with details of when diner would be served. At dinner Su and the Sherpas would again act as waiters before sorting themselves out after we had finished. All of this was done with a smile and a great sence of humour. I really can't thank them enough for what they did even though they would just say that they were doing their job.
Also, on both tours, the leaders (Simon & Su) had a collection right at the start where we all paid in to a tips kitty. This made it so much more convenient for all of us individually as we no longer had to worry about tips.
I'll certainly travel with Explore again - in fact I'm eyeing up their Machu Picchu trip in Peru
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