Those Who Went Before: Guest Comments
Thanks for the trip. I know we are paying clients, but we appreciate the effort you gave in creating laughter, and beautiful experiences for our family. There is a great scene in the movie "Meet Joe Black" when a dying woman tells Brad Pitt that she sees the beautiful memories of her life as a series of photographs with her family. Thank you and your staff for creating the latest set of beautiful memories for us.
With fondness, and affection,
Randy, Judy and Jackie
Happy New Year April!
I hope you had a wonderful holiday in California. Thanks to you and all the others at Journeys Within we had a fantastic holiday.
From start to finish, we enjoyed every minute of our tour of Cambodia. We can not thank your tour company team, as well as the Journeys Within hotel staff enough, such wonderful people and representatives of Cambodia.
We really felt that we learned about the Cambodian people, their culture and their shared history. The temples are of course, breath-taking, but it was our time with each of the guides that made our trip special. Learning about their childhoods, their families, and their plans for the future was fascinating and an experience we will not forget. Many, many thanks for their willingess to share with us...Sambath, Santhou and Seethou (sp?)
We are heading to Borabudur for Chinese New Year and wishing their was a Journeys Within Tours and hotel in Indonesia :) Our following trip will be in May and we are considering a few places, one of them being Chiang Mai. If we go that route, or any others in your area of expertise, we will be in touch to ask for your assistance once again!
Again, Aw Kohn Aw Kohn (we learned at least a few words in Khmer)!!!
PS - Please feel free to share my email with all of those involved with our trip as I would like to be sure to extend our gratitude to everyone.
Anna, April, and Heather,
Amy and I had a wonderful time on our trip. Journeys Within was great and all of our travel plans were as smooth as silk. We loved our hotels and our guides. It was a great experience all around. Thanks for a great time!
We are home from our wonderful cruise and are trying to get organized. I am missing Asia!
Thank you so much for arranging our trip to Cambodia in April. Everything was perfect, from the pick-up at the ship in Saigon, to the return to the ship in Bangkok. We loved your beautiful and peaceful hotel and were happy to be away from the crowds downtown. It was Lunar New Year plus there were thousands of red-shirt people from Thailand there for the weekend, so there were big crowds everywhere.
Our guides were wonderful, knowledgeable and friendly. The weather was very hot but we were able to enjoy the temples and the scenery anyway.
Thank you for our oasis of calm. We have such happy and beautiful memories of Cambodia.
I'm sure Teddy will agree with me on this - it was one of the best trips we've been on. Loved the schedule you planned out for us. It had the perfect combination of activities and down time. Also, we truly enjoyed the activities where we got to interact with the locals, gave us better understanding of the culture. I'll definitely fill out the questionnaire. Thanks again!
I just wanted to follow up from the evaluations we did on the trip and give you some general comments. It was a fabulous, fabulous trip. I am still thinking about how wonderful the people were in Myanmar. Our hotels were all good...even the funky one at Pindaya. I enjoyed the quiet...Bob was sick by then but he made a quick recovery the next day. We also really liked the Mekong River View Hotel in Luang Prabang. The manager was delightful as was his staff. We met many of the other guests at his little wine party.
The guides in Yangon (Simon) and Bagon (Win Bo) were the best. I know I mentioned Win Bo in my evaluation. He was such an interesting young man. Bob and I enjoyed our time with him particularly and would seek him out if we ever go back to Bagon.
What else? I was not a big fan of the food we had in Myanmar until I got to Pindaya where there was less grease. I am sure there is really good food to be had...and we did have some good meals....but most were very similar and just so so. This may not be a valid criticism, however, since I have found as I get older, I don't need as much food. We were fed three times a day and that may have been more of the issue. I need to keep this in mind for future trips and maybe request that we only get two meals a day.
People keep asking me my favorite part of the trip. I always say Bagon but Inle was right in there. Mandalay...not so much. I have to laugh though...the best part of the trip really was the journey up to the Golden Rock. It far exceeded the "Rock" itself. If you haven't been, I highly recommend it.
Hope all is well. Thanks so much for your efforts and making this trip a big success. We will be in touch. I am thinking of returning to Indonesia in the next few years and hope you can do something there. Best to you and your family and please pass along my appreciation to your staff in Truckee and in Luang Prabang.
Janet & Bob
Well we have landed back home late last night back to work today!!
Thank you very much for sorting out our amazing holiday we have had a great time and would Love to come back one day and do/see some more of the country.
The whole trip has been great, and I'm looking forward to looking through all the pictures.
I would defiantly recommend you to anyone.
Thank You Again.
Thank you all for a magical trip to Laos. From the moment I landed, all went smooth as silk. Kwong was terrific and every place I stayed was superb. The style of travel fit me like a well-worn glove. The mixture of culture, everyday living, the temples and pagodas, and country side was wonderful. My visit to the school with Nicole was a highlight; I loved the interaction with the kids.
As you know, I went on to Cambodia and Viet Nam under the planning of another agency. That trip was good but was no comparison to yours. I wish I had heard of you before so that Journeys Within could have planned the whole trip. Thank you so much. I have sent in my survey and would like more info on sponsoring a student and other opportunities.
One more thing, there was a mix up just as I was leaving. A flight was scheduled for me from Lao to Sai Gon, but I had intended to go to Ha Noi, it was my fault, but when I called Kate at the last minute and sure enough the problem got handled smoothly and I received the flight change when I arrived in Lao. I am sorry for the last minute confusion and thanks for fixing it!Kristan Otto
November 29, 2011
Southeast Asia: Reflections on a Trip Arranged by Journeys Within
First, we want to thank Journeys Within for customizing our trip to Southeast Asia. It was a pleasure to work with Andrea and Kate Tyler in the Journeys Within California office throughout the planning process. It's not often that one is able to talk on the telephone with the owner of the travel company! Even though Journeys Within is headquartered in Siem Reap, Cambodia, I especially like the fact that there is an office in the United States. When questions arise or little details need attention, it is very nice to pick up the phone and talk to a real person who can respond with accurate and real-time information.
We became interested in Journeys Within after first learning about the company from a Conde Nast Magazine article. Not only was it noted as being one of the top travel companies for customizing Southeast Asia trips, it had the additional distinction of being culturally sensitive and socially conscious. This was evident throughout our trip in Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. However, it was only after our time spent at the Journey's Within Bed and Breakfast in Siem Reap that we fully understood the humanitarian dimensions of Journeys Within founders and co-owners Brandon and Andrea Ross. While not specifically linked to the travel company, an independent philanthropic offshoot of the travel company known as Journeys Within Our Community (JWOC) provides projects such as community banking featuring microloans, language schools, university scholarship programs and clean water projects. These efforts are designed to assist and empower the Cambodians to improve their lives and futures.
The ostensible purpose of going to Siem Reap is to visit the Angkor Wat complex of temples. This magnificent group of ancient structures is surely one of the wonders of the world. Yet, our time spent in Siem Reap was also highlighted by our visit to the home of our guide located in a small, simple village outside of Siem Reap and an afternoon spent helping to teach English to a class of young Cambodians in the JWOC program. This blending of traditional tourist sites with the more personal and intimate experiences of interacting with the local populations was a hallmark of our trip. Although a tourist cannot begin to “know” the people or develop a very meaningful understanding of the culture of a country or area in a few short days, the personal interactions arranged by Journeys Within provide valuable insights that cannot be gained from off-the-rack group tours. Eating a meal in the home of a local, interacting with the family around the dinner table and enjoying rice wine or beer with the hosts is a priceless experience.
Journeys Within provided us with exactly the kind of trip we sought. During our several days in Myanmar we traveled with another couple in a group of four. When they returned to the States we continued on to Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. The entire trip unfolded flawlessly. We had many flights and airport transfers during our six-week trip. Our guides and drivers were always there. They helped us navigate the airports and on at least two occasions helped us through the visa-on-arrival process. While in Bagan, Myanmar, we experienced a night of heavy rain with morning flash floods and much standing water. The hotel personnel and our guide and driver worked together to arrange for a large truck to ferry us across a swollen stream. Then they carried our luggage as we walked barefoot through ankle deep water to get to our van. We made our flight to Mandalay with only minutes to spare! This sort of service was typical throughout our trip.
We cannot emphasize enough how much we enjoyed the combination of seeing important tourist sites and visiting small villages and meeting local people. Additionally, our tour included a number of visits to handicraft and artisans' shops. We found the demonstrations to be uniformly interesting – and best of all, there was never any pressure to buy. Without Journeys Within's connections and knowledge of the countries we visited, we would not have been able to meet and be hosted for dinner at the home of Mr. Nam, a former Viet Cong soldier and tunnel master at Cu Chi. Nor would we have been able to join Mr. Sisouphanh, the former village chief of Pak Ou, Laos for lunch at his house. Similarly, we would not have been able to visit and talk to the inhabitants of a Hmong village in Laos without the good will of our Hmong guide. This particular stop was not on our itinerary, but we asked if we could go to the village and it was no problem. The ability to be spontaneous and impulsive is unique to Journeys Within. In fact, it seems as if the itinerary is a road map of things to see and do, but we could work with our guides to revise our plans on an impromptu basis.
We will not attempt to list the highlights of our trip, as there would be too many. It seemed as if every new stop was the new, “This is the best yet!” Our hotels were so interesting and charming that we got to the point that we excitedly looked forward to the next hotel, wondering what it would look like. The selection of restaurants was also a high point for us. The food was remarkable and mealtime became one of our favorite events of the day.
As previously mentioned, there were too many trip highlights to list them all, but we would be remiss in our recollections of our Southeast Asian trip if we did not mention the four days we stayed at Journeys Within Bed and Breakfast in Siem Reap. At this point in our trip we were tired and needed some rest time. Upon arrival, we were collected at the airport on time – as usual – and transferred to the Bed and Breakfast. When we drove through the gates of the property we immediately began to relax. The warmth and friendliness of the staff were perceptible. We met Andrea and her daughter – and later Brandon – for the first time as well as some young Cambodian staff members. We were shown to our bright and pleasant room overlooking the swimming pool, and in a very casual and trusting manner I was loaned a laptop computer to use during our time there. The hospitality was such that there was almost a feeling of visiting friends in their private home. We were able to order breakfast and eat in our room, on the veranda, in the outside dining area or in the lounge area. Lunch and dinner were made to order and one could eat at almost any time desired. It was fun to interact with the young Cambodians who were learning English and receiving excellent training in the hospitality industry, hotel management and tourism. Our tours of Angkor Wat, Siem Reap and the local countryside were superb, yet it was very entertaining just to hang around the Bed and Breakfast property, enjoying time with other travelers, the staff and Andrea and Brandon. Of course, the swimming pool was a wonderful place to cool off, relax and do some reading.
In a heartbeat, we would recommend Journeys Within to any traveler wanting to explore Southeast Asia. This is the world of Journeys Within, and they know it well. It is a professional, accommodating and well run travel company. The guides are courteous, helpful and well trained, and the company's character and ethic are apparent in their conduct. We have traveled widely and often, but our Trip with Journeys Within will remain as one of our best trips ever. As a travel company that always wants to improve, I realize that you would like some constructive criticism instead of just superlatives. Our trip, however, was so close to perfect that I really don't have anything to offer. To use an over-used phrase, it was the trip of a lifetime!
Bobbie Fletcher & William Noland
November 25, 2011
Just a quick note to tell you that we had an absolutely fantastic trip in Thailand. We especially loved all the hotels and the guides, but really especially Bee in Bangkok (please let her know that as I told her – she was indeed the best tour guide of our whole trip including Myanmar and the kids kept asking for Bee……….) ; )
Thank you for planning a great trip for us. We will recommend you to others.
I attach a picture of us on our first day in Bangkok : )
Thank you again…
Andrea & Kate ~
I just wanted to send you a quick note to say “Thank you” for a wonderfully memorable trip to Cambodia.
We loved our hotels. We really appreciated our guides and drivers. We value Journeys Within and know we plan to utilize your services again when we return. Thanks for a wonderful experience. I wrote each of your guides personally and included links to our albums on Facebook. I hope they were able to view them as they informed us that Cambodia has some internet restrictions.
We wish you success in all of your philanthropic endeavors.
Journeys Within provided us with the travel experience of a lifetime. Our trip was full of contrast—adventure, wonder, relaxation, history, emotion, excitement, connection with new cultures and people. Journeys Within is not just another tour company. They take the work out of traveling. We loved the quiet of their B & B in Siem Reap and were spoiled by the care and service their staff provided. We traveled with another couple and we are still speaking which attest to how stress free and enjoyable our trip was.
I just wanted to write to thank you for publishing your list of top travel specialists. I've used your recommended agents for two trips – one to Argentina and Chile two years ago, and most recently for a 3 week visit to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
My husband and I just returned from a FLAWLESS vacation. Nothing went wrong, absolutely nothing. I attribute that to the skill of the agents we used at Journeys Within (and maybe the weather gods). They were responsive, knowledgeable, and friendly during the planning process, and their employees in SE Asia (guides, drivers, hotel workers, etc.) were all you could ask for from a local contact. They were prompt, friendly, experienced, informed and flexible to our needs.
I wasn't sure what to expect on this trip since I've never been to SE Asia before, but it was absolute perfection due to the staff at Journeys Within.
A fan for life,
Have written a little review as requested. It also gives me a quick opportunity to thank everyone at Journeys Within for making our honeymoon trip such a memorable one.
The only issue that we had during our entire trip was filling out your “Satisfaction Survey” forms, specifically the part where you want people to let you know about any issues we had with any part of our trip. As much as I wanted to help out in pointing any ways that we thought you could improve your service, there was really nothing that we could dream up. The whole service from start to finish was superb.
We are not normally people who have our tours organised as we like to do it ourselves but you guys have been fantastic. There are so many things that we loved about Journeys Within that I won't bore you with them all now but I just want to mention a few:
- Your staff are amazing, from yourselves, Narla and the rest of the guys on the front desk, the girls serving breakfast and cleaning the rooms to the people working at JWOC. I have never seen more friendly, enthusiastic and helpful people anywhere.
- The B&B was such a great place to come back to and relax after a crazy day out with the rest of the Xmas tourists at the temples. The rooms, garden and pool have been so tastefully done and the service you provide is exceptional.
- The tour was superbly organised, almost completely stress free and the guides that you supplied us with were absolute legends - Chiev in Siem Reap & Thien in Hanoi. Both were really knowledgeable, flexible, efficient and happy to answer any silly questions that we threw at them.
- Although we only had a glimpse of what you do at JWOC, it is a truly inspirational organisation and a credit to everyone who works there what you have achieved there in the last 5 years or so. It will certainly give us something to think about on our return to Switzerland and we wish you all the best and continued success for JWOC in the future
Just a last note to thank you all for making our trip such a memorable one, we will have no hesitation in recommending you to any friends or family planning on visiting SE Asia in the future.
All the best
Dominic & Axelle
We had such a great time interacting with the kids during the JWOC art class. We felt as though this opportunity allowed us to step beyond our role as tourists and spectators and immerse ourselves in the reality of Cambodia, if only for a short while.
Lauren & Thomas
This was the best holiday we've ever had. JW, the staff, community, culture, sights, food, etc, were wonderful. We intend to return.
Gina & Spencer
We have always planned trips ourselves in the past but are so glad we used your company this time. The guides have been great, and some of the activities could not have been planned on our own. Really a first class trip.
Mandy & Craig
Paradise is how our 11 year old son described Journeys Within.
Stephen & Angela
We had a wonderful trip, really enjoyed the chance to meet you and Brandon, and admire your commitment to the local communities. Keep up the good work, we will recommend you to our friends.
Adriana & Juan
Steve and I have travelled extensively world-wide but never to SE Asia and we rarely rely on agencies. I put feelers out for organizations within the US as well as in this region of the world. From the first conversation with Andrea of Journeys Within there was an immediate connection, a comfort level in terms of their knowledge, warmth, experience, listening skills, suggestions and their patience for answering all of my many and on-going questions. Being a curious and detail-oriented person I was constantly finding areas and events that i just “had to see” and would ask another question. Realizing that time and money was somewhat of a factor Andrea was a magician and always was able to make it all happen. Their humanitarian goals, through Journeys Within Our Community, in a country that has so many needs, was also a large part of why we chose them.
Through the many conversations we had they were able to focus on our main interests (photography, seeing the cultures of each country by viewing the people within their daily life in rural villages that many times showcased their handicrafts, the Buddhist religion and seeing the monks in their saffron robes) and created an extensive itinerary with memorable experiences. We don't go on tours that include large groups of people and so love being able to go off the beaten track on our own with just a guide and driver. Their guides are exceptional, both knowledgeable and so proud of their country and wanting to share it with us. They were all very astute as to what would give us the best experience.
There were numerous instances where unplanned additions were spontaneously added to our day. For example, we remember getting up at 4 AM in Siem Reap because our guide, Sima, had a special relationship with the abbot in one one the wats and knew that we would enjoy seeing the monks meditate. We ran across fields in Angkor Wat and up steep stairs to listen to monks chanting. Throughout, our guides also knew the best vantage points for us to get that “perfect” photograph. We, also, laughingly remember getting out of our car on the way to the ferry in order to cross the Mekong to view the floating markets at Cai Be and Cai Rang and our guide, Kha, arranging for each of us to hop on the back of a motor bike in order to to whiz along and circumvent the 7 km backup which would have taken hours. We definitely appreciated his problem-solving skills. The challenge of successfully crossing the streets in Hanoi and Saigon amid the cacophony of horns and disregard for the traffic lights was masterfully taught and we took great pleasure when we were able to do this on our own. Obviously, we are alive to tell the tale!
If we had to single out (an impossiblity) our favorite places one would have to be the idyllic Luang Prabang, a totally unspoiled area of Laos. Another would be Hoi An, in Vietnam, and it's beautiful walking areas along the Perfume River and throughout the village. Getting up at 5 AM and watching the fishing boats come in and the markets being set up was amazing. When we took the overnight Victoria Express train in our private berth from Hanoi to get to the Sunday Bac Ha market north of Sapa we felt as if we were in a foreign film. The market was an experience in itself that was extraordinary. Seeing the ethnic minority tribes come together in their colorful attire where each group is easily identified put my head on a swivel. My camera continually snapped away. There was so much to see. I think I bought Steve a water buffalo for his birthday! Everything imaginable was sold there.
One very important highlight was the time we spent with Journeys Within Our Community (JWOC) and learning about and from them. It happened to be Valentine's Day and about 130 children wandered in, first carefully washing their hands, to take part in an arts and crafts project of making heart baskets using paper plates. We were privileged to be able to participate and help. Although we could not verbally communicate, our faces and bodies spoke volumes and we all got along so well. Each child left with a basket to bring home, a smile and an orang e to eat. JWOC focuses on basic needs such as clean water, education, health and many other community-based issues. There is even a program that they started in the local prison where the women are taught how to use a sewing machine and make clothing. This will enable them, upon their release, to be productive and contributing members of their community. By breaking this cycle of poverty and building self-esteem by giving them the tools to enrich their lives by making them independent bodes well for their future, their children's future, and ultimately, the future of their country. We plan on being a contributing part of making this part of the world and it's people a better place via JWOC.
Journeys Within provided us with a trip of a lifetime!
Edna & Steve Kornberg
Irvington, New York
We are back from our wonderful holiday, and as promised, here is my feed-back!
First of all, thanks again for helping us with all the details of this trip and for putting together the itinerary. Great job!
2 nights and one full day was just right for Phnom Penh. Mr. Narith did a great job, and was very friendly and helpful. Amanjaya Hotel was great and we really enjoyed the location, the room and their wonderful breakfast.
We loved Friends Restaurant and had dinner there our first night, as well as lunch the next day. The food was delicious.
A highlight for us, while at the Tuol Sleng (S-21) Prison in Phnom Penh was meeting one of the 7 survivors, Chum Mey, and having a conversation through Mr. Narith, who interpreted for us. It was outstanding to have this time with him (we ended up missing the movie, but this was better!) to hear of his experiences.
The next day was our trip on the river to Siem Reap: at first while waiting near the dock, I was worried about feeling claustrophobic, not knowing it would be an enclosed boat - but once we started moving and half the young people (ha - those under 30!) went on top of the boat, then it thinned out inside and there was room to stretch a bit. Plus the air conditioning started blowing cool air and I was able to relax and I really enjoy the trip.
Siem Reap: 4 nights was about right - we saw the highlights and also had some time to relax. If I had to do it again, I probably would schedule a 5th night, for a bit more relaxing! Journeys-Within B & B was ideal - I was sorry to leave!
The level of hospitality was first-rate, everyone was so nice and friendly. Narla and all the other personnel, behind the counter and also serving our meals, cleaning, etc. - all were so helpful and hospitable. I can't say enough good things about them.
Mr. Sina, our guide, was outstanding. What an intelligent, friendly, helpful person - I felt immediately relaxed with him and knew we were in good hands. Touring the temples was amazing, and the structures are just mind-blowing. I'm so glad we had Mr. Sina to guide us to just the right spots and help us understand what we were seeing. Our driver, Chanrith (not sure I'm remembering the spelling correctly, sorry) was also great. Very friendly and helpful and I really appreciated his easy-going manner.
I really wasn't sure what to expect when we visited the village with Sothy - I think I had in my mind some sort of Williamsburg, Virginia experience - you know, an artificially re-produced little town. I'm not sure where that image came from - because what we experienced was real, down to earth, and very worth-while. Sothy was a great guide and gave us a peek into how day to day life is for people in a small village. I'm really glad we included this side-trip in our itinerary. Thanks, April.
On to Luang Prabang, Laos:
Mr. Somphone (Phone) was an excellent guide. His careful notice of each detail was so nice. Obviously he takes great pride in his country, and it shows. I really appreciated seeing life in the villages of Northern Laos. Our experiences at the whiskey-making operation, having lunch at the village Chief's home, and observing the weavers at their cooperative - all were very interesting and enjoyable. Phone's careful explanation of all we saw was wonderful.
A highlight of our stay was the trip to the waterfall - it was a beautiful walk and really a lovely time. The picnic that Phone had for us to share was delicious. Again, his attention to detail was very much appreciated. Right down to the JoMa cookies!
Another highlight - our time with Nicole and the scholarship students at the school. Nicole had a great packet of info for us to review a day before, and she had a complete schedule lined up, which was so helpful. Both Jesse and I helped with segments of the teaching time and it was fun! Lunch afterward by the Mekong River with Nicole, her assistant Phaeng, and the 2 scholarship students was outstanding and very enjoyable.
Nicole is a go-getter and I'm really encouraged by what she is doing there in Luang Prabang.
4 nights was just right for our time in Laos. I even squeezed in a Lao massage, at Spa Garden, right next to our guest house, which was fantastic!
We ate at a few great places: Tamnak Lao was wonderful; we ate there our first night. 3 Naga was also good. We even had pizza at the Scandinavian Bakery which was very tasty. After enjoying the wonderful local cuisine, I have to say I was sorry that we vetoed the cooking class. If we had an extra day in Lao, it would've been a great thing to do.
One thing: Lotus Villa is a very nice hotel, with excellent hospitality and delicious food. But after Journeys Within B & B (which is a tough act to follow) at first I was a teensy bit disappointed. Our room didn't have a separate bathroom (the shower was open to the room) - and had no hair dryer (a small thing, but it took me a while to finally obtain one) - also there is no shampoo supplied. All are very minor things, but added together I was really missing JW B & B that first morning!
But once I relaxed (maybe I was experiencing travel fatigue?) and just accepted Lotus Villa for it's own merits, I enjoyed it, and I give it high marks. Everyone who works there is eager to be of help, and their friendly, kind service really helped me to adjust my attitude. I would certainly recommend Lotus Villa to my friends. It's a beautiful spot and I can understand why it's so popular.
The only change I would make to the whole trip, is to ask you to take care of our 2 days in Bangkok on the way home! We had a quiet, relaxing stay at a hotel near Sukhumvit Road. On our full day there, we hired a guide to take us to Wat Po and the Golden Buddha, plus we booked thru the hotel a dinner cruise for that night. Both were fine, and the cruise especially was a lot of fun. But in hindsight, it would've been so much easier and better to have included Bangkok in our package with Journeys-Within.
We flew out of Bangkok on Friday evening, and were home in Zurich on Saturday a.m. Today I will take the time to down-load my photos and relive all the wonderful moments of our trip! Thank God for digital cameras!!
Sorry that this is so long, but I wanted to give you my feed-back in full!
Thanks again, April, for everything.
Dear Ms. Perrin,
I am writing to you in support of the Journeys Within application for the World Savers Award. I can't think of a more deserving group for this award.
I traveled to Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia this past fall with Journeys Within. They planned my entire trip, which was phenomenal. By far, the best day of my entire trip was spent at Journeys Within Our Communities, where I helped to teach an English class. The students were just amazing - so motivated and dedicated. After the class was over, each of the approximately 20 students thanked me individually for my time, which was beautiful. They were clearly thrilled to be learning English in such a nurturing environment.
I have to say (and I don't mean to sound overly dramatic) that the trip with Journeys Within changed my perspective on life. Andrea and Brandon are so dedicated to help the people of Cambodia, but more importantly, they are dedicated to helping the Cambodian people help themselves. Whether it be by through a hygiene class for children or providing small business loans to local women, the Rosses are a wonderful inspiration to us all.
I truly experienced the trip of a lifetime and it would not have happened without the generosity and ingenuity of Journeys Within. I hope that you will take this experience into account when determining the award. Please let me know if I can be of any assistance.
We're home and had a wonderful trip so thanks for all of your guidance. As you suggested, The Nam Hai exceeded our expectations and was the perfect ending to our busy and extremely hot trip. We all loved our time there. Considering the heat and Charlie's ongoing struggle with stomach issues, I'm not sure I'd attempt the Hanoi bikeride again -- though our sweaty morning and lunch with Vinh will doubtless provide great stories for years to come. The kids were not up for another waltz through a pagoda, so we did the Hoi An market instead. It was the first market exploration of our entire trip and was fascinating, especially the area with fresh seafood and veggies. We bought some bamboo placements and small pottery. Vinh seemed to relax a lot once we were settled down for lunch at his home, beautifully prepared by his wife and mother-in-law. Lunch was delicious.....if only it weren't so hot out. Cold beers helped a lot.
yes, it was extremely disappointing to miss Halong Bay. If we were to do it again, as an alternative plan because of the typhoon, I think we'd drive out to Halong Bay for the day (around 3 hours) instead of the excursion we chose to Perfume Pagoda. Perfume Pagoda ended up being much longer and more strenuous than we were prepared for because of the heat, though I'll bet it's a very different experience in the fall or winter. (I really should send you the photos of our sweaty group midway and following the hike.) when I spoke first with Du, we loved the idea of a one-hour drive to a 45-min. boatride to a one-hour hike. unfortunately, the drive was more like 2.5 hours and the boatride was stifling hot (not that interesting) with a difficult climb at the end. In the end, of course, we definitely are proud of what we accomplished that day and will be talking about our adventure for years to come. We loved Du and really enjoyed the time we spent with him in Hanoi.
finally, Cambodia was a huge hit with the kids. The temples were incredible and I would recommend the short balloon ride to anyone with kids. We got terrific photos. Plus, we loved your Journeys Within, which made the visit extremely special. Your staff there were magnificent and we felt like we had our own private pool -- perfect for cooling off. (The whole experience reminded me of some places we stayed in Zimbabwe --then Rhodesia --more than 30 years ago.) Leap was a charming guide and we enjoyed our time with him as well.
All in all, a wonderful trip for all of us. I think the weather in August is truly a challenge at every step. But, we loved being there in the off-season (it was already WAY more crowded in HK when we returned in mid-August) and would visit again if only it weren't SO FAR away.
I have been meaning to send you an email for weeks now. I want to thank you so much for our stay at Journeys Within and setting up a fabulous itinerary for us! I know I can speak for both Deb and Lange that we were simply astounded at how well we were treated by you and your organization. Your home is beautiful and your staff are simply fabulous. The environment you have set up there could not be better and it is so very obvious as to the goodwill you have generated with everyone who works for and with you.
Since returning home I have told so many people that one of the important things this trip has done for me is temper my cynicism. I met so many good people over there doing good things for the right reasons, humanitarian and altruistic, that I look on the world slightly differently now. And you and Brandon are two of those people. Thanks for that as well!
We had a follow-up meeting and it was decided our group got along so well we want to make this an annual adventure… Ken actually has a contact in the Children's Hospital in Siem Reap and we were discussing taking over your B&B for a week to work there!! Ken wanted to do it next year but I think we convinced him that for Deb and Lange and I we should go somewhere else next year and then do a reunion in 2011!!
Cheers and take care,
I know I am slow in replying but I just now feel like I am beginning to get caught up. :) In response to your questions:
1) We loved practically everything about our vacation! Of course the temples are not to be missed and we enjoyed going to some of the more out-of-the way ones (like the Rolous Group) as well as spending plenty of time at favorites (like Ta Prohm & Angkor Thom). Our guide was great -- he sensed where/how we wanted to spend our time and didn't spend a lot of time on info/things we didn't have much interest in. We also enjoyed getting out into the local community with the Bamboo Train, driving stops, village tour, etc. And everything was made so much more enjoyable when we were able to mix this all up with time spent relaxing at your beautiful B&B! We enjoyed the food, the pool, the room, wonderful service -- everything was great! :)
2) We enjoyed the river boat ride but it was too long -- it would have been nice to have cut it in half somehow. I would have liked more info on some other "town" options -- like watching a local soccer game, walks around town, etc. It also would have been nice to be able to get massages at our B&B -- maybe you could and I just didn't see any info and didn't ask. :)
3) We loved Journeys Within and would love to take another trip with your company!! We especially appreciated the ability to "customize" our trip so we could combine "tours" with items on our own agenda -- like visiting Tebora and the orphanage. When you have already done the "standard" tour being able to customize your trip makes it worth going again. I am hoping to visit Cambodia/Asia again soon! I am passing on the word about how much we enjoyed our tour and your beautiful B&B. Soon I will post feedback on the links you provided. But hopefully you won't get too big because your ability to "customize" and provide such great service makes it the best tour company/B&B that I have found! :)
April, Sina, Sote and Journeys-Within Staff,
I just wanted to reach out and say thank you for making our stay in Siem Reap so memorable and fun. I usually do not say thank you in any
length for things I pay for but I really do not think you could put a price on the friendliness and care we received from Journeys-Within.
The complete experience could not have gone any better. From April planning and emailing/calling me to make sure the itinerary fit our
needs to Sina being an amazing guide throughout the entire time. Sina and Sote were both very impressive in terms of knowledge and
understanding our personalities and when we wanted to slow-down or just skip something.
If there is ever a need for a referral or something of that nature please do not hesitate to contact me. I look forward to recommending J-W to everyone I know and coming back for a longer stay.
Once again thank you,
Hi Andrea and April:
We got home Wednesday night after a terrific flight on Singapore Airlines. The flight was not full (for a change) and we each had three seats. So I, at least, am “coming to” a bit faster than usual.
I want to tell you how much we enjoyed the tour we booked with you. Everything was really splendid. We knew, when we arrived at the Siem Reap Guest House, that we had made the right choice on Journeys Within. The guest house was a wonderful start for us. The place is lovely and I adored the swimming pool! The children were delightful and we hated to leave them.
All of the arrangements you made worked like clock work! Nothing amiss anywhere. Your choices of hotels were perfect – much better than I could have possibly anticipated. We enjoyed each guide, also, and they all spoke well – perhaps understood a bit less, but enough. They were also very polite, considerate, and helpful, especially to Jerry when he needed a little extra hand on stairs or downhills.
The two-day boat trip from Luang Prabang to Thailand was a special treat. The Mekong was beautiful, serene, and the boat was very comfortable with excellent and friendly service. The night at Luangsey Lodge was an experience. We were very lucky and had only 11 on the boat – they had 37 booked for the return, down river, journey!
We really appreciate your changing our Chang Mai arrangements for us and we were happy to have the extra day there and a more leisurely time. The Yaang Come was especially well-located and gave us extra walking/exploring opportunity. Also, your steer on flying instead of boating to Pnom Penh was much appreciated and that, too, worked smoothly.
As we were leaving the U.S. for Thailand on Jan. 7, I said, “I found Journeys Within on the internet and we'll see if there is anyone there to meet us on Jan. 25 afterall”, since we had no prior experience with you. Well, everything exceeded expectations and we couldn't have been happier.
Now, we wish for some recovery in the financial markets, and then, maybe travel will be in our future, once again. After our experiences in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, I'm ready to try Vietnam, next time!
Thank you for everything.
My father and I would like to say thank you so much for making our short trip to Cambodia so incredibly full of adventure and fond memories. We will cherish our time there forever.
You and your team were extremely helpful, informative, accommodating and professional from the moment I called April only a week prior right up to the last minute in the van with our guide Sen before leaving at the Siem Reap airport. You were able to fit everything in and your tour company definitely exceeded our expectations. We will certainly recommend Journeys Within to anyone we know planning to visit Southeast Asia.
I especially want to recognize and commend you for your humanitarian work benefitting those less fortunate in your lovely but impoverished adopted country.
Keep up the great work and best wishes for continued success in all of your projects.
Jeremy & Ronnie
Just a quick hello and thank you for arranging a wonderful travel and volunteering experience. I was not ready to come home — and hope to return. And you can be sure that Journey's Within will be well recommended.
My best to all!
La Laanta has been everything you thought it would be. The perfect end to a fantastic trip. You did an extrodinary job for us. We hope you are well and cant thank you enough for all your hard work.
I hope that you all remember guiding my wife, Alice, and I through your different countries when we visited SE Asia in November-December. We are now at home and have celebrated the Christmas holidays with our family and friends.
Naturally, the 25 day visit to Thailand, Lao, Viet Nam and Cambodia have been in our thoughts and a topic of constant discussion. We are asked. What country did you like best? Where would you go back to? What was the best thing that you saw?
The truth is that we loved it all. Each country is unique. The elephant rescue camp near Chaing mai was very special and we enjoyed the Wats around Chaing Saen quite wonderful.
Our two day boat trip up the Mekong with stops along the way allowed us to relax and think about the people and the life along the river. Luang Probang is a lovely city but too many tourists. We especially enjoyed our lunch with the village chief and looking for fish in the nets along the river (didn't find any however) and going to the place where the artisans weave the silk scarves which were the main gifts that we gave to the women for Christmas.
Flying to Ha noi, brought us to a place where, 30 years ago, we only saw on our television sets. And the only news was of war. We left V. Nam feeling secure that all is good between our two countries at this time. Zu, you are incorrect when you say that unless you see Halong Bay you have not seen Viet Nam.
Halong Bay is terrific but it is to Viet Nam what the Grand Canyon is to America. It is a great and striking feature. However, there is so much more to your country where there is so much energy pulsates and activity. And, such nice people. If anything, Viet Nam , to me is an American trying to cross your main boulevard, filled with cyclos and automobiles, alive. I do want to stress that our time on Halong Bay, the food served on the boat, and the kayaking were really great. We spent much time in Cambodia and it was well spent. Angkor Wat is a wonder of the world but we really enjoyed Beng Mealea, Ta Prohm and my favorite was Bantea Srea. Kayaking at around the trees at the floating village was great fun.
Bee, thanks for being the first guide we met when we came to Bangkok, and the one to finally tell us goodby. Thanks, also, for showing us the palace grounds making up for the time the palace was closed when we first arrived in Thailand.
So, thank you all for doing such a good job for us. You are the door through which we the tourist cross into your country. You can all be proud of the work you do and of the countries and people you represent.
Well, we are going to a restaurant for dinner tonight. We haven't decided whether we will eat Thai food or Vietnamese food. Wish we had some Lao whisky to wash it down with.
Richard & Alice
I want to get a quick note off to you before I get too immersed again in ordinary life. We had such an *amazing* trip! Thanks so much to you and all the Journeys Within staff for putting together such an outstanding tour.
I can give you additional trip details & feedback if you'd like to hear more. I'd also like to get some information from Brandon, and perhaps you can forward this email to him for me. I'm hoping to put together a slide presentation for my Bioengineering friends which addresses some of the global health issues that came up during our trip.
For example, we did a village walk-thru with Brandon while in Siem Reap, and he described 1) basic mechanical/maintenance problems that were affecting the robustness of the wells and 2) issues with filtration systems that were making it difficult to effectively deploy filtration systems for these wells. In regard to this latter, Brandon described two different filters and why each was not proving suitable. It would be great if I could get a couple paragraphs from him describing these issues - want to make sure I describe the problems correctly - as it would be great to get the Bioengineers thinking about these things since our department is supposed to be very global health-oriented.
Likewise, it would be great to get a brief description of the hygiene issues - we were possibly talking to Philippa Nigg about teacher training curricula while in Siem Reap. I got quite interested in the whole problem of developing a robust soap delivery system that can work given the cultural challenges regarding hygiene. This is another problem I'd like to describe to my colleagues.
Lastly, wow, if we could only deliver some Beerlao and Beerlao T-shirts to Bioengineering students, I think you could generate a great fundraiser for improving medical care in Laos. (OK, you probably could do the same with Angkor Beer in Cambodia, but that's another topic.) I'm sure there are all sorts of difficulties involved, and yet this just got me all fired up. I know you folks have only recently opened the tour office in Luang Prabang, and hat's off!
I look forward to hearing from you, and thanks again.
Best wishes & Happy New Year,
Dear Ms. Perrin,
Earlier this year, my wife and I were planning an extended trip to SE Asia using our regular, overseas travel agency. Then we read your "Wendy's Rolodex" article in the August issue of Conde Nast., noting in particular the two agents mentioned above ( as both Bali and Cambodia were part of our planned itinerary). As a result of your recommendations and our exchanges with them, we decided to book part of our trip with both of them. That led to the undoubted highlights of our trip.
We are experienced third world travelers, having sought out little-visited parts of the world for 38 years. When on such trips, we see the standard tourist highlights as quickly as possible and then strike out for the most remote areas in the hopes of avoiding other tourists and experiencing the local culture in its purist, unassimilated, unwesternized form.
Diane Embree put us in the capable hands of a Bali native who literally opened up his family, culture and Hindu religion to us. It was truly an unforgettable experience to be instructed in and then participate in three Hindu celebrations, one in an intimate, remote village. We also had the opportunity to visit and be "treated" by a traditional, local healer and to play three of the instruments which constitute part of a gamelan orchestra while the thirty-plus other orchestra members enthusiastically urged us on. Having experienced countless, unexpected memorable experiences in most of our travels, I have to say that our time in Bali was truly unique and exceeded our highest expectations.
I have to use the same superlatives in describing our time with Andrea Ross and her husband in Cambodia. As our trip there had been substantially arranged before we learned of Journeys Within, we only spent a few days with them. But they provided an unvarnished, intimate insight into traditional Khmer village life today as well as the societal dislocations resulting from the rapid growth of tourism around Siem Reap. These are precisely the kinds of experiences we search out in our travels, and our expectations were, once again, far exceeded.
We look forward to working with both of these fine agents in the future. As the world becomes more and more homogenized, we are confident that where there remain pockets of traditional native cultures, these fine people will find them and get us there.
My stay here was perfect. You will have my business again and have earned many recommendations.
Pam & Edwardo
Thanks to you and your staff for all your help in putting together the whole trip and making the last minute changes to get me out of there when Bangkok went haywire. I'm sorry we had to miss the last weekend in Bangkok but Phuket was a nice place to get stranded.
It was a pleasure working with you on my first venture to southeast Asia. I was especially amazed by Laos and Cambodia and hope to visit those areas again soon.
Please give your staff a hearty thanks from me for all their help. (I really enjoyed meeting everyone and the children at the B&B.)
Nancy & Maria
Due to the Bangkok Airport closure our itinerary got screwed up but Journeys Within went our of their way to make our trip a memorable one. I have to say that I am almost thankful for the airport closure because otherwise we would have never seen Laos, which we fell in love with!
Tracy & Josh
We had a fantastic trip to Chiang Mai and to Laos -- we really enjoyed Winya and Seng, our guides! We had lots of fun with Winya and Nipo in Chiang Mai-- The elephant ride was fun (those animals are amazing)! -- Yaang Come Hotel is beautiful -- Down the street was The Whole Earth, a great restaurant -- the night market was fun, too! Lois and I had a massage at a local massage/spa--- very relaxing!
We loved Luang Prabang and the Plain of Jars.--Seng and Noy were very helpful and fun to be with, too!.... Vientiane was interesting, too! We found Jo Ma Bakery in both Luang Prabang and Vientiane and ate there several times-- The Plain of Jars was awesome -- and the hotel was in a beautiful setting -- and not very cold at all!
The cheat sheet in Luang Prabang was very helpful -- We really enjoyed L'Elephant's ice cream, Tum Tum Cheng food , the Bakery, and the foot massage at the Garden spa ---- the Mekong river cruise was delightful! The location of the hotel, Le Calao, was perfect! Lots of shopping!
The Settha Hotel in Vientiane was very nice --a good location! We did shopping and more shopping!
Bangkok was good -- but very, very hot! It is quite a city .....we used the Sky Train, taxi cabs, and river boats--- and we walked and walked in the heat! It was good to get home where it was quite a bit cooler!
I chatted with Nicole in Luang Prabang a couple of times - she was very helpful!
Thanks for all of your work in coordinating our desires!
We are thinking of Vietnam for next January -- will be in touch!
thanks again -
Kristin and I wanted to very belatedly express our appreciation for the fantastic honeymoon you set up for us back in the spring. You did a fantastic job in a very quick timeframe and everything was awesome. We couldn't believe how seamless travel was and how easy it was to get around. The hotels were great and the guides were excellent.
Please let me know if there's any way I can recommend you guys or anything I can do to help you get some business in this crazy economic climate. Also, if you guys ever get to NYC, please let me know and we can buy you some drinks. Take care and thanks again.
Tom & Kristin
We had a wonderful trip to Koh Samui!!! Loved every minute of it! Terrific planning!
Crissie & Erik
Journeys Within arranged the perfect getaway for us to Thailand. Everything from our hotels and flights to diners and guided tours were planned with such great care and detail.
Each day was perfectly executed...so much so that we got engaged and married during our visit....We could not have asked for a more perfect way to start our new life together!"
Aaron Kellenberger & Tanya Cornejo-Kellenberger
You will most likely hear from Brian who scheduled our vacation in Cambodia, but I wanted to take a few moments and tell you what a magnificent time I had. As you know we had been in Thailand a few days prior to arriving in Cambodia & Journeys Within and then returned to Thailand after we left.
Even before we left to return to the US, I told Brian that my favorite time during the entire trip was in Cambodia with Journeys Within. Everything you scheduled for us and things we did on our own, were beyond our expectations. Your staff, especially Narla, Sela, and Chiev made lasting impressions on us that will be a part of our memories forever. Even as I eat my first breakfast at home this morning, I am missing Sela rushing out to greet us and see how we are doing. Of course, Narla was not here to greet us upon arriving home. Their smiles are also missed.
My hope for your future guests is that they get to have Chiev as their guide through Cambodia. He was knowledgable, friendly, entertaining, and completely engaging. Our last guide who took us to his village and boat tour had a hard act to follow.
The food that is served at the B&B was also a favorite of the trip. Brian was eating his store bought yogurt this morning and mentioned that he sure missed the Museli that we got every single day while we were there. Sadly, we cannot get the fruits here to copy it. However, I would give almost anything to get the yogurt recipe you use. Is this possible?
Please share our thanks and gratitude for the best trip of my life. I hope to be back some day. Also I am going to be putting something together on the internet of our trip to share with family and friends. I would like to include your website if that is okay. I will encourage everyone I know to make any arrangement with Journeys Within.
Trip was great, thanks for all your wonderful planning. The guides in Hanoi, Laos & Bangkok were phenomenal. Your hotel choice in Laos & Hoi An was also great, esp. the Victoria. My choice to the Hanoi Sofitel Metropole was overrated, not all that it rep to be, certainly not in the category of the Oberai chain or near it which is what I had heard.
Ron in Bangkok gave a great tour and we were able to avoid the demonstrations. Vinh in Laos was the best guide of the trip, can't say enough about him. Long in Hanoi also tried very hard and was very informative. The guides in HoiAn & Ho Chi Minh were nice people but extremely challenged in their English language, difficult to understand and did not always understand our inquiries. Communication with your guide is the key to one's enjoyment of the city.
I am also very appreciative of the efforts made by you and Andrea and your Luang Prabang rep to try to accomodate me & include Cambodia at the last minute, poor planning on my part.
Do not hestitate to use me as a reference for any of your future customers and if you would like a formal letter of recommendation , just let me know. Also keep me informed if Journeys ventures into other regions, I would not hestitate to use your services again.
Lastly, please show this correspondence to Andrea as I want her to know what a wonderful job you did. It is not always easy planning a trip for a customer 3000 miles away , who you never met, esp one as difficult and particular as me.
You were patient and encouraged my input, really appreciated.
Again, thank you for everything.
Andrea, a long overdue thank you for making our day in Bangkok so enjoyable. Despite the unexpected travel change, you were able to accommodate our last minute delay and push our tour back one day.
Mr. Ron was extremely professional and knowledgeable and our driver was expert as well. We thoroughly appreciated Mr. Ron's enthusiasm and love for his country and his religion. We enjoyed learning from him and came away with a much deeper appreciation for the Thai culture and people as well as the food as our lunch was extremely delicious.
Our time there was well spent and a fantastic start to our month long vacation. When asked, I am more than happy to recommend you and your company to others planning travels to Thailand.
Many, many thanks.
My family and I just returned from spending a wonderful two weeks in Thailand and Cambodia, thanks to the expert help and advice from Andrea Ross, the director of Journeys Within travel company and bed and breakfast, located in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
I had found her travel company through the Conde Nast Traveler magazine expert list when we were planning our trip last summer. I was impressed by the description of the humanitarian aspect that was emphasized by Andrea's company.
Andrea made excellent suggestions as we started planning our trip. She arranged a guide to meet us at the Bangkok airport who accompanied us during our stay in Bangkok. The guide was incredibly attentive to our every need, and was excellent in explaining the sites that we saw in a clear and understandable manner. Andrea had arranged a beautiful hotel for us in Bangkok which was located away from the hustle of Bangkok.
When we arrived in Siem Reap, Andrea had arranged another guide to pick us up at the airport, and accompanied us throughout our stary in Cambodia, escorting us through the amazing maze found in the Angkor Wat complex of temples. He spoke excellent English and, again, was very attentive to what we wanted to see, and the pace at which we wanted to see the different sites.
What impressed us the most was the hospitality offered by Andrea and her husband, Brandon, and their wonderfully trained staff of local Cambodians. Their B&B was exceptional, with beautiful, clean and well attended bungaloos. A beautiful pool was just outside our door. They offered delicious food, whether it was breakfast, lunch or dinner.
The other impressive touch was discovering the wonderful humanitarian service that Andrea and Brandon are offering in Siem Reap. Their company has recently built a two story school in a Buddhist monastery that is used to help teach the local Buddhist monks and other students to use computers. My family and I had a chance to spend a session with the students and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The students were so appreciative of the time we spent with them. That afternoon, we spent time at another school that Andrea and Brandon sponser, helping other students learn English. Again, the students were very excited that we joined with them.
Brandon took us to a “squatters' village,” composed of about 500 indigent families, trying to eke out a living in remarkably difficult circumstances. Ross and his team recently installed 14 100 ft deep fresh water wells througout the village, thus bringing fresh water for the first time to these people. Ross is currently evaluating the feasability of installing latrines throughout the complex.
Thanks to the recommendation that Conde Naste gave for Journeys Within, my family and I had an amazing experience that was truly life changing. My highest marks go to Andrea and Brandon for the excellent service they offer, whether it be the travel agency, B&B, or humanitarian aspect of their work. From now on, I will seek out such companies who offer a higher level of travel experience for their customers.
April and Andrea, THANK YOU! Our trip was absolutely wonderful! I can't say enough about how much we enjoyed our trip, how we were so well taken care of, how smoothly everything went and the experiences on our itinerary. Thank you so very much for all your hard work to put this together.
I've been talking about the trip non-stop since returning. I'm often asked who organized this for us, and I rave about Journeys Within. I've been asked by several people for the contact information (and even my parents were giving out the information on their Alaskan cruise). I'm going to do a little write-up that I can send round to folks. I'll include all the basic web and contact info, a write-up about how it all works - customized tours, affordable prices, the splendid B&B and probably a few tidbits of my favorite experiences. Thank you for everything. I've never had such an all-around positive experience when traveling.
Andrea, I [Dan] attached a few more pictures of our trip to give you an idea how much my daughter enjoyed herself. She is giving a presentation at school about her trip and asked me if she could request the school kids (and staff) to donate some money towards a worthy cause. I mentioned I thought it was a good idea to donate it through your JWOC. 100% goes towards a worthwhile cause and since she has met Brandon, she can be assured it will be spent wisely. We really did enjoy our trip and greatly appreciate the itinerary that Journeys [Within] provided.
Daniel & Ellen
We are finally back and just wanted to tell you that everything went perfectly- no glitches. Everyone showed up and all went as planned!
The best part was in Laos- the monks in the morning was a special time. We loved the visits to the villages where there were no tourists. The river trip was also spectacular (although surprisingly cold , especially the first day. I needed three blankets!)...
All in all a successful trip- next time we will try Cambodia.
I am writing to let you know about the outstanding service provided to us by Journeys Within.
We (Betty and Shell Harvey) used their services and stayed at their B & B when we visited Cambodia in 2006. It was a fabulous trip and we loved the B & B and the staff.
We have just returned from 2 months travelling in Asia and we had arranged for Andrea Ross to organize our one week stay in Laos. Everything started well but on our third day I lost my passport. This would have been a major inconvenience anywhere in the world but the problems were compounded because Canada does not have an embassy in Laos. To make a long, long story short, I needed to secure a temporary travel document from the Australian Embassy in Laos, convince three different Laos departments ( Tourist Police, Immigration and Foreign Affairs) to allow me to leave Laos, travel to Bangkok and persuade them to admit me with an Australian temporary travel document. Once in Bangkok I needed to get the Canadian Embassy to give me an Emergency Passport and then to get a new Vietnam Visa to continue our vacation in Vietnam.
Throughout this process Andrea coordinated everything from wherever she happened to be in SE Asia. She arranged for her staff in Vientiane and Bangkok to provide us with transportation, hotel reservations and most importantly translation and guidance in dealing with the various bureaucracies. At the very beginning Andrea said, Let me coordinate everything and pay the bills and we sort it out the money later. Upon arriving home we had an invoice for the costs incurred by Journeys Within – it was less than one-half of what I had expected. I learned that Andrea had given everything at her cost and that her staff had declined to take payment for their services.
Needless to say, we are extremely grateful to Andrea and the Journeys Within Team. Under normal circumstances they provide outstanding service and in a crisis situation they go above and beyond.
Brandon....you and your staff did a fantastic job in planning and organizing my trip to Cambodia and Laos for October 2007. It was a relaxing and pleasurable experience. I learned a lot about the cultures and ethics of the 2 countries. I highly recommend that others experience the same.
New Haven, CT
Thank you so much for making our trip to Thailand and Cambodia a wonderful experience. We have learned so much from the trip. It is truly amazing and inspiring what you have done in Cambodia.
Shawn Ward & Connie Chen
Andrea put together a package for us perfectly suited for our family! The family suite was comfortable for the four of us. She put together the right activities for our family-Angkor Wat tours, hot air balloon ride, biking to a village, exploring the city market...Yet she worked in enough down time for us to enjoy the pool and hammocks in the beautiful garden at the B & B!
Thomas & Danette High
Biking to the village was awesome. The dirt road made for an exciting ride! Climbing on the ruins at Beng Melea was cool.
Clayton High, Age 12
Seeing Angkor from the hot air balloon was amazing! Going through the village on the bikes was great too.
Connor High, Age 14
It was a wonderful and memorable trip- thanks for pulling it together so quickly. The drivers/guides were all very knowledgeable and so service oriented, it was a pleasure. And I really liked that while there were recommended itineraries, I was able to change things to fit my own interests. I had a tremendous trip.
I had wanted to return to Thailand for forty years. One highlight of the adventure was our stay at Mae Ping, an incredibly beautiful bed and breakfast just outside Chiang Mai.
Upon taking a walk for local color, I encountered a Wat (temple) just a short walk away, but hidden from view and surrounded by rice fields. This kind of surprise is commonplace in this rather dreamy country.
Despite its movement towards first-world status Thailand maintains its genteel culture, its pride for its history, and its love for its King.
I would rank Thailand as one of my favorite countries, and the Thai people as among the most sincere and kindest I have encountered.
The whole trip was one big highlight for me! If I had to pick a top three, I would have to go with:
Historical Highlight: The S21 Prison Museum and the Killing Fields Tour in Cambodia – certainly a lot to handle, but absolutely fascinating.
Fun Highlight: Shooting the AK47 at the Cu Chi Tunnels (I'm a horrible shot, but what an experience) and riding elephants in Chiang Mai (get the guides to let you ride directly behind their ears...not something you'd ever get to do at the zoo!)
Scenic Highlight: Touring Angkor – with the huge tree roots twisting around the ancient temples it's hard not to feel spiritual.
Without the knowledge and expertise of your tour, we would have never been able to have experienced Angkor in its true beauty.
Mr. Vong's passion for Angkor's rich history was infectious.
Ryan Pucci & Cristina Clougherty
Newport Beach, California USA
Thanks so much for the insight into Cambodia I would never have had without your help and friendship.
Andrea, director of tours for Journeys Within, was keenly interested in our decisions about where to go and how long to stay. She is an excellent listener and assimilated very quickly our likes and dislikes and developed a program to suit our time and budget. No travel agent outside the country could have done that. Nor could we have done it ourselves through the Internet. Although we are skilled at using the Internet as a travel tool, there is no substitute for an experienced local expert.
Ann & Jeff Brooke
We continue to marvel at what a fascinating trip you and Chelsea planned, and love all the neat memories it created for the 3 of us — another special bond that we share as mom and daughters!
For people on a time budget, I hope they appreciate how much more they will get out of their visit here because of your organization and recommendations. You made it easy and enjoyable.
We're really glad we stayed here (Journeys Within B'n'B). A huge bonus for us is visiting with you. The conversations about life values, which are inevitable in Asia, mean so much more coming from expats who know where we are and understand where we come from back home. That's what distinguishes a B'n'B from a hotel.
Kris & Erik Laerz