There are few better ways to see a country than by motorbike. Wind in your face, sharing ‘hellos’ with people as you pass, stopping when you feel like it, and having the ability to take small trails, an iron horse is perhaps the ultimate way to travel. Today we’ll learn about motorcycling in Vietnam, from longtime rider and tour leader, Hawk Moon. Strap on your helmet and get ready for an adventurous episode.

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We’ve collectively lived and worked in Asia for more than 40-years. After that long, one begins to wonder where ‘home’ is? Is it where you were born? Where you grew up? Where you’re living now? Or a combination of all of those? And the longer one is away from their country of birth, and continent for that matter, the stranger it can feel when you return for a visit. On this episode we’ll chat about things we’ve found odd, uncomfortable, and just plain strange about returning to the west after recent visits. Today we’re chatting about Reverse Culture Shock!

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In the introduction, Trevor talks about how the idea for the show came about: We’ve done tons about Thailand but when we started thinking more deeply about our trips in the region, realized we’ve been lucky enough to go to a lot of places that tourists and travelers don’t know. So we decided there was a whole new level to what we’re doing and sharing and are now embarking on this Lesser-Known series, which started recently with Ep. 144: Lesser-known Japan with Mark Holguin. So, we’re going deep, contacting truly long-time residents, travelers, and experts to dive deeper into countries some of us already know well to find more spots to travel.

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Hotels can make or break a trip. Sometimes they bring you closer to a destination, sometimes they elevate your experience, and other times they are the destination themselves. Trevor and I have been lucky enough to stay at a lot of interesting and memorable properties across Asia over the years, and today we’re going to share some of those experiences with you. From high-end to charming and local, there’s a wide range of winners here you’re sure to want to make a part of your next trip to the region.

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On this episode of Talk Travel Asia Podcast, we chat with Matt Hunt about Free the Bears, an organization that rescues and protects bears with programs in Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia, where today’s guest happens to be available for a live interview with me, your co-host Trevor Ranges. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit and support the Free the Bears sanctuary here in Cambodia, where Matt will soon join us, so I’ll turn the mike over to my co-host Scott Coates, who has visited Free the Bears’ site in Luang Prabang, Laos. 

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While we typically book our holidays based on the destination, it’s often the component experiences that really make or break a trip. Whether a half or full-day outing, day-trips within a longer trip, are the elements that make a vacation truly memorable. Still, making the most of your time can be challenging, so how do you ensure that you make your hours in-country count? Today, we’ll share some of our favorite, most rewarding, and memorable half and full-day experiences across the region that we’ve personally enjoyed to help you make the most of your time in Asia.

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A nation of islands off Asia’s Pacific coast, Japan includes the four “Home islands” of Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu, which most travelers are familiar with, as well as nearly 7,000 more, mostly volcanic islands, that stretch over 3,000 km NE to SW. Comparatively, the area occupied by Japan is slightly smaller than the US state of California, and nearly the entire landmass is made up of the four primary islands. But, with towering mountains and almost 30,000 km of coastline, Japan is certain to harbor hundreds, if not thousands, of hidden gems that most travelers have never dreamt of. Today we’re going to discover a few of them. 

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French Polynesia is made up of four archipelagos in the South Pacific, spanning more than 2,000 km. Perhaps most famous of the islands, Tahiti, conjures images of a postcard-perfect tropical paradise with coral-fringed lagoons and over-the-water bungalow hotels. But with more 100 islands, French Polynesia is certain to harbor a few travel surprises.

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Longtime listeners and friends likely know that Scott and I love beer. I’ve worked on and off in the beer industry for decades and Scott has retained his amateur status in hopes of someday representing Canada when beer drinking becomes an Olympic event. Today, we’re going to talk hops and mashed malts from across the continent, to help you enjoy the best brews during your next Asian adventure on this episode: Favorite Beers of Asia. 

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As we reach the beginning of 2022, the world looks forward to traveling again, but the travel experience may never be the same. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, as we discussed in a recent episode #132 Predicting Travel Trends in Asia for 2022 and Beyond. Supporting this assertion, an June 2021 Booking.com study that polled more than 29,000 travelers across 30 countries suggests that the pandemic has been the tipping point for sustainable travel. But how are travelers to know which properties in Asia are the most sustainable and regenerative, representing the region’s next-generation hotels? That’s one of the topics we’ll be discussing with our guest, Tomo Hamakawa, on this week’s show.

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The Republic of Maldives, is a collection of 1,200 small coral islands in the north-central Indian Ocean, with only 200 of them being inhabited. Famous for luxury bungalows on stilts over stunning clear water, no natural point is higher than 1.8 meters, and there’s a population of less than 600,000. The country stretches 820 km from north to south, and more than and 130 km from east to west, covering a large swath of ocean. Put on a tropical shirt and let’s discover the Maldives with travel writer Tom Masters.

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While Talk Travel Asia has been sharing and dreaming of travel since 2013, there are still lots of countries in the region that we’ve yet to dedicate an entire episode to. As we begin 2022, we note a handful we’re curious about and hope to feature in the year ahead. Get ready to expand your travel ‘bucket list’ as we share some fun, interesting, and quirky facts about 13 countries we’d like to cover as show topics in 2022.

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