The first month of 2013 is down – eleven more to go! After 13 years living in SE Asia we’ve done this enough times that we’re able to sail right into a new year without missing a beat, and so far this year’s off to a great start! There was no time for recovery after our epic New Year trips and the entire Smiling Albino team dove right into new adventures and explorations. Have a read below to check out what’s been going on, what’s coming up, and how you can join in the fun!

Adventure Highlights

Classic Cambodia
If you want to dip your toes into the fascinating country of Cambodia while on a limited time schedule, Classic Cambodia is the perfect fit. For six days, you’ll see behind the curtain in this developing but beautiful country filled with proud and friendly people, riding bicycles to stone ruins, gallivanting through buzzing Phnom Penh, and exploring the remnants of the mighty Khmer Empire in style. Of course it’s all accompanied by fine food, fun guides, and memories you’ll never forget!

A perfect day in exotic paradise

A perfect day in exotic paradise

Bangkok 1910
There’s no denying Bangkok has an incredible buzz that permeates its many layers, but dig deep enough and you’ll find a whole new world of fascinating cultural heritage and insight. That’s the thinking behind the Bangkok 1910 tour, a fantastic, educational 4-day trip back in time to the early 1900’s, when Thailand was called Siam and the country was going through some dramatic changes from pre to post-industrial revolution. You’ll visit Chinatown, cruise quiet canals where people still live very much as they did back then, and take a rail trip along the same route that business-minded Europeans took when they arrived back in the day. This trip’s perfect for travelers who’ve been to the capital several times and want to discover alternative sides to the city.

Enfield Enigma
If you were to draw a graph that illustrated the intersection of ‘motorcycles’ and ‘cool’, you’d end up with the iconic Royal Enfield right smack in the middle. The production of these fine machines goes back to England in the early 1900s, and they’ve stubbornly resisted change ever since -even the gears and clutch systems are backwards from most motorcycles today. There’s simply no more exhilarating way to see the majestic sights of Nepal than from the seat of one of these bad boys on the Enfield Enigma trip. Over 11 days you’ll motor around some of the world’s tallest mountain passes, up hills, down valleys, and through some of the most remote and starkly beautiful landscapes our little blue planet has to offer.

What’s Going On

Chinese New Year
Many countries in Southeast Asia are really lucky when it comes to New Year celebrations – they get to have three or more! You have the traditional New Year based on the astrological calendar, usually in April; the party-party western New Year on December 31st; and the Chinese New Year. Lucky! This year, Chinese New Year celebrations will be held from February 10-15, and if you want to see it up close and personal, there’s no place quite like Bangkok’s Yaowarat district (Chinatown). Densely packed, full of color and activity like no other time of year, it’s a smorgasbord of dragon dances, fireworks, Chinese opera and oodles of food that you should definitely not miss if you’re in town.

Dan's TAT ad is a must-watch

Dan’s TAT ad is a must-watch

Daniel Stars in Television Ad
Daniel’s mischievous grin and strong jawline have graced the pages and television screens of many of Thailand’s most memorable movies and advertisements, but his latest ad for the Tourism Authority of Thailand is perhaps the grandest yet. Shot on location all across the kingdom, Dan takes us on a manic one-minute tour of almost everything you can see and do, from elephants and rice fields to beaches and cities. Nice job, Daniel – we’re looking forward to the sequel!

Bangkok’s Changing
Although change and progress are usually good things, sometimes they come with a downside. Such is the case in many places in Asia, where economic growth, technological innovation and expanding populations mean that the treasures of the past are bulldozed for visions of the future. It’s happening fast in many places, but a recent Bangkok Post article focused on several locations in Thailand that are losing their historical identity. As new subway tunnels bring condo developers and property owners choose high-rise condos and hotels over historical shophouses and markets, the personality and physical layout of Bangkok is changing fast. Yet another great reason to head over here soon before all the historical stuff is torn down or moved to a museum!

A Great Year for Smiling Albino
We’ve counted numbers and are extremely happy to report that 2012 is the best year we’ve ever had! With a few new trips on offer, some great new staff helping us out and, of course the support of our wonderful friends, families and guests from around the world – we were able to show a record number of people the sights, tastes, sounds and wonders of all countries we operate in. From the bottom of our hearts, a very sincere "Thank You!" to everyone who helped make 2012 such a great year. Here’s to 2013 being even better, with amazing adventure and fun times ahead!

Posts, Pics, Flicks & Podcasts

Blog: Visiting Chatuchak Market
If you’re in Bangkok, one thing you’ll undoubtedly be doing is shopping, and there’s no better place to get your shop on than at Chatuchak, the giant, sprawling, open air market in Bangkok’s north. Prepare yourself before a visit by our blog post on how to best approach this massive market. From coconuts to antiques and pets to art, you can find almost anything you want here, but it’s best to be prepared if you want to get the most out of a trip.

Video: A visit to Phnom Kulen & Kbal Spean
Take a look at this great video Scott made in one of Cambodia’s lesser-known attractions – Phnom Kulen & Kbal Spean. With rumbling waterfalls spraying everything in mist, beautiful carvings have been made directly into the riverbed with dense jungle everywhere you look. It’s an intensely beautiful spot that deserves to be seen in person, but until you can get over there, get a taste by watching our video!

Photos: The Cambodian photo gallery
Speaking of Cambodia, if you want a look back at some of the great pictures we’ve collected over the years on our various trips into this dusty, amazing country, head over to our photo gallery. From Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, past salt flats in Kampot, across the lush Kep-Rabbit Island, through the sobering Killing Fields and up close with some of our very worthwhile charity projects, there’re some amazing shots in our 22 albums. Have a look!

Podcast: How to best communicate while traveling in SE Asia
When you travel to a new country, communication is always the trickiest part. Sign language is great but it only takes you so far – how do you buy a bus ticket? How do you tell someone you’re allergic to peanuts? What do you do if you lose your wallet? To get some ideas on the best way to learn the basics, we talk with David Long, a longtime Thai expat who runs the Thai Language Department at the American University Alumni Association (AUA) in Bangkok. Take a listen to hear his tips on how best to communicate when you’re a stranger in a strange land.

Getting to know Vietnamese locals

Getting to know Vietnamese locals

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