Tag Archives: escorted tours

Rice Pudding with Caravan-Serai

Happy December! It’s that time of year again: each winter, our friends at Caravan-Serai publish a series of Middle Eastern recipes guaranteed to delight! Try this specialty, Roz bil Halib, or Rice Pudding with Pistachios.


Most cultures have some form of rice pudding. What makes this particular dish different is the addition of pistachios and rose or orange blossom water. There are two versions here – try them both this holiday season. This is a dish to make in advance.


  • 6 cups milk (low-fat or whole)
  •  1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  •  1 cup short-grain rice
  •  1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  •  1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  1/2 cup dried apricot, chopped
  •  1 – 2 teaspoon lemon zest, minced
  •  2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
  •  1/2 cup pistachios, chopped


  1. In a saucepan, combine milk, condensed milk & rice & bring to boil over medium heat.
  2.  Reduce heat to maintain a low simmer & cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
  3.  Add cardamom, vanilla & 2/3 of the apricots, & cook until rice is tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in zest & cream, if using it.
  5. Garnish with pistachios & the remaining apricots, & serve warm or cold.

If serving cold, press parchment/baking paper directly onto surface of pudding to prevent a skin from forming, & chill at least 3-4 hours (or overnight if desired).

Caravan Serai is a Seattle-based company that specializes in small-group escorted tours to destinations in the Arab World such as Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco. Expert guides escort guests through fun-filled and tasty itineraries, valuing comfort and safety all the while trekking across ancient paths and historical ruins. Thematic tours are occasionally offered, like the Persian Gardens of Iran, yachting in Turkey, or desert trekking in Morocco. Read more about them here: https://wittravel.wordpress.com/2012/05/30/vendor-of-the-month-caravan-serai/

For a great firsthand report from one of our client’s tours to Iran, check out the link: http://www.wittravel.com/reports/Iran_April08.pdf

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Filed under Caravan Serai, Middle East, Vendors

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!


 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.


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.


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.


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.


–          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!


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

Takayama Grand Tour

Looking for an escorted tour that will introduce you to the beautiful and diverse country of Japan?

Look no further than the Takayama Grand Tour!

This tour is 11 nights and takes you on a fun-filled tour via bullet train, bus, ship and cable car from the islands of Shikoku and Kyushu to the hidden mountain villages of Honshu.

At $4098 per person (based on double occupancy)–That’s just 372 per night.

Visit Takayama during one of the most beautiful festivals of Japan, when the town erupts in traditional dance and music, costume performances, during the 9th and 10th of October.

The tour will also visit: Himeji Castle, Hiroshima Peace Park, Nagasaki, Naruto Whirlpools, Kyoto, Kinkakuji Temple, Gion Geisha District, Mt. Fuji, Tokyo and many more destinations.

Call us to book your tour now! We can arrange air as well. 503-224-0180 or info@wittravel.com for more information.

taka1 Fine print: Package prices are per person, based on double occupancy. Single supplement and triple discounts will cause per person prices to fluctuate. Prices are subject to change without prior notice. Cancellation penalties and other conditions or restrictions may apply.

Don’t have 11 Nights? Check out these other options: tala2

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Filed under Asia, Japan