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So That’s What All The Fuss Is About!

Listening to Couper while relaxing on the beach.

I got into travel because I love to travel, but until the last few weeks I think I had forgotten the abandoned joy of a true vacation.  Don’t get me wrong, we all know that I travel a lot and I thank the travel gods everyday that I get the chance to not just live in, but also explore, an amazing region. With that said, when I travel, even as a family, there’s always work involved. I know this to be true because when we checked into our first hotel in Mexico Callie immediately disappeared and returned to tell me that they had a hair dryer, a safe and she liked the view…this is her job when we do hotel inspections in Southeast Asia and clearly, like me, she had a hard time breaking away. Ask any of our guides about Callie and Couper and chances are they’ll know them, that’s because when we take family vacations in Southeast Asia we also fit in guide training!

So two weeks ago I went to Mexico and for the first time in 8 years I took a trip that had nothing to do with work. It was amazing! I played with my kids, I took afternoon naps, I ate amazing food and didn’t care about the name of the restaurant and when I didn’t feel like doing an activity I just didn’t do it, with no guilt that I wouldn’t then “know” the experience. This vacation was truly good for my soul, it was good for my kids and it was good for my business. While I know I did neglect work and I apologize if you’re one of my guests still waiting for an itinerary, I promise I am back at work now and totally focused. The reason I say it was good for business was because I once again was reminded of the joys of travel. I love arriving at a place and knowing that adventures await. I loved being there with my kids and husband as those adventures unfolded and I loved being spoiled with good food, delicious drinks and a little bit of pampering. I have always been proud of what I do, that I can create and execute true trips of a lifetime and that people trust me to do this for them, but I am even more proud now that what I just experienced for myself and for my family is what I make possible for people coming to Southeast Asia. Thanks for your patience if you’ve been waiting for my return and thanks to my team for stepping up and really taking over while I was gone and big thanks to my parents for planning it all, but mostly, thank you to adventure and to vacation, for being there when we need you!

Out for a sail on SV Happy Now, my parents and the boat, just finished their circumnavigation of the globe!


We’re Back!

So April and I didn’t do well at posting updates during our trip, but in our defense, we were really busy and got so much done AND, we are going to make up for it now with a day-by-day recap of our whirlwind trip…what we liked, what we didn’t like, new hotels, our favorite parts and photos galore.

Starting with:

10 Jul 09 Saigon – Arrival and City Tour
April arrives at 1005am
Andrea arrives at 10pm
Arrive in Saigon where you will be met and transferred to your hotel. In the afternoon enjoy a City Tour.

Rookie Review:
Did someone just turn the volume up? Cars and motobikes are speeding by, vendors are busy selling handicrafts and bootlegged DVDs, people are sipping iced coffee and celebrating the easily accessible WiFi at café street tables – I am certainly in Saigon. I’m not sure what exactly makes the pace of this city so fast and so vivacious, if it is just the enthusiasm of the people or all the caffeine in those iced coffees, whatever it is it makes Saigon the city that it is.

Today my guide Mr. Khoa took me on a tour of this amped up city. Khoa’s calm and intelligent demeanor was not what I expected, but it balanced the buzz of the city quite well. He crossed the crazy streets without a second thought, and insisted that I couldn’t visit Saigon without riding a motobike (I disagreed with this one!). We visited historical landmarks and museums and I was able to get a deeper understanding of this busy city.

I must admit I didn’t last long on today’s city tour having just stepped off of my overseas flight. I went back to my hotel with a full belly of fresh spring rolls (yum!) and settled into my bed. The honking, talking and buzzing of the city was able to hush away and a full night of very needed sleep was the end of this great day.


Expert Edition:
My day was made up of airplanes and airports, but there’s no complaining here! Vacation! That’s what I call a 24 hour flight without kids. No one spilled anything on me (spilling on myself doesn’t count), no one cried, the person sitting next to me got really drunk (sure I’ve been tempted to booze up the kids, but so far I’ve resisted), and no one sat on my lap! I watched movies, I read two books, I slept, I ate my snacks and didn’t share, it was awesome!

I arrived in Saigon without a hitch…even got a pretty good meal in the Hong Kong Airport…and I walked out of that airport and the noise and heat and Asianess hit me all at once and I felt like I was home! Even at 11pm the Saigon airport is chaotic and I am always struck that for our guests arriving for the first time it must be a bit overwhelming. Of course I was then met by our guide Khoa and I felt taken care of instantly. We caught up on the way back to the hotel, his daughter is a few months younger than Couper so we compared notes and discussed strategy.

Saigon has become so sophisticated since my first visit seven years ago. The streets are cleaner now, there are cafes and trendy shops on every corner and Khoa pointed out the new Gucci store when we hit downtown. I’m happy that Saigon is booming, but at the same time, I know it makes it harder for our guides and drivers to afford life in the city…for all the positive steps, there are always some downsides.

I found April completely out and snuck around getting ready for bed. It felt great to get horizontal and enjoy the blast of the AC, I never sleep as well without that reassuring hum.

The Perfect Father’s Day Gift

I find Father’s Day one of the toughest holidays of the year, men are just harder to shop for! This year however we’re trying to give you a great Father’s Day gift option that not only will make your dad feel good, but will also help another family in Southeast Asia. Here are some ideas on what you could get your dad this June 21st:

** He helped put you through university now show him how much that gift meant by putting a student in Southeast Asia through university in his honor. Only $500 a year for four years and your dad will get monthly updates from his student about school, volunteering and life in Cambodia. Imagine how pleased your dad will be to hear from a university student he ISN’T having to foot the bill for!

** Some men just appreciate good business. Rather than the obligatory tie this year invest $100 in our Microloan Program and help a business in Cambodia go to the next level. For those business minded dads this is the perfect way to be practical and make a difference.

There are other options on the Nikaya website to find the perfect giving back option for Father’s Day. The great thing about these gifts is your dad will be pleased to know he raised you to be interested in helping others and across the world another dad will be receiving the greatest gift ever, a chance!

While you’re at Nikaya Handcrafted you can always get yourself a little something and feel good that 10% of all profit goes to Journeys Within Our Community! Have you seen the Krama Scarves, they’re perfect for summer!

Visit www.nikayahandcrafted.com/giving-back/community-support, 100% of the donation goes to Journeys Within Our Community and we will send you a gift card to present to your dad on Father’s Day.