Discover Somewhat Secret Beaches and Islands on Talk Travel Asia podcast

TalkTravelAsia Podcast: Episode 11 – Asia’s Somewhat Secret Beaches

Secret Beach Revealed on Talk Travel Asia Podcast

A Secret Beach Revealed on Talk Travel Asia Podcast

In Episode 12 of TalkTravelAsia Podcast, Scott and Trevor talk about some up-and-coming beaches and islands they’ve discovered over the years that aren’t as-of-yet overrun with tourists but are likely to be places you will be hearing about soon.  Listen up as travel guidebook writer and merman Trevor Ranges and his co-host Scott Coates take you around the region to some of Asia’s somewhat secret beaches and islands!  Click here for full episode shownotes or click these links to listen on Soundcloud or iTunes now!

The Best Ways To Experience Elephants In Thailand (And Cambodia)

Elephants in Thailand's Elephant Nature Park

Elephants in Thailand’s Elephant Nature Park

An old friend recently contacted me about elephant camps in Thailand.  His daughter is studying to be a veterinarian and asked if I could recommend somewhere for her to volunteer with elephants in Thailand.  From my experience researching and writing travel guidebooks for National Geographic, I’ve visited many elephant camps in Thailand and Cambodia and have had the privilege of interviewing those who run them.

While most elephant camps in Thailand are purely commercial and a few are predominately cultural, there are some elephant camps in Thailand and Cambodia that offer visitors the opportunity to live on-site for a few days or weeks to learn about elephants in greater depth, particularly experiencing the life of an elephant master ormahout – typically a life-long partnership bond.

In my opinion, there are only a handful of elephant experiences in Thailand that aren’t explicitly exploitive; that is to say, only offering elephant experiences on a superficial level simply for commercial purposes.  The following are elephant experiences in Thailand and Cambodia that offer more, both to the visitor and to the elephants and their mahouts.



The Honey Bee, the Bear, and the Crocodile – A Valentine’s Day ‘Fairy Tale’

Once upon a time, a beautiful honey bee discovered a tree by a river
That she chose to make her new home
So each day she would go in search of flowers,
and bring back pollen with which to build her hive.

In the water beside the tree lived a crocodile,
who was happy to have a new neighbor.
Each day he watched the honey bee buzz off to the flower gardens,
and then return to the tree to cheerfully work on her home

the crocodile was too shy to talk to the bee,
afraid she would be frightened by him and buzz away.
So he stayed hidden below the water,
simply happy to watch the pretty little honey bee busily building her hive

One day a fuzzy brown bear saw the honey bee collecting pollen from a far off flower field and followed her back to the tree
Her hive was still new and hadn’t yet started to produce honey, but the bear was clever

“Good morning honey bee”, he introduced himself, “what a fine place to build your hive”
The bee thought the bear was handsome and charming and said “Thank you, I try to keep busy and do my best”

The next day the bear brought the bee flowers and said “I hope these can help you build your hive more quickly”
“Why thank you” replied the honey bee, clearly impressed by the bear’s thoughtful gesture

Sensing someone watching them, the bear said “Just watch out for any crocodiles in the water” making sure to stay away from the waters edge himself
“We wouldn’t want you getting eaten up, before you’ve finished your hive!”

The honey bee was surprised by this news and just a little bit worried, and she thanked the nice bear for his advice
So that evening the bee flew over the water, looking for the crocodile
“I see you there”, said the honey bee, “are you going to eat me?” She asked. “Why do you hide?”

The crocodile nervously came to the surface
“I think you’re beautiful”  he told her
“And you work so hard on your nest”
“I’m just an ugly crocodile, and I thought you wouldn’t like to be friends”
“Don’t be silly” said the honey bee, relieved that he was quite nice

Each day the bear brought the bee flowers
And slowly the hive grew bigger and bigger

Each evening the bee would fly over the water
And the crocodile would  swim along beneath her,
Occasionally coming to the surface where she would land and rest

One time the bee wasn’t at the tree when the bear arrived
And he was thirsty for a drink
“Hey crocodile!” he shouted. “If I drink from the water will you eat me?”
Not yet hungry and curious to learn more about the bee,
the crocodile told the bear he wouldn’t eat him,
if the bear told him more about the bee

“Why do you bring her flowers?” the crocodile asked
Watching her happily build her hive is so interesting to me,
but what interest is it to you?”
“Don’t you know?! ” The bear exclaimed as he lapped up the water.
“That bee can make honey once she finishes her hive,
And I bring her flowers to help her along”
“That’s nice… ” Started the crocodile,
but the bear wasn’t listening, a scheming glint in his eyes
“And once the hive is finished”, the bear went on,
“I’ll eat all the honey inside!!!”

The crocodile was shocked to hear the bear’s plan,
because he loved the honey bee.
Suddenly filled with rage, he charged up out of the water and snapped at the bear
just as the honey bee was returning to the tree
And she saw the crocodile’s teeth snap some fur off of the bear’s fuzzy tail

“I told you to watch out for that crocodile!” The bear shouted to the bee
“If he had gotten me I could no longer bring you flowers to help with your hive!”

The bee was distraught and quite upset with the crocodile
“How could you do that?!” She yelled at the crocodile
“That bear is so good to me, and we can be happy with or without you,
especially as it seems your only pretending to be my friend!
I think you should swim away now!” She buzzed from above

The crocodile tried to warn her,
about the bears plan to steal her honey
But she wouldn’t listen to a word,
after seeing him attack the bear

So the crocodile went back into hiding
Staying deep below the water
safely hidden as he watched the bee build her hive in the tree
And he watched the bear come each day with flowers
as he drooled at the honey he was beginning to smell

After some time the hive was ripe with honey
And the bear could hardly resist
So one day when the bee went off to the gardens
The bear had himself a feast!

The crocodile turned away as the bear destroyed the hive
It hurt him badly to see her wonderful home destroyed
For one,  he couldn’t stand to watch,
And also the bee had told him to stay away

The bee returned to find her hive missing,
And she quickly turned to the bear who was napping against the tree
“Bear, what happened?! Where is my hive?”
The startled bear quickly thought up an answer: “That crocodile came out of the water and ate it!
I told you to watch out for that guy!”

“Are you sure?!” the bee replied,
“And if you were here, why didn’t you stop him?!”
The bear responded that it wasn’t HIS nest to guard against dangerous crocodiles
perhaps SHE should not have left it alone if she was so worried about it.
And then he burped, and laughed, and said: “I’ll help you build another!”

As the bee thought of the crocodile, she realized that he had never said anything bad to her like the bear just did
The only “bad” thing the crocodile had done was attack the bear, just before he tried to warn her about HIM!
She then caught the bear licking his sticky paws as he looked up at her with guilty, yet happy eyes and she flew straight at him

“You did this!” she screamed as she tried to sting his body, but she couldn’t get through his dense, course fur (it only LOOKED soft and fuzzy!)
Laughing as he rolled to his feet, he didn’t even bother to swat at her,
saying “thanks for the honey, honey!”
As he lumbered away

the bee sat by the water’s edge
She didn’t even have the strength left to fly.
The crocodile had returned and he watched from beneath the water.
The bee thought that she could sense him watching,
unsure, she called out anyway:

“I’m so sorry I didn’t believe you” she cried
“I don’t blame you for hiding.
“I chased away my friend,
and now I don’t even have a hive!”
And the bee erupted into buzzing tears

The crocodile was so sad for the bee
So he gently surfaced near the edge of the water and told  her,
“All the time that we were friends, you were always so happy.
You loved gathering pollen from flowers and building a hive in this tree.
It was plain for me to see, and it was a joy for me to watch.
If you build a new hive on the branch above my water,
I can protect it for you.

They then started sharing stories,
About the first few weeks they knew each other
When they were new friends, and she had just started building
They looked at the branches above the water
And agreed that it was a beautiful tree.

Flying over the water and up into the tree,
The bee selected a long branch that dangled far out, but low above the water,
And they smiled at one another as she landed upon it and he floated beneath

When the new hive was finished,
It was literally dripping with fresh honey.
Because the bee loved to collect pollen from flowers,
And because she loved the crocodile,
She let her sweet honey drip down towards the water
For the crocodile to eat

Planet Asia Podcast Discussion: Expat Business Owners in Asia Make Great Friends

Expat Business owners in Asia

Middle of Somewhere, Cambodia

Smiling Albino’s Scott Coates and Trevor Ranges discuss how a network of expat business owners can enhance travel in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, or Nepal.  From Koh Samui to Ratanakiri, expat business owners not only provide great hospitality, but also have the passion for and knowledge about their adopted homes that help make Smiling Albino adventures in Asia unique and unforgettable.

Based on the blog Expat Business Owners Make Great Friends as a launching point for their discussion, Scott and Trevor share some greater insight and provide additional examples of how expat business owners are instrumental to exploring Asia, learning about different destinations, and creating the ultimate holidays in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Nepal.

Listen to our discussion about Expat Business Owners on Smiling Albino – Planet Asia Travel Channel!


Planet Asia Podcast: Visit Angkor temples by Elephant, Bicycle, Balloon, or Boat!

Explore Angkor, Cambodia by Elephant

Explore Angkor, Cambodia by Elephant

Explore Cambodia’s Angkor temples by tuk tuk, bicycle, elephant, hot air balloon, or even motorcycle sidecar; Smiling Albino’s Scott Coates and National Geographic Traveler: Cambodia author Trevor Ranges discuss the many enjoyable transportation options for exploring Cambodia’s Angkor temples on Planet Asia Podcast.

Listen to our discussion about Different Ways to Explore Angkor Temples on Smiling Albino – Planet Asia Travel Channel!

Planet Asia Podcast – Motorbiking In Thailand

Smiling Albino Co-Founder Daniel Fraser talks with Trevor Ranges about motorbiking in Thailand, including the excellent selection of motorcycles available, the scenic roads Daniel has discovered, and the unforgettable experiences that await future guests on one of Smiling Albino’s great Thailand motorbike adventures!  Listen to Daniel and Trevor discuss motorbiking in Thailand, following up on the blog Daniel recently wrote about his expertise on the subject.

Listen to the Podcast about Motorbiking in Thailand on Smiling Albino – Planet Asia Travel Channel.

Planet Asia Podcast – Blue Elephant Thai Cooking School

Blue Elephant Thai Cooking School founder Nooror Somany Steppe

Blue Elephant Thai Cooking School founder and head chef Nooror Somany Steppe

On this edition of Planet Asia Podcast I discuss Thai food, Thai cooking, cooking courses, and the intricacies of creating world-class dishes with Khun Nooror Somany Steppe, chef extraordinaire and founder of Blue Elephant, one of Bangkok’s most famous Thai restaurants.  With locations across the world including Jakarta, Malta, Paris and Dubai, Khun Nooror is one of the world’s foremost experts on Thai cuisine and shares her impressions and love of Thai cuisine and Thai cooking classes. Dig in and have a listen.

Listen to the Podcast about Blue Elephant Thai Cooking School on Smiling Albino – Planet Asia Travel Channel.