Happy New Year! It’s 2018: time to start dreaming of new things in travel. On this episode of Talk Travel Asia podcast we’re going to look back at 2017, reflecting on the places we traveled to—what we liked, what could have been better—then focus on 2018. We’ll discuss top destinations we hope to visit, travel people we want to meet, episodes we hope to produce, things we want to learn, and a few other travel nuggets here and there. Join us on this first episode of Talk Travel Asia for 2018 and get dreaming of your next trip in the region.
2017 in review: where did we go and what did we see
For work, Scott traveled to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, China, Japan, and Singapore. For pleasure he went to Northern Spain; Mandalay, Inle Lake, Ngapali Beach, Myanmar; Chiang Mai; Preah Vihear, Cambodia. Looking ahead towards the next few weeks, Scott says: “I’m looking forward to not going too many places for the first 5 months of 2018 – with the exception of a trip to Luang Prabang with my parents from Jan. 7-12.”
Trevor moved back to Bangkok from Bali at the start of the year and for a change of pace didn’t travel too much. Early in the year he returned to Ko Yao in Phang Nga province of Thailand after around ten years. He stayed at the new Cape Kudu and enjoyed the fact that the island is still pretty sleepy and charming. Then he returned to Naithon beach in Phuket after 5 or 6 years as a guest of the Pullman Arcadia Naithon. Enjoyed the resort and the beach there, both of which were great for a long weekend away from Bangkok. Notably: went to the Chalong Bay rum distillery. Great stuff. The only trip outside of Thailand was to Kampot and Kep, Cambodia with his mom and dad towards the end of the year.
Top Travel Disappointments
Trevor: “My big disappointment of 2017 was that our flights to Mauritius were cancelled. The whole route was cancelled right before our trip. That is technically Africa, but…. Air Asia was going to take us there… At least our AirBnb’s refunded us our rooms, but I was pretty bummed about not making it there.”
Scott: “Couldn’t source a motorbike to get to Preah Khan in Cambodia – after years of dreaming about it. I sent all my gear to Siem Reap, a friend Adam of Grasshopper Adventures was game and we couldn’t get bikes.”
Trevor: “I was pretty happy that one didn’t work out for you, as I couldn’t have gone with you then. So… bringing us to Places we want to go in 2018, It seems to be on the list every year, but Preah Khan Kompong Svay in Kompong Thom province, Cambodia is still on the list.”
Scott: “Preah Khan Kompong Svay is high up there with you Trevor; Canada will happen this summer, perhaps skiing in Japan in December, Si Phan Don in southern Laos, Ko Phayam, motorcycling from Hanoi up the NE and down the NW through Sapa. Mountain biking – perhaps Chiang Mai downhill for a few days. But all of these won’t happen… Likely Preah Khan, Canada and perhaps one other.”
Trevor: I haven’t seen snow in around 20 years and many of my friends in Thailand go to Hokkaido, Japan each year to snowboard and ski, so I wouldn’t mind trying to make some turns, build a snow fort, etc.
Things we want to learn in 2018
Trevor: “2016 I spent half the year in Indonesia and studied Indo language flash cards; 2017 I was back in Bangkok; 2018 I may be spending more time in Cambodia or Myanmar. If I could manage to settle down somewhere, I’d love to take some classes to get better at some of these languages I merely dabble in. Or maybe I should just start learning Chinese.”
Scott: “I’d like to attend a couple travel conferences and perhaps be on a panel about trends in travel. I find the overcrowding issue really interesting and think it will become one of the biggest travel issues in the next 5-10 years. Places like Siem Reap, Kyoto and others are becoming overrun – everyone has a right to travel – but places can only sustain so many people without being not what they were.”
Standout episodes from 2017
Guests we’d like to have on the show in 2018:
Scott: I’d like to get Bill Bensley as a guest on our show – famous hotel designer in SE Asia – he’d be a really interesting guest. He is launching the Shinta Mani Wild tented camp in Cambodia and designed the Rosewood Phuket.
Trevor: Yeah, he’d be cool to meet, particularly if we did it live at his new Cambodian tented camp property!
Scott: Really want to do an episode on Tented Camps in SE Asia. Perhaps another episode with Jeff Fuchs about finding salt in the Tibetan Plateau.
He has a new documentary out about his tea trekking and was a fascinating guest on Ep.37: Trekking Asia’s Tea Trails with Jeff Fuchs.
Trevor: Perhaps one about Hawaii – not technically Asia, but has tons of Asian influence and we both have some good experience there. Thinking back to 2017, it was great to have John & Kathleen on to talk about both Iran and skiing. I’d like to get another high school friend on: Kasha Rigby to talk a bit more about Skiing elsewhere in Asia. She and I had chatted about Kamchatka, which is in like Russian Siberia or somewhere around there. In general, we need to expand to greater Asia, like Mongolia, and I like the Skiing and Surfing and extreme sports angles for people who are looking to do that sort of thing in Asia.
Changes in travel we hope to see
Trevor: Ticket prices have been pretty cheap in 2017. Plus a bunch of new routes connecting asia with North America, especially with budget airlines. Scoot connecting Singapore to Hawaii for $400. Air Asia to Hawaii competing with the Chinese airlines for $400-500. I’d love to see that continue.
Scott: Less changing things to be ‘modern’ – with a real eye and focus on Bangkok. There seems to be a real push on to make things cleaner and ‘nicer’ but they are losing some real treasures and some of the things that make the city great. Instead of making them ‘better’, just institute a few better ways to regulate street food, old communities (Mahakan, Pak Khlong Talad, Street Food)
More tasty beer in more places. It’s happening, but lets see some more out there. At least something as tasty as a Beer Laos Dark at every bar.
And… more public toilets – I realize it costs money to manage these and have them, but everyone needs to go the toilet and having them in public areas is great. Tokyo has it nailed – they are everywhere in their train stations. More toilets!
Trevor: I hope to see continued visa liberalization. With Trump in power and Europe pushing back, that could be bad news for Asia too. But Vietnam had liberalized a bit and it would be nice to travel there, as an American, without a visa. Indo has gotten a bit easier for foreigners while Thailand has been getting more strict as has Cambodia. Would be cool to see pan-ASEAN visas or more flexibility for “digital nomads” as there are many freelancers working in Asia who have almost no choice but to break the law. Just seems to make sense to me to try to make it more legal.
To learn more about Scott & Trevor: