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Debbie Kessler

San Francisco, California Travel Agent

Slow Travel In Exotic Australasia

Having grown up and lived in Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore and traveled extensively through New Zealand, Fiji, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Macao, and beyond, I am passionate about this region. The biggest misperception is that people think they can see it all in a week or two. That would be like saying you want to see the whole United States in two weeks.

I’ve had clients say they have two weeks and want to snorkel around the Great Barrier Reef, visit Ayer’s Rock and Sydney in Australia, go bungee jumping, visit a Maori village and do the Shotover Jet boat ride in New Zealand, and then stay at a private island resort in Fiji. All those are worth doing and seeing, but you’d have very little time to enjoy anything because you’d be spending all your time flying from place to place.

I am a strong believer in slow travel; like the slow food movement, it means taking a less hurried and more personal approach to the places you visit. I can help you to connect more genuinely and more deeply when you aren’t racing always from airport to airport. Taking the time to explore more deeply is especially rewarding in this region of the world, where the distances are huge and the cultures are quite distinctive, not only from the U.S. but from each other.

You could see the most famous sights in Sydney in two or three days, but you’d only be scratching the surface. With a few more days, you might watch daredevil surfers on its beautiful beaches. Instead of the harbor lunch cruise many tourists take, you could get a commuter pass and ferry over to Watson’s Bay for great beach-hopping and seafood or to Taronga Zoo to see many of Australia’s unusual endemic species.  

You also might ride bikes or horses as locals do in Centennial Park. And on a hike in the nearby Blue Mountains, you would smell the eucalyptus trees that give the mountains their name or winery-hop through Hunter Valley, the Napa of Sydney. And then there is the rest of Australia!

Hong Kong is another destination that people too often breeze through. A typical two-night stay will give you a taste of the food and shopping. But having lived in Hong Kong, I know so many special things you can do there. Most visitors know you can take the Star Ferry between the Hong Kong and Kowloon sides of the harbor, but they don’t realize that Kowloon has an identity of its own. Its name translates as “nine dragons” referring to its peaks; hiking those peaks affords impressive panoramic views. Hong Kong also has fascinating outlying islands. Take a ferry to Lamma Island for seafood served in a shack by the sea or hike or take the cable car to a mountain monastery on Lantau Island

Those are only two examples of how spending just an extra day or two in each place lets you more intimately connect to the places you go. Slow travel means taking the time to taste, feel, hear and touch as well as see a destination. With my first-hand knowledge of this region, I can suggest adventures, restaurants, activities, and cultural events that match your interests and can deepen your experience. 

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