Dispatches from Asia

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Meet The Guides | Tran Anh Thu, Vietnam

Tran Anh Thu guides ICS guests on a tour of the Mekong River, Vietnam
ICS tour guide, Vietnam

Tran Anh Thu guides ICS guests on a tour of the Mekong River, Vietnam

For the past 6 years, Tran Anh Thu has escorted ICS guests. She is one of the real, local guides who take care of our travellers during the shore excursions throughout the Mekong delta. . .including destinations like Cai Ba, Sadec, and Tan Chau. Thu has gotten many compliments from guests, including three National Geographic journalists.

We sat down with Thu to get to know her and to find out more about her life and her work with ICS. Here’s what she said. . . Read more

Story Behind the Image | Wood Carver

After you see Datanla Falls in #Dalat #Vietnam and take the wild, hand-controlled roller coaster down, you’ll see vendors offering everything from ice cream and beads to jewelry and wooden sculptures…including artists making sculptures directly on location.

You can smell the faint scent of hardwood sawdust from the sculptors sandpaper

You can smell the faint scent of hardwood sawdust from the sculptors sandpaper, and see dozens of different kinds of chisels and wooden mallets lying at his feet.  Next to this man are others making different kinds of sculptures as people move all around them.

Did You Know? | Dragons, Volcanoes & Islands

Did You Know . . .

. . . You can sail on a traditional schooner to see amazing Komodo dragons, smouldering volcanoes and uninhabited islands.

Komodo dragons, smouldering volcanoes and uninhabited islands

ICS offers a stunning 7-day cruise to some of Indonesia’s lesser-known and most exotic islands.  These are the places you don’t typically see on the usual tours… including the Flores, Mesa, Rinca, Komodo, Sumbawa, Satonda, Lombok and Gili Islands.
Many activities are available, including some of the world’s best scuba diving and snorkeling!

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Traditions & Beliefs | Diwali, a festival of lights

Diwali candles

Diwali is know as the “Festival of Lights”

 Later this week, many Hindus will celebrate Diwali, also known as the “festival of lights.”  The festival preparations and rituals typically extend over a five day period, but the main festival night of Diwali coincides with the darkest, new moon night. In the Western calendar, Diwali night falls between mid-October and mid-November.

The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair.

Diwali also marks a major shopping period in India. In terms of consumer purchases and economic activity, Diwali is the equivalent of Christmas in the west. It is traditionally a time when households purchase new clothing, home refurbishments, gifts, gold and other large purchases. The festival celebrates Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, and investment, spending and purchases are considered auspicious. Diwali is a peak buying season for gold and jewelry in India. It is also a major sweets, candy and fireworks buying season. At retail level, about US$800 million worth of firecrackers are consumed in India over the Diwali season.

Story Behind The Image | Lampang Fisherman

Traditional Fisherman, Lampang, Thailand

Along the banks of rivers and streams around northern Thailand, Myanmar and Laos, local people still rely on intricate hunter-gatherer traditions for their daily subsistence and livelihood. Here in the small provincial capital of Lampang (where ICS operates tours to nearby UNESCO-recognized temples) a lone fisherman uses a unique looking net to capture small fish.

Along the river are a number of boutique guest houses.  In the high season, special sights like this one are quite common. Despite the growing economy and development of locations like Thailand, tradition and subsistence farming is still common-place, even in downtown areas like the photo above.

This photo was taken on the peaceful Wang river (which feeds into the Ping river that runs through Chiang Mai, another of our northern Thailand destinations).

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ICS Cares | Home4Animals

ICS Cares  Home4Animals

ICS team members in Bangkok recently initiated a campaign to raise funds for Home4Animals, which was founded to provide treatment and shelter for ill, injured, and handicapped animals.

‘ICS Cares’ volunteered to match the donation collected by our team members, who personally delivered the good news.





ICS Cares  Home4Animals  ICS Cares  Home4Animals

‘ICS Cares’ is a vehicle created by ICS Travel Group to promote community outreach and sustainable tourism.

Did You Know? | Bangkok’s Real Name

Bangkok Thailand official name

Did you know . . .

. . .Bangkok is typically only called “Bangkok” in English. In Thai, it is often called Krung Thep Maka Nakhon, or just Krung Thep. However, the full name is “Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit.”

The name means “The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city (unlike Ayutthaya) of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn.”

Traditions & Beliefs | Threshold Etiquette

Don’t step on the threshold

Many people know about taking their shoes off before entering a temple building(s) in Thailand. What is less well-known is that you should not step on the threshold of any building, especially raised thresholds.

In Thailand, the spirits are a part of everyday life and the raised threshold to a home or temple is reserved for the spirit guardian and acts as a barrier to keep out evil spirits.