Your first adventure holiday is always memorable. The things you see, experiences you have and people you meet combine to create a journey like no other. When we asked you to tell us about your memories from your first Explore adventure we had an overwhelming response and you told us some great stories. We want to share as many of these with you as possible and, to start, here’s some moments from our Thai Hilltribe Adventure, told by three members of the Moat family.
A Day in the Rainforest
“In the rainforest it was still, the sky low and dark. The monsoon rain began and the slope ahead was reduced to sticky red earth. The guides pulled my arms; then pushed my bottom. I forgot my dignity and focused on friction and gravity. Ahead the men hacked the undergrowth with their machetes, searching out a place where the river was lower but still it was a swirling mass. Wading waist-high, the current pulled me downstream. The guides grabbed my arms, holding on tightly. Overhead the mist swirled across the rainforest, shifting periodically to reveal soaring Karst cliffs. Near the village, cook gathered mushrooms in a teak leaf. We stumbled into the mud-logged farmstead and climbed the ramp to a wooden dwelling. Cook lit a fire of twigs in the corner of the darkened room and soon the smell of cinnamon, chilli, cardamom and meat wafted through the air. Bellies full, we sat in a circle under candlelight and sang, monsoon rains forgotten. Wide-eyed Karen children came and peeped shyly round the doorframe. That night I fell asleep to the throb of crickets, barking dogs and pigs in noisy dispute. I sighed contently. This was what I'd wanted - adventure.” – Helen Moat
“’This is something you must see,’ John our guide said. Entering a womb-like underworld of stalls near Chiang Mai, we took in the piles of cockroaches, grasshoppers, locusts and silkworm larva; great wheels of honey comb; wasp's nests peppered with grubs; bird stomachs; dried, fried and flayed frog and eggs containing pink-veined embryos. But it was the toads that made us stop. They lay in cellophane bags, piled on top of each other like an amphibian mass grave. Then one moved. Holy moly, it's alive. It looked accusingly at us, ugly as sin with its bulging eyes, protruding forehead and lumpy skin, mouth turned down like a curmudgeonly old man. Thirteen year old Finn whispered conspiringly with John; then purchased one of the bags. Up the road, John and Finn disappeared into a field. Curiously we followed. What were they up to? Finn walked to the edge of the paddyfield. ‘Make a wish,’ John said. Finn nodded, opened his bag and…gently shook the toads out onto the grass. The toads stayed clumped together; then realising they were free, crawled towards the wetlands. John nodded. ‘Good karma.’ Finn grinned, happy: he'd saved the toads. Another satisfied Explore customer.” – Tom Moat
A Thrilling Elephant Ride
“The elephants plodded along, great leathery rumps and rope tails sashaying to and fro. Then without warning the ellie behind spat out an ear-splitting sneeze that rumbled across the valley. She swung round to face the undergrowth. My elephant jolted round too, letting out a high-pitched trumpet that tore through the air. I suddenly felt like a gnat on a giant's back. That morning as we headed out into the countryside near Mae Hong Son, all was quiet but for the smack of our elephants' ears. Big as teak leaves, they swiped any insect dozy enough to come within clouting distance. Down at the river the elephants scooped up muddy-brown water in their trunks, squirting it into their mouths before wading on along the riverbed. I caressed my elephant's hide as hard and rough as stone. It was on our way back the elephants had startled. What had disturbed them? A shadowy movement glimpsed in the undergrowth? A snake in the grass? The mahouts jumped into action, calming the beasts. Happy again, the elephants picked their way through each other's footprints, ears flapping, tails swishing, dreaming of the bananas waiting at the end of the road. Thrills - Explore had delivered again.” – Jamie Moat