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Intrepid Journeys


Sri Lanka: Shane Cortese

Photogallery: Shane's trip to Sri Lanka 

Shane Cortese had a decision to make: leave his partner Nerida Jantti and newborn baby Kees for a trip of a lifetime to Sri Lanka. He had just twenty minutes. "I had no time to think about it at all," Shane admits, "and this is out of my comfort zone.  Even though I have done a little bit of travelling in my time, I am a total luxury traveller."

"Being away from Nerida and Kees was a challenge. A power adapter for the cell phone was first on my shopping list, closely followed by a mosquito net."

Sri Lanka, an island off the tip of Southern India, is about half the size of the South Island. It has survived more than its share of tragedy: the 2005 tsunami left a trail of destruction down the South Coast and there are frequent suicide bombs. 

"From the moment we left the airport there was a really strong military presence," Shane says.  "They're all standing on the side of the road with sub machine guns."
The military hardware didn't distract Shane from soaking up the culture. He helped with the tea harvest, held a poisonous snake and braved the spicy food. 

An encounter with territorial Asian elephants was touch and go when the animals charged Shane's car. "If she'd taken another three steps I could have touched her trunk," Shane said.

Shane celebrated his birthday in Sri Lanka with a 16 kilometre hike.   "On the way a village was celebrating a Hindu festival.  The party fuel was illegal Arak, a moonshine alcohol made from coconuts, barbed wire and rusty nails," Shane said.
Having survived his Intrepid Journey, Shane admitted this travel affected him in ways he didn't expect. 

"I've been away for months at a time and it hasn't really worried me at all, but this time it's different," he admits.  "I've never had to leave a child at home before.  But it was the most incredible experience and it's going to make fantastic stories to tell Kees one day."