Fredericksburg, Virginia Travel Agent
Living in Japan offered me the opportunity to travel around Asia. Asia has some of the most fascinating history, larger-than-life sites, fabulous resorts and top-notch customer service. These are some of the potential places to visit--but there's also Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and the list goes on.
Malaysia: I recently spent a week in Malaysia savoring the luxurious resort life and fulfilling my dream of staying in an over-water bungalow…on a private, tropical island. Think spa treatments, infinity pools and even a sunset dinner on a private beach with an exclusive chef and butler. This setting exuded romance making it the perfect choice for our anniversary celebration and was worth every minute of the flight across the Pacific. Kuala Lumpur has lively outdoor markets, a great China Town and the twin Petronas Towers often seen in movies. A highlight of the trip was a jungle tour to visit the elephant orphanage where I got to feed and interact with them and watched the elephants play in the river.
Japan: Japan is a unique country full of lovely people and places. The locals are the most honest and thoughtful I’ve ever encountered. It is steeped in rich culture and timeless traditions. The streets and store fronts are immaculate, even in the big cities, and the train system is on point. Tokyo is a great city with abundant shopping. For the Disney fan, Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea are ones to add to the list. Japan also boasts a Universal Studios, a Hello Kitty theme park and indoor ski resorts. Or ride Japan’s famous Shinkansen high-speed “bullet” train to another destination or enjoy a luxury train excursion. In Kyoto you can see the stunning Golden Pavilion and, if in-season, the most amazing display of fall leaves I’ve seen anywhere. Another fabulous destination is Mount Fuji—she is truly beautiful and the views from the lake are breathtaking. Japan is a playground for the adventure seeker--scuba and snorkeling, hiking and climbing, kayaking and rafting, skiing and snowboarding--Japan has it all. Japan offers wonderful 5-star hotels and resorts, but for a truly authentic cultural immersion, choose a traditional Ryokan inn and sleep in a tatami room. Wherever one heads in Japan, traditional tea ceremony and bathhouse experiences are not to be missed.
China: One simply must experience China first-hand to appreciate the scope of its wonders; it’s virtually indescribable. Beijing has a lot to offer—the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and, of course, it is the gateway to the Great Wall of China. It is surreal walking—or often crawling along on all fours because it’s so steep. The wall is massive and outlines the hills as far as the eye can see. Eat Peking duck and attend a Chinese Opera—while perhaps not for some, they are definitely memorable. Riding across the busy streets in a Rickshaw is an exciting, hair-raising adventure. The cherry blossoms at Beijing’s Summer Palace were absolutely breathtaking. The city of Xian was my favorite. There is an ancient wall around the entire city so wide two semi-trucks could drive side-by-side and we rode tandem bikes around it. From there we took a tour to the best part of the trip--seeing the terracotta warriors. This was simply amazing. From Xian we flew to Guilin to take a cruise down the river through the most intriguing and stately haystack shaped mountains.
Hong Kong: This metropolitan city is both modern and beautiful. During the day we took the tram up Victoria Peak to enjoy the views and at night we sat and watched as the high-rise buildings entertained us with their light show across the bay.
Singapore: This small country would be an excellent first exposure to Asia. It is modern, clean, safe, easy to navigate and the official language is English. It is also a great launching point to the rest of Asia and the main airline allows for extended stop-overs.