Postcard From Our Traveler: Our Trip of a Lifetime

Travel to Asia

Our trip has been incredible!  We are in Hong Kong now until 3/3, but we are
done with the whole part you helped plan.  And I want to tell you that
everything you said was true.  :-)

Having you/your company take care of all the arrangements was a major plus
factor, and as you had said, if we could afford it, it was well worth the
money.  This type of travel, flying from point to point with passport
controls, hotels, languages, etc. is very wearying, and we feel that the
reason it was less so was because we were met in each country.  This took
some of the foreignness out of the experience.

For us, having the cruise to break up the being on the move format was
delightful.  Of course, the sightseeing was superficial being in each place
such a short time, but we mostly like the ship life of having everything
there and easy.  We would have done better to have had you arrange for land
tours for us from the ship, as you suggested.  Many of them were silly
stopping at different factories, etc.

Here is a little feedback, which I think you would want, but honestly you
are hearing from some EXTREMELY satisfied clients.

The guides were excellent; they were all such nice people, friendly, and
eager to please.  The one in Myanmar, her name is Toe Khin Khin, was far and
away the best.  And having her fly with us to Bagan (our favorite place)
made things so easy.    She had lots  of information,  laughing and so much
fun to be with, sensitive about what her clients like to do, and the most
rare quality she has is fitting in with the exact mood that is called for.
For example, when we were in a temple and feeling spiritually connected or
watching a sunset, she laid back and just enjoyed that feeling with us.  She
pointed out special opportunities that we just lucked into:  seeing the
children’s novitiate procession in Bagan and also attending her coworker’s
wedding reception.

Hotels were beautiful.  One thing that amazes me is that none of them had
more than 2 dresser drawers for clothing.  We sometimes had an additional
little cabinet brought to the room.  Of course a cruise ship spoils us all,
since every nook and cranny is outfitted with more drawers and closets than
you could use.  The pool in Siem Reap was fabulous – gorgeous, huge, warm –
although the room was quite tiny.  The pool in Laos was not heated, and with
the 30 degree drop in temperature at night, it was unusable.  The charming
manager Eddie said they have a plan to heat the pool in the future.

Tom, the choice of places to go, how much time to spend in each place, the
sequence of when to go where — was just about perfect.  We appreciated your
info book encouraging clients to speak up and tell their guides what they
like to do best.  When Toe told us that our second day in Bagan was going to
be spent on a 3-hour drive each way to Mt. Popa, we said NO WAY.  We could
not tear ourselves away from the spiritual other-worldly experience of just
being amidst these pagodas.  So we stayed in the area and found marvelous
things to do.

Thank you so much for the work you put into making this a trip of a lifetime
for us.  We will never forget it and hope we have a chance to recommend you
to others in the future.

Kind regards,
Lenore & Peter,
New York, NY

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Lenore and Peter embarked on a custom Asia trip, discovering: Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and Singapore. Their custom itinerary was planned by Asia Travel Specialist, Tom Lastick. This was their first trip with Asia Transpacific Journeys.

A Postcard from Our Traveler: The Girl in the Picture

a composite photo I took that day of the church and Kim then and now

A composite photo I took that day of the church and Kim then and now - Danny K.

While in Vietnam we had an unexpected and amazing experience. Remember I am an ol’ hippie and draft dodger of the Vietnam War era. The famous Pulitzer Prize winning photo of a little girl running naked through the streets of her village after being showered with napalm has haunted me for decades, as it has many others. I’m sure you know the picture. She is called simply the “Girl in the Picture”. Well we got to spend the afternoon at her home with her family and learned all about what happened to her after that tragedy. Everyone in the house (me, MJ, and our guide) were in tears as we looked at albums and watched videos.  Her name is Kim Phuc and she now lives in Toronto, after defecting there in the early 90’s. If you happen to be interested you can google her. There are info and you tube videos there on her site. My guide had never been there. I just asked her to take me to Kim’s village of Trang Bang after our Cao Dai temple visit (Trang Bang was about an hour out of our way, an advantage of custom travel) and we just ended up in Kim’s home talking to her brother’s wife and  children. Her brother is in the photo in front of Kim. He was not burned.

She was burned over 50 percent of her body which has near a hundred percent mortality. The photographer who took the photo grabbed her and doused her with water then took her to the local clinic. The next day he went back to check on her and she was in the morgue. He promptly discovered that she was not dead and took her to a regional hospital where she was transferred to Saigon. She subsequently spent 18 months in the hospital and had 17 surgeries, many of them by a burn specialist from the Univ of Chicago. Many people took an interest in her and contributed to her ultimate survival and this is all chronicled on the video and how she has kept up with them over the years and vice versa.

After all this Kim decided she wanted to be a doctor but Vietnam had other ideas. The govt jerked her out of school to send her all over the country and world to talk about the American imperialists who did this to her. She obviously did not want to do this. In the early 90’s she landed in Toronto on one of these propaganda tours. She got off the plane and asked for asylum and was granted it. It took several years but eventually her mom was allowed to move to Canada and Kim met a Vietnamese gentleman and they were married and had 2 children. She went to the Univ of Chicago to lecture at the request of the burn surgeon and was the keynote speaker at a huge Veterans Day celebration in Wash DC at the Vietnam Memorial. It was here that she met the American pilot who had ordered the mission that dropped the bomb. The pilot who actually flew the mission dropped the bomb on the Cao Dai temple (where the children were hiding) by mistake. He was a South Vietnamese. Over the years she has met all of these people and made a lot of peace for herself and them. She is now a UNESCO spokesperson and is extremely gracious, lovely and articulate. The video showed a lot of this happening and you can imagine how moving it was.

You can google Kim Phuc if you are interested and see some You Tube videos about all this. They are short and not nearly as good as the one I saw which is black market. I would love to get a copy but I doubt that will ever happen. There is a book about all this called “The Girl In the Picture” which I bought and intend to read soon.

As you can imagine I have left much of the story out but this was one of those very special days which occasionally break up the monotony of life and really give it meaning. Kim’s story in complicated ways has helped me to deal with my own demons about the Vietnam War.

– Danny K.
Paris, TN

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This was Danny’s fourth trip with Asia Transpacific Journeys. On this trip, planned by Asia Travel Specialist, Tom Lastick, Danny explored Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Bhutan. To learn more about planning your trip to Asia, call 800-642-02742