Wrapping up 2018, Scott and Trevor look back at travel trends in Asia, their favorite episodes of Talk Travel Asia from 2018, and some of the trips they took across the region. Then they look forward to 2019, discuss episodes they would like to air in the coming year and make some New Year’s travel resolutions.
Scott: Wow, what a year it’s been! Exciting jobs in travel, vacations, trips for work, trips for pleasure and trying to make the two merge as much as possible. We’ve managed to hit a number of spots that have been on our ‘To Visit’ list for quite some time but there are still lots we want to make it to. On this episode we’ll share some of our favorite trips taken in 2018, reflect on lessons learned and ponder what’s to come in 2019. I made it to two spots that have been on my “To Visit” list for many years which is fantastic. I’ve also reflected quite a bit on travel trends and feel we’ve covered some pretty fun and diverse ground in 2018 on Talk Travel Asia. I also did an RV trip through BC, Canada in August. For work I went to Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam and of course Thailand.
Trevor: Well, I started the year bouncing back and forth between Hawaii, Thailand, and Cambodia, ended up settling down here in Cambodia, made my first trip to London, and have rediscovered many parts of Cambodia I hadn’t been to in a while, so there was a lot of travel in my 2018.
Sponsor Thank-You: A final thank you to Hub Street Cocktails in Phnom Penh who sponsored us in December to celebrate and promote US Food week. We made it there a couple times, had some tasty cocktails including a cucumber cocktail and I even had their potato puff poutine which was pretty decent considering we were in Cambodia. Thanks Dara and the gang over at Hub St.
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Our favorite guests and episodes in 2018
Scott: Episode 86: Asia’s Best Meals – was fun to brainstorm this with my wife and think of many great meals we’ve had. Two of them in Malaysia for me: Pak Putra and Sek Yuan. So many others, but the Deviled prawns in Sri Lanka were pretty awesome too.
Trevor: Looking back at 2018 episodes, I realize we actually had a lot of cool guests and good episodes. Episode 88: Favorite Watering Holes II was a good one. One of few we do in person together and, while I was skeptical as we both claim to not go out much anymore, we were able to put together a pretty impressive collection of bars across Asia that we like to stop in for a drink.
Scott: I enjoyed the crossover episodes we did with Ed and Greg from Bangkok Podcast: How Has Bangkok Changed Us? Season 3, Episode 13.
Trevor: Like the drinking one, I also liked Ep 86: Asia’s Best Meals: I winged that one based on your suggestions and I think we gave a lot of great tips for specific places to get specific meals.
Trevor: I’m game for a Hawaii follow up episode. Let’s go next summer.
Best travel experiences we had in 2018
Scott: 4,000 Islands – we talked about this on Episode 85: 4,000 Islands and Vat Phou, Laos
Trevor: I made two big road trips around Eastern Cambodia: Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri provinces.
Scott: Motorbiking to Preah Khan Kampong Svay: it was a long drive, remote, a bit bummed we didn’t have more time there; perhaps worth staying overnight nearby; but then again you travel when you can!
Trevor: Agreed on the Preah Khan temple. FINALLY. 10 years overdue and a great adventure and much too short a visit. I was all over Cambodia this year, and barely elsewhere in Asia. I’ll go with hosting my sister Phaedra and her husband Corey on their honeymoon. Always fun to show people around Angkor. Oh and my dad came out for my birthday and we spent 4 straight days just kicking it in our adjoining pool villas at Shinta Mani Angkor. 2 very different but great ways to experience Siem Reap.
Best Travel Surprise in 2018
Scott: Southern Laos: the history, while I speak a similar language and knew what to expect, I really enjoyed this area, the history and also seeing an amazing Khmer Temple. I was expecting to like it, but it exceeded expectations. Read the book Mad about the Mekong – Mekong Exploration Committee in 1866-68 – wild and read it while being in the areas!
Trevor: My surprise was Sihanoukville. The Chinese development on the mainland is shocking. At the same time, the islands have developed much more slowly than developers had planned, and that’s a good thing. Still beautiful save the plastic you find everywhere nowadays.
Things we learned about travel in 2018:
Trevor: My Cambodian driving skills are finely honed now.
Scott: Just how crowded areas are getting. With a rapidly growing middle class in Asia, overcrowding and tourism management is becoming a major issue and challenge. (Hoi An, Bangkok, Chinese signs in southern Laos and even in Phnom Penh.
Trevor: Yeah I think that’s true. Obviously so many more Chinese travelers (now a given, along with plastic) but also lots more younger Westerners. You really noticed it after 2008 when young westerners jumped ship for greener pastures here in Asia. I really noticed it a lot more in Cambodia this year as the expat population here has really grown: just look at the Russian Market area.
Best travel trend/development in 2018
Trevor: Otherwise, 2017 was my big anti-plastic year, and I was stoked to really see the whole world pick it up in 2018. We had the gentlemen from Refill not Landfill on Episode 79 this year. 83 was travel responsibly with Shannon Stowell and Episode 86 was travel light and Responsible. 2018 was the year that travel sustainability and responsibility went mainstream.
Scott: I’ll add about being able to fill water bottles at places after you.
Worst thing to happen in travel in 2018
Trevor: I might go out on a limb here and go with the travel boycott in Myanmar. I haven’t been since 2001 or 2 when we weren’t supposed to go there then either. I understand the politics, but I also know that everyday people who rely on tourism revenue are probably suffering. I personally think people can and should travel to Myanmar in a way that, aside from the visa fee, benefits the people of Myanmar without condoning the government or it’s horrific policies.
Scott: The continued disappearance of street food in Bangkok and gentrification of the city – we’re losing what makes it a magical place. It tops many tourism lists and is one of the most visited cities on earth, but if we keep building malls and putting up shops/restaurants you can find anywhere in the world, in a decade there will be nothing unique and magical to make people visit.
Places we want to visit in 2019:
Trevor: I need surf. Bali is an easy win I guess though I wouldn’t mind somewhere new. Probably just go to Hawaii for a few weeks to get my surf fix. Otherwise, my buddy Mike is in Mauritius now and our trip there in 2017 was scuttled so that would be cool. Trevor needs time in the ocean or he withers.
Scott: Ko Phayam – I’m getting close to needing a beach vacation and would like to finally make it there, but need to find a way to work remotely there for a bit.
Trevor: Aside from the beach, I haven’t seen snow in around 20 years and Banksy wants to go somewhere cool. Maybe we’ll score some cheap tickets to Japan somehow and find some snow! Not sure about that though.
Scott: travel up the Mekong River from HCMC to Phnom Penh and then hopefully further north on the river to the border with Laos.
Trends to watch for/be aware of in 2019
Trevor: I’m sticking with more sustainability. I’m working on developing tours that focus on sustainable and responsible travel and I think there are others doing likewise. I think the trend towards responsible travel and cultural immersion travel will continue.
Scott: Over-tourism: have the courage to visit some spots none of your friends have heard about and you haven’t heard about. And I want to challenge myself and others to not be looking at their phone so much. Useful tool yes, but lets be in the ‘now’ more too.
Episodes we hope to do in 2019
Trevor: We’re doing the Irrawaddy Dolphins in Myanmar on Ep. 93 with Paul Eshoo next I think, which should be cool as I just saw a bunch of them in the Mekong last week. I’d like to get back to John and Kathleen to talk about their follow up trip to Iran. Geoff, who was our travel to North Korea guest, just went trekking in Kazakstan. Those are all interesting and easy wins. Hope we can get them all on soon.
Scott: Snow sports in Asia, maybe skiing in Japan or somewhere else?
Trevor: Something new: how about India?
Scott: Something about traveling overland through Central Asia.
2019 Travel Resolution?:
- Scott: Talk to more people
- Trevor: Visit old friends around the region
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