Dispatches from Asia

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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.

Story Behind the Image | Bun Bang Fai Paradee

The biggest celebration of Bun Bang Fai is in Yasothon, Thailand.

“Unsaid things can be said.”

One highlight of the wild, unique Bun Bang Fai Parade is launching rockets (made of bamboo and packed with gunpowder) as an act of fertility offerings for the upcoming rainy season. During the final days before the last rockets are fired “unsaid things can be said.”  Wild costumes and dancing is not only normal but expected.

Throughout the days leading up to the final event, surrounding villages in the provinces arrive to put on dance performances which are unique to each village.

Thailand is one of our most popular destinations!  Let us take YOU!

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Seen on the Street | Bali Buffalo

In the upper highlands of eastern Bali, some traditional villages still retain the original animist religion and Balinese way of life that existed before the arrival of Hinduism on the island. Here the village’s local buffalo wander at will through the village streets.

Bali Indonesia street

ICS Guide Training

At ICS we know that having have skilled and knowledgeable guides is a key element in ensuring our guests have a memorable and seamless experience in our destinations.

One of the ways we demonstrate our commitment is by providing ongoing training to our guides.  

Our aim is to continuously improve customer service skills, destination knowledge and language skills. In this recent training session in Myanmar, guides were given detailed explanations about

  • tours and programs,
  • training on ICS philosophy,
  • customer service expectations,
  • sustainability,
  • and other important issues relevant to specific tours.

We believe our people are our greatest assets, and our investment in them is an investment in our guests.

Traditions & Beliefs | Balinese Cremation Ceremony

While vacationing on the island of Bali, Indonesia, an ICS team member was invited to view a Balinese cremation ceremony.

The cremation ceremony is extremely important for the Balinese because it allows the soul to be released into the afterlife.

The higher the rank, the more elaborate the preparations and decorations required.

The deceased is placed inside a coffin at the beginning of the ceremony.  The coffin is then placed inside a sarcophagus and carried to the cremation site.

An elaborate, bamboo structure – created especially for this ritual – carries the sarcophagus as well as various family members and important guests.  Other members of the ceremony carry the bamboo structure (including all passengers) on their shoulders all the way to the cremation site.  The procession is an event unto itself.  In order to avoid evil spirits, the processional route is full of starts and stops, twists and turns.

Once the whole party has reached the site, the final stage of the ritual begins.  A dance and other ceremonies are performed and the sarcophagus is burned.  Being cremated is one of the most important parts of Balinese life.  The fire is viewed as necessary to free the spirit from the body and enable reincarnation. Balinese believe the body must be consumed by fire for the soul to return to its five constituent elements known as the panca maha bhita (earth, wind, fire, water and ether).


We’d like to take you to Bali too!  Tell us you would like to go!

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Welcome to Myanmar!

Myanmar sits at the crossroads of Asia and stretches from the sparkling islands of the Andaman Sea in the south right up into the Eastern Himalayan mountain range.

Myanmar remains one of the most mysterious and undiscovered destinations in the world

To this day Myanmar remains one of the most mysterious and undiscovered destinations in the world…a land of breathtaking beauty and charm only recently emerging into the modern world.

Myanmar offers fascinating jungles, snow-capped mountains and pristine beaches, mountain trekking and rafting in the far north to world class diving in the Mergui Archipelago.

Myanmar offers the warmest welcome in Asia and ICS Travel Group can take you there! Contact us for more information about our tours and excursions!


Throwback Thursday | Do you like games? Who do you think won these?


In December 1969, the 5th Southeast Asian Peninsular Games were hosted in Rangoon, Burma (now known as Yangon, Myanmar). Six countries participated in athletic competitions including Badminton, Boxing, Cycling, Football, Gymnastics, Judo, Sailing, Table Tennis, and Weightlifting #tbt

Traditions & Beliefs | Sacred Cows in India

Sacred Cows

Cows can be found freely wandering the streets of India’s cities. They are considered sacred and will often wear a tilak…a Hindu symbol of good fortune. Cows are considered one of humankind’s seven mothers because they offer milk as does one’s natural mother.

Story Behind the Image | L’ Amant House

L'Amant House, Vietnam

The Vietnam Federation of UNESCO has listed a 120-year-old house called “Huynh Thuy Le Ancient House” as one of Vietnam’s most impressive destinations.

Huynh Thuy Le was the inspiration for the protagonist in French author Marguerite Duras’s novel “L’ Amant.” His house is famous for its unique architecture blending southern Vietnamese, French, and Chinese styles.

The wooden house was built the town of Sa Dec in 1895. In 1917, Huynh Thuy Le’s father rebuilt the house like a French villa, using both eastern and western architectural elements.

Last year more than 30,000 people visited the house, including this group led by ICS guide Phan Anh “Tony” Tuan.