Tag Archives: cambodia

Asia with Avanti Destinations

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This is the time to book travel to Southeast Asia, for travel in November to March as the dry and temperate season rolls in, and the Chinese New Year seems to awake everyone up out of their wintry reverie.

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We’re excited to be working with Avanti Destinations as one of our reputable tour guides in Asia. Avanti makes it simple to book hotel, transport and tour packages with local guides, and their customizable itineraries just shave off the hassle of travel planning.

Let Willamette Intl Travel design Asian itinerary for you and your travel companions, complete with flights and a personalized package. Whether you need an affordable hotel package, or would like to build in some unique culinary or outdoor escapades, Avanti offers a hassle-free way to build it into your existing Asian itinerary.

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Want to leave it to the professionals? Avanti can take care of you from the moment you step off the plane to your last spectacular evening in Asia.

Or perhaps you like planning hotels on your own, but need a fun tour of downtown Ho Chi Minh and not sure where to start looking. Not sure how to make friends in the rice terraces of Sapa? Avanti’s got you covered:

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Thailand: Discover the “Land of Smiles” on the bustling streets of Bangkok, to the famous temples of Chiang Mai, to the achingly gorgeous beaches of Phuket.

China: As part of an Asian cruise, spend 1-3 nights post-cruise in Hong Kong exploring Kowloon. Or build in a stop at the ancient port city of Shanghai, now one of the most technologically advanced cosmopolises in the world.

Myanmar: Looking to explore the blooming country of Myanmar? Go back in time to a simpler Asia with Avanti’s Myanmar Essentials: Yangon, Bagan and Manadalay.

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Singapore: Explore Singapore Highlights, such as Kampong Glam, Chinatown, Majestic Gardens and Little India, experiencing a one-of-a-kind after dark wildlife safari adventure–on your way to connect to Bali.

Taiwan: Uncover the sleeping, hidden gems of Taiwan, its ornate temples, beautiful lakes and stays in the countryside.

River Cruises: Enjoy ancient waterways with a Mekong River Cruise, Halong Bay Cruise or Yangtze Upstream Cruise.

And Many More Destinations: Japan, Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, etc. 

Our Agents at Willamette Intl Travel can design your Asian adventure from start to finish. Call us 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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Filed under Asia, Avanti, Cambodia, China, Europe, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam

“The Quiet American” and Other Classics of Southeast Asia

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By Wailana Kalama

Bangkok overtook London last year as the world’s second most popular travel destination!

If you’re joining fellow travelers and heading to Southeast Asia, you’ll need some reading for the plane. Step into these books and understand just a little bit more about what makes this region tick.

Graham Greene, The Quiet American. Travel writer Pico Iyer has long proclaimed a long affinity with Greene: “who, almost in spite of himself, taught me and so many others how to move around the world and even how to hazard trust.” Greene’s most famous novel centers around the relationship between the cynical Brit, Fowler, and the idealist American, Pyle. This book is a fictional essay on the moral ambiguity of love and war, and the impossibility of neutrality. My Favorite Quote: “Innocence is a kind of insanity.”

Aung San Suu Kyi & Alan Clements, The Voice of Hope. An icon of peace and optimism in a corrupted society, Kyi rose to headlines when her country Myanmar opened its borders in 2010. This biography takes the reader directly into the heart of Myanmar and Kyi’s struggle, her optimism, and unfailing commitment to her beliefs. My Favorite Quote: “Saints are sinners who go on trying.”

The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear.

–Aung San Suu Kyi

George Orwell, Burmese Days. I always enjoy reading Orwell, ever-sensitive to the plights of common men. Drawing from his experience as a police officer in 1920s Burma, Orwell’s novel addresses bigotry, racism, and imperialism. My Favorite Quote: “There is nothing like an earthquake for drawing people together. One more tremor, or perhaps two, and they would have asked the butler to sit down at table with them.”

Marguerite Duras, The Lover. Believe it or not, but Duras’ The Lover was the subject of my bachelor’s thesis. A non-traditional spin on a time-honored story, this short book follows an adolescent French girl and her Chinese lover. It’s all about colonialism, feminine writing, marginalized people, and–if you believe my thesis abstract–a bit of Saïd’s Orientalism thrown in there as well. A chaotic, instinctual and dreamy read. My Favorite Quote: “Very early in my life it was too late.”

Read our earlier post on WIT Agent Nancy’s favorite books to take with you on a trip to Southeast Asia.

Heading to Southeast Asia in 2017? Give us a call! We have the know-how and the connections to land you a trip of a lifetime! call us at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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Textiles & Culture of Southeast Asia

We interrupt our two weeks in Iceland to exhibit this exclusive escorted tour in Southeast Asia!

Check out this Small Group Journey around Southeast Asia (max 2-10 Guests!!)

The journey takes you through the artistic and cultural heart of Vietnam – Cambodia, Laos – Thailand. You can book one leg or combine both!

Call your agent at Willamette Intl Travel at 503-224-0180 for more information or to start your adventure!

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 I. VIETNAM – CAMBODIA (September 4-16, 2014)

Hanoi – Sapa – Danang – Hoi An – Siem Reap

Our journey begins at the charming and vibrant capital city of Hanoi. Visit the Ethnology Museum, which will provide an illuminating introduction to the costumes and lifestyles of the 54 ethnic groups of Vietnam.

Visit Bat Trang village, the most ancient and famous Vietnamese pottery village that is still running and developing new pieces.

Discover the highland peoples of northern Vietnam by taking a train to Lao Cai and drive to Sapa for the valley of “Cat Cat” village – the settlement of a Black H’Mong ethnic group that still retains its unique customs and practices. We will have the opportunity to see and learn the process of indigo dyeing and hemp weaving. Visit “Ta Phin” village, where we will have an experience to learn the secrets and techniques of the amazing embroideries from the ladies of the Hmong and Red Dao minority groups.

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Spend time at the amazing Coc Ly market of local ethnic groups—the colorful Flower H’Mong, Dzao, Nung, PhuLa and take a soft trek to Ban Pho village, home of the Flower H’Mong. Take a scenic boat ride along the Chay River and stop at the village of the “Tay” people. We’ll travel to the charming city of Hoi An, a UNESCO heritage site.

Discover the art of ancient silk weaving techniques of the Cham folk in Quang Nam province, witness the full cycle of silk making from silkworms to dress, and learn the difference between natural silk and synthetic silk in this charming village located in the hub of Hoi An.

Flying from Danang to Siem Reap, we’ll visit the magnificent and unrivalled temple complex of Angkor Wat and the National Angkor Museum for an overview of Angkor history. Explore a variety of the textiles that are distinctive to Cambodia—ikat silks, known as chong kiet; the twill-patterned silks known as hol; and weft ikats, once recognized as the best in the world.

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II. LAOS – THAILAND (September 16-25, 2014)

Luang Prabang – Mekong River – Chiang Rai – Bangkok

Our adventure continues to ancient Luang Prabang, its beautiful temples, gorgeous textile galleries and one of the best craft night markets in Asia. As the centre of textiles in the region, we can explore age-old traditions and lifestyle, home grown materials used in textile and enjoy hand-crafted goods with a field day at the craft centre in Luang Prabang where the fascinating world of Lao Textiles come alive. Create your own silk textiles and discover the secrets of natural dyes when you learn how to weave with your own private teacher overlooking the mighty Mekong River. We have an opportunity to participate in the morning rituals of saffron-clad monks collecting alms for early risers—a unique Laos tradition.

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We take a cruise up the Mekong River to Pakbeng, stop at the mouth of the Nam Ou River to visit Pak Ou caves where thousands of Buddha images are found. Observe rural life in a Kamu village at Ban Houy Phalam along the Mekong River. Visit the Hmong and Lahu tribes. Get ready for a firsthand experience on how to make a Hmong batik handkerchief with Hmong ladies. Take a nature walk up to the Lahu hill tribe through plantations and corn fields scattered with small bamboo huts.

Visit Doi Tung, a site of major socio-environmental projects, the Mae Fah Luang Garden and the Royal Villa. We travel to the Golden Triangle on a long-tail boat for a cruise on the Mekong River down tot eh fishing village of Baan Had Krai. Our journey will end at Royal Bangkok, where we’ll visit the Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Kaew) built in 1782 by King Rama I.

Included—

–          Roundtrip airport transfers

–          Local English speaking guide in each city

–          Accommodations based on Twin/Double sharing

–          Daily buffet breakfast, most lunches and dinners

–          Daily tour sightseeing included, admission fees

Prices (approximate)

–          Land tour Vietnam – Cambodia $2428 per person

–          Land tour Laos – Thailand $2349 per person

–          Domestic Air ticket in Vietnam $125 per person

–          Domestic Air ticket in Thailand $145 per person

Prices are per person, based on double occupancy. Offers are subject to availability at time of booking. Prices do not include visa fee, taxes, fuel surcharges and airline baggage fees.

Agent Nancy has traveled to Southeast Asia multiple times, and would love to give you her firsthand account! Call us at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com for her scoop!

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Filed under Asia, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vendors, Vietnam

Nancy’s Reading List for Vietnam and Cambodia

Nancy has spent time exploring the wild countries of Vietnam and Cambodia. She’s come back with a fantastic reading list. Call her up for a chat on these destinations!

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 Andrea Warren. Escape from Saigon: How a Vietnam War Orphan Became an American Boy. Thetrueaccount of an orphan and his decades-long struggle with cultural identity.

Edited by Kim DePaul, Compiled by Dith Pran. Children of Cambodia’s Killing Fields. A must-read, hard-going memoirs from survivors. 

Jackie Brown. Little Cricket. The fictional story of the Hmong family, who flees North Vietnam to a refugee campin Thailand, then onward to America. Set in Laos and Minnesota in the 1970s.

Minfong Ho. The Stone Goddess. Another fictional account of the evacuation of Phnom Penh.

Richard Pyle and Horst Faas. Lost Over Laos: A True Story of Tragedy, Mystery, and Friendship. Thestory of four combat photographers who died 4 combat photographers who died in Indochina and the two journalists who kept their memory alive. I enjoyed this book.  After seeing the room dedicated
to the media at the War Remnants Museum, this gave me more detail on events.

David Lamb. Vietnam Now. I’ve read this 3 times.  It’s a timeline of the Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos.  It gives a great insight into what was happening in the 3 countries simultaneously—both in the military and politically.

David Lamb. Vietnam Now, a Report Returns. Excellent follow up to his first book. 

Francois Bizet. The Gate. I’ve read this twice.  The author was in Phom Penh when the Khmer Rouge took over. He was inside the French Embassy with a number of refugees—it was in “lock down” by the KR, who put pressure on the Embassy to release all Cambodians, etc. 

William J Duiker. Ho Chi Minh, a Life. Recommended to me while I was in Vietnam in 2004, I read this book before I returned in 2007.  Heavy going but I felt it was worth it.  I’d heard North Vietnam’s version and South Vietnam’s version, so to read a third party’s version was helpful.

 Jon Ortner. Angkor. Celestial Temples of the Khmer Empire. Photo essay with fabulous photos. Very detailed text of the history, with building plans and good maps.

Edward Gargan. The River’s Tale, a Year on the Mekong. A New York Times correspondent’s travel narrative that delves into the world around the Mekong and its people.

Stephen T. Asma. The Gods Drink Whiskey: Stumbling Toward Enlightenment in the Land of the Tattered Buddha. A spiritual travel narrative / memoir that follows the author’s search for Theravada Buddhism and modern Enlightenment in Cambodia. 

 Ed. Andy Brouwer and Kim Fay. To Cambodia with Love. The collaboration of fifty writers that contains personal essays on this vibrant, historically torn country.

Loung Ung. First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers. Biography/memoir.

Frances FitsGerald. Fire in the Lake. History of Vietnam from feudal times to Communism to the War.

Bill Hayton. Vietnam, Rising Dragon. An examination of social change and economy of Vietnam, in a historical and cultural context.

 Michael Herr. Dispatches. A war correspondent’s biography/memoir in Vietnam.

Tim O’Brien. The Things They Carried. Collection of stories about the daily life of a soldier in Vietnam

Andrew X. Pham. The Eaves of Heaven, a Life in Three Wars. A descriptive family memoir during the tumultuous 20th century in Vietnam—from the French occupation of Indochina, the Japanese invasion, and the Vietnam War.

John Balaban / Nguyen Qui Duc. Vietnam, A Traveler’s Literary Companion. Anthology of folktales, poetry, and essays from Vietnamese writers.

Kristin Kelly. The Extraordinary Museums of Southeast Asia. One of my fellow travelers had this book on our 2004 trip.  It seems to be out of print; Powells found a used copy for me. Fans of museums love this book.

Michael Buckley. Moon Handbooks Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. This is my personal favorite guidebook series.

Our agents Linda and Nancy have traveled Vietnam and Cambodia extensively. Call for more information about these stunning destinations at 800.821.0401 or email info@wittravel.com.

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