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Sundance Film Festival 2015

January 23, 2015

Exploring New Horizons

Sundance Film FestivalWe are always thrilled to find new opportunities to share our passion for exploration and appreciation of global diversity. This year, we are delighted to have been invited to share our expertise at the Sundance Film Festival, a mecca of inspired storytelling from around the world.

Between film screenings, attendees are invited to visit our “Taste of Asia” experience at Rand Luxury’s exclusive Luxury Lounge at the St. Regis Deer Valley. Amid silk lanterns and bamboo fronds, we will briefly transport guests to Asia as they sample traditional green tea, sip sake and relax with a brief Thai massage.

Of course, why savor just a taste of Asia, when you can fully immerse yourself in its wonder? Experience the thrill of discovery for yourself as you write your own story across continents  and cultures. We look forward to seeing you!

The Experience Speaks for Itself

January 19, 2015
Bangkok

Asia Transpacific Journeys values our travelers to the Nth Degree. As fellow travelers, we understand first-hand that when traveling abroad your experiences and safety are top priority. We work tirelessly to ensure every voyage with Asia Transpacific Journeys not only lives up to our travelers’ expectations, but surpasses them. It is a matter of great pride when a returning traveler shares their glowing feedback with us. And it with that same pride that we share the following testimonial from two of our travelers who just returned from an extensive trip throughout Asia.

The trip that you arranged for us was an incredible, awesome experience without compare.  From our arrival in Singapore up to that last leg of our trip out of Beijing, every single day went without complication or error (other than the two minor hotel mix-ups in Singapore). Enough cannot be said for the value of the ease of travel that was accomplished by working with Asia Transpacific Journeys. 

GUIDES: Hands down, what made this trip so outstanding and memorable were the guides. Each one gave us their full effort. We always felt that we were being well cared for and safety never crossed our minds.

Joe in Singapore had to roll with the “punches” of torrential rains in the morning and backed-up traffic in the afternoon.  Nevertheless, he gave us a full, very informative day highlighted by a visit to the orchid gardens.

Angela in Bangkok gave us her all while dealing with us two travelers finally feeling the effects of jet lag and heat that we were unaccustomed to. She kept the water and cold rags coming and didn’t waiver in giving us an extraordinary day in Bangkok. The lunch provided overlooking the Chao Phraya River was the best meal of the entire trip (among many outstanding ones).Chiang Mai 2

Kai in Bangkok gave us a truly special foodie tour. It would take finger and toes to count all the tastes, the variety, the “unusuals” (ducks’ cheeks) that we enjoyed. He even added a couple of extras when we expressed an interest. He was conscientious in finding us seating where appropriate, which was not an easy task.

Ruchi in Chang Rai was a rare personality. We particularly appreciated her familiarity with the hill tribes and giving us the opportunity to see mountain life up close. 

Pom in Luang Prabang and Ponsovan was the one guide with whom we spent the most Elephanttime. Many of the most memorable events of our trip were spent with him—the elephant camp, the trip over the mountains, the Bacci and Alms ceremonies, the Lone Buffalo Foundation, the insights into the “silent war,” a walk through the rice fields, to mention only a few. He was part of some of the longest and best days of our trip and he never cut short on his effort. He was always conscientious about our comfort and wellbeing.

Ley in Vientiane was such a happy personality and gave us an outstanding whirlwind tour. When we met him, we realized that this was going to be a much too brief of a visit.

Huang in Hanoi and Halong Bay was a lot of fun to tour with. He had a great sense of humor and was generous with the small touches—offering us sticky rice ice cream, tiny pineapples, a taste of rice “happy water,” a stop at a pearl factory—those things made a special day an outstanding one.

Tuan in Hoi An was a stand out in his command of the English language. We were so grateful for all the guides knowledge of English, however, Tuan was certainly the most easy to understand and gave our ears a welcome rest. We particularly appreciated him sharing his thoughtful insights into Vietnam, its history and its people.

Chuong in Saigon provided an appropriate conclusion to our trip. He was willing to share some time to just visit and help us pull together the many pieces of information that we had accumulated while touring Vietnam and so we could understand the “big picture.” His knowledge of history gave us a good general overview of Vietnam’s story. He was an expert at timing, arranging things perfectly to give us a full experience for our day trip outside of Saigon. Chuong had a knack for making us feel very special.

DRIVERS: These gentlemen were as outstanding as the guides they accompanied! Some performed under particularly difficult conditions such as winding mountain roads and rough unfinished roads or what we viewed as the madness of city driving. The cars/vans were roomy and immaculate and we never once felt unsafe with them behind the wheel. And, again, one of those “big” small touches, they were always quick to open doors for us.

HIGHLIGHTS: There was not a tour or a day that disappointed us. But those times that we will talk most about are our two-day trip down the Mekong River, our visit to the elephant camp complete with elephant ride which included a walk up the river, the forever winding road over the mountains of Laos from Luang Prabang to Ponsovan, the trek through the rice fields to the Mekong RiverPlain of Jars site #3, the visit to the Lone Buffalo Foundation class, the visits to the hill tribes of Laos and Thailand, the cooking class in Hoi An, and the night we sat on steps at a corner in Hanoi watching the unbelievably wild and crazy traffic. The most touching moment for me was the film on the “silent war” waged on Laos whose effects are still being felt today. I am so glad that I got to see this eye-opening film.

We also absolutely loved our two-day, overnight cruise on Halong Bay—it was exceptional, magnificent and luxurious! Our room was spacious, with a balcony and a lovely, roomy bathroom, and it was well air-conditioned. The lunch and dinner equaled two dinners, the activities were fun; the staff provided excellent service and were a true pleasure. With so many groups offering cruises on the bay, this was one more instance where the expertise of ATJ shone.

PROBLEMS: I have to dig deep to come up with anything significant. Of course, not surprisingly, we could have used at least just a few more travel days. The late change in hotel arrangements in Bangkok was a bit frustrating but the end solution worked well for us. We were very satisfied with our choice of countries to tour, however, by our choice, it sometimes seemed to be a whirlwind trip that just flew by. Ultimately, we would not change any decision.

IN CONCLUSION: This was an extraordinarily well-planned trip, executed with delightful precision. The exceptional variety of sites, tours and events was amazing. The people we met became friends. We offer a round of applause, a “wave” of appreciation and endless “bravos!” to Asia Transpacific Journeys. With immense appreciation for a job well done!

If there is anything better than reading a glowing review like the one above, it’s writing one. We’d love to hear how your experience with Asia Transpacific Journey speaks for itself after your travels. Visit our website to begin planning your next Journey Beyond the Ordinary™!

Practice Yoga with a View in Asia and the Pacific

December 31, 2014
Buddah

Customize your yoga experience with Asia Transpacific Journeys. Deepen your practice with in-depth yoga lessons from local teachers in various Asian destinations. Practicing yoga in an awe-inspiring setting takes the experience to a whole new level and is a wonderful way to authentically immerse yourself in the gorgeous natural landscapes of Asia. Below are a few of our favorite spots for yoga with a view:

India is a natural choice for yoga in Asia—and for good reason—the ancient practice of yoga originated high in the Indian Himalayas. For a different side of Indian yoga, we love the Leela Kovalam Beach in Kerala, India: The Divya Spa at The Leela Kovalam is situated atop a cliff with a stunning yoga and meditation pavilion on the roof for optimal views of the serene coastline as you practice your asanas. Ayurveda treatments and holistic programs are a highlight of the hotel, perfectly complimenting the yoga experience.

pathways spa-gallery-52 The Sarojin, Khao Lak, Thailand, an exclusive resort on southern Thailand’s pristine coast, features private yoga lessons on a seven-mile stretch of secluded white-sand beach along the shimmering Andaman Sea. The Sarojin’s private yoga teacher, Canadian born Melanie Schorr, was trained in India under Yogi Vijay Amar and teaches in the traditional hatha style. Hatha Yoga practice focuses on finding balance between opposing forces through physical postures.

To acquaint yourself with the roots of yoga, book a Custom Journey to Ananda in the Himalayas, near Rishikesh, India. This authentic, Ayurveda-based resort in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas offers a full spectrum of private and group lessons in both asana and other yogic disciplines such as pranayama (conscious breath) and ajapajapa (mantra mediation) in a gorgeous open-air amphitheater with alpine vistas. Customized Ayurvedic menus are devised and prepared for each guest and complimentary lectures on Vendata (the Indian philosophy of combing physical, mental and spiritual wellness) make this ancient system of health approachable to the visitor. Warrior 2

The yoga and meditation practices offered at Ananda are numerous. Upon arrival, you will have a consultation with a yoga instructor who will personally tailor your yoga and meditation experience to suit your level of experience and desires. The menu of classes and individual lessons is extensive—here are a few of our favorite offerings:

Hatha Yoga: A personal lesson can take your practice to the next level with the focused attention and physical adjustments of an expert instructor. To develop a deeper understanding of how your body responds to each posture, the instructor will guide your awareness to specific muscle groups provide tips for tapping into your body’s natural intuition.

Gatyatmak Yoga: Offering a challenge to intermediate and advanced yogis, Gatyatmak sessions elaborate on the traditional Hatha yogic postures by adding an additional level of dynamism. The sessions revolves around two traditional, rhythmic sequences of postures known as Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutation) and Chandra Namaskara (Moon salutation) designed to revitalize the entire body-mind system.

Kriya Yoga: Delve deeper into the energetic side of yoga with instruction in kriya, the movement of awareness in the energetic body as physical postures are performed. Perfect for advanced practitioners looking to elevate their yoga. Back bend

Pranayama: Lessons in breathing may seem a bit simplistic, but learning how to breath properly, from a place of deep relaxation, can profoundly affect both your yoga practice and your general quality of life. Various techniques are taught to engage deep breathing, remove energetic blockages and embrace prana (vitality) from the inside out. Experienced yogis will be taught to incorporate bandhas (specific moves that restrict or activate breath) into their existing asana practice.

Yoga Nidra: Yoga Nidra means “psychic sleep,” a state of conscious between wakefulness and sleep. An experienced teacher will guide you into this state, quieting the agitations of your conscious mind and awakening the awareness and immense
healing potential of the subconscious.

Chakra Shuddhi: One of primary practices of Kundalini Yoga, Chakra Shudddi refers to the cleansing of ones chakras, can be added to any existing yoga practice or practiced on its own. As the chakra energy centers are purified through guided mediation, it is common to experience deep transformation in personality and consciousness.                            forward bend

Ajapajapa: While it is common to chant sacred mantras in Indian mediation and yoga practices, the concept of ajapajapa moves beyond the physical repetition of these phrases and instead focuses on aligning the mantra with the movement of your breath and thought. This is an effective technique to quiet the mind and explore the meditative state.

­­­­These are just three of the yoga-inspired vacations offered from the knowledgeable Asia Travel Specialists at Asia Transpacific Journeys. Contact Asia Transpacific Journeys today to learn more about these and other unforgettable yoga adventures.

Asia Transpacific Journeys’ Clients Publish Tribute to World Travel, Wildlife & Photography

December 17, 2014

Asia Transpacific Journeys’ travelers Richard and Amy Lynn have circumnavigated the globe collecting candid photos of some of the world’s most beautiful, strange and interesting animals. Having cuddled baby wombats and sought out fearsome Komodo Dragons in the bush, the Lynns truly exemplify the Asia Transpacific Journeys motto: Journey Beyond the Ordinary™.

The Lynns’ Asia Transpacific Journeys expert Travel Specialist, Chris Dunham, offered the following perspective:

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Richard and Amy on four trips to our region of the world so far. I knew they were avid photographers and was pleased to learn that they had taken their talents and developed them into a book to share with the world. Their book is a testament to their passion and love for wildlife and for traveling the world. I’m flattered and honored to have helped facilitate the travel that lead to the creation of their book.”

sarcasticlensRichard and Amy Lynn’s large-format photography book, The Sarcastic Lens, is available on Amazon. Get ready to be inspired and start planning your next Journey Beyond the Ordinary™!

Farm to table culinary experiences, not a nouveau concept in Thailand and Vietnam

December 12, 2014
Vietman 2

Fresh food straight from the farm, no preservatives, no GMOs—it’s the new way of eating in America.  But the concept isn’t new in Asia, where centuries-old recipes and fresh, farm to table culinary traditions are a way of life. Asia Transpacific Journeys offers a number of mouth-watering, culinary expeditions throughout Asia. Travelers accompany local chefs to vibrant markets then prepare their fresh produce into delectable local-style dishes. In this blog, we are focusing on culinary opportunities in Thailand and Vietnam.

Thailand:

In Thailand, try your hand at creating iconic, fiery, Thai cuisine with hands-on cooking classes, visits to local markets and unique dining experiences. In Chiang Mai, meet your local host, Nid, and visit a nearby market to select the freshest ingredients for your afternoon cooking lesson. Nid will encourage you to taste some of the more exotic items and discuss substitutes that can be used back home. A 40-minute drive through the lush countryside outside of Chiang Mai will bring you to the village of Lamphun and to Nid’s family home, where your hands-on, private cooking class with Nid and her mother will take place. Dishes may include traditional Northern Thai favorites, such as Catfish Mince or Green Papaya Salad. You’ll also get tutorials on how to combine traditional Thai flavors and how to stir-fry in a wok. Enjoy the fruits of your labors with a cold Thai beer for lunch. Before departing, stop in at a beautiful, nearby temple that overlooks the Lamphun valley.    Thailand

End the day at Chiang Mai’s most discerning boutique hotel, 137 Pillars House. Located in a colonial teak mansion amid lush, private gardens, the spacious suites, delicious on-site dining and winning location in the charming Wat Gate neighborhood are truly without compare. The in-house restaurant serves organic, seasonal, contemporary Thai food and the Parlor Lounge is a delightful spot for a traditional high tea.

From Chiang Mai, head to the capital city of Bangkok, and check into one of the city’s many luxurious hotels. The Peninsula and Mandarin Oriental, much-lauded properties situated right on the river, are both favorites of ours. Both properties feature highly-rated restaurants where you can continue your culinary adventures.

The following day, ride Bangkok’s clean and contemporary Skytain monorail to the suburban stop of your local cooking instructor, Angsana. Angsana is a Bangkok native who grew up visiting the market and cooking with her mother and is passionate about sharing her comprehensive knowledge of Thai cuisine with curious visitors. Accompany her to a favorite neighborhood market to pick up the freshest ingredients for the Thai dishes of your choosing. Then settle into her modern home kitchen for a crash course in authentic Thai cuisine. Armed with recipes and a plethora of new knowledge, you’ll leave confident enough to make your own curry paste from scratch back home.

End your Thai voyage with a memorable night aboard a restored Teak rice barge on Bangkok’s Chao Phrya River. If your timing is right, catch one of Thailand’s most colorful festivals, Loy Krathong, which falls on the first full moon of November. For the festival, the river will be alive with decorative canoes and barges and iconic krathong offerings set adrift by the thousands. Each krathong contains a flower, a candle and three incense sticks, which are lit before being placed on the water. It is believed that if the candle remains lit until the krathong is out of sight, then the sender’s wish will come true. Savor the scene as you enjoy a 10-course traditional Thai seafood menu, paired with wine and cocktails.

Vietnam:

Vietnam is another perennial favorite for those interested in cuisine. Saigon’s Benthanh market, one of the city’s most famous landmarks and a food lover’s paradise, is a bucket list sojourn. Accompanied by a local chef, you will gain in-depth insight into the flavors of Vietnamese cuisine while shopping for a mind-boggling variety of fresh and exotic local ingredients.

VietnamAlso not to be missed is an informal cooking class at the wildly successful The Mermaid restaurant in Hoi An. The owner, celebrated cooking expert Ms. Vy, has appeared on national television many times. Her classes introduce travelers to Vietnamese cooking and exotic local dishes, such as steamed fish in banana leaf with vegetables and spices, in a fun, light-hearted and hands-on setting. And, of course, the best thing is sampling your delicious, self-cooked meals at the end of class!

Culinary enthusiasts should not miss visiting the village market in Tra Que. This authentic country market offers the freshest local ingredients—star anise, cardamom, sesame rice paper, water spinach, banana flowers—and an unbeatable chance to interact with the locals and sample some unusual delicacies. After exploring the market, visit a local village home and work with the family chef to prepare a typical Vietnamese meal, using the freshest ingredients and traditional utensils. Afterwards, sample your dishes in the company of the rest of the family.

With your newfound knowledge of Vietnamese cuisine, you’ll be well-prepared to savor a seven-course tasting menu of traditional imperial cuisine in dynastic-era Hué. As much thought is given to the presentation of these Vietnamese delicacies as to their preparation—making for a stunning meal all around. As you savor a final few days in the country, don’t miss sampling a steaming bowl of pho (beef noodle soup) or a banh mi (a typical Vietnamese sandwich). Just look for cafés crammed with locals to know which versions are the local favorites.

Asia Transpacific Journeys offers culinary excursions throughout Asia—the locations featured above are just two of the countless possibilities. Contact Asia Transpacific Journeys to begin planning your own epicurean exploration of Asia. And be sure to check out our future blogs, which will highlight additional culinary destinations.

New Year, New You: Travel to Asia Inspires Spiritual Detox

December 4, 2014
India Namastae

The New Year is a natural time for reflection, awakening and crafting new goals. It’s a time when many people make New Year’s resolutions to be healthier, happier or more motivated. Imbued with a natural aura of sacred tranquility, Asia is the perfect stage for beginning the New Year refreshed and renewed. Whether you want to get a head start on your New Year’s resolutions, rejuvenate after the holidays or experience a refresher on the wonder of travel, Asia delivers like no other region of the world. Asia’s ancient cultural traditions foster a sense of peace and offer ample opportunity for meditation and personal reflection while ancient lifestyle practices invite physical rejuvenation and healing.

Start your New Year in India, the land of Mahatma Gandhi, with a journey of compassion and devotion. For travIndiaelers seeking spiritual awakening and physical rejuvenation, Asia Transpacific Journeys offers a unique experience in mystical northern India, an idyllic Asian location rich in history and sacred traditions. You and your traveling companions will be privately transferred through the scenic Himalayan foothills to Ananda in the Himalayas, a holistic retreat that specializes in a contemporary approach to the Indian healing system of Ayurveda. This ancient medical system depends on the identification of one’s dominant dosha, or physical constitution, from among the three types: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. An individualized diet, exercise routine, spa treatment and meditation practice is then proscribed to restore and maintain good health. Detoxification of mind and body is encouraged with daily yoga lessons for all levels of practitioners. Guided, meditative nature walks offer the chance to take in the stunning surroundings. A wide selection of innovative, personalized spa treatments compliment your Ayurvedic experience. And experienced chefs prepare meals specially suited for your body from the freshest, local ingredients.

To delve dbhutaneeply into the contemplative side of the New Year, journey to Bhutan, a quixotic Himalayan kingdom where mediation is a way of life. Visit centuries-old monasteries that have only recently opened their doors to the world. Find inner peace, has you join monks in slowing down your breath and mind at iconic monasteries. Then join a local, farming family for tea and snacks in their humble home to understand that Bhutan’s spiritual abundance expands far beyond its temples and monasteries.

For a different perspective on relaxation and rejuvenation, AsiaJapan Transpacific Journeys offers a quintessential Japanese spa experience. Yamanaka, a quaint village that preserves the ancient Japanese hot spring tradition, is perfect for escaping the bustle of everyday life. Check into a luxurious ryokan (traditional inn) and don fine cotton robes, customary attire at a Japanese spa. Then tuck into an elaborate welcome kaiseki supper of carefully prepared and presented dishes. After dinner, soak in the ryokan’s atmospheric natural hot spring pools. In the following days, immerse yourself in Japanese tradition while strolling through the picturesque village, trying your hand at making Japanese paper, sipping on Sake or rolling out soba noodles.

Whether you desire a holistic retreat in the Himalayas, a tranquil Japanese spa experience or another rejuvenating vacation of your own creation, Asia Transpacific Journeys delights in using their in-depth regional knowledge to assist you in experiencing a perfectly fulfilling and rejuvenating beginning to the New Year. Asia Transpacific Journeys welcomes you to begin your spiritual detox with us, during your future travels to Asia.Lotus Flower

Explore Southeast Asia’s Most Remarkable Wildlife Preserves, Animal Sanctuaries and National Parks

November 20, 2014
10-LK_PinnewalaBathe

If wildlife and animal encounters are a must to realize your travel dreams, look no further than Southeast Asia. Imagine learning to ride an elephant in northern Thailand or exploring the brush of Indonesia’s remote Rinca Island in search of the mysterious Komodo Dragon—these unique wildlife experiences are different from anything you’d find at home. Make the most of your journey to Southeast Asia by including these memorable human/animal interactions on your immersive custom itinerary, hand-crafted around your personal travel style.

Learn to be an Elephant Mahout

The gentle giants of Southeast Asia, Asian elephants once roamed wild in the region’s forests. But as settlements have encroached on their territories, elephants and humans have had to find a symbiosis. Private ownership iElephant Rides in Asias rarely feasible either economically (an adult elephant eats over 200 pounds per day!) or practically (elephants are highly intelligent, social creatures that don’t take well to isolation or boredom). Luckily a collection of compassionate elephant camps has filled this void. At these camps, each elephant in the herd has an individual mahout, their constant caretaker and companion. With similar lifespans, an elephant and her mahout will likely spend decades together, forming a deep bond.

When you visit elephant camp with Asia Transpacific Journeys, you will do far more than just ride an elephant—you will get a crash-course in how to be a mahout, from a working professional. Your elephant’s mahout will teach you how to feed, bathe and check her health. Once you’ve gotten to know your new friend, climb aboard for a thrilling ride through the jungle. Your mahout will teach you the basic commands and remain close at hand at all times. Returning travelers frequently rate their visit to an elephant camp among the most memorable travel experiences of their lives!

Observe Orangutans in Nature

Deep in the forests of the lush island of Borneo, orangutans, the only apes indigenous to Asia, makOrangutan in Borneoe their homes. The word orangutan means “man of the forest” in the local dialect and, in watching these creatures, it is remarkable how human many of their traits appear. Spend a day at a renowned orangutan rehabilitation preserve learning about these remarkable primates—one of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom. In their natural environment, you are free to watch the orangutan’s natural behaviors—calling to each other, using their hands and feet to gather food, eat and groom. Some of the preserve’s orangutans were found orphaned and have been raised at the center. Unafraid of humans, these curious youngsters want to interact with you as much as you do with them.

Explore Exotic Komodo National Park

If you thought dragons were only found in fairy tales, it’s time to meet the legendary, and very real, Komodo Dragon. This species of liKomodo Dragon in Indonesiazard, indigenous to the islands of Indonesia’s Komodo National Park, can grow up 10 feet long and weigh upwards of 150 pounds! Exploring this park in the company of an expert guide ensures your safety as you search for glimpse of these shy, carnivorous creatures in their natural environment. The waters surrounding Komodo National Park’s many islands offer their own wondrous wildlife – technicolor coral and wildly diverse marine life make for some of the world’s best snorkeling.

Asia Transpacific Journeys is committed to the cultural and environmental health of the communities with which they do business. Every wildlife experience included in their itineraries meets their stringent standards regarding animal welfare, ethical management practices and, of course, the safety of their travelers. Begin crafting your unique Custom Journey to see Asia’s remarkable wildlife, or other wonders, today.

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