Far Horizons

by Randy Keck, part 2 of 3 on Thailand

The highlight of my March ’08 Thailand adventure, hosted by Value World Tours and the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and the primary reason for my taking the journey was the 3-night/4-day cruise sector on the Kwai River.

The cruise-tour featured the combination of a relaxing river cruise with many interesting shore excursions plus pre- and post-cruise touring in central Thailand. Included were several sites central and integral to the...


by Randy Keck, part 1 of 3 on Thailand

Despite my many travels to Asia over the years, the visit I made to Bangkok in March ’08 was my first since the latter stages of the Viet Nam War. This long-awaited Bangkok reunion was part of an 11-day Thailand visit hosted by Value World Tours (an ITN advertiser) and the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

“Thainess” — even in Bangkok

While the primary focus of my Thailand visit was a river cruise in central and northern Thailand,...

Border country ranches produce the world’s finest-quality merino wool — northern Patagonia.

(Second of two parts)

I had the opportunity in October 2007 to visit Chile’s northern Patagonia, an area still today far from the usual swath of tourists sojourning in South America. Little did I realize the bounty that would unfold in the second half of my 6-day exploration of the region.

After visiting Termas de Puyuhuapi and Laguna San Rafael Glacier, which I reported on in my last column, my amigo Scott and I stopped in the booming regional center of Coyhaique, the...

The waterfront Termas de Puyuhuapi Hotel & Resort is nestled in splendid isolation.

In October 2007, a usage of bountiful AAdvantage miles (40,000) provided me the opportunity to visit, along with two friends, the northern Patagonia sector of Chile’s Region XI. The first three days of my journey, which was hosted by Chilean Special Journeys, involved visiting two of the area’s prime attractions, one constructed by innovate humans, the other a gift of nature.

Our morning flight from Santiago to Balmaceda via Puerto Montt arrived just before noon....


Sometimes when I write about issues facing travelers, especially international travelers, the topic relates to only a portion of ITN readers. This is one of those occasions.

Each individual adapts to the aging process in his/her unique way. Some travel-oriented individuals seem to gradually lose touch with their sense of adventure because more energy and effort are required for certain activities than when they were younger. Often, this can be rationalized by a wide range of age-...


In the travel industry, G.O. is the abbreviation for the term “group organizer.” Most ITN readers probably know at least one person who has functioned as a G.O.

Who are G.O.s?

The definition of a group organizer, broadly stated, is someone who organizes a group of people to travel together with a common group itinerary. A group is usually defined by the travel industry as 10 or more passengers traveling together. A G.O. can be anyone with a following or who...

Randy Keck and the “five peaks of Mount Maru” — outside Angkor Wat. Photo: Lin

(Part 4 of 4 on Vietnam & Cambodia)

After my 1½ weeks in Vietnam, an evening arrival in Siem Reap, Cambodia, from Saigon provided me with the opportunity for an overnight respite before touring the remarkable remnants of the ancient Khmer civilization in and around the vicinity of Angkor Wat. I had arrived at one of the surviving great wonders of our world.

My accommodation for the next three nights was the luxurious, 238-room Sofitel Royal Angkor Golf & Spa...


(part 3 of 4 on Vietnam and Cambodia)

My sojourn in southern Vietnam began on arrival in Saigon on an afternoon flight from Da Nang. During my time in Saigon I never once heard it referred to as Ho Chi Minh City by a local.

Greeted by my new guide, Hoa, who speaks four languages fluently, I transferred to and quickly settled into the Renaissance Riverside Hotel, a 5-star highrise overlooking and providing expansive 180-degree views of the Saigon River.

During my two-plus...