Asia Transpacific Journeys partners with Princeton University on Spiritual India, an educational tour to India

An educational tour to India studies both Hinduism and Buddhism’s affects on India’s culture.

An India educational tour studies both Hinduism and Buddhism’s affects on India’s culture.

Asia Transpacific Journeys is partnering with Princeton Journeys to offer Princeton University’s alumni an in-depth survey of India’s religious and spiritual traditions. The educational tour to India will be led by renowned Buddhist scholar Stephen F. “Buzzy” Teiser *86, the D.T. Suzuki Professor in Buddhist Studies in the Department of Religion at Princeton University.

The birthplace of Hinduism and Buddhism, India’s spiritual doctrines are prevalent throughout Asia, and inform its philosophical, architectural, and artistic traditions. Traversing from north to south, this journey is an ambitious exploration of India’s most important religious sites. Furthermore, it will provide Princeton alumni with a sweeping overview of the contrasts, the contradictions, the vastness, the greatness that is India.

For travelers interested in customizing a similar educational tour to India, please contact our Travel Specialists who can create personalized, custom itineraries with in-depth studies.

Travel on an Eco-Tour to Micronesia and Help Protect Coral Reefs

Eco-tours to Micronesia support conservation efforts.

Eco-tours to Micronesia support conservation efforts.

“If you spend every day of your life in the ocean, you’re bound to fall in love with her creatures,” says Ron Leidich, a marine biologist and conservationist who leads our World Wildlife Fund snorkeling eco-tours in Micronesia. Micronesia’s waters teem with fish such as whitetip reef sharks, jacks, trevallies, eagle rays, lionfish, gobies, trumpetfish and turtles, mandarinfish, angelfish and rainbow parrotfish.

However, a steady demand for reef fishes to serve as food and to stock aquariums around the globe means that overfishing and illegal fishing tactics with cyanide and dynamite have become lucrative and commonplace strategies. WWF supports an initiative calling for the area of protected coral reefs be increased from 15 percent to 30 percent globally. Palau’s president is among those world leaders committed to the efforts.

When you travel to Micronesia with Asia Transpacific Journeys and the World Wildlife Fund, you are supporting conservation work around the globe. Reserve your space on this eco-tour to Micronesia by calling 800-642-2742. Departs May 14, 2010. Cost: $8,995 per person, based on double occupancy.   Single supplement: $1,750.

Tour Leader Postcard from the Field: Mongolia

By Dr. Stephen Halkovic, Asia Transpacific Journeys Tour Leader / PhD in Inner Asian Studies

As I unpacked from this year’s Mongolian tour, I reached into a side pocket of my carry-on luggage and found a very crudely carved bear. It was only about four inches long and made of reindeer antler. It was unimposing with no real value as a work of art. However, the memories that it produced in me are unforgettable.

Lake Khobsugol and its reindeer population

Lake Khobsugol and its reindeer population

No matter how many times I have been to Mongolia, and by now it is probably sixty times, something new always seems to happen. This year our tour took us to the eastern side of Lake Khobsugol. This is a much less developed part of the lake, but with a new and wonderfully located ger camp on a beautiful cove.

The day after we arrived the group set off some by horseback an hour and a half ride and some by boat to visit a reindeer herding family. These reindeer herders live under incredibly difficult conditions. Their dwellings are similar to native American tepees, and they live in them all year long even when the temperature drops to more than 40 degrees below zero. Our group sat and talked to the herder while our local guide translated. These herders have to be totally self reliant, making sure to keep their herds in the best possible shape as their lives depend on their animals.

This couple was so gracious to us sharing their homemade bread and cheese with us. As he spoke about his religion—he is a shaman—he lit his pipe. The group was immediately fascinated for the pipe was about a foot long and both the stem and the bowl was made out of a single piece of larch. This was something that I had never seen before. At the end of our visit he took out some antler carvings and members of our group bought some of these for 1 or 2 dollars. Finally one of the group asked if they could buy his pipe. He had two. He agreed for $2. Someone else asked to buy the second pipe and he sold it as well. Before we left, we found out that this was his second wife. His first was eaten by a bear.

As we left the tent the herder presented me with his bear carving. This was his totem as a shamen. At dinner that evening our conversation revolved around our meeting with the reindeer herder. Some were worried that the herder would not be happy not having a pipe to smoke.

The next morning we had an eight o’clock departure in order to reach the airport for our flight. Waiting for us by our vehicles was the reindeer herder. He had made two new pipes overnight and they were eagerly purchased. I will never forget the wonderful bear carving and the industrious pipe making carver.

Dr. Stephen Halkovic has a PhD in Inner Asian Studies, specializing in Mongolia/Tibet/China from Indiana University, and taught there for 14 years. While teaching at IU, he started to lead tours to Soviet Central Asia and Mongolia during the summers. In 1980 Stephen started lecturing and leading tours into China. By 1984, he was much more interested in the travel business than academia and started to lead tours full time throughout Asia and remote regions throughout the world. Since the ’80s he has led 100 trips to China, over 50 to Mongolia, and more than 15 to Tibet. He is the author of two scholarly works on Mongolia. His unsurpassed knowledge, infectious laughter and engaging style make him a superb travel companion.


Dr. Halkovic leads many of our Small Group Tours, limited to 18 travelers, including Mongolia: In the Path of the Nomad, departing annually in July.