Our Travel Inspiration, Jan. 20

Welcome back to Our Travel Inspiration. Please follow along with us each Monday for our carefully-curated selection of current Asia and travel-related news stories.

Panna Mia baori, Amber . Rajasthan
 

Share-worthy pieces on Asia this week:

Travel tidbits that caught our fancy:

We’d love to hear your feedback—please comment below. And please come back next Monday for more of Our Travel Inspiration!

Our Travel Inspiration, Dec. 2

We’re glad you’re back to join us for another week of Our Travel Inspiration. Please follow along with us each Monday for our carefully-curated selection of current Asia and travel-related news stories.

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Share-worthy pieces on Asia this week:

Travel tidbits that caught our fancy:

We’d love to hear your feedback—please comment below. And please come back next Monday for more of Our Travel Inspiration!

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

____________________________________________________________

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.

Travel to Thailand and Cambodia: Top 10 Things to Do

Here are a few of our favorite things to do in while traveling in Thailand and Cambodia.

10. Thailand: Interact with the locals in hill-tribe villages of the Yao, Akha, Chinese Haw, Lahu and Lisu.

9. Cambodia: Be one of the first to cross the newly opened border into southern Laos by boat and explore the pristine Ramsar wetlands.

8. Thailand: Learn to ride an elephant in Northern Thailand.

7. Cambodia: Travel by by boat from Phnom Penh to the Mekong Delta.

6. Thailand: Kayak through the caves of Phangnga Bay.

5. Cambodia: Enjoy cocktails at the studio of famous photographer John McDermott.

4. Thailand: Go on an exciting food tour of Bangkok.

3. Cambodia: Trek through the Virachey National Park.

2. Thailand: Stay in an exclusive luxury tented camp on the Thai-Burmese border.

1. Explore the Angkor complex by bicycle.

For more ideas for travel to Thailand and Cambodia, check out our website or call one of our travel specialists at 800-642-2742.

How Cuisine Influenced My Thailand and Vietnam Travels

By Stacey Schultz, Asia Transpacific Journeys’ Marketing Director

Much of my original fascination with Thailand and Vietnam travel started when living in San Francisco with such great access to a variety of Asian cuisines, most notably Thai, Vietnamese and Indian.

Within walking distance from my house in Noe Valley was Swatdee Thai. Swatdee translates to “hello” and the proprietor of the restaurant was one of the most welcoming restaurateurs you will ever meet.  During my visits there he taught me the basics of Thai culture, so when the time came to plan a Thailand and Vietnam vacation, I took my love of Asian food and canvassed the country in search of the best curry, pad thai, and pho.

Here is one of my favorite Thai recipes:
2 cups. coconut milk
1 cup crushed pineapple
2 tbsp. red curry paste
1/4 cup nampla (fish sauce)
1 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar
8 oz. raw shrimp

Combine all but shrimp and bring to a boil. Add shrimp and cook for 3 minutes. Serve over rice.

Do you love learning about and trying new cuisines? Have you always dreamed of an exotic tour through Southeast Asia? We’ve designed our Cuisine and Culture of Thailand and Vietnam tour for travelers like you.

This trip features an in-depth cultural immersion liberally spiced with culinary adventures such as cooking demonstrations, meetings with chefs, market shopping, preparing and sampling your own creations, and delectable cuisine at some of Asia’s best restaurants. To talk to a Thailand and Vietnam Travel Specialist, call us at 800-642-2742.

Mekong River Trip

One of the most majestic waterways in the world is the Mekong River. It begins on the Tibetan Plateau in China and flows to the coast of Vietnam, where its estuaries, the “nine dragons,” fan out to form a fertile delta that meets the South China Sea. The Mekong River is over 2,600 miles long, and supports an expansive river basin comparable to the Amazon River in its biological diversity. The beauty of the basin’s mysterious jungles, soaring mountain peaks, and countless species of wildlife will captivate you as you visit the Mekong River delta for your next travel destination.

As you explore the Mekong River, evidence of the alluring Southeast Asian culture abounds in the form of floating villages and markets, thriving shoreline cities, and stunning coastal architecture, such as the royal Four Rivers Palace in Phnom Penh. Journey by longboat as the river winds through the Laotian jungle, take a river cruise on the Mekong Delta, or opt for a longer, leisurely cruise between coastal cities of your choice, including the bustling capital cities of Vientiane, Laos, and Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Your group and custom travel options are limitless, and our expertise is unmatched.

Travel along the Mekong River is most enjoyable between November and February, when the river is full and navigable, the weather is mostly dry, and the temperatures are moderate. The Mekong River is a worthy destination for part of your journey or for an entire getaway.

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.

Dazzling, dizzying Chiang Mai, Thailand

The Los Angeles Times featured an article on modern architectural delights in the ancient city of Chiang Mai as reported by Susan Spano

“About 30 years ago, the gods of style looked down from design heaven on a town in central New Mexico. It was dusty and small, but they thought it had potential, so they nodded and turned it into Santa Fe…

They’re at it again in Chiang Mai, the old northern capital of Thailand, founded at 4 a.m. on the eighth day of the waxing moon in the month of Visakha and the Year of the Monkey, or 1296, a date dictated by Indian cosmology. More than 700 years later, a construction boom has given Chiang Mai some of the most stylish hotels and restaurants in Southeast Asia. Galleries and design stores have opened, showcasing a trove of textiles, ceramics, furniture, antiques and architectural salvage…

Builders have sought inspiration from the gilded temples and traditional teakwood houses. Designers and buyers come for the arts and crafts, which add an elegant Asian echo to contemporary minimalism…”

To read the complete article, visit LATimes.com

Visit our site for information on group travel to Thailand or creating a custom private trip to Thailand for just you and your family or friends.

A Staff Postcard from the Field: Mergui Archipelago

Mergui-1I am sitting atop the Mermaid 1, somewhere in the Andaman Sea along the Mergui archipelago, watching the sun set after another incredible day of snorkeling and beach walking. The late day sky looks like a watercolor in muted shades of pink and orange.

We were all up by 6 a.m. today and instead of the morning beach walk we all opted to snorkel before breakfast. The Zodiacs took us to a fabulous spot where the water was calm and so clear, it was truly amazing. This morning we saw beautiful fields of table coral and so many colorful fish. It was like swimming in an aquarium.

Every time I go in the water I see something new. This morning I saw the biggest puffer fish ever, just hanging on the bottom. It was nearly three feet long, light blue with dark spots. It seemed quite oblivious to all the masked creatures hovering over the little guy, us! There was a countless school of large parrot fish, so vibrantly colored, and every time they munched on the coral you could actually hear them dining. After about an hour and a half we came back to the Mermaid and had a fabulous breakfast, then on to more snorkeling and island discoveries.

We were recently on Lampi Island, which is rumored to have wild elephants inhabiting it. And while we did not see any elephants, we did see their relatively fresh scat, so the rumors are a reality!

We always saw various birds on our beach walks, from sea eagles to bramminy kites and collared kingfish, which are a brilliant turquoise blue. We also saw a multitude of reef heron on Steward Rock.

Another day in paradise!

Donna

View Donna’s photos at our Flickr site >>


Donna is our Controller and joined our World Wildlife Fund trip, Snorkeling Thailand and the Mergui Archipelago. This trip sells out fast every year. Our 2010 departure is set for February 28. Learn more at our site.

 

Southeast Asia, Off the Beaten Path

An article in Forbes Traveler by Don Willmott.

“Where can you experience authentic Southeast Asia without sharing it with busloads of other travelers?

The answer is simple: Find the places that fewer people know about. Throughout Southeast Asia, it’s easy to find viable alternatives to the wonderful but overcrowded destinations to which throngs of travelers typically flock.”

To read the entire Forbes Traveler article, visit ForbesTraveler.com


To learn more about travel to Southeast Asia, visit our site.