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Experience Cambodia’s Temples… Decoded!


The team in Siem Reap spends a great deal of time researching cool new options to entertain our guests in the evenings and this season we have come across an exciting new experience which we think is nothing short of exceptional! Bambu Stage is a collaboration of artistic directors from around the world who now reside in Cambodia, bringing with them their flair for the unique.

Using a large interactive model, presenter Nicolas Coffil walks you through the architecture and design of the ancient temples of Angkor, in a show that will truly enrich your Siem Reap temple experience. As a traditional temple is constructed piece by piece before your eyes, you have the opportunity to understand more about the spiritual meanings and beliefs behind these impressive structures.

A dinner party style meal is served at the conclusion of the show which invokes great conversation with other patrons and allows the opportunity to discuss the features of the show further with your hosts. This is a wonderful compliment to any temple tour which truly rounds out your understanding of these ancient monuments.

The Temples Decoded show is presented every Tuesday evening during the high season months of September to March at Tangram Garden, a delightful outdoor restaurant offering a respite from the hot and dusty streets of Siem Reap. This is a truly unique experience to be had in Siem Reap in lush, tropical surroundings.

Top picks for 2018: Where our travel experts want to go this year

We asked our office mates for their dream 2018 trips now that Journeys Within & Wild Frontiers offers so many more destinations throughout the world. This is what they said…
 
April’s dream trips:
Heather’s dream trips:
Andrea’s dream trips:
Dudley’s dream trips:
  • Adventure with Philippa: I’ve been to Eritrea and found it fascinating with tremendous people, so I imagine Ethiopia (pictured above) is much the same. See the Ethiopia – Northern Explorer tour.
  • Multigenerational: We’d like to take the kids and the grandkids on a private tour to Costa Rica. See the Classic Costa Rica – Family tour.
  • Traveling with Andrea: Mongolia. On the ski lift I used to quiz her on the capitals of the world and she never got Ulan Bator! I would take Andrea to Mongolia so we could come full circle. See the Mongolia – Land of the Great Khan tour.

A message from Jonny Bealby of Wild Frontiers

Jonny Bealby video

Dear Journeys Within travelers,

I do hope you are well and looking forward to the festive season.

The purpose of this letter is firstly to welcome you to the world of Wild Frontiers and to say how happy, and proud I am that we have teamed up with Andrea and her passionate team at Journeys Within.

As a fellow member of the Condé Nast Traveler Top Travel Specialists list, I first met Andrea at a summit in Los Angeles some six years ago. Chatting to her over the course of the event it became very clear to me that we both shared the same travel ethos – that of striving to give our guests the best possible travel experience, while also being sympathetic to the communities and environments we were lucky enough to be traveling through.

And I thought then if we could ever join forces it would make a wonderful match. So I am delighted that six years on this dream has become a reality.

As far as Wild Frontiers is concerned, I founded and launched the business in 2002, principally out of my knowledge of travel in South Asia: India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bhutan. As a travel writer and journalist before becoming a tour operator – during which time I wrote three books and made one Discovery Channel film – I knew many far flung countries and soon the business expanded. With a team of dedicated travel consultants here in London, plus an office in Delhi, we now offer expert travel advice to around 70 destinations, from Argentina to Algeria and India to Iran. We have our own charitable foundation and in 2012 we were awarded the Guardian/Observer Best Ethical Travel Company Award.

So it is my fervent wish that we at Wild Frontiers can emulate worldwide what Andrea, April and their team in Cambodia have given you in Southeast Asia. We will do all we can to make sure that the same level of service and knowledge is offered wherever you choose to go.

I wish you a very happy festive season and happy travels in 2018.

Welcome to Wild Frontiers!

Best wishes,

Jonny Bealby

If you haven’t read Andrea Ross’ letter about the merger with Wild Frontiers, you can do so here.

Journeys Within Merging with Wild Frontiers

Andrea video on merger

What a wonderful adventure life is!

Fifteen years ago when I first visited Southeast Asia, I could never have imagined the amazing journey I would go on; and now, another exciting chapter is being written and the adventure continues…

First, a little background: In March of 2017, I had hit a wall. I was physically and emotionally exhausted and I felt that my time as CEO and owner of Journeys Within should come to a close. So I did what any exhausted parent would do and headed to Disneyworld.

After being rejuvenated by the happiest place on earth, I came back to work and realized that I actually love what I do. I love working with clients, I love my team, and I love travel in general. The problem was, I don’t love spreadsheets or profit and loss statements and I felt that I needed and wanted a change.

Going out on a limb I called Jonny Bealby of Wild Frontiers Travel. I’ve known Jonny for years through the Condé Nast Traveler Top Travel Specialists list and I’ve always admired his company, his tours and his dedication to the people and countries he visits. I explained to him that I wanted to offer our travelers more options and expand our trip offerings, but that I was also tired of running the show. A few phone calls and some in-person meetings later and Journeys Within is now a proud member of the Wild Frontiers family.

Wild Frontiers Travel is an adventure travel company based in the U.K. and Jonny had been looking to expand to the U.S. for the last couple of years. Happily for all of us, my phone call gave him the opportunity to do just that – using Journeys Within as his Wild Frontiers base in the U.S.

For me it means that my team can continue to do what we do – provide amazing tours to Southeast Asia – but our office is growing and we will now also host a sales team for the amazing Wild Frontiers trips around the world.

This last month I was lucky enough to visit India and actually kick the tires of a Wild Frontiers tour. India was astounding, the places we visited and the people I met added an amazing new chapter to my travel-life book and I honestly can’t wait to go back…with the kids this time! I also have a huge appreciation for the team Jonny has set up there and it reaffirmed to me that being part of the Wild Frontiers family is something to be proud of.

I’m thrilled to be working with Jonny and I’m excited to help Wild Frontiers expand to the U.S. Above all else, I’m glad that our team is here and we are now able to offer even more to you, our travelers.

Feel free to give me a call anytime so we can plan YOUR next adventure!<

Best,

Andrea Ross


If you haven’t read Jonny Bealby’s letter of introduction, you can do so here.

Journeys Within handing over Southeast Asia ground operations offices to our local staff

The Journeys Within team

When we founded Journeys Within Tour Company out of the Journeys Within Boutique Hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia, I had no idea what I was doing.

I remember early on a friend in the industry asked me, “Are you a ground operator or a tour operator?”

He was rewarded with a blank stare.

It turns out that ground operators have local offices on the ground, hire the guides and drivers, and book the various activities a traveler will experience. A tour operator is based in the U.S. and works with the clients to put together an itinerary, which, when ready to go, is booked through one or more ground operators. (Want more details? See April’s great blog post about the differences here.)

After having this explained to me I promptly replied, “Oh, I need to do both!”

In those early days while I was living in Cambodia, we were working directly with the guides, drivers, hotel managers and other elements of the trip and we hadn’t found any companies in Southeast Asia that we felt had the same standards we did – a high level of service, customization and a willingness to go above and beyond for every trip.

On the other hand, I loved working with the clients. I loved hearing what they liked and didn’t like, and putting together the dream itinerary for them. I couldn’t imagine not keeping that pie together, thus Journeys Within was born.

We opened offices in Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam and partnered with a friend in Myanmar. We trained guides and worked with drivers. We worked with our local offices to build capacity and to grow our team. We hired April and grew our U.S. office so clients could easily contact us and so we could have a presence here in the States.

Splitting my time between the U.S. and Southeast Asia, I ran one business, comprised of at least five different companies. (Oh, and we started and ran an amazing sister non-profit called Journeys Within Our Community.)

It has been a wonderful adventure and I think it allowed Journeys Within to become what it is today – a global family dedicated to creating incredible trips.

Now, as we look to the future, we are realizing it is time to evolve.

This year two things have happened simultaneously that have made the path forward become very clear.

The first is that more and more guests are asking us to book trips for them in other areas of the world – areas that we know and love, but we don’t have the time or energy to work on, as we are so involved in Southeast Asia. Our clients are asking us to be a true tour operator.

As we’ve seen this phenomenon happen, I have also realized the capacity of our ground teams. When we first started the offices in each country, it was because I needed to train our team and create the experience we wanted for our guests. Tourism in Southeast Asia was new and we moved there because we felt we were creating jobs, not taking them away from locals. Sure enough we’ve created those jobs and built these incredible local teams, and they are now at the point that they don’t need me.

Don’t get me wrong, they still want our amazing clients to come and travel with them; it’s me looking over their shoulders that they don’t need. So, with this in mind, I have decided to hand our local offices over to our local teams.

This won’t happen overnight, but in the next six months we will transition to them owning and operating their own ground operations offices. They’re ready to take over and I’m ready to let go!

I couldn’t be more proud of our teams on the ground and the fact that they are ready to run these ground operations businesses on their own. I’m excited to work with them to keep the standards as high as they are and to watch them grow. In Southeast Asia, ownership is king and my teams deserve to own their own slice of the Journeys Within pie!

In fact we’ve already tested this roadmap with Michelle and Khoa in Vietnam. Khoa has been a Journeys Within guide for over 12 years and his wife Michelle was our original Vietnam Director. Now, we have partnered with Michelle and Khoa and they have their own ground operation in Vietnam, running the Journeys Within tours and creating incredible experiences for our guests. We will use this model as we hand over the Laos and Cambodia offices to our teams on the ground there and we’re excited that we can keep the high level of service, but empower our local teams.

As for us in the U.S. office, the transition will allow all of us to embrace being a tour operator and continue providing the incredible customer service that has won us recognition as one of Travel + Leisure’s Top 10 Tour Operators in the World (thanks to your votes!). And we hope in the future to be able to add destinations and tours beyond Southeast Asia, with the same Journeys Within quality, service and adventure.

So when I’m asked now, I can answer quickly: “We’re a tour operator, but we work very closely with our amazing ground operators.”

Sincerely,

Andrea Ross

p.s. Nothing will change in terms of how you work with us here at Journeys Within. April and I will still be your points of contact in the U.S. office. Give us a call at 877-454-3672 anytime!

What our Southeast Asia staff are saying

Play video: Narla's reaction

Click here for a short video we shot with Narla about the transition. We also spoke with Michelle Nguyen of In Country Tours, the ground operator who will be working with Journeys Within to execute tours in Vietnam and Cambodia after the change in company structure…

Andrea Ross: After working for Journeys Within for so many years, how do you feel now that you’re running your own company and working with Journeys Within?

Michelle Nguyen: We are an extension of the team, whether it’s working with the guiding stars or with the unicorn warriors in the office. Having fun and working hard together for a common vision is a great motivator. It’s such a great opportunity to continue to work with people you know who share the same ethos and approach to experiential travel and customer care as we do.

Andrea: What does being in the Journeys Within family mean to you?

Michelle: We feel very blessed and fortunate. Over the years we have all established such a close bond, one built through an extensive time of learning together, understanding and supporting each other. It is rare to find a business that is so successful in proactively growing and enriching lives as Journeys Within is. You share time and experiences not only with your team, but also gathered under the Journeys Within umbrella are their family members. We feel the importance of people. Even this past summer, we all went away on holiday together and it was so special to feel everyone’s happiness.

Andrea: What does owning and running your own company mean to you?

Michelle: It is the opportunity to bring some “sunshine” to as many people’s lives as possible through doing something you are passionate about.