Paddling bintan island

In the saddle: Travels abroad and meeting new people  

Over the last 10 days, I traded some time on the bicycle for a trip to the Club Med Bintan Island resort. A trip filled with amazing experiences, special memories, great mates new and old, and one which left me with a desire to travel.

Travel is extremely powerful.

Powerful because it provides you with new experiences, opportunities to meet different people and to learn how to handle yourself outside of your comfort zone. Being fortunate to travel and recently having joined a trip to Club Med Bintan Island, I was reminded of the energy that different spaces provide you with.

Sitting on the plane back on the last leg of our trip home to South Africa, from Dubai to Johannesburg, a few thoughts popped into my head which related to the time spent with people over the last 10 days.

The majority of them relate to the people that we met, the new friends that were made and how this trip reminded me of the importance of always making the effort to say hello or take that next step to see where it will lead.

Our journey started off with the ever-superb Emirates Airline team. Kurt met a fellow Lebgend (a term used to describe legendary people from Lebanon) while we were having a couple of drinks in the back of the plane. Your country of origin is a strong connector, although Kurt was not born in Lebanon it is still a very big part of him. You just have to hear him talk about it, to know that he is a Leb at heart.

Kurt meets another ledgend

A great start to the first leg of our journey, from Johannesburg to Dubai. Drinks at the back of the plane with new mates.

The diversity of guests and the team at Club Med was a real highlight for me. Interacting with and meeting people from different corners of globe, hearing their stories, ideas and experiences. The world is far smaller than we think, I was reminded of this when I met a South African who now lives in Australia but studied at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, the good Old Eastern Cape, where I spent my high school years.

I met a group of French businessmen who had popped out to the Indonesian coast for a couple of days as a team building trip. And then two young Australians who were ending off a two-month block of travels through Europe with a couple of days in Bintan before heading back to Australia. An Australian mother who started a food art hobby which has since exploded and is now her full-time business. These are just a few of the guests that our energetic team from South Africa engaged with and each of our team I am sure will have their own stories from each of these interactions.

The Club Med Chef Du Village and Gentils Organisateurs or GOs for short, really do make the Club Med experience a unique one. From the first time you step into the welcoming area at the resort to the time that your board the bus back to the ferry at the end of your stay. Friendly, engaging and all-round interesting people. They came from different locations around the world, Russia, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Turkey, Morocco, Mexico and many, many more. This diversity adds to the vibe and they all seriously enjoy what they do. There are a number of GOs at the resort, each fulfilling different responsibilities.

Club Med GOs

A couple of the Club Med Bintan Island GOs with a few of the CN&CO team.

Each night the live shows that were performed were phenomenal.  Many are choreographed by the team on the Island which makes them even more impressive. The passion for performing that the team displayed was crazy. Seeing the enjoyment on some of their faces, made the energy and enthusiasm infectious. Chatting with a few of the GO team, passion is a word that resonates and it was an important reminder for me to keep ‘passion’ in the forefront of my thoughts as I continue this journey through life.

Traveling also allows you to try different things from food to activities. On this trip a couple of us took to the high ropes and attempted our best trapeze acts. Rikus stole the show, a natural performer! Rob, Blake and I were left to see who the best of the rest would be, as we took on our fear of heights and challenged our co-ordination. It’s a lot harder than it looks.

Meeting new people and trying new things are really what make a trip abroad special.   Small things often have the ability to make the biggest difference, while this may be a cliché saying it especially rings true while you are travelling. The experiences and people that you meet on the road can influence your life in numerous ways, so next time you meet a stranger remember to greet him or her.