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Update on Mount Agung situation on Bali

Yesterday evening 21.11.2017 at 5.30pm local time, Mount Agung on Bali has started to release an ash cloud which occurred due to a combination of heavy rains (water) and immense heat inside the volcano. It was not caused by a magmatic eruption, which would be much more severe. The emission reached an altitude of around 700 meters above the crater, drifting south-east wards.

Please note that nothing has changed on the ground for your guests since our last update sent on 16 November 2017.

Status of the volcano remains at level 3 (out of 4) and safety parameter at 6 to 7.5 kilometer around the crater rim. All activities including Bali International Airport operate normally with the exception tours/excursions/activities within the safety parameter (visit Besakih Temple and Mount Agung Trekking)

Asian Trails Indonesia will monitor the situation closely and will inform you immediately in case local authorities and volcanic experts will increase the alert level again or the airport is forced to stop flight operations. Please be careful about various (hoax) media reports which tend to dramatize the actual situation.

If you have any questions, please contact us anytime at res@asiantrails.co.id or at +62 (0) 361 285 771 during office hours or our 24/7 hotline outside of office hours at +62 (0) 811 386 9377.

Kindest regards

Asian Trails Indonesia

 

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Laos’ Nam Ou River Permanently Blocked for Cruises

The permanent closure of the Nam Ou River from Nong Khiaw and Muang Khua, halting any river cruise possibilities, will take effect from 20 November onward. Official announcement by local authorities have announced that the completion of a new hydro dam (the Nam Ou 3 Dam) will terminate cruising possibilities between both towns, north of Luang Prabang. The closing of this popular waterway to see the natural splendour of Northern Laos will have to be replaced by overland transportation.

In addition, and in direct correlation with the above-mentioned, navigation between Nong Khiaw and Luang Prabang (nearby Done Nguen on the way down to Luang Prabang via the Pak Ou Caves) will too see limitations in cruise options. Customers, who have opted for this touring option after 20 November will partially enjoy the route by boat and partially travel by car to their next destination.

Asian Trails Laos deeply regrets passing on this news that effect our operations and any confirmed itineraries through this part of Laos. We will communicate individually with all our partners to offer alternative suggestions.

For any further information, please feel free to contact our team in Vientiane via res@asiantrailslaos.com

With kind regards

Asian Trails Laos

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Asian Trails Reveal Latest Deluxe Travel Developments at 2017 ILTM in Cannes, France

Asian Trails is again pleased to announce its annual participation at the prestigious ITLM in Cannes, France. From 5 until 7 December 2017, Laurent Kuenzle – CEO Asian Trails Ltd., welcomes discerned travel professionals at the Tourism Authority of Thailand stand, number G190 to showcase the latest in what we call our Asia. This invitation-only event has led the way in giving us the chance to show our expertise and innovative approach towards the latest in extraordinary experiences.

As Laurent quoted, “Our deluxe business have performed exceptionally over the past years as Asia continues to attract clients from across the world due to its striking cultural sites, growing economies, easy air access, value for money and exceptional hospitality. We continue to invest and expand our business model with new and improved experiences for our discerned clients.”

To meet Laurent and learn all these is to know about Asian Trails and how we can exceed expectations, make an appointment with us online or email us via marketing@asiantrails.org

About Asian Trails
Founded in 1999, the Asian Trails Group has been on the forefront of operating cutting-edge travel proposals to seamless operational standards that is second to none in Asia. Headquartered in Bangkok, the group continues to provide client-focused destination management services in all of its 9 destinations; Cambodia, China / Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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The CEO Story: On safari in Borneo

The last time I was on the Kinabatangan River was 18 years ago, and I remember saying at that time there was nothing to see. I couldn’t believe what I experienced last week visiting the exact same spot – the jungle is alive and there is a lot to see!

I had the privilege to spend a few days in Sabah (Malaysia) on the island of Borneo exploring the wildlife along the river and in the jungle. We have read news stories alleging that all the trees have been cut down, the animals have disappeared, palm oil plantations have destroyed the eco system and many more.

Such stories are not entirely true, and the journalists writing have either not visited Kinabatangan or reused old stories that are far removed from today’s reality. While it is true that part of the jungle has been destroyed, it is certainly not the case for the entire island of Borneo, which many of our readers know is the third largest island in the world.

Eighteen years ago the highlight of a journey to Borneo was the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre near Sandakan where the primates that have been orphaned or displaced by logging, are trained to adapt to life in the jungle. This is still the place where most travellers start their Sabah trips.

This Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is just one of many highlights for travellers to Sabah today. In the past, visitors to the sanctuary would have to wait at the feeding platform to see the orangutans. Today, it is so easy to spot them in their natural jungle habitat that the focus at the sanctuary is on the feeding of babies and juveniles.

At the same location, just opposite the sanctuary, is the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. Sun Bears, endemic to Borneo, are nocturnal animals and more active at night, making it difficult to see them in their natural jungle habitat. There are several platforms at the centre for visitors to see the bears during daytime. The staff is very passionate to tell you their bear stories, and you can easily spend an hour listening to them.

From Sandakan I travelled on a speedboat to the lower Kinabatangan River area near Abai, which took about an hour. In Abai there is a jungle lodge directly on the river from where I started river explorations in a small boat.

I was amazed at what I saw – two orangutans in their jungle tree nests within 30 minutes, two of seven that I would see in the next four days! Also present are an abundance of birds including hornbills and kingfishers, many monkeys including the famous Bornean Proboscis Monkeys with their long red nose, crocodiles, wild boars, lizards and numerous insects.

I returned on a river boat at night for wildlife spotting under the gleaming spotlight of my nature guide. If you have never seen colourful tropical birds at night, just this sight is worth a visit to the jungles of Borneo. The birds’ colourful feathers were shining in all of their splendour in the spotlight, and they did not seem to mind the light since they did not fly away. In the darkness of the jungle the fireflies were spectacular, and ever now and then a pair of small yellow slit eyes would be glowing in the dark. Crocodiles were observing what we were doing from the safety of our boats.

Travellers back at the lodge were telling exciting stories of what they had seen during the day and night; so no need for TVs at this place! A night jungle walk enhanced the jungle experience. It can be creepy at first since it is totally dark as one is not used to the sounds of the jungle, but it felt safe walking on wooden planks surrounded by wooden railings, while being fascinated by the explanations of the nature guide. Another highlight of this journey.

After the early morning wildlife spotting in a boat at sunrise I participated in tree planting activities near the Abai village, a community based project to help the villagers in their sustainability activities. I then boarded a speedboat to travel an hour further upriver to a lodge near Sukau. From here I embarked on more wildlife spotting boat tours during the day and at night, and what I saw was as spectacular as in Abai.

My recommendation to travellers is to choose one location on the river, and use it as their base to start the exploration of Kinabatangan. My personal favourite is Abai as it has few tourists and is only accessible by boat. Spend at least two nights at the same lodge. Lodges here are simple but comfortable 3-star standard, and offer amenities including attached bathrooms with hot showers. Meals are served buffet style, and include vegetarian dishes and fruits.

The Sukau lodge is near a road from where I travelled 4½ hours overland, partially on untarred pathways, further south to the Danum Valley. The Borneo Rainforest Lodge sits in the pristine rainforest of the Danum Valley Conservation area, and is considered Borneo’s premium wildlife lodge. The wildlife experience in the middle of this jungle is absolutely incredible, and probably the best jungle safari experience in Asia.

From the luxury of this lodge travellers experience jungle activities ranging from jungle walks, canopy walks, night drives to river tubing and mountain hikes. There is an abundance of activities suitable for anyone in average healthy physical condition, and you can even observe wildlife from the comfortable terraces of the lodge.

The wildlife in Danum Valley is even more abundant than those found at the Kinabatangan River. With a bit of luck travellers may see Pygmy Elephants, Bornean Gibbons and wild cats such as civets in addition to those I have seen in Kinabatangan.

Danum Valley is also home to the Clouded Leopard, which is difficult to spot. It is also a birdie’s paradise, attracting bird watchers from all over the world. A minimum stay of 3 nights is recommended to fully enjoy this part of Borneo, and travellers will not be disappointed by the comfort and culinary experiences at this high quality lodge.

I just love the combination of both regions, river activities on the Kinabatangan River and jungle walks in Danum Valley. For lovers of nature and wildlife it doesn’t get any better than that.

Access to Sabah is either through its state capital Kota Kinabalu with its international airport, or through Sandakan or Tawau that offers direct flights to Kuala Lumpur.

Sabah is also a diver’s paradise, but presently concentrates on the small islands off the state’s western shores as the northern and eastern islands are close to southern Philippines that has an unpredictable insurgency movement. Some countries have issued travel advisories against travel to Sabah which, in my opinion, is totally wrong. While I understand the concerns on the northern and eastern islands, I see no threat to the Kinabatangan River and Danum Valley.

Sabah can also be combined with Sarawak, another Malaysian state on Borneo. In combination with Sarawak, I recommend starting the journey via a Malaysian point of entry to Mulu that is famous for its river and caves, and then a flight from Mulu to Sandakan. Or fly into Sarawak’s state capital Kuching and travel on from there.

Asian Trails Malaysia offers a wide choice of tours in Sabah and Sarawak with wildlife safaris to suit every client and most budgets.

Please excuse my use of the word ‘safari’. I know that some of our readers opine that ‘safari’ should be exclusive to Africa. I don’t agree with this as, for me, the meaning of ‘safari’ is spotting wildlife and this can take place anywhere in the world. Wildlife spotting in Sabah is, in essence, a safari in Borneo, an experience of a lifetime.

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Officials downgrade Mount Agung volcano alert on Bali

Asian Trails Indonesia is happy to announce that local authorities and volcanic experts have decided to downgrade the alert level of Mount Agung from level 4 to new level 3 due to decreasing level of tremors during the past weeks.

The safety parameter around the crater rim has been reduced to between 6-7.5 km depending on the direction. All activities are still prohibited within the safety parameter for residents and tourists. North-East coast is now open again for local residents and tourists including villages in Kubu and Tulamben. Siddhartha Ocean Front Hotel is expected to be open by 11th November 2017 but Mimpi Tulamben Resort is still remain closed and is not able to confirm the reopening date. Diving activities in Tulamben is not yet reactivated and Besakih temple’s remains closed as it’s location is still within the safety parameter.

We’ll still pay close attention to the situation and will inform you if we have further news regarding the re-opening of hotels and activities near Mount Agung. In case you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our reservation team via res@asiantrails.co.id

Best regards,
Asian Trails Indonesia

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Visit restrictions to the Son Tra Peninsula in Da Nang this November

From 2 until 12 November 2017, the Intercontinental Peninsula Da Nang Resort will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum. This forum is has been created to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific between its 21 APEC members.

Authorities recently announced that traffic from and to the Son Tra Peninsula, the venue of this meeting, will be restricted for any non-authorized visitors. According to a statement, only APEC Members and pre-authorized visits related to this meeting are allowed to enter the resort and its surroundings.

Visits to the Son Tra Peninsula, home of the famous Linh Ung Pagoda, as well as to the restaurants and shops along the way will not be possible from 30 October 2017 onward until the end of the meeting. Alternative sightseeing around Da Nang will be provided by Asian Trails Vietnam, should a visit to the peninsula be included in your customer’s package.

For questions, further information or alternative accommodation for your customers, please contact us via vietnam@asiantrails.com.vn or contact your main contact directly at our Asian Trails Vietnam head office.

Kindest regards

Asian Trails Vietnam

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Iconic Yangon Hotel Caught Ablaze

Dear partners and friends

Last night, at around 03:30 AM, the iconic and historical Kandawgyi Palace Hotel in the former capital of Yangon, Myanmar reported that a fire engulfed large parts of the hotel property, resulting in severe damage at almost every floor and area. According to the Myanmar Fire Service Department, the fire broke out on the fourth floor and spread rapidly through the property, resulting in minor injuries among the guests and staff. The cause of the fire at this stage remains unknown and pending further investigation from local authorities.

At the time of the fire on 19 October 2017, no Asian Trails guests were staying in the hotel. The damage done to this legendary property is extensive and alternative accommodation is now being sourced for arriving customers for the coming period. Due to the severity of the damage, Asian Trails Myanmar will no longer offer this hotel until further notice.

For questions, information or alternative accommodation for your customers, please contact is via res@asiantrails.com.mm or contact your main contact directly at our Asian Trails Myanmar head office.

With kind regards

Asian Trails Myanmar

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Mount Agung situation unchanged on Bali

The situation around the increased volcanic activity at Mount Agung on the Northeastern side of Bali remains at this stage unchanged. Our last update from end September, indicating the actual situation, the measures taken to guarantee the safety of the residents and visitors and the ongoing monitoring by the Center for Volcanology of Geological Hazard Mitigation has kept the alert levels at its highest (4 out of 4).

We continue to receive questions in relation to our daily operations and possible adjustments in travel plans. In general, many hotels outside the safety perimeter and along Bali’s beaches in the south and Ubud have not changed their cancellation polices in line with these threats after our last update. Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport operates as normal, as do boat and ferry services to the surrounding islands.

Asian Trails Indonesia continuously stays in touch with the local authorities and representatives for the latest updates. We assure that we are taking every possible measure to give visitors an enjoyable stay on the island and avoid areas that are within the assigned perimeter around Mount Agung.

If any questions about the actual situation arise, our reservation and customer service team are happy to respond and clarify your raised matter in detail. You can contact us via res@asiantrails.co.id or get in touch with your dedicated account manager.

With kind regards

Asian Trails Indonesia