Photo of the Week :: Asia Transpacific Journeys’ India Travel Contest

This week’s photo was taken by Sudipto Das.

A camel seller leaves the fair ground with unsold camels after the biggest camel fair is over at Pushkar, Rajasthan in India. Camel sellers from remote villages in Rajasthan gather at the fair ground yearly to trade camels which continue for seven days.” — Sudipto Das

Sudipto Das © Asia Transpacific Journeys

If you’ve captured that one-in-a-million shot on a recent trip to India then enter your photos in our “Share Your Experience – India Travel Photo Contest” and you could win an Apple iPad! (16 GB with Wi-Fi).

See all the other wonderful India travel photos that have been submitted on our Online Photo Contest Album.

Deadline for submission is July 31, 2010. Winners will be announced by August 31, 2010.

How to Travel to Borneo

Visit Borneo, the exotic island dense with tropical rain forests and teeming with rare and diverse wildlife. Traveling to Borneo is less complicated than you may think, and we would love to help you get there in style.

Asia Transpacific Journeys offers unrivaled Small Group Trips to Borneo, or can assist you in creating your own Custom Journey. Explore clear waters that host thousand of reef fish as you snorkel in the warm waters of Brunei Bay, hike to the summit of Mt. Kinabalu followed by a soak in the Poring Hot Springs, explore underground caves in the Gunung Mulu National Park, or embark on one of many exhilarating treks through the Borneo jungle.

You can always expect a balmy, tropical climate in equatorial Borneo. However, plan your trip between March and October if you prefer the best weather. Our Travel Specialists are always happy to work with you to make your journey as effortless as possible.

Lastly, be sure you have a valid passport that it is good for 6 months beyond your travel dates. If you need to, apply for a passport or renew yours as soon as possible. Visas are not required for U.S. citizens.

Call Asia Transpacific Journeys and talk with one of our travel experts about the range of exciting options. As always, rest assured that Asia Transpacific Journeys is committed to working only with partners in Borneo that have exhibited the best practices to care for Borneo’s precious wildlife and resources.

Photo of the Week :: Asia Transpacific Journeys’ India Travel Contest

This week’s photo was taken by Willy Vanaudenaerde.

“I call this photo ‘Working Woman.’ This was a very interesting place. As our guide was explaining the history, I noticed this scene to one side as the ladies where waking to the gate of the [Amber] Fort. I was only able to take a couple of pictures. We were amazed as these ladies were actually working in construction, moving dirt.” — Willy Vanaudenaerde

Willy Vanaudenaerde © Asia Transpacific Journeys

If you’ve captured that one-in-a-million shot on a recent trip to India then enter your photos in our “Share Your Experience – India Travel Photo Contest” and you could win an Apple iPad! (16 GB with Wi-Fi).

See all the other wonderful India travel photos that have been submitted on our Online Photo Contest Album.

Deadline for submission is July 31, 2010. Winners will be announced by August 31, 2010.

“Eat, Pray, Love” in India and Bali

Fans of Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling book Eat, Pray, Love can embark on their own quest for worldly pleasure, spiritual enlightenment and meaning in life by traveling to India and Bali, two of the three lands featured in Gilbert’s candid memoir of self-discovery. We at Asia Transpacific Journeys are experts on everything from ashrams to art in both India and Bali, where we’ve been organizing travel for individuals on their own journeys of discovery for nearly 25 years.

The book, which is scheduled to emerge as a movie starring Julia Roberts on August 13, 2010, paints shimmering pictures that stay with the reader. India is intense and chaotic, yet deeply absorbing and for Gilbert life-changing. One of the world’s most ancient cultures, it indeed seems to possess a special wisdom that Gilbert is not alone in seeking.

Bali is altogether different, a soft-spoken, gentle, lush, green and tranquil island of great natural beauty. It was in Bali that love came the author’s way, and whether romance lies in store or not, the island casts a spell on all visitors with its quiet spirituality.

Asia Transpacific Journeys offers a 16-day journey called India: In the Realm of the Spirit that focuses on the contrasting spiritual traditions in the region. Travelers visit sacred temples, join pilgrims at holy sites, and practice yoga at a world-renowned retreat in the Himalayas.

On Bali and Beyond travelers discover hidden gems on an incredible 17-day exploration of this magical land. The journey features sailing, snorkeling, dance and the arts, wildlife, ancient cultural traditions and UNESCO temples sites.

We can also create private Custom Journeys to India and Bali for individual travelers, their family and friends. These depart on your timeframe and incorporate special features completely tailored to each traveler’s unique interests.

China: A Land Vast and Varied

China was the central power in Asia for centuries—with strong influence on Eastern culture. Its architecture, technology, cuisine, art and religions are so deeply embedded in most other Asian cultures that they are, ironically, scarcely recognizable as Chinese at all.

Unlock the secrets of this great civilization on China—Beyond the Wall. This journey surveys classic sights such as Beijing, the Great Wall, Terracotta Warriors and Shanghai, as well as hidden jewels known to the few.

China veterans may opt for China’s Silk Road—History’s Great Thoroughfare, which explores China’s far western reaches. Discover remote outposts, tombs and temples, markets and bazaars. This classic itinerary follows in the footsteps of Marco Polo and the camel caravans that traversed the Gobi.

Dr. Steve Halkovic

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.

A Staff Postcard: Elephant Hugs from Thailand

Simone Farbus, Air Travel Manager at Asia Transpacific Journeys was a guest of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and China Airlines recently.

I was hugged by an elephant in the Land of Smiles!

The Land of Smiles is a designation that the Tourism Authority of Thailand has adopted as its motto.  It’s a nickname the country has deservedly enjoyed unofficially for decades.

My first trip to Thailand was in 1978 with a couple of friends—taking a Spring break from our busy government jobs in Hong Kong.  For years I said it was the best vacation I had ever been on.  I had never before traveled to anywhere quite as captivating or welcoming as Thailand.

Almost exactly 30 years later I returned this year, happy to find that the people were still smiling, the food was even better than I recalled, and the country as diverse and unique as I remembered.

It’s easy to fully decompress in Thailand.  I watched elephants paint better pictures than I could, spent an afternoon with tigers, sampled a dozen different fruits in the orchards where they grew (including the famous odiferous durian fruit), and watched the sun set over a still ocean, all in one day.  Nowhere else can you get quite the variety of activity.

I traveled from the north to the south of an amazing country, captivated by its music and dance, its flora and fauna, its tastes and smells. When I returned with my many photographs my children asked me what the best thing was.  “Being hugged by an elephant,” I replied.

Photo of the Week :: Asia Transpacific Journeys’ India Travel Contest

This week’s photo was taken by Briana Williams.

“This was the most incredible experience, I had never ridden a camel before and the desert was just beautiful. We rode the camels to the desert and watched the sunset and then went back to the camp and had a traditional desert meal. One of the most beautiful sights I have seen.” — Briana Williams

Briana Williams © Asia Transpacific Journeys

If you’ve captured that one-in-a-million shot on a recent trip to India then enter your photos in our “Share Your Experience – India Travel Photo Contest” and you could win an Apple iPad! (16 GB with Wi-Fi).

See all the other wonderful India travel photos that have been submitted on our Online Photo Contest Album.

Deadline for submission is July 31, 2010. Winners will be announced by August 31, 2010.

Asia Transpacific Journeys: How to Travel to Borneo

A perfumed symphony of life awaits in the lush foliage of Borneo.  From vivid colors to enchanting scents, traveling to Borneo affords you the chance to explore one of the most bio-diverse locations on Earth.

Borneo travel does not have to be complicated, and following some simple strategies makes travel to Borneo easy and accessible. The remote location and mysterious wildlife make southeast Asia a legendary exotic destination, yet upscale eco-resorts make for wonderful creature comforts. With the right preparation, and the help of seasoned Asia travel experts like the professionals at Asia Transpacific Journeys, you can feel confident and excited about your Borneo vacation.

First, do your homework. Get familiar with Borneo and all it has to offer by visiting the Asia Transpacific Journeys website. Note the places you need to see and things you want to do. Borneo wildlife tours are a great way to get up close and personal with orangutans and to experience the wild side of Borneo. Booking with an experienced tour company can enhance your trip and provide you with unique experiences other travel companies just can’t offer. The caves at Mulu are an incredible piece of natural architecture, and travelers can release baby turtles to the sea on Selingan Island. If hiking Borneo is something you dream of, Borneo rainforest tours bring you into the heart of the enigmatic island on foot.

Second, determine the length of your stay, and compare it to your activities list. Decide whether you want to stay busy or keep a more relaxed schedule. The experts at Asia Transpacific Journeys can help you budget appropriate time for activities. Organizing your trip to Borneo with them will mean you’ll experience the Borneo you’ve always imagined.

Lastly, collect all necessary documentation well in advance of departure. Passports, and all immunization records for entry into and out of Borneo must be current. Local travel clinics can advise which shots and medications you need. Travel with copies of your shot records alongside your passport.

Start planning today and soon you’ll be confidently enjoying the wildlife and wonders of Borneo vacations!

Photo of the Week :: Asia Transpacific Journeys’ India Travel Contest

This week’s photo was taken by Lindy Mendelson.

“This female tiger walked within 30 feet of our vehicle during our morning safari [at Bandhavgarh National Park] right after we saw her two cubs playing together.” — Lindy Mendelson

Lindy Mendelson © Asia Transpacific Journeys

If you’ve captured that one-in-a-million shot on a recent trip to India then enter your photos in our “Share Your Experience – India Travel Photo Contest” and you could win an Apple iPad! (16 GB with Wi-Fi).

See all the other wonderful India travel photos that have been submitted on our Online Photo Contest Album.

Deadline for submission is July 31, 2010. Winners will be announced by August 31, 2010.

Recipe: Murg Awadhi Korma

Murg = Chicken

Awadhi = North Indian Region

Korma = Braised Meat in Thick Gravy

Korma traces it’s ancestry back to the Mughals. Although there are many variations, it is normally braised meat or veggies with yogurt and a mixture of spices incorporated to make a savory sauce.

Chef Sanjay Agarwal of the Taj Residency in Lucknow, India makes one of our favorite kormas in the world. If a trip to India isn’t in the cards for you right now, try his recipe at home:

Ingredients

  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) chicken
  • 100 gm (4 oz) ghee or clarified butter
  • 32 fl oz (4 cups) chicken broth
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 4-5 black cardamoms
  • 4-5 green cardamoms
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tbs coriander powder
  • 1.5 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz yogurt)
  • 100 gm (4 oz) cashews
  • 100 gm (4 oz) onions, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper powder
  • 2 sprigs fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped finely
  • 4 tsp cream for garnish
  • 4-5 almonds
  • salt to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut chicken into 8 pieces. Do not debone or skin the chicken.

Grind ginger and garlic into a fine paste.

In a heavy bottom pan or dutch oven, heat ghee, add whole garam masala (cloves, green and black cardamom, cinnamon), and until they crackle.

Add coriander powder, red chili powder, ginger-garlic paste and white pepper powder. Stir well.

Add chicken and sear at medium-high heat. When the chicken is seared, add 1 cup of chicken stock and deglace the pan (scrape any pieces of meat and spices that are stuck to the bottom of the pan and stir). Add the remaining chicken stock (chicken should be 1/2 submerged in stock). Cover and place in pan in the middle rack of the pre-heated oven. Cook until tender.

While chicken is cooking, fry onions and roast cashews in a little ghee until golden brown and grind into a fine paste.

Blanch almonds in hot water, remove skin, slice and toast them.

When the chicken is tender, remove from oven and skim the liquid to get rid of excess floating fat. Add the onion-cashew paste and yogurt. Be sure to let the chicken and cooking liquid cool slightly to keep yogurt from curdling.

Season and garnish with cream, chopped coriander leaves and roasted almond flakes.

Love more than Indian food? Perhaps you captured that one-in-a-million shot on your recent trip to India? Do your friends and family ooh and aah when you show them your best India travel photos? Then enter your photos in our “Share Your Experience – India Travel Photo Contestand you could win an Apple iPad! (16 GB with Wi-Fi).