Why did you decide to start leading experiential travel tours?
After traveling throughout the region myself for quite sometime I wanted to share my enthusiasm and knowledge with others. Keeping trips fresh and interesting for guests is a big part of the job.
What are you most excited to share with tourists?
I very much like facilitating truly local, non-curated interactions. For example, when out cycling, we may stop at a local house or pagoda and the guests are free to make their own interactions with the temporary hosts. Of course Southeast Asia is a treasure trove of culinary delights and food is always a large topic of conversation. For me I find Cambodia’s cuisine very understated and overlooked in preference to its larger neighbors.
What fears do you have about making the lands where you lead and lifestyles of the people that you work with more public?
Before we develop a new tour we take into consideration the effects of our presence, especially in more remote areas. We aim to keep a small footprint so as to minimize the effects of visitors on the local population. We will carry out inspection trips and talk with community leaders to ensure that we are not affecting any local laws or taboos. In reality, in many parts of Southeast Asia, opening more remote areas up to sustainable eco-tourism activities can have a positive impact on the forests and lands as it provides employment and discourages the local communities from hunting the wildlife and cutting down trees.
What specifically about the culture/history/environment of the area where you lead would be beneficial for a traveler to learn about before taking their trip?
Certainly in Southeast Asia, many of the people outside of the large cities can be very conservative. It's good for people to have a little knowledge of the rights and wrongs when making introductions. The history here is very diverse, I feel there is a lot to learn. I have a personal interest in the history of the region and am still learning after many years here. We have excellent trip leaders who are able to supply a wealth of knowledge to our guests.