Help support Heritage Watch’s new children’s campaign

Comic Book

A project to educate Cambodia’s kids of the importance of heritage preservation as they are the future stewards of the country’s past.

Heritage Watch was founded in 2003 by archaeologist Dougald O’Reilly following the rampant looting of Phum Snay, an immense Iron Age burial ground in Cambodia’s northwest.

Cambodia’s great archaeological heritage is being decimated by widespread looting.  Heritage Watch is a non-profit organization dedicated to halting this destruction and saving Cambodia’s cultural legacy.

Their most recent campaign focuses on the youth of Cambodia, and they’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund this latest initiative…

One of our most popular projects to date was the production and distribution of a Khmer language comic book called “Wrath of the Phantom Army” that tells the story of poor villagers who are encouraged to loot their home town. However, there are scary consequences. Reviving the tradition of ‘horror story’ comics has become very popular and thus, it is our venue for this media. Heritage Watch originally distributed this comic nationwide. Now we have integrated it into a comprehensive project called ‘Heritage for Kids’. 

Heritage for Kids involves developing a series of classes on historic preservation for teachers at primary and secondary schools in Cambodia. Part of the curriculum includes reading and reviewing “Wrath of the Phantom Army” and another of our popular children’s books ‘If the Stones Could Speak’. These books, together with a colouring book and the teacher’s guide, will help educate younger Cambodians about the importance and value of their cultural heritage. In the end, these younger Khmer will not only learn, but perhaps inform the rest of their communities, as well as their own families, on the importance of preserving their heritage. 

Journeys Within is proud to donate to this important cause and we hope that you will join us.

Click here for the project’s Kickstarter fundraising page. (The campaign must be funded by June 12, 2015)

Flights of fancy: 5 countries, 5 beautiful drone video tours

These days, with low-cost camera-ready drones available from a number of different manufacturers, and a bevy of amateur and professional videographers getting into the drone video game, we’re seeing more and more aerial video tours of the places we visit throughout Southeast Asia.

Take a moment (or five) and enjoy these unique perspectives on some of the monuments and destinations you may have already experienced first-hand or might have on a travel bucket list, from each of the five countries we offer tours in.

We suggest you make each of these videos full-screen to truly appreciate the stunning footage captured in these amazing places. Enjoy.

Cambodia

Tour the Angkor Wat temple complex in this video by 5Mars.com titled “Angkor – Visit from the sun.”

Thailand

See the Thai island of Koh Yao Noi in this video by Philip Bloom.

Vietnam

Enter the magical world of the Hang Son Doong cave system via drone in this video by Ryan Deboodt.

Myanmar

See the temples of Bagan from above in this video by YouTuber Clipper 707.

Laos

Enjoy a selection of aerial shots above the countryside of Laos in this video by YouTuber moodakdrone.

Make the most of your Thanksgiving holiday at Thailand’s Loi Krathong Festival

The Thai festival of Loi Krathong is celebrated annually on the evening of the full moon during the twelfth month of the Thai lunar calendar – corresponding to Nov. 25, 2015 this year.

Loi Krathong Festival

The name Loi Krathong essentially means “to float a basket,” and comes from the tradition of floating beautifully decorated baskets (krathongs) on a river, with participants making a wish and giving thanks as they release their basket.

During the festival, expect to see thousands of elaborately decorated krathongs floating down the waterways of Thailand – a sight that must be seen first-hand to be appreciated. And in the bigger cities, beauty pageants and even fireworks shows are common during the Loi Krathong festival.

At the same time as the Loi Krathong festival this year, another traditional Thai celebration – Yi Peng – will be celebrated. Also scheduled around the full moon, the Yi Peng festival features swarms of sky lanterns (khom loi), which float gently into the sky like luminous miniature hot-air balloons.

The khom loi are made from thin fabric, such as rice paper, stretched over a lightweight bamboo or wire frame, with a candle below the opening at the bottom. When the candle is lit, the warm air produced by the flame is enough to lift the khom loi into the sky.

Floating lanterns
Photo courtesy of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

In addition to the floating marvel of thousands of candle-lit khom loi, Thais also decorate their homes, gardens and temples during the Yi Peng Festival with elaborate paper lanterns which add to the amazing beauty of the countryside during this special time.

Best places to experience the festivities

Chiang Mai – a history city in the mountainous region of northern Thailand – is where we normally recommend people experience the Loi Krathong festival due to the unique history of the festival in this locale.

The ancient Thai capital city of Sukothai is another great bet for guests who have been to Thailand before and wish to experience the festival in a less touristy area.

Finally, there are celebrations in Bangkok, in the beach towns, and throughout the country if neither of the locations above works with your planned itinerary. The festivals will include events from Nov. 24 – 26 in 2015.

Journeys Within always send our guests with a guide who can explain the historical significance of the festivals, help navigate the crowds, aid in building krathongs and lanterns, and find the best locations to experience the festivities. Due to the popularity of these festivals in Thailand, travelers can expect large crowds – especially in the urban areas – however, it’s worth putting up with the crowds to be a part of such a magical time.

Book now to ensure the best accommodations for these unique festivals

Given the popularity of the Loi Krathong and Yi Peng festivals in Thailand, and the fact that they fall over the convenient Thanksgiving holiday break for U.S. travelers this year, we recommend booking your tour ASAP to ensure the best experience.

Our expert tour planners can plan the perfect itinerary around experiencing these two amazing Thai festivals, while also incorporating cultural excursions in smaller Thai villages, shopping trips to Bangkok, or relaxing days on the white-sand beaches Thailand is famous for.

Call our Thailand experts at (877) 454-3672, or submit an inquiry here to start planning your Thai festival tour today.

Preview the Loi Krathong and Yi Peng festivals

Our hearts (and dollars) go out to Nepal: How to help

Earthquake Map
Region affected by the April 25 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Nepal.

Here at the Journeys Within office, and throughout our company, our thoughts and prayers have been in Nepal and Tibet these past few days, ever since the devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck on Saturday, April 25.

With the toll of those injured and killed in Kathmandu, on the slopes of Mount Everest, and throughout the surrounding region rising with every updated report, and officials worried about getting communications and resources out to more remote areas, we at Journeys Within have been in touch with some of our colleagues in the region in order to put together a list of aid organizations that are helping with the disaster relief efforts as well as the long-tail rebuilding effort that will be vital to the region’s recovery.

Below, in no particular order, but classified by type of organization, are a few suggestions…

Disaster Relief/First Responders:

Rebuilding Efforts:

  • READ Global: “We are not a first stage disaster relief organization, but many of our centers in rural Nepal, as well as near Kathmandu were affected. If you want to contribute to help rebuild communities, feel free to donate to: http://www.readglobal.org/empower. Designate Nepal as the recipients. We will ensure that all funds get to those who most them.” – Antonia Neubaur, Myths and Mountains, Inc.
  • Our good friend Sanjay Saxena with Destination Himalaya is flying to the region now and will provide more ideas as he gets on the ground and can assess the needs he sees.

Tips for travelers in a disaster zone:

Travel writer Wendy Perrin wrote an informative piece – “What to do in an emergency: Lessons travelers can learn from the Nepal earthquake” – with tips for travelers who find themselves impacted by a natural disaster while traveling.

Media reports from Nepal:

Presentation: Socially responsible tourism in the 21st century

Volunteers with Journeys Within Our Communities
Dan and Monica at the New York Society for Ethical Culture.

On Sunday, April 19, 2015, Journeys Within travelers Dan Hanson and Monica Weiss gave a Sunday Platform presentation to the members of the New York Society for Ethical Culture all about their “voluntourism” travels through Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, and their involvement with the non-profit Journeys Within Our Communities in January of 2015.

With an itinerary that began in Bangkok and continued through Chiang Mai (including the Elephant Nature Park), Luang Prabang, Vientiane, the Mekong River and Siem Reap, the Hansons were able to speak to their unforgettable experiences and the impact they were able to have while in this special part of the world.

While in Siem Reap, they participated in the JWOC Clean Water Program which provides rural villages with a holistic clean water solution by installing and repairing wells, providing hygiene training and distributing water filters and hygiene kits, all of which you can see in their presentation below.

Video slideshow of their talk (skip to 15:27 into the video):

Click here to skip to their talk

Click here to skip ahead to their involvement with Journeys Within Our Community