Talk Travel Asia
Talk Travel Asia
About Talk Travel Asia
Those are the opening lines of Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir, a “musical and metaphorical drive toward some irresistible far-off horizon”. The song has long-enticed me with it’s melodic mysticism, and when former guest Dave Stamboulis told me that he’d, quote, “Just completed a rather wild journey to Kashmir and Ladakh,” I knew that we had to have him back on the show to tell us more about these spectacular areas of India, a country we’ve been eager to explore more on Talk Travel Asia.
When most people think of Asia, the countries that come to mind aren’t likely to be those we’re about to discuss today. Located in Western Asia, on the border of Eastern Europe, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan are countries most westerners are largely unfamiliar with at all. That's all the more reason to learn a bit about them, as each has unique cultures, history, and tourist attractions that make them fascinating destinations. Today, show co-host Scott Coates will share his experience traveling through these interesting West Asian nations.
A.I. - Artificial Intelligence. It’s almost the only thing anyone is talking about in some circles. AI seems to be everywhere nowadays and creative industry workers are panicking over being replaced. On the other end of the spectrum, those already using it to produce grant proposals or file TPS reports rave about AI’s efficiency and accuracy, saving them countless hours on otherwise tedious chores. But what about travel? Are AI travel agents, AI-generated travel guidebooks, and AI trip planners about to revolutionize travel? Or is this technology as far from replacing travel professionals as it from replacing movie stars: eventually, perhaps, but not quite yet. Today we’ll discuss AI and the travel industry.
Road trips are one of travel’s great forms of adventures. From the Griswald’s cross-country family vacation to Wally World to my own explorations of Eastern Cambodia to design tours for international visitors, the road trip is a time-honored tradition. Nowadays, one might imagine traveling by camper-van to Mexico or Central America, or even renting a car in the north of Japan and driving it south from island to island, but who would ever imagine taking a road trip by car from Myanmar to Holland? Well, our guest Edwin Briels did just that, and today he’s going to share how it all went down. Buckle up!
When we travel, many of us hope to experience an exotic culture or visit a spectacular natural attraction. Often these are chosen based on recommendations from family and friends or may be long-awaited bucket list destinations. Little do many of us know, however, that the United Nations has already selected more than 1000 such sites, hundreds of which are in Asia. These World Heritage Sites are some of the most impressive destinations on Earth, and we’ll discuss some today that you may wish to consider adding to your next Asian adventure.
Taiwan is a country? - is it..? Okay, let’s start again… Taiwan is a territory that traditionally has way less people traveling it than should do so. Sitting off the east coast of China, there are few spots hotter geopolitically that Taiwan. But what’s there? Are the people the same as those from mainland China? What’s the terrain like? Is it safe? Friendly? Food decent? Well, you can say ‘yes’ to all of those things but today we’re not only going to touch on Taiwan as a travel destination for the second time on this show, but focus on cycle its east coast. So, pour yourself a cup of Oolong tea, steam some dumplings and let’s dream of what was once known as Fermosa.
Suppose I told you that you were stranded on a deserted island? What’s the first thing you think of? Mine was, which island should it be? A random one in the south Pacific or a specific one I’ve long dreamt of returning to. Suppose you found a genie bottle there? What three wishes would you ask for? To be rescued, perhaps, or use one of the wishes to keep the island your secret hideaway. We’ve all had such thoughts, I hope – as Scott and I both have. Today, we thought it would be fun to pose such questions on an episode about Travel Fantasies and Future predictions.
When it comes to mammoth, legendary train journeys, the Trans-Siberian Railway is up there. Coming in at 9,289 kilometers, simply put, it’s the longest railway line in the world. Starting in Moscow, it chugs east to its terminus, Vladivostok, but has another interchange where it then forks south to Mongolia and continues to Beijing, ultimately linking two of the world’s great cities. So, nearly 180 episodes in to Talk Travel Asia, we’re going to finally talk about this epic journey, what’s entailed and hopefully give you enough background to either inspire or give you the idea that this journey is not for you. All aboard - here we go!
According to the History Channel, the Frisbee story started in 1871 when William Frisbie opened the Frisbie Pie Company. Students from Connecticut universities were soon throwing the tin pie plate to each other, yelling “Frisbie!” as they did so. In 1958, Wham-O (the company responsible for the Hula-Hoop, Super Ball and Water Wiggle) changed its name to the Frisbee disc (with two “ee”s at the end). By aggressively marketing Frisbee-playing as a new sport, Wham-O sold over 100 million discs by 1977. In 2023, while neither frisbee golf nor Ultimate frisbee have yet to become Olympic sports, both games played with frisbees are popular across the world, including in Asia, where our guest today will shed some light on the two sports, the itinerant character of many game players, and how you can make it a part of your trip to the region.
Vietnam is a fascinating country that continues to get busier by the year as more and more travelers become intrigued and visit this country on the move. With a coastline of more than 3,000km, a varied landscape, and incredible food, it’s hot on many levels. Two destinations in the middle of the country, Hoi An and Hue are mainstays of a full Vietnam travel experience and have been famous for decades. Scott recently visited and today we’ll dive into what a trip to these neighbouring cities has to offer and what you can expect.
Part 2 of our conversation with Jason Rolan - Sandwiched in between Thailand, Vietnam, China, and Cambodia, The Lao People’s Democratic Republic is one of SEA’s most lesser known tourist destinations. Landlocked, mostly mountainous, with rivers and waterfalls nearly everywhere in between, Laos is most famous for its natural beauty and friendly, laid-back locals.
Everyone poops. There’s a book about it. Here in Siem Reap, Cambodia, there’s a blog that will direct you to the best nearby public toilet (which, incidentally is the preferred English word for a bathroom in Asia). Most people don’t plan their holidays around their trips to the toilet, but the experience is undoubtedly, and not always pleasantly, an unavoidable experience on every trip to Asia. Today, we’re going to share some of our experiences, offer a few tips to help you navigate the water closets of Asia, and hopefully give you a good laugh in the process.
Sandwiched in between Thailand, Vietnam, China, and Cambodia, The Lao People’s Democratic Republic is one of SEA’s most lesser known tourist destinations. Landlocked, mostly mountainous, with rivers and waterfalls nearly everywhere in between, Laos is most famous for its natural beauty and friendly, laid-back locals. For those who may have heard a bit about it or have traveled there before, the mystical ancient capital of Luang Prabang or the rubber-tube river rafting party town of Vang Vieng spring to mind. But to those who listen to the show, you already know there’s so much more. We’ve covered a number of great destinations in Laos before, but today we’re going deeper, exploring Lesser Known Laos with Jason Rolan.
Part of the charm of Asia are the many cultures and along with those, the many, many festivals, which can add a very deep and rich dynamic element to your trip, whether you happen to stumble upon one, or make taking part in a festival a planned, key part of your trip. Today we’re going to share a few of the region’s key festivals, some which we’ve been to and some which we hope to one day witness.
Some people travel to relax, unwind, and forget about the trials and tribulations of everyday life; some travel to expand their knowledge of the world; and others travel to make a contribution to the destination, or at least maximize the positive impact of travel while minimizing the negative impacts on local cultures, the environment, and economy. We’ve touched on the topic of responsible tourism a number of times on the show; but today we’ll talk about Environmental Educational Tourism and the impact tourism and tourism revenue has on the local people, their environment, and the regional economy, particularly in Khao Sok, Thailand, where our guests, Marius Herman and Mike Horrocks are working to turn tourism into a beneficial experience for everyone involved.
Some people are drawn to the macabre. Others make a life of it. Such fascinations cross cultures but they’re rarely the same in any given destination. There’s a long history of various religions and spiritual beliefs across Asia, along with many cultures believing in ghosts and spirits, which can lend themselves to some spooky sites that tourists sometimes seek out. On this episode we’re going to share some of the region’s scary and out-there spots you can visit. Turn on the lights as this one’s bound to give you the heebie-jeebies.
In 2020, longtime listener Kristina Tague packed up and set off for Asia with the intention to live in the region. In January 2023, she came on Ep. 163 to talk about how that decision was made, where she journeyed to, and why she settled in the city she did: Bangkok. Since being on the show, she’s traveled across Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, exploring largely by motorcycle, which she purchased in Laos. Today, Kristina returns to the show to share her adventures.
One of the best features of traveling in Asia is the broad variety of transport options that exist. From private cars, to motorbikes, planes, trains, and of course buses – Asia is one of the easiest continents to get around. Buses play an integral role in most journeys, from getting to and from an airport, sightseeing within a city, or moving between cities and provinces, buses can be one of your fastest and most affordable options. On this episode, we’ll cultivate our many, many years traveling Asia by bus, share some memorable stories, tips, and hopefully help to ensure you use buses to their fullest on your next journey to the region.
Experiencing wildlife in Asia is one of the world's great natural adventures. Few countries can compete with Indonesia for its diversity of terrain, flora, and fauna that thrive on soaring volcanoes, sandy beaches, humid jungles, and everything in between. Today we’re going to chat with travel journalist and Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Mark Eveleigh, about what Indonesia has to offer those in search of wildlife and how to best approach this sort of trip.