Reflections on dental study tours By Professor Phillip Dowell

One of my first recollections of being involved with Jon was running around the original Olympic track in Olympia, a sacred site near the western coast of the Peloponnese peninsula, on a tour that was labeled as ‘Sea P D’ and hosted by Dame Margaret Seward, the then-President of the General Dental Council.

Over the years I have led tours to Ecuador and the Galapagos, China, South Africa and Botswana, India, Vietnam/Cambodia, Argentina, Sri Lanka and Israel/Jordan.
I have also lectured on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean and spent two delightful trips cruising down the Danube and later, the Rhine.

All of these tours, without exception, have been wonderful! The opportunity to meet numbers of fellow dentists in a vacation setting has been a real honour and my wife, Sheila, and I have been lucky to strike up some significant friendships along the way.1Budapest on the Danube Dental Cruise

One observation that I can definitely make is that you never have time to be bored on these tours! In fact, it’s the complete opposite, with professional and cultural visits organised on a daily basis you are kept pretty busy the whole time.

It is difficult to pick out a particular ‘best’ tour because they all had their wonderful moments, but perhaps out of all of them, the Galapagos Islands with its great biodiversity is unique. We even managed to see Lonesome George, a male Pinta Island tortoise, now sadly deceased at well over a hundred years old!2 Plaza Island (Galapagos Islands)

On another occasion, I remember being escorted with military outriders to meet a general on the steps of a Military Dental school in Xi’an; it was a fascinating visit and the equipment and teaching facilities were world class. We certainly didn’t expect such an official welcome and weren’t perhaps dressed appropriately for it!3The group on a dental tour of Rhineland

Buenos Aires, translated from Spanish as ‘fair winds’, is arguably the most European-style capital in South America. It’s also very beautiful, with many parks and open spaces littered with jacaranda trees.

Visiting Trelew in Welsh Patagonia was outstanding and I remember joining in the singing of a Welsh hymn with a local Argentinian lady! Something I’ll never forget. Also of note was visiting the English hospital, which, after the Falklands war, was recovering its services. We eventually arrived in Ushuaia, the most southerly city in the world, and ventured into the outskirts of Antarctica. An amazing experience!Blue sky over Mount Fitz Roy with horsesPatagonia, South America’s southern frontier

It is always good to visit new countries but with JBT (Jon Baines Tours) you experience not only the professional visits and lectures, but also an eclectic mix of cultures, religions and of course many culinary delights.

From a professional viewpoint, we have always arranged visits to dental schools and clinics. These have given us a tremendous insight into care provision, health care systems and levels of training at undergraduate and post graduate levels. I have been fortunate to have my wife, Sheila – who is a Consultant Physician – to give appropriate lectures which are relevant to dentists. 5Dental school, China

JBT always gives a focus on cultural and historic visits and so you manage to learn much about the structure, demographics and religious aspects of a country. This was highlighted on our most recent trip to Israel and Jordan, which was absolutely fascinating.6Jerusalem, Israel Dental and Medical Tour

The wildlife in the Okavango Delta in Botswana was without doubt a fascinating trip that will remain locked in my memory for the rest of my life. In contrast, the trips on the river boats down the Danube and the Rhine were sedate, serene and perhaps slightly more restful. Brilliant nonetheless!

I could go on to write a book about the many experiences and pleasures that I’ve been fortunate to have in leading dental study tours for Jon. I cannot stress enough the great times and experiences we’ve had with JBT and additionally how good it is to liaise with him and his team.

As always I’m looking forward to the next trip; hopefully in the not too distant future!
Phillip Dowell
Covid-19 times, June 2020

 
Professor Phillip Dowell is a specialist periodontist and past president of the British Society of Periodontology and the International College of Dentists. He has lectured nationally and internationally and is a regular and popular Tour Leader with Jon Baines Tours.

JBT Dental tours in 2021 include: Medical and Dental Tour to Iceland 15-24 May 2021, Dental Study Tour to China 17-27 May 2021 and Dental Study Tour to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands 3-15 September 2021.

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