The Mekong is one of the world’s great rivers. Covering a distance of nearly 5,000km from its source on the Tibetan Plateau in China to the Mekong Delta in Viet Nam, the river flows through six countries: China, Myanmar, Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia and Viet Nam. Its basin is home to one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world, with more than 20,000 plant species and 850 fish species discovered to date. An estimated 80% of the nearly 65 million people living in the Lower Mekong River Basin depend on the river and its rich natural resources for their livelihoods, making sustainable development crucial for the environment and communities living in the basin.

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The Silk Road was once a crossroads for the movement of people, goods, and ideas between Europe and Asia that included the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Frequent listeners of our show will have already learned a bit about Central Asia from prior episodes #136 – Central Asia with Bradley Mayhew, and #133 – Travel to Kyrgyzstan with Stephen Lioy. Today, writer Tom Masters, who was originally on Ep. 140 about The Maldives, returns to our show to share his knowledge about Turkmenistan, perhaps one of the most mysterious countries of an already semi-unknown region.

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Most international travel has one common element: airports. Beyond travel by train or ship, most visitors come and go by aircraft, making airport experiences inevitable. Fortunately, Asia is internationally known for having some of the best airports in the world. Today, we’ll talk about some, giving an overview of a few we know well, sharing some travel tales of our experiences in airports in Asia, and offering a few tips for layovers in some of our favorite – and least favorite – airport terminals.

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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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