“I was in Mother Teresa’s house where people went because they had nowhere to die. She had this gigantic tent full of hundreds and hundreds of camp stretchers full of the dying…not only did people not have homes for living, but they had nowhere to die.
“India is now well and truly more than a billion people and that’s something that Australians don’t usually register.
“I was there filming this amazing situation and I was sitting on one of the stretchers where a bloke was lying and because of his flimsy clothing I couldn’t tell how old he was. As I was doing my piece to camera, this man reached out to hold my hand…by the time I finished my piece to camera, his hand had dropped away.
“Combined with visiting a leper colony to interview a priest who worked with Mother Teresa, this visit was a confronting learning experience for an Australian. It sounds grim, but it affected my view of the world in an important way.”
Award-winning Australian journalist, George Negus, is known for his coverage of international affairs. But his love for the world also extends to travel for pleasure, and he has recently taken to lecturing and travelling with tour groups .
We asked him to share his experiences. The above story was one of his most vivid. He is going back to India and says he can’t wait to see how the country is today.
Q. You’ve travelled all over the world for your work as a journalist. Where is your favourite destination for a holiday and why?
We return to Italy a lot, so it must be a favourite. We return to the Middle East for our working holidays with Australian travellers. New destinations are always a favourite, too. With India-Bhutan, I’ll be returning to an intriguing place where I’ve never been able to linger but conscious it has plenty to explain about itself. Its famous “happiness index” is a magnet for us all, surely?
Q.What makes a great holiday for you?
Fellow travellers and live music value add to my already heightened interest in most travel
Q.How would you define a truly luxurious experience? And can you share with us your favourite memory?
Oceanic Discoverer (Travelrite) journeys down the Kimberley Coast, which should be world heritage listed soon and deservedly so. With more traditional owners returning to Country after Native Title decisions, this place will only become more of a profound Australian travel experience.
Q. You are hosting voyages with Travelrite, a train journey across India this year and Bhutan next year. What do you like about these trips?
We love a train journey, especially in a country which is so daunting for Australians given its multitude of sensory, religious, historical and population conundrums. It certainly daunts but fascinates me too. I’ve only ever been there for profiles and interviews with the likes of Mother Teresa in the House of the Dying and Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. These are two totally different countries – but neighbours and amazingly different in culture, geography and their attitude towards life and democracy. It’s going to be a traveller’s life experience rather than just a holiday.
As an inveterate traveller, can you share your best travel tip?
Prepare with any reading you can manage before you arrive and remember not to judge and compare with home whether it’s a hotel or people (or you will lose the point of your journeying).
Q.You have cruised many times. What’s your favourite cruise line and why?
Cruising is more pleasant than I expected to find it. The cruise lines operating in remote destinations like The Kimberley and Antarctica are essential services for most of us who would otherwise never witness these precious global places.
Q. Which cruise line would you consider best for luxury?
The good operators ensure we are educated by expert communicators whilst on board. In a climate change world, this is especially vital information for those of us who have lived without having time to comprehend the forces of nature that produced such geographic and oceanic marvels. This is luxury to me – being assisted to acquire knowledge especially delivering perspective that helps us to protect nature for our grandchildren and their children.
Q. Is there one journey by cruise ship everyone should do at least once?
The Kimberley Coast
Q. What’s the one thing you never travel without?
My partner Kirsty Cockburn and my super lightweight backpack (a practical man bag)!
Q. Finally, you now travel without a camera. Why?
I grew up in Queensland and started travelling immediately after I qualified as a teacher. Travelling with a camera is the same as without for me. And without a TV crew, I have more time to ask and answer questions alongside those who put up with me each week on their living room televisions.