Cameron Highlands - Thailand
Ashley Burgess – italktravel Maitland
How long have you been a travel agent?
I started my career in the travel industry in July 2013 where I worked every weekend while I was completing my HSC at school. Once school finished I commenced fulltime employment with italktravel Rutherford in December 2013 where I was based until February 2016 before I got transferred to italktravel Maitland which is where I am currently working.
Where was your first overseas trip?
I first fell in love with travel on my first overseas trip in 2006 where I travelled to New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji on a South Pacific cruise. Since then I have travelled to many beautiful destinations including England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Majorca, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Turkey, Greece, Croatia, Mexico, Cuba, Hawaii, mainland USA, Dubai, Thailand, Malaysia, Cook Islands, New Zealand. I may have forgot some but that is the majority!
Bangkok Khao Sok National Park Thailand
What is your bucket list place/trip?
My bucket list is forever growing, this year I am travelling to South America which is my next bucket list tick completing the Inca Trail to see Machu Picchu as well as the Bolivian Salt Flats and the Amazon. Next on my list would be to visit Iceland and Russia. I enjoy everywhere I have travelled to with many favourites along the way. Highlights would include snorkelling in the Caribbean, learning to salsa in Cuba, eating gelato in Italy on the Isle of Capri, bike riding through Berlin, helicopter ride over beautiful New York City and the list continues..
Malaysia and Thailand
I used a mixture of transportation to travel to these beautiful destinations. I flew Cathay Pacific from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur via Hong Kong then a bus between Kuala Lumpur and the Cameron Highlands, bus betweenn Cameron Highlands to Penang, ferry from Penang to Langkawi, ferry from Langkawi to Satun in Thailand followed by a mini bus to Khao Sok then an Air Asia flight from Khao Sok to Bangkok (Surat Thani airport is 1hr 30min from Khao Sok) from Bangkok I again boarded Cathay Pacific to Sydney via Hong Kong.
In Malaysia I started in Kuala Lumpur then travelled to the top of Malaysia staying in the Cameron Highlands, Penang and Langkawi. Crossing the border to Thailand I visited Khao Sok National Park and then onto Bangkok to finish the trip. Kuala Lumpur I fell in love with, it is such a clean city with beautiful gardens, palaces and temples.
The shopping in Kuala Lumpur is the best I have ever experienced in Asia. Cameron Highlands is a stunning area situated in the mountains, it is famous for the tea plantations. As well as the tea plantations I also went to a strawberry farm and hand picked strawberries along with a visit to a Butterfly farm and a bee farm.
A cooler relief compared to the warmth of Kuala Lumpur. Seasons changed once again when we arrived in Penang a city which is famous for its street art and street food. Langkawi is a beach paradise filled with water sports, gorgeous beaches, markets, restaurants, cafes. Such a beautiful part of Malaysia.
Group Photo in KL
Tour - Contiki #NoRegrets
I did a Contiki tour for this trip to Asia. Contiki is a tour company for 18-35 year olds which is a fantastic company to travel with as it has like minded travellers in the same age bracket. It also enables solo travellers to meet new friends along the way as Contiki has many solo travellers along with couples and friend groups. No body knew each other on my tour, we were all travelling solo so it was a great opportunity to meet new people from all different home towns but with the same interests.
What I loved
I loved being on a fully escorted tour as I had to organise nothing when I was away. Being a travel agent we organise all day long so on vacation it is so nice to have this done for you! My fantastic tour guide was in charge of checking into all our hotels for us, telling us about each location along with organising our day tours. I am usually an independent traveller who has to do all of that when I am away so it was very pleasant to have someone doing it for me. All I had to do was turn up of a morning at a certain time and go with the flow! Was fantastic. I also enjoyed making many new friends and all the new adventures I had along the way. Asia is beautiful!
Street Art in Penang Malaysia
What was just OK
The only thing I don’t enjoy on a coach tour is the amount of time spent on the bus travelling however with Contiki this is made fun by playing games on the bus, listening to playlists and of course mingling!
What was awful
Nothing was awful on my travels, we were delayed leaving Sydney for 2 hours which meant we had to RUN to our connecting flight in Hong Kong to make it to Kuala Lumpur but that is what adds to the adventure of travelling!
Tell us about your favourite meal, what, where, when & why
Being allergic to Peanuts, Hazelnuts & Soy sauce there is not much left for me in Asia to eat as everything is cooked in Peanut oil and they love “Satay” and of course Soy Sauce! Therefore I am unable to try the local street food. I know my group loved the Satay Skewers in Penang though!
Top tip for someone doing this trip
Try the street food! If I didn’t have my allergies I would LOVE to live like a local and immerse myself in the culture by trying the delicious street food! Don’t be afraid, it smells delicious! Maybe just ask for it to be mild as I have heard it can be quite hot! Pack Summer clothes! Asia is incredibly warm. I love the heat so it is heaven for me and of course HAVE FUN and make new friends.
Staying in a treehouse in the Thailand Jungle
Anything you would do differently next time
Next time I would fly direct for the convenience as opposed to in direct in which I did for this trip. I flew Sydney to Kuala Lumpur via Hong Kong and then coming home I flew Bangkok to Sydney via Hong Kong. In hindsight flying direct in both directions would be fantastic!
Would you go back?
Of course, I loved everywhere I went! I do like to mix it up and go explore new destinations though but one day I am sure I will find myself perched on a beautiful beach in either Thailand or Malaysia!
Have you got another trip planned and where to?
Yes my next trip is to South America! I have always wanted to travel there so I am very excited. I am going to be visiting the Amazon, Trekking the Inca Trail on a 4 day trek which of course the end result is the incredible Machu Picchu! I am also visiting Lake Titicaca, Puno, the beautiful Salt Flats of Bolivia and the stunning San Pedro de Atacama desert finishing my holiday in Chile in Santiago with a trip to Easter Island! After this holiday I have my sights set on Iceland and Russia!
How can I find out more?
Call italktravel Maitland on 02 49342155
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