Asian Trails Trailblazer

Issue January 2016

THE CEO STORY

 

‘FUTURE OF CHILDREN’ BUILDING A BETTER TOMORROW FOR THE PEOPLE OF MUNTIGUNUNG IN BALI

Welcome to my first story of 2016. This is about doing good and building a future for the children in the Muntigunung region on the north-eastern side of the island of Bali.

Before I share with you my trek to Muntigunung, I would like to talk about the relatively unknown Muntigunung region and ‘Future for Children’, the Swiss-Indonesian non-profit organization founded in Switzerland in November 2004 by Daniel Elber. Its objectives are to finance projects to support sustainable developments in destitute regions of Bali, with its main focus on Muntigunung. In Bali it cooperates with Dian Desa, the most reputed development organization in Indonesia, as well as work with other local partners.

Every Balinese knows Muntigunung, not for its beauty and rice fields but for its reputation of sending women and children to beg in the streets of southern Bali. The sad sight and plight of these beggars made Daniel and his organization start a series of projects to help them.

Muntigunung is one of the driest regions of Bali, and water is a constant worry. Women used to take their children on three to five hour treks every day to fetch water from Batur Lake or the coastal region. Imagine having to hike up and down dangerous pathways on rugged terrain to fetch a few liters of water, the agony of stepping over a stone, dropping the bucket, and having to start all over again.

Daniel realized that the key to improving the life of these poorest of the poor people was to secure them with a sustainable water supply. The first project ‘Future of Children” embarked on was to build a water tank to store rainwater and distribute it to the houses in the villages. To ensure there is enough water for everyone, the villagers were educated not to use more than 25 liters per person per day – a luxury compared to the 10-15 liter buckets of the past that had to last the whole day for the entire family. This was the beginning of several water tanks built in other villages throughout Muntigunung.

‘Future for Children’ then embarked on its next project, which was to create income- generating activities for the villagers. If you have visited Bali and received an Asian Trails’ branded basket with cashew nuts, it was produced by the villagers of Muntigunung. Besides baskets and cashew nuts the villagers also produce hammocks, bags, Rosella flowers (wild hibiscus), and palm sugar powder.

Improving the health and reduce child mortality, as well as assuring adequate education for children, are some of the other activities and training programs initiated and overseen by ‘Future of Children’. Through these projects the organization is changing the livelihood of the 5,500 inhabitants and the 36 villages of Muntigunung.

Asian Trails has been organizing treks with ‘Future for Children’ for many years. On my recent visit to Bali I had the pleasure of going on one of these treks that was led by Nicole, an active member of the organization, its expert guide Pica, a trekking guide from Muntigunung and Bjoern Schimanski, Asian Trails’ managing director in Indonesia.

We left my villa in southern Bali in the early morning and drove to the starting point that was just up the hill from Lake Batur. After a hike uphill the panorama, which opened up to Lake Batur and Mt. Batur on the western side and the coastline to the east, was simply breathtaking.

We continued mostly downhill on mountain pathways, through plantations and forests, and through some of the most rugged and driest terrains in Bali. The views were spectacular, to say the least, and at every turn we saw another amazing panorama.

After about two hours of trekking we reached Muntigunung, and the first village where a water tank had been built. This village today specializes in making baskets. For me this was quite an emotional encounter as I did not only see the finished baskets, which Asian Trails and several of our clients had purchased as customer giveaways for many years, but also villagers with smiling faces making them piece by piece from a few helms of dried palm tree leaves.

We continued to another village that produces luxury quality hammocks, a technique learned by the hammock weavers from Salvador. A fresh coconut drink gave us energy to continue on the last part of the trek through several more villages until we reached the training center of ‘Future for Children’. The leader of the training center, which is also the center for the cashew nut production, explained the organization’s objectives, projects and achievements to us.

After a late lunch at a small resort next to the beach in Tembok, we drove back to southern Bali.

This trek is a unique opportunity to discover an untouched side of Bali, away from the more popular areas and their accompanying mass tourism and to learn about the challenges faced by locals and how help is provided. We took the long route lasting about three hours, which requires good average physical condition. Another option is a more moderate walk of about an hour. Asian Trails can guide you and your clients in the way most suitable to their requirement in exploring and learning about Muntigunung and ‘Future for Children’.

Trekking is one active way to support the organization. Other ways to help are to buy their goods for logo branded giveaways or make a donation to the bank account mentioned on its website. You can be assured that all funds will reach the people in Muntigunung.

If you wish to learn more about Muntigunung and projects of ‘Future of Children’ visit www.zukunft-fuer-kinder.ch/en, or contact Asian Trails Indonesia for further information.


Happy Trails! 

Laurent Kuenzle 
CEO 
Asian Trails

 

 

   

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    THAILAND

     

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR CLAUDIO F. KELLENBERGER


    Dear colleagues and friends,

    I would like to thank you for your support to Asian Trails Thailand in 2015. It certainly was a challenging year for Thailand’s tourism industry, and our teams look forward to working with you in 2016.

    We are confident and optimistic that 2016 will be a good year for Thailand, as booking numbers for January through March look promising. We will continue to create new, innovative, and exciting products and will ‘deliver’ them to you throughout the year. We love to hear from you – please share with us your feedback on these new products as well what special products and programmes you would like us to create.

    I like to take the opportunity to wish you, your families, and loved ones a happy and prosperous New Year. In Thailand we have the opportunity to celebrate New Year twice – on January 1, 2016 and again on February 8 & 9 during Chinese New Year.

    We wish you all the best, and look forward to working with you for a successful 2016!

    Yours sincerely,

    Claudio F. Kellenberger
    Managing Director
    Asian Trails Thailand
     

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

    VIP LOUNGE AT CHIANG MAI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

     

    The Executive Lounge at the international departure hall in Chiang Mai International Airport is about 200sqm in area, decorated in modern style, and can seat up to 60 guests. The comfortable lounge enhances the superior ground services, and provides a nice place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the crowded airport.

    Contact us for rates and further information.

     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    NEW! 3 DAYS NAN - THE HIDDEN GEM OF NORTH THAILAND

     

    Explore the natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and tranquillity of Nan. Our programme includes visits to the Nan National Museum, Wat Phumin with its famous ancient mural wall paintings, the ancient temple of Thai Lue at Wat Nong Bua, and the ancient salt production centre in Bo Klua district.
     

     

     

    NEW! 3 DAYS - THE HIDDEN TREASURES OF CENTRAL THAILAND

     

    Discover the cultural and natural treasures along the three main rivers of Central Thailand namely the Ta Chin, Chao Phraya and Sakraekrang. Be amazed by the hidden beauty of Suphanburi, Uthai Thani, and Nakorn Sawan provinces. See the charming old town and market, authentic way of local life along the rivers, amazing temples, caves with rare plants, the Laotian community, and historical park. Relax and enjoy a tranquil stay at the Country Lake Nature Resort, which is surrounded by rich flora and fauna.
     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    BANGKOK

     

    NEW – PARK HYATT BANGKOK

     

    Park Hyatt Bangkok, opening mid-2016, has its sights set on being the capital’s leading icon of luxury and hotels in Bangkok. Located in the heart of the city’s key shopping, business and entertainment districts, the hotel is housed in the top 24 floors of a soon-to-be-iconic, twisted-coil structure atop the Central Embassy fashion, dining and lifestyle destination.

    The 5 star hotel will feature 222 luxurious guestrooms, including 30 premier suites, all complete with floor-to-ceiling windows. Spanning the 34th, 35th, and 36th floors the complex will also include a grill restaurant, cocktail bar, speakeasy bar, VIP mezzanine lounge, and sky bar with unobstructed views of the city.

    With personalised luxury combined with authentic Thai hospitality, Park Hyatt Bangkok is destined to be the ideal home-away-from-home for connoisseurs of sophisticated living.

     

     

     

    NEW – LANCASTER BANGKOK

     

    The beautiful Lancaster Bangkok is the embodiment of Thai warmth and hospitality. The hotel offers 230 elegant rooms and suites featuring classic luxury fittings and the latest technology, including a digital room-control tablet, complimentary high-speed WiFi and a large flat-screen TV.

    The 40sqm rooms feature either a king bed or twin beds, separate walk-in rain showers, and a free-standing bath. Business travellers will also appreciate the complimentary high speed Internet connection and comfortable work desk.
     

     

     

    NEW – THE RITZ-CARLTON RESIDENCES BANGKOK

     

    Thailand’s first Ritz-Carlton Residences will comprise 200 residences featuring the legendary service of The Ritz-Carlton in the city’s most exclusive address. They are part of the mixed-use Maha Nakhon development created by The Office For Metropolitan Architecture, the most significant complex of contemporary architecture and urban design in Thailand.

    Residents will enjoy outstanding facilities and privacy, and unique design features including skyboxes, terraces, double height ceilings, duplexes and interiors by David Collins Studio.
     

     

     

    NEW - SYAMA SUKHUMVIT 20

     

    The 14 all-suite Syama Sukhumvit 20 offers a five star experience, and focuses on a memorable hotel stay combined with a club floor experience. All rooms offer upgrades with Club benefits that include complimentary daily breakfast and a selection of beverages and hors d’oeuvres in the Club lounge. With its expansive space the lounge is an ideal venue to meet friends, hold an impromptu business meeting, or chill and relax after a day out visiting Bangkok.

     

     

     

    KANCHANABURI

     

    X2 RIVER KWAI

     

    X2 River Kwai has just unveiled six brand new industrial-chic floating cabins. Perched on the surface of the Kwai Noi River, the new 65sqm XFloat Cabins are made from environmentally friendly rubber wood boards. They also come with fish tank-style floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over the calm Kanchanaburi countryside. An upper deck (dubbed the "moon deck") allows you to make the most of the clear, starry sky. Despite being on the water the cabins are not short on quality, and share the same amenities as their land counterparts including luxury bathtub, Bose sound system, WiFi, and premium king bed.
     

     

     

    PHUKET

     

    GRAND MERCURE PHUKET PATONG

     

    Grand Mercure Phuket Patong is a serene hideaway that combines natural beauty and cultural heritage. The luxurious property offers 314 rooms in various categories including suites and pool villas. The resort is ideal for young travellers, families, or tourists looking to spend some quality time in the heart of Patong.
     

     

     

    AMARI PHUKET

     

    Amari Phuket is an oasis of calm, overlooking the picturesque Patong Bay. Offering a complete island experience, the resort has 380 stylish and well-appointed rooms and suites spread across three wings – Superior, Deluxe and Ocean wings.

    The Superior and Deluxe wings offer 197 ocean-view rooms and suites, with magnificent views of Patong Bay from the private balconies.

    The Ocean Wing comprises 183 one-bedroom and two-bedroom suites overlooking the bay. Each suite comes with spacious living space, a private kitchen, and dining area. There is also an exclusive Clubhouse with complete privacy for guests.
     

     

     

     

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

     

     

     

    CHIANG MAI FLOWER FESTIVAL
    FEBRUARY 5-7, 2016
    VENUE: SUAN BUAK HAD PARK, THA PAE GATE PLAZA, & NAWARAT BRIDGE, CHIANG MAI

     

    The annual Chiang Mai Flower Festival is the biggest flower show in Thailand. It showcases an impressive display of traditional and contemporary floral art and Lanna culture. The city takes great pride in having maintained its tradition of hosting this annual festival for the past 38 years.

    The ancient Lanna Thai kingdom, “Land of a Million Rice Fields", was also famous for its tradition of artistic excellence. Chiang Mai is also known as the "Home of the Legendary Lanna Thai Artisans". Long recognised for it exquisite craftsmanship, this northern region is noted for its elaborate traditional floral art installations.

     

     

     

    CHINESE NEW YEAR FESTIVAL
    FEBRUARY 8, 2016
    VENUE: CHINATOWN, BANGKOK

     

    Chinese New Year Festival on Yaowarat Road is the most important event for the Thai Chinese community in Bangkok. This area, also known as Chinatown, is where most of the Chinese residents live and ply their trade, selling a variety of Chinese good and operating Chinese restaurants and eateries, most of which are along the road.

    The Chinese celebrate the festival on a lavish scale, and stage Thai and Chinese cultural performances. The colourful event is a must-see for visitors.

    We recommend that you send us your hotel bookings as early as possible as Thailand, in particular Chiang Mai, Bangkok and Phuket, experience high demand from travellers from China during the Chinese New Year period.

     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

    U-TAPAO GAINS MORE FLIGHTS

     

    Thai AirAsia has launched new services connecting U-Tapao to Chiang Mai in the north and Hat Yai in the south as part of its expansion. The services are on a 180-seat Airbus A320 aircraft.

    The schedule is as follows:

    U-Tapao–Chiang Mai (Daily)
    FD101 UTP-CNX: Departs 06.40hrs, arrives 07.55hrs
    FD102 CNX-UTP: Departs 08.25hrs, arrives 09.30hrs

    U-Tapao–Chiang Mai (Wednesday, Friday, Sunday)
    FD103 UTP-CNX: Departs 17.25hrs, arrives 18.35hrs
    FD104 CNX-UTP: Departs 19.40hrs, arrives 20.50hrs

    U-Tapao–Hat Yai (Monday, Tues, Thursday, Saturday)
    FD161 UTP-HDY: Departs 18.05hrs, arrives 19.15hrs
    FD162 HDY-UTP: Departs 20.05hrs, arrives 21.15hrs

    U-Tapao started life as a military airport, and is still owned by the navy. Although it still handles military flights the airport is increasingly being used for commercial services. To cope with the increase in passenger numbers a new airport terminal is scheduled to open at U-Tapao in June 2016. The airport is about 50 kilometres (31 miles) or a 45-minute drive from Pattaya.

     

     

     

     

    RESTAURANTS & VENUES

     

     

    VESPER COCKTAIL BAR & RESTAURANT

     

    Vesper Cocktail Bar & Restaurant serves cutting-edge craft cocktails and contemporary Italian cuisine. Founded by a husband-and-wife team of passionate foodies Vesper has been at the forefront of Bangkok's thriving cocktail scene since it opens in 2014 with its creative and spirit-forward concoctions. The drinks are drawn from European inspirations and prepared by a team of award-winning bartenders.

    At the helm of the kitchen is chef-partner Luca Appino, who is from La Bottega di Luca. He cooks Italian dishes the way they should be, with bold flavours and authentic ingredients.

     

     

     
     

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    LAOS

     

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR ANDREAS HOFMANN

     

    Saibaidee!

    Laos is a very young country, which celebrated its 40th birthday last December. The average age of its population is 22. You can see children and young students everywhere when you travel in the country.

    The country, like its people, is growing up now. Vientiane, for example, is no longer the sleepy village it used to be. It is growing into a developed and mature city with more and more shopping centres carrying international brands. Many old markets are closing down, making way for modern establishments. The tuk-tuks, which used to be everywhere, are seen less and less as they are replaced by SUVs and luxury cars.

    The construction of the first Lao railway line between Kunming (China), Vientiane (Laos) and Nongkhai (Thailand) has started, and will be completed in 2020. This will change the country forever, for better or for worse! Now is a good time to travel to Laos – a country between past and future – before it loses it past to modernity.

    Best wishes from Laos,

    Andreas Hofmann
    Managing Director Asian Trails Laos

     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    PROMOTION AT BURASARI HERITAGE – STAY 3 NIGHTS, PAY 2

     

    Imagine a wildly romantic elegant traditional colonial house located in the mystical city of Luang Prabang right across from the River Khan - the ideal setting for romantic rendezvous.

    Imagine fishing boats floating by under the lazy sun, the sound of soothing evening prayers of the monks, and locals wearing hats riding bicycles on their way to the market.

    Burasari Heritage, a charming historic Laotian colonial house, is a true reflection of what life was like during 19th century French Indochina. History surrounds the hotel. To feel what it was like is to absorb and take part in many of the city's traditions including the daily procession of the monks collecting alms, a ritual dating back centuries – a timeless picture of days gone by.

    Burasari Heritage is a place you will love. For to discover the warmth and tranquility of this historic house, surrounded by the delights of Luang Prabang, is to find something very special- rather like falling in love for the very first time.

     

    From April 1 to September 30, 2016, you can stay at Burasari for 3 nights and pay for only 2.

     

     

     

    MAISON SOUVANNAPHOUM HOTEL’S NEW MENUS

     

    Be enchanted by the magic of Laos, its rich history and royal legacy. Stay at Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel in Luang Prabang. Walk along the corridors of the hotel, which once belonged to Laos’ four-time Prime Minister Prince Souvanna Phouma. It is just 10 minutes away from the town highlights and the Mekong River.

    Maison Souvannaphoum has acquired the services of the busy corporate chef Renu for a few days to work together with its cooks to create new dishes and explore ways to present dishes with local touches. All these dishes are incorporated in the menus.

    The hotel held the first Maison Chef Competition recently. The winning dishes, inspired by plants in its herbal garden, are offered to guests on special nights.

    For more information, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/MaisonSouvannaphoumHotel/

     

     

     

    SPECIAL INTEREST AND STUDY TOURS – LAOS’ BATTLEFIELD ATTRACTIONS AND POLITICAL HISTORY

     

    As Laos has just celebrated its 40th birthday we recommend to our clients, who are interested in historical, political, or battlefield tours, to contact us for a special interest tour to Laos and Indochina.

    The wars of the last century left the country with a complex legacy, as well as battlefield attractions. There are also a number of NGOs like the COPE Centre (pictured) in Vientiane, MAG or The UXO Survivor Information Centre on The Plain of Jars, and the Communist Caves of Viengxay who, with the right tour leader and guide, would be interested to create special theme products. Contact us for more details.
     

     

     
     

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    CAMBODIA

     

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR VERONIQUE DUCASSY

     

    Dear Business Partners and Friends,

    2015 has been an interesting year in Cambodia with an important development in the tourism industry – we do not count the number of hotels openings, restaurants or activities anymore. This small and beautiful country is instead booming with its wide range of products for all travellers.

    Asian Trails has developed new themed experiences to discover this “Land of Smiles” in a relaxing way combining culture and wellness.

    The team in Cambodia is looking forward to welcoming your clients and wishes you a happy and successful year.

    Suorsdey Chhnam Thmey! Happy New Year 2016!

     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    WELLNESS TOUR IN CAMBODIA

     

    Cambodia’s wellness scene is booming and now offers a wide range of quality treatments and activities. Our team handcrafted a wellness programme allowing you to combine and create according to your expectations and needs your perfect journey. Discover the great temples of Angkor, meditate on the top of a sacred hill, treat yourself in healthy restaurants, relax in a charming resort, have a yoga session with highly trained teachers, and share moments with the locals.

    For further information, contact Asian Trails at res@asiantrails.com.kh

     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    BATTAMBANG

     

    AU CABARET VERT HOTEL COMPLETES EXPANSION

     

    Au Cabaret Vert Hotel in Battambang, Cambodia’s eco resort pioneer, has just finished its extension. It now offers 10 villas (rooms) and two rooms in the main building, bringing the total room inventory to 12.

    The hotel is an ideal base to discover the charms of Battambang, from its lush countryside to the bamboo train and the amazing Cambodian circus.
     

     

     

    SIEM REAP

     

    THE MOON RESIDENCE IS OPEN

     

    The Moon Residence has opened with 14 well-appointed rooms that are inspired by Angkorian design. This charming property is ideally located near Siem Reap for guests to discover its attractions. It is also just a few hundred metres from the busy old market.
     

     

     

    KOMPONG THOM

     

    GLORIOUS HOTEL & SPA

     

    Kompong Thom is an ideal location to explore the legendary temples of Sambor Prei Kuk, which are some of the oldest temples in Cambodia. The hotel offers 89 fully equipped rooms, a spa, and swimming pool. Attentive staff is on hand to ensure a relaxing and pleasant stay for the guests.

     

     

     

    SIHANOUKVILLE

     

    NAIA RESORT

     

    Naia Resort is a new beach-front property with 32 rooms. Located on Otres Beach with its pure white sand, and a few kilometres away from the city centre, the resort is the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city for just a day or more.

     

     

     

     

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

     

     

    VICTORY DAY OVER GENOCIDE REGIME
    JANUARY 7, 2016
    VENUE: THROUGHOUT CAMBODIA

     

    This national holiday commemorates Vietnamese backed troops taking over the capital city of Phnom Penh from the Khmer Rouge in 1979, and marked the end of the Kampuchea Democratic regime. The special day honours those lost in the genocide, and who sacrificed their lives in restoring peace to the country. Colourful ceremonies are held at the Independence Monument (Vimean Ekareach).

     

     

     

    MEAK BOCHEA DAY
    FEBRUARY 3, 2016
    VENUE: THROUGHOUT CAMBODIA

     

    Meak Bochea Day is an important Buddhist celebration, which commemorates the spontaneous gathering of 1,250 monks to listen to Buddha’s sermons. Today, Meak Bochea is a colourful festival with monks gathering at the temples and praying from Buddhist scriptures. The wats (pagodas) are filled with Cambodians who come to pray and offer tributes of food to the monks.

     

     

     

     

    CHINESE NEW YEAR
    FEBRUARY 8, 2016
    VENUE: THROUGHOUT CAMBODIA

     

    The first day of Chinese New Year 2016 falls on February 8, 2016. This will be the Year of the Monkey. Some shops, restaurants, and markets will be closed in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap for a few days to celebrate this auspicious festival.

     

     

    GIANT PUPPET PROJECT PARADE
    FEBRUARY 19-21, 2016
    VENUE: SIEM REAP

     

    The Giant Puppet Project parade has been bringing joy and wonder to Siem Reap for the past nine years. This revolutionary community project provides a creative platform for disadvantaged children in Siem Reap to promote self-expression and confidence through art.

    The Parade takes place in the streets of Siem Reap, and brings all the communities together for an unforgettable evening.
     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

    PROMOTIONAL FARES FROM CAMBODIA ANGKOR AIR

     

    Cambodia Angkor Air is offering promotional fares between Bangkok (Thailand) to Siem Reap until end March 2016.

    Contact Asian Trails for further information.

     

     

     

     

    RESTAURANTS & VENUES

     

     

    SIEM REAP

     

    CHEZ M. PAUL CLOSES

     

    Chez M.Paul, the French bistro at King’s Road in Siem Reap, is closing down. Its menu is still available at its sister property, The Grey Restaurant, also at King’s Road. We will miss Chez M.Paul
     

     

     

     

     

    ANY OTHER NEWS

     

     

    NEW HOME FOR PHARE, THE CAMBODIAN CIRCUS

     

    Phare, the Cambodian Circus is moving to a new home within Siem Reap on January 15, 2016. Performances continue at its current site, behind Angkor National Museum on Komay Road, until January 14. From January 5 to 14 performances will be at the outdoor stage on the current site while the Big Top is being moved to the new location. The first performance at the new location, at the end of Sok San Road next to Happy Ranch, is on January 15, 2016.
     

     

     
     

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    VIETNAM

     

     

    A note from Managing Director Thuy Tien

     

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the Year of the Monkey! Like the agile and clever animal we look forward to a fast moving and fruitful 2016.

    Over the past years our team has been travelling intensively from the northwest to the north east of the country, reaching some far-flung villages to build off-the-beaten track itineraries for our clients. These regions have a lot to offer – from the famous Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark (Ha Giang) to the golden rice terraces in Mu Cang Chai, the great Ban Gioc Waterfall, and the green valleys in Cao Bang – a large area of spectacular landscape where Vietnam’s ethnic hill tribes live with their fascinating cultures and customs.

    The north has a lot to entice first-time visitors to Vietnam to stay longer, or repeat travellers to explore the region again. We invite you to explore the region with us.

    We wish all of you “Chúc mừng năm mới”! Happy New Year!

     

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

    PHONG NHA–QUANG BINH: DESTINATION FOR CAVE AND NATURE LOVERS

     

    Phong Nha has attracted worldwide attention thanks to some mega public relations projects, and the recognition of Son Doong Cave as the world’s largest cave system. While the Son Doong expedition is a high intensive tour there are many tours of different adventure levels that last for half a day to several days. These are suitable for families with children and include activities around Phong Nha like homestay, camping, cycling, and kayaking.

    Please contact us for more information.
     

     

     

    TEE OFF IN DANANG

     

    The 18-hole Ba Na Hills Golf Club is the newest golf course in Vietnam’s central coast, which is scheduled to open in March 2016. The first nine holes opened on January 1, 2016 together with the driving range and clubhouse restaurant. This new golf course, together with the Danang Goft Club, Montgomerie Links, and Laguna Lăng C๔ Golf Club, makes Danang a great destination for golfers.
     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    IMMERSION IN TAM GIANG LAGOON – HUE

     

    The most interesting way to experience Immersion in Tam Giang Lagoon is through a cycling trip, as you can make many stops enroute to explore the area. The journey can also be made by car or mini bus.

    The Tam Giang Lagoon system, about 22 hectares in area, is about 10 kilometres from Hue. Hop on to a bike and cycle leisurely through ancient villages, meandering rivers, and rice and flowers fields. On arrival at the lagoon board a motorised sampan for a ride to see the rich marine life. Learn to catch fish, craps or shrimps using age-old techniques with the help of a local fisherman. Visit rural markets, ancient village temples, and local workshops making handicrafts. Or join a fisherman and his family for a home-cooked meal.

    Immersion in Tam Giang lagoon is a picturesque journey that fills the senses. Please contact us for more information.

     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    HOI AN GARDEN PALACE & SPA

     

    Hoi An Garden Palace & Spa is located midway between Cua Dai Beach and Hoi An town. The cosy 4 star hotel offers 46 comfortable rooms decorated in classic style and equipped with modern facilities. It is ideal for tourists who prefer a hotel in tranquil surroundings and near to Hoi An’s attractions such as the Japanese Bridge and Chinese pagodas.

    Please contact us for more information.
     

     

     

    VICTORIA PHAN THIET BEACH RESORT & SPA COMPLETES BEACH RESTORATION

     

    Victoria Phan Thiet Beach Resort & Spa has completed its beach restoration project that lasted seven-and-half-months. It now has an eco-friendly geotube technology naturally rebuilt sandy beach. Other facilities include a new beach bar, kids’ playground, and yoga. The hotel will soon introduce seaside candle-lit seaside dinners.

    The resort is located 200 kilometres north of Ho Chi Minh City, along the southern Vietnamese coast, and is about a four-hour car ride away.

    Please contact us for more information.

     

     

     

    NEW: RICHIS BEACH RESORT PHU QUOC

     

    Richis Beach Resort Phu Quoc, rebranded from Centara Beach Resort, opened in mid-December last year. The 4 star resort is located in Duong Dong, within two kilometres of Dinh Cau Temple and Dinh Cau. San Van Dong Duong Dong Stadium and Phu Quoc Beach are about five kilometres away.

    Please contact us for more information.

     

     

     

    BEST WESTERN INDOCHINE PALACE HOTEL REBRANDS AS INDOCHINE PALACE

     

    Best Western Indochine Palace Hotel in Hue has been rebranded as indochine Palace effective January 1, 2016.

    Please contact us for more information.
     

     

     

     

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

     

     

    HUE FESTIVAL 2016
    APRIL 29-MAY 4, 2016
    VENUE: HUE

     

    The Hue Festival is into its ninth edition this year. It is held every two years to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Hue City, Vietnam's former royal capital. During the festival various activities are held such as street arts performances, drums and trumpets shows, art exhibitions, and historical films that showcase the history, rituals, and music of this beautiful city.

     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

    JETSTAR ASIA LAUNCHES SINGAPORE–DANANG SERVICE

     

    Low cost carrier, Jetstar Asia, has launched a direct service linking Singapore with and Danang in central Vietnam. The three times weekly flights are on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays operating with the 180-seat Airbus A320 aircraft. The new service will increase tourist traffic between the two destinations, and offers an affordable option to fly to Vietnam.

     

     

     

    JETSTAR ASIA TAKES OVER HANOI- TUY HOA ROUTE

     

    Jetstar Asia has taken over the Hanoi-Tuy Hoa service, which was previously operated by national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines using the 68-seater ATR-72 aircraft. The low cost carrier now operates the four times weekly flight with the 180-seater Airbus A320 aircraft.

    Tuy Hoa in Phu Yen province is a small beach town in the central coast between Quy Nho and Nha Trang. It has nice beaches for tourists wishing to get away from the crowds. Jetstar’s new service could help boost visitor arrivals to the town.

     

     

     

     

    STAFF UPDATE

     

     

    GOODBYE AND THANK YOU

     

    Mr. Manfred Schweizer has moved on to meet new challenges after working with Asian Trails Vietnam for two years as its General Manager. He left the company at end December 2015. We wish him all the best for the future, and thank him for his services. We will announce his successor at a later stage.

     

     

     
     

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    CHINA

       

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR KRIS VAN GOETHEM

     

    We are entering the ninth year of Asian Trails’ operations in China! 2015 was an exciting year, and with the current forecast we believe 2016 will be even better.

    A big thank you to all our partners worldwide for your loyalty and patience. We look forward to being of service to your esteemed customers into the new year. We wish all of you good health and prosperity!

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

    LAOS-CHINA RAILWAY PROJECT

     

    Work on the Laos-China rail link has commenced in Vientiane, Laos, marking the start of a major project that will eventually stretch 427 kilometres from the Lao capital to Boten on the Chinese border. The single-track line will include 11 passenger stations, 170 bridges stretching a total of 69 kilometres (or 16% of the total line), and 72 tunnels totalling 183 kilometres (43% of the total line).

    The Lao railway line will connect with the Chinese rail network up to Kunming in the north. It will also link with Thailand’s railway network from Nong Khai, which lies across the Mekong River from Vientiane, in the south.

    The Laos-China line will form a key part of the Kunming-Singapore Railway project, which will eventually stretch 3,000 kilometres through China, Laos, Thailand, and Malaysia.

     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    WUZHEN – FROM ANCIENT TOWN OF WATERWAYS TO MODERN TOURIST DESTINATION

     

    Wuzhen, a waterside town in Zhejiang province with more than 7,000 year history, was the venue for the second World Internet Conference (WIC) from December 16-18, 2015.

    As one of the top six ancient towns in the south region of the Yangtze River it served as a transport and business hub centuries ago. A fertile land Wuzhen has abundant rice, fish and silk. It has preserved its ancient appearance well, and oozes charm. This small town, with houses built of black bricks and grey tiles that contrasts sharply with the white walls, looks like a Chinese ink wash drawing.
     

     

     

    WUYUAN COUNTY - PICTURE POSTCARD PERFECT

     

    Wuyuan County in Jiangxi province, with its ancient towns and villages, is an ideal place for visitors who want to escape from a clamorous crowd. The region's mountainous terrain, once a barrier for easy travel, helped preserve its bygone charms. Now the glimpses into the past - the wooden arches, stone bridges, and maze of winding streets - are easily accessible by high-speed rail from Beijing or Shanghai.

    For visitors with interest in ancient Chinese architecture Wuyuan offers a beautifully preserved slice of life. The villages of Likeng and Wangkou – known for their architecture, customs and crafts – are candidates for the World Cultural Heritage list.

    Wuyuan also offers a special lure for bird enthusiasts. It implemented a logging ban 10 years ago, and the heavily forested county shelters rare and endangered species including the yellow-throated laughing thrush that was long thought to be extinct. Yuanyang Lake is the biggest winter habitat for Mandarin ducks in Asia.
     

     

     

    CHANGBAI MOUNTAIN, A PLACE OF LEGENDS

     

    The Changbai Mountain reserve, which sits between China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, is the tallest mountain in northeast China. It has been featured as a holy mountain in kung fu and other ancient Chinese novels.

    As early as the pre-Qin period (Qin Dynasty reigned from 221 BC to 206 BC) “Classic of Mountains and Seas”, an ancient compilation of Chinese mythology, mentioned Changbai Mountain. During the Qin Dynasty emperors held Changbai Mountain in such divine regard that the mountain and its surrounding areas were designated a forbidden area for approximately 200 years.

    Today, the folklore of Changbai Mountain continues. There are frequent news reports of tourists claiming to have seen a lake monster at Tianchi (which means heavenly lake) at the top of the mountain.

    Aside from the far-fetched and mysterious tales, Changbai Mountain is also known as a breath-taking site that is traversable throughout the year.

     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    SOFITEL KUNMING IS OPEN

     

    Set to be the centre of sophistication and elegance in downtown Kunming, Sofitel Kunming opened in December 2015. It heralds a new level of French inspired luxury in the dynamic spring city and emerging south Asian hub.

    The hotel offers 397 rooms and suites starting on the 27th floor of the tower, providing uninterrupted views over Kunming's ever changing and colourful night skyline. Extensive use of curved surfaces and unique design features, inspired by local culture especially the peacock that is the symbol of the Dai people of south Yunnan, results in rooms that provide a refreshing break from conformity.

     

     

     

    NAKED RETREATS, A BOUTIQUE ECO HOTEL IN MOGANSHAN

     

    Naked Retreats, a boutique eco hotel, has created a unique sanctuary in Moganshan, Zhejiang Province, as it is designed to be something of a natural decompression chamber. It targets business travellers, the Shanghai weekend travellers, and the globe-hopping eco-tourists.

    The hotel offers five-star services like balcony jacuzzis, personal butlers, a state-of-the-art health and wellness centre, and organic Chinese and Western room service. For many visitors to Naked Retreats, who are accustomed to such luxuries, the biggest draw is being to get up close and personal with nature – a welcome respite from the daily work grind.
     

     

     

     

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

     

     

    CHINESE NEW YEAR/SPRING FESTIVAL
    FEBRUARY 8-9, 2016
    VENUE: THROUGHOUT CHINA

     

    Chinese throughout China will welcome in the Year of Monkey on February 8.

    The Monkey is the most versatile sign of the Chinese zodiac. People born under the sign of the Monkey are often inventors, plotters, entertainers, and the creative geniuses behind anything ingenious including mischief. They have natural quick-wittedness, which enables them to understand what is happening and then make the right decisions. In general the “Monkey” people, with their agile minds and multiple talents, can master anything. They are also reliable and honest in their dealings, and secrets remain safe with them.

     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

     

    CHINA EASTERN AIRLINES LINKS SHANGHAI TO BRISBANE

     

    China Eastern Airlines will launch a new direct service from Shanghai to Brisbane in Australia on January 16, 2016. The three times weekly flights will leave Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 17.40hrs, arriving in Brisbane at 06.25hrs the next morning. The return service will depart at Brisbane at 11.00hrs every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, arriving in Shanghai at 19.30hrs.

     

     

     

    AIR CHINA LAUNCHES FLIGHT TO CUBA

     

    Air China extended its existing Beijing-Montreal route to the Cuban capital, Havana, on December 27, 2015. The three times weekly flights are on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. The services are on a 313-seat Boeing B777-300ER aircraft with flatbed seats in first and business class.
     

     

     

     

    EMIRATES TO CONNECT DUBAI WITH YINCHUAN

     

    Emirates will commence four weekly flights between Dubai and Yinchuan(pictured), capital of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region that is home to a large Muslim population. The services, which will commence on May 3, 2016, will continue on to Zhengzhou, the capital of central China’s Henan province.
     

     

     
     

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    MYANMAR

     

     

    A note from Managing Director Thomas Carnevale

     

    November has seen the historical elections in Myanmar, which led to a change in the political make-up of the country. This has changed the mood of the country with the people feeling optimistic and happy about the future. There were many positive media reports on the elections and its aftermath that will help boost Myanmar’s image as a safe and interesting destination and, consequently, will increase the number of visitors to the country.

    We have compiled the latest news on tourism developments in this report, and hope you will enjoy reading them. Please do not hesitate to contact us for any queries you may have.

     

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

    SIM CARDS FOR TOURISTS

     

    With Myanmar’s increasing popularity as a tourist destination the country’s telcos have started selling SIM cards targeted at foreign visitors. State-owned telecoms operators, Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT), started selling tourist SIMs from November 30.

    For more details please contact Asian Trails Myanmar.

     

     

     

    THE STRAND CRUISE

     

    The Strand Cruise is newly built vessel with 10 deluxe cabins, 13 Strand cabins, and two States Suites. Every cabin offers floor-to-ceiling windows, ensuite bathrooms, complimentary WiFi, international TV channels, and 24-hour butler service.

    The ship, named after and operated by the famous The Strand Hotel in Yangon, operates between Mandalay and Bagan vv with a 3-day and 4-day cruise respectively.

     

     

     

    RV MAKARA QUEEN RIVER CRUISES

     

    Rv Makara Queen is a newly built vessel, which features 22 deluxe rooms and two suites, a swimming pool, and sunset deck. It operates cruises mainly between Mandalay and Bagan vv. It also offers seasonal cruises to Monywa and Pyay. The cruises target the medium high market.

     

     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    ISLAND SAFARI AT MERGUI ARCHIPELAGO

     

    Discover the South, one of the ultimate frontiers in Myanmar. The proposed seven-day tour starts in Daiwei, a tropical town with a number of beautiful beaches, continuing to Meyik with some of the best-kept colonial era buildings in South East Asia, and on to Khawtaung gateway for a five-day cruise to the beautiful and unspoiled Mergui islands that is home to the Sea Gipsy.
     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    JASMINE PALACE HOTEL – YANGON

     

    The 21-storey Jasmine Palace Hotel is a new property located five kilometres from downtown Yangon. It is within walking distance to different shopping facilities, and a short drive from the world famous Shwedagon Pagoda. The 3-plus star hotel features 226 well equipped rooms and suites. Facilities include an indoor pool, gym and spa centre, and conference rooms.

     

     

     

    FIRST MELIA HOTEL IN MYANMAR TO OPEN IN 2016

     

    Meliá Hotels International will open Meliá Yangon, its first property in Myanmar, later this year. The newly build hotel is located in a prime location next to Inya Lake and with easy access to the airport and the downtown area of Yangon. It features 400 rooms, including the signature The Level rooms, YHI spa, a variety of restaurants, and a wide range of meeting facilities.

     

     

     

    STRAND HOTEL TO CLOSE FOR RENOVATIONS

     

    The Strand Hotel will be closed from May 1, 2016 for a full renovation, and will reopen in November 2016.

    Built in 1901 The Strand is one of the most prestigious colonial hotels in South East Asia, and a Myanmar national landmark.

     

     

     

    MARVEL HOTEL MANDALAY

     

    The 3 star Marvel Hotel Mandalay, part of Amazing Group, is located in the heart of Mandalay and only one kilometre from Zefyo Market. It features 92 well-equipped rooms in superior and deluxe categories.

     

     

     

     

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

     

     

    KAKKU PAGODA FESTIVAL
    MARCH 22, 2016
    VENUE: KAKKU NEAR TAUNGGYI, SHAN STATE

     

    The annual pagoda festival takes place in Kakku near Taunggyi, Shan State on March 22 that is the full moon day of Tabaung (the last month of the Myanmar lunar calendar). The four-day festival is not only a religious event but also an occasion for the Pao people (one of Myanmar’s ethnic groups) to trade, have fun, and socialise with one another.

     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

    MYANMAR NATIONAL AIRLINES LAUNCHES YANGON-TAIPEI SERVICE

     

    Myanmar National Airlines, the flag carrier of Myanmar founded in 1948, has launched the Yangon to Taipei (Taiwan) service as part of its international route expansion. The four times weekly service departs Yangon International Airport every Monday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. The flights are operated with an Airbus A320 aircraft.

     

     

     

     

    RESTAURANTS & VENUES

     

     

    YANGON YANGON, A SKY-HIGH BAR

     

    The newly opened rooftop bar Yangon Yangon, located on the 22nd floor of Sakura Tower, offers a spectacular view of Yangon’s downtown area, Sule Pagoda, and the impressive Shwedagon with its golden shining stupa. The bar serves a good selection of drinks and wine, as well as a variety of international cocktails. The venue can also be exclusively reserved for groups and incentive activities.

     

     

     

     

    ANY OTHER NEWS

     

     

    A DAY OF CHRISTMAS FUN FOR UNDERPRIVILEGED CHILDREN

     

    On December 6, 2015 Asian Trails together Vereinlife Switzerland, the highly acclaimed and long established charity, organised an outing for underprivileged children for the seventh consecutive year. Over 70 boys and girls, age three to 17 from an orphanage north of Yangon, had a fun afternoon boating on the Yangon River, singing Christmas carols, playing games, eating delicious food and, of course, receiving many presents.

     

     

     

    TRAINING FUTURE MAGICIANS

     

    Asian Trails Myanmar is supporting the magician class dedicated to the children of Mary Chapman School for the Deaf in Yangon. Outstanding students will receive further training to enable them to take to the stage on their own in the future. This unique project aims to help the children better integrate into society. We are happy to give our support for this project.

     

     

     
     

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    MALAYSIA

     

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR EMIR CHERIF

     

    Dear Friends and Partners,

    Another eventful year is drawing to its end – time for the obligatory annual review. Without any doubt 2015 was a dynamic, multi-faceted and varied journey. It gave us the opportunity to adapt to current market changes, to prove that we are able to successfully manage the unpredictable, and motivated us to set new benchmarks in terms of customer service and product development.

    This year we put a strong focus on creating extraordinary products with the aim to bring the rich cultural diversity of Malaysia even closer to our guests and create special experiences. This required innovative thinking and resulted in unique gems such as the bike tour through Kelantan – the cradle of Malaysian culture – or themed itineraries like the journey through the colours of old Malaya.

    And we can’t wait to travel further as 2015 set the foundation for an exciting outlook for 2016. The opening of several well established international 5 star hotels, such as St. Regis and Banyan Tree, in Kuala Lumpur and the rising trend for trendy boutique hotels throughout the country allows us to extend our portfolio.

    We are also in the process to develop new and unique products, which we are excited to present in the coming months.

    So yes, 2016 will offer a lot to look forward to, and we are ready to enter the next travel stage.

    Join us on our journey through Truly Asia, and experience with us all the new opportunities Malaysia has to offer in 2016.

    Happy New Year and Gong Xi Fa Cai!

    Emir Cherif
    Malaysia, Truly Asia!

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

    DARK CAVE - THE CAVE OF LIFE

     

    Dark Cave is one of the main caves at the famed Batu Caves hill, located 15 kilometres away from Kuala Lumpur city centre. It comprises two kilometres of surveyed passages with seven major sections – A through F –and the Great Chamber.

     

    Discovered in 1878 by Captain H. C. Syers and William T. Hornaday, Dark Cave contains a diverse range of cave faunas. It is among the most researched tropical caves in the world, and a number of scientists and researchers like H.N Ridley and Dr. Elliot McClure have conducted major research in it.

     

    This cave is one of the must-see Batu Caves attractions for visitors to Kuala Lumpur. It is home to an ancient animal community of 100 million years old including the Trapdoor spider (Liphistius batuensis), the rarest spider in the world. It has a unique guano-driven ecosystem, which sustains ecological significance of rich scientific and educational interest. It also has its own special features of magnificent cave formations – stalactite, stalagmite, flowstone, cave pearls, cave curtains, column, and gour pools.

     

    Asian Trails Malaysia is committed to helping preserve the Dark Cave. As part of our conservation efforts we conduct educational and adventure tours to the cave.

     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

    IBIS STYLES SANDAKAN WATERFRONT REBRANDS AS S’KAN STYLES HOTEL

     

    Ibis Styles Sandakan Waterfront in Sandakan, Sabah, was rebranded as S’kan Styles Hotel effective December 12, 2015.

    The name change is part of the hotel’s deliberate strategy to emphasise the strength of its local ownership, and on-going commitment to both the local and international market. It continues to deliver the same high service standard and value to its guests with the rebranding.
     

     

     

    CLOSURE OF CLUB ROOMS IN SWISS GARDEN MALACCA

     

    The Club Premier and Club Deluxe rooms in Swiss Garden Malacca are closed for scheduled upkeep works of their facilities. They are not available for booking until further notice.
     

     

     

    THE DANNA LANGKAWI EXPANDS FACILITIES

     

    The Danna Langkawi on Langkawi Island is adding new facilities. Construction works will start in the second quarter of this year, and is expected to last for 18 months and will complete by September 2017.

    The hotel’s management will take all the necessary measures to ensure any inconvenience arising from this development will be managed and mitigated. Accordingly, guest accommodations will be the farthest possible from the construction site to minimise disruption to their stay at the resort.
     

     

     

    UPDATE: THE RITZ-CARLTON KUALA LUMPUR’S TRANSFORMATION

     

    The Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur is undergoing transformation with renovations being carried in various parts of the hotel.

    • Hotel & Suite Wing Lobby: Expected to complete by January 2016.
    This is part of the hotel’s rejuvenation, which will see the complete transformation of the public area that will bring the Hotel Wing and Suite Wing together as one hotel. The redesign will feature one main arrival lobby to enhance guests’ arrival experience.

    • Gymnasium, health club & poolside: Expected to complete by February 2016.
    Located on the fourth floor of the hotel. The gymnasium and health club are open for 24 hours; the swimming pool for both the hotel and suite wing is open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

    • The Lobby Lounge & library: Expected to complete by February 2016.
    The Lobby Lounge serves cocktails and afternoon tea, and is ideal for lunch, dinner and receptions; open daily from 11 a.m to 6 p.m. The library is a personal sanctuary and a popular spot to relax and have drinks with family or friends; open daily from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m.

    • The Club Lounge: Expected to complete by March 2016.
    Offers an intimate, state-of-the-art facilities and serves breakfast, afternoon tea, cocktails, and Sunday brunch; open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
     

     

     

     

    FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

     

     

    TIOMAN SURFESTIVAL 2016
    JANURARY 29-31, 2016
    VENUE: KAMPUNG JUARA, PULAU TIOMAN

     

    This is an exciting surfing competition that was first held in Pulau Tioman. It's organised within South China Sea, a beautiful location where the wave heights are ideal for new surfers getting to know the water sport.
     

     

     

    THAIPUSAM
    JANUARY 24, 2016
    VENUE: BATU CAVES, KUALA LUMPUR

     

    Customarily Thaipusam is celebrated during the month of Thai in the Hindu calendar (January 15 to February 15) at an astronomically significant point of time. This year the Hindu devotees in Malaysia will celebrate Thaipusam on February 3. The Hindu temple at Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur will be a hive of activity, as it becomes the centre of the largest religious gathering. Hindu devotees from all over the world will come and celebrate the festival here. It begins with an eight-hour procession from Kuala Lumpur city centre to the cave temple, with devotees bearing simple offerings of milk in pots to carrying elaborate kavadis.

     

     

     

    CHINESE NEW YEAR
    FEBRUARY 8-9, 2016
    VENUE: THROUGHOUT MALAYSIA

     

    Chinese throughout the country will usher in the Lunar New Year, the Year of the Monkey, on February 8. The festival is marked with lion dances and the giving of angpows (red packets containing money) and mandarin oranges. Experience the celebrations in the Chinese New Year Open House, a programme that brings people together to celebrate the country's various festivals in line with the spirit of Malaysia. Guests will be entertained with cultural performances and traditional delicacies.
     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

    AIRASIA CONNECTS PENANG WITH HO CHI MINH CITY

     

    Low cost carrier, AirAsia, will launch the Penang- Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) service on January 25, 2016. The four times weekly direct flights are from the airline’s international hub in Penang to HCMC, Vietnam capital city, will strengthen the airline’s inter-Asean connectivity.

     

     

     

    AIRASIA X RESUMES KUALA LUMPUR-NEW DELHI SERVICE

     

    Longhaul budget carrier, AirAsia X, will recommence the four times weekly flights from Kuala Lumpur to New Delhi, India, from February 3, 2016. The airline suspended the route four years ago in order to improve its operating core efficiencies and consolidate its network.

    The announcement is also timely, as Malaysia Airlines has halved the frequency on its twice-daily Kuala Lumpur-New Delhi route from September 1, 2015.

     

     

     
     

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    INDONESIA

     

     

    A NOTE FROM MANAGING DIRECTOR BJöRN SCHIMANSKI

     

    In this issue of the Indonesian report we would like to concentrate on product updates. You will receive from us, on a regular basis, creative new itinerary suggestions for all over Indonesia. We hope they will inspire you to promote our beautiful country and its great variety of destinations.

    The picture (left) was taken on a stop during our Explore cycling tour around the district of Kota Gede in Yogjakarta. This exciting half-day programme can be easily combined with other attractions like the Borobudur temple complex. It offers you an insight into the local village life in one of the most emblematic districts in the ancient city of Yogjakarta.


    Last but not least - believe me - the fresh cakes in the photo that are prepared from an old colonial Dutch recipe taste fantastic! Just ask our team for a try!

    Best wishes from Indonesia,
    Björn

     

     

     

     

    DESTINATION INFORMATION

     

     

     

    FLORES OVERLAND TOUR

     

    A group of four Asian Trails Indonesia staff recently went to explore Flores in eastern Indonesia. Most people associate Flores with Komodo Island and its unique Komodo dragons. However, the island has much more to discover. One of Flores’ highlights is the three-coloured lake in Kelimutu. The colours of the lake change as a result of chemical reaction from the minerals and volcanic gases. Visitors can reach the lakes’ viewpoint easily after a 45-minute moderate walk from the parking area.

    Another highlight in Flores is the visit to Waerebo, a local village in an isolated mountain area. Experience the daily life of the villagers, and stay overnight in a typical local style circular cone-shaped building. The starting point for the trek to this village is Denge. It takes about three to four hours to reach the village over a narrow path through the rainforest with a stunning biological diversity. To make the Flores overland tour more adventurous we suggest combing it with a bicycle tour.
     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS PRODUCT UPDATE

     

     

     

    ORANGUTAN ENCOUNTER IN TANJUNG PUTING NATIONAL PARK, KALI-MANTAN

     

    Tanjung Putting National Park in Kalimantan is one of the few places in the world where orangutans can be seen in the wild. Asian Trails Indonesia offers a three- and four- day trip to Kalimantan to observe orangutans, proboscis monkeys, gibbons, tarsiers, and other primate species in their natural habitat. The tour’s highlights are the orangutans living in the wild, and the Klotok wooden riverboat cruise through the forest.

    In Camp Leakey, a research facility in Tanjung Puting Wildlife Reserve operating as a rehabilitation centre for orangutans, there are students, scientists and park rangers at work.

    You can stay overnight at Rimba Lodge, a very simple cottage without TV, Internet, and telephone connection, or on the deck of the Klotok. Some boats also offer simple cabins, but most only have simple toilet/shower, mattress, and mosquito net.

    The most convenient way to reach Tanjung Puting National Park is via Pangkalan Bun Airport in Central Kalimantan from Surabaya, Solo, or Jakarta.

     

     

     

     

    HOTEL INFORMATION

     

     

     

    KENANGA BOUTIQUE HOTEL, UBUD

     

    If you are looking for a charming small boutique hotel near the centre of Ubud then a good choice is Kenanga Boutique Hotel. It is part of the Villa Mathis Collection, and is managed by a Belgium family.

    The hotel has only 21 rooms facing the rice fields, as well as bungalows in the garden. The Terracotta restaurant overlooks rice fields, and is well known for its exquisite meals and romantic atmosphere.

    As Kenanga in Ubud and Villa Mathis in Seminyak are managed by the same company, they offer a Liberty Pass to all guests. This means that any night booked can be swapped, without fee, to another hotel of the Mathis Collection (currently only Seminyak and Ubud, later Amed will be added). This offers great flexibility to the guests, and is valid throughout the year depending on availability.

     

     

     

    SUDAMALA SUITES & VILLAS, LOMBOK

     

    Sudamala Suites & Villas is located at Senggigi Beach on Lombok Island, which is a perfect alternative to Bali. Its 35 suites and villas are sophisticated and cosy, designed with a traditional touch. The hotel facilities include a large circular swimming pool, the Mango Tree Spa, and Ohla Ohla Restaurant that offers open-air dining and serves international and local cuisine. The sunset on the beach directly in front of the hotel is spectacular.

    Sudamala’s sister hotel is in Sanur, Bali, and is focused on Balinese arts and cultural history. The Bali property is not located on the beach, but has its private beach space and an art gallery in the hotel. Local painters and artist exhibit their works in the art gallery.
     

     

     

     

    SUBAK TAVOLA VILLA, SIDEMEN

     

    Sidemen is located in the eastern part of Bali on the foothills of Mount Agung, about 1.5-hour drive from Nugurah Rai International Airport. It is a small quiet village with just a few homestays and small hotels.

    Subak Tavola Villa is an authentic Balinese style hotel offering panoramic views over the valley of Sidemen. It has 11 rooms, an open-air restaurant, and a swimming pool in the tropical garden. The hotel offers some free activities that include shuttle transfer to the village, an hour-long trek through the rice fields in the morning, and visit to a local children foundation where you can learn to prepare offerings, dance, and play in a gamelan orchestra. The cycling tour around the village is the most popular activity among the guests.

    Right next to Subak Tavola is Surya Shanti Villa that is managed by the same owner but of a slighter higher standard.
     

     

     

     

    AIRLINE INFORMATION

     

     

    CHANGE IN GARUDA INDONESIA’S ROUTING

     

    Garuda Indonesia has discontinued the direct service from Denpasar in Bali to Banyuwangi in East Java due to poor load factor. Instead the airline is connecting these two destinations via Surabaya in East Java with a stopover of around two hours.

    Please note that this change may affect round trips like Java-Bali Overland if clients want to avoid the ferry crossing and the long drive via Gilimanuk to central or south Bali.

     

     

     

     

    ANY OTHER NEWS

     

     

     

     

    ASIAN TRAILS INDONESIA’S CHARITY EVENT 2015 IN YOGYAKARTA

     

    The staff from Asian Trails Indonesia chose Yogyakarta as its favoured destination, out of the three proposed, as the venue for its 2015 charity event. They started the trip from Bali. After a 16-hour overnight bus drive and the ferry crossing from Bali to Yogyakarta they reached the first stop – the ancient Hindu temple of Prambanan. This was followed by lunch. In the evening it was time to explore Malioboro Road, the main shopping street in Yogyakarta.

    The next morning the team visited SLB Sekar Teratai 1 School, which takes care of 22 students. Most of them are handicapped or have physical disability such as Down Syndrome. The school was founded 2013 by the students and alumni of the University of Negeri Yogyakarta, and is managed by the principal with five teachers. Although there are a number of physically disabled children in the area only a few can join the school, as there are few such facilities. Additionally, some parents feel ashamed to send them to such facilities.

    A group of ATI staff repainted the walls of the school building, while others entertained the children. ATI also donated school materials and toys, as well as sponsored new toilet facilities.

    The school committee hosted a buffet of snacks, drinks, and ice cream for the children and the ATI staff before they left.

    Then it was the drive back to Yogyakarta to visit the Sultan Palast Kraton, and listen to the ancient stories related by the guide. After a lunch stop the tour continued with a visit to Borobudur, the world’s biggest Buddhist temple complex. This was the place where the staff took the most selfies and wefies of the entire trip.

    As the team was late in departing from Borobudur to Yogyakarta they had only 20 minutes at the hotel to get ready for the dinner party. This was a real challenge as three people shared a room, and there was only one bathroom. But all overcame the challenge and made it in time for the dinner. It was a fun night with numerous door prizes, sponsored by our partners, for the lucky winners. Every one had a great time dining and enjoying each other’s company on the last night of the trip.

    It was a perfect weekend for the AWI team. It was also the company’s way to show its appreciation to the staff for an excellent year, as well as to support a local social project.
     

     

     

    DONATION OF SIX WATER TANKS FROM AWI

     

    During the dry season in Java residents of Girikerto village in Gunungkidul, Yogyakarta, face water shortage. The Association of Indonesian Tours & Travel Agencies (ASITA) organised a charity event to supply water to the villagers. As part of its social responsibility Asian Trails Indonesia donated six tanks of drinking water. Our representatives, Mr. Happy and Mrs. Tari based in our Yogyakarta office, handed the water tanks to the villagers.

     

     

     

    EXCURSION TO BEGAWAN FOUNDATION BREEDING AND RELEASE CENTRE

     

    Begawan Foundation was founded in 1999 by Bradley and Debbie Gardner. The foundation’s first initiative was the Bali Starling Conservation Project that aims to reintroduce the beautiful and highly endangered bird species, which has almost become extinct in its wild habitat.

    Ornithologists, bird lovers, and visitors to Bali can support this foundation by visiting Begawan Foundation Breeding and Release Centre at the Green School near Ubud. The programme includes:

    • A guided tour to the breeding and socialisation enclosure where the birds (Bali Starling, Mitchell's and Forsten's Lorikeet, Hornbills and Eclectus Parrot) that have left the care of their parents learn to fly, play, and find a mate.
    • Bird-watching around the Green School complex
    • Food preparation with bird keepers
    • Bird feeding

    For children of school-going age there is an additional activity to examine the birds’ feathers through a microscope in the laboratory.

     

     

     
     

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