Our Travel Inspiration, Feb. 10

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.

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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!

Our Travel Inspiration, Feb. 3

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.

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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!

Our Travel Inspiration, Jan. 27

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.

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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!

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!

Postcard From Our Traveler: A Guide Beyond the Ordinary

Zaw Zaw Aung, Myanmar guide extraordinaire

Zaw Zaw Aung, Myanmar guide extraordinaire

When we first discussed traveling to Myanmar, we stressed that the most important thing to us would be the quality of our guide. We wanted a guide who was knowledgeable about culture and history, who would be able to guide us through important historical and religious sites and also be our escort into authentic, remote tribal villages. We wanted a guide who could communicate well in English, and would be very good company.

In matching us with Zaw Zaw Aung, you gave us all we requested and much more. The time we spent in Myanmar was truly exceptional because of Zaw Zaw’s many skills, both professional and personal.

As a guide, Zaw Zaw knew where to take us and when to take us there to have the most rich and authentic cultural experiences. He found a Nat Festival and took us there. He found a celebration of young men from prominent families dressed as princes on horses and elephants prior to becoming monks and escorted us there. If we passed the home of the widow of an important tribal leader or some traditionally tattooed ladies or “long neck women,” Zaw Zaw arranged to have us welcomed into their homes. When there was an English class going on, Zaw Zaw arranged for us to meet with students and teach a class. Zaw Zaw knew what time to visit each place to see not only the sights themselves but also the local people and their customs. Zaw Zaw was knowledgeable about history and current events and offered us deep insights into his country.

In addition to being enriching and informative, time spent with Zaw Zaw was also heartwarming and fun. Zaw Zaw is one of the most open and caring people we have ever met. We invited him to join us for many meals because his company was so delightful that we didn’t want to part when the touring was done. He was kind enough to spend some of his well-deserved rest time visiting with us.

When we requested a change in our program, deciding to skip a visit to Kalaw and spend an extra day at Inle Lake, Zaw Zaw made sure the change in itinerary went smoothly. Every request we made during the trip was accommodated graciously and, what appeared to be, effortlessly (although clearly Zaw Zaw put much effort into making it seem so).

When either of us did not feel well, Zaw Zaw was compassionate and helpful, going above and beyond anything we would have expected to make us comfortable and at ease. He was very sensitive to our preferences, noting what we liked to eat, how we liked to pace ourselves, the kinds of experiences we liked to have, even that we liked to have cleaning wipes on hand wherever we went. Without us ever asking, he took care of all of those things. He was always generous with his time, connections, insights and resources.

We cannot thank you enough for finding us such a wonderful guide and person to spend our time with.

– Miriam & Robert

Miriam and Robert recently returned from a Custom Journey of Myanmar (Burma). Asia Travel Specialist, Chris Dunham, planned their itinerary. This was their first trip with Asia Transpacific Journeys.

Our Travel Inspiration, Jan. 13

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.

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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!

Our Travel Inspiration, Jan. 6

Happy New Year! Welcome back for the firsrt 2014 edition 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: The Power of a Tour Leader

I have no doubt you have heard this many times before, but we wanted to share our enthusiasm about our Tour Leader, Suzanne Noakes! We were greeted at the airport like this was her first group tour! She focused in on each individual’s special interests, was always available for extra bird walks, always had a sense of humor and always kept us fully informed about up-coming activities and all the extras that were added. She was a natural for special touches for special needs—she would say to the local guides, “SPEAK LOUDER, I am hard of hearing!” when in reality, it was my husband Bob who was hard of hearing.

She went out of her way to ensure the safety of all group members, especially on the walks on slippery mud paths—she was always right there to assist. She always made sure to do a personal re-introduction to the chief villagers, before we intruded on their territory, and it was obvious they loved her greetings. And, very best of all, she never rushed us out of any village visit. She gave us plenty of time to explore on our own. We felt the itinerary was an ideal mixture of destinations and cultures and to end up in Tufi was spectacular. We are so glad to have had the extra days—the snorkeling was awesome!

One of Suzanne’s comments really stuck with us. When a bridge was destroyed on our way to the airport in Mt. Hagen, in no time at all, she had a Plan B. We knew we were in good hands when she said “leave the worrying and stress to me—thats what you are paying for!” LOL! Suzanne made the trip exceed our expectations! Thanks so much for this adventure of a lifetime!

– Sue and Bob

Suzanne & the Huli

Sue and Bob embarked on our Small Group Tour Papua New Guinea: Island in the Clouds – Tumbuna
 with a Custom Extension to Tufi to relax and explore the beautiful coastal environment. Asia Travel Specialist, Tom Lastick, planned their itinerary. This was their first trip with Asia Transpacific Journeys.

Postcard From Our Traveler: Exploring Borneo’s Jungles and Seas

One of the highlights of our Borneo tour was the time we spent snorkeling near Mabul Island. Mabul Water Bungalows’ guide, Jovi, took the two of us to the leeside of Sipadan Island, off the southeast shore of Sabah, Borneo, to snorkel among the rich marine life. While exploring the coral we saw what looked like a grey wall in the water. As we approached, the wall resolved into a school of Jacks—maybe a thousand of them, swimming in a lazy gyre twenty feet tall.  We joined in and swam with them—they were perfectly willing to let us join the ranks of their silver circle.

Thanks!

– Catherine

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During our trip to Borneo, one of the most unique experiences was when our Tour Leader, Barry Davies, our Borneo Rainforest Lodge guide, Theodore, and the two of us walked up the Coffin Trail overlooking Borneo’s Danum Valley.  On the way up, we found a pristine Bridal-veil Mushroom. At the time, a large black-tailed butterfly was feeding on the top of it. This mushroom spreads its spores the way flowers spread their pollen—not on the wind, but on the wings of their insect visitors. We passed it again on the way back down the trail but by then it was already starting to collapse.

Thanks!

– Steve

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Catherine and Steve embarked on our Small Group Borneo Tour The Wild Jungles of Borneo with a Custom Extension to Mabul Island to partake of the region’s fabulous snorkeling. Asia Travel Specialist, Pat O’Connell, planned their itinerary. This was their second trip with Asia Transpacific Journeys.

Postcard From Our Traveler: A fabulous time in Myanmar

First, your itinerary was well-crafted to allow us to see as much as possible in the available time. We could tell that you had given considerate thought to maximizing our experience in Myanmar. I realize that there is always more one can see and that there were important sites that time and weather precluded our visiting. Nevertheless, we felt that we had a varied and comprehensive experience.

Secondly, we want to let you know that our guide, May, was wonderful. We have been on many trips and have had a number of good guides and others over the years. May is the best we’ve had in part because we didn’t feel as if we were just another pair of tourists to squire around. She made an effort to determine what we were interested in accomplishing (seeing the country, talking to and learning about the people and understanding the culture as well as using all the available time productively) and then working hard to make this happen. For example, she took us to umbrella factories, boat yards, tiny villages, school visits, medical clinics, orphanages, gold pounders, silver smiths, paper makers, palm sugar/moonshine factories, lotus thread weavers, private homes to name just a few extras. She even bought a decorated birthday cake for Adele. Most days we included several events which weren’t on the official itinerary. This was precisely the type of trip for which I was looking. We had many laughs with her and our drivers and were made to feel like part of the family.

Thanks again, Bill & Family

Bill and Adele embarked on a custom Asia trip, discovering Myanmar. Their custom itinerary was planned by Asia Travel Specialist, Tom Lastick. This was their first trip with Asia Transpacific Journeys.

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