Sam and his husband Lou have been on several Zoom Vacations tours over the past many years, and they are so engaging, and so much fun, that we always love having them! Sam is about to take his next trip with Zoom Vacations, this time to Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. We decided to change things up a bit, and interview Sam before the trip. His interview is below, and we will follow up wit him after the trip in a few weeks!
Zoom: To what destinations have you been with Zoom Vacations?
Sam: My first Zoom trip was to Rio de Janeiro for Carnaval, a trip I wish I had done while in my 20s. Then came Scandinavia over New Year's and early January. That was followed by Australia, Croatia, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe.
Zoom: Based on those other experiences, what are you expecting from this upcoming trip to Laos, Vietnam Nam, and Cambodia?
Sam: Based on my prior Zoom experiences, I expect five star accommodations, awesome meals, stimulating traveling companions and a variety of interesting activities that will include both tourist highlights and lesser known rewarding experiences. Zoom has a way of including unexpected activities, like less traveled side trips and local cooking classes that many tourists will not experience, but which add a lot to the overall flavor and knowledge of a trip destination. That's what I want from a big trip: a better understanding of where I've been, while also having a good feel for what the locals' lives are like.
Zoom: What made you want to go to this part of the world?
Sam: Former French Indochina (Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia) has always been to me an exotic location. Parts of it were terribly impacted by war, and even genocide. Others were landlocked and somewhat inaccessible to foreigners. Still others were legally closed off from tourism by French colonial administrators. Yet this area once was the center of a mighty empire that lasted centuries. I can't wait to see what these people are like. They've ruled other peoples through conquest, yet been themselves conquered. They've survived both civil wars and wars against foreigners. Yet today they are thriving tourist destinations, and in the case of Vietnam have a growing industrial economy. What makes these people tick?
Zoom: What are you most looking forward to about this trip?
Sam: My personal highlight will be visiting Angkor Wat. This religious city/complex is the largest in the world, but was lost and forgotten for hundreds of years. I can't wait to see it and walk through its streets.
Zoom: Will you know any of the other Zoom travelers on this your?
Sam: My husband Lou and I are quite lucky on this particular tour. We already know three-fourths of the people in the group. We like all the ones we already know, and fully expect to make new friends among the ones we don't already know. But generally, even if you don't know many fellow travelers on a Zoom tour, you quickly become travel buddies with some of them. After all, you are all there for the same reason: travel adventure.
Zoom: What is it like, connecting with people you haven’t seen in so long?
Sam: Even though you may not have seen each other for a few years, reconnecting with people during a group tour is sort of like seeing old friends at a class reunion. You quickly remember what you liked about each other, and those intervening years just evaporate. It's a good, familiar feeling.
Zoom: What have been your top highlights or moments from other Zoom vacations tours you've taken in the past?
Sam: There are so many highlights to choose from! I’d have to mention: attending the parade at the Sambadromo during Carnaval, snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef, New Year’s Eve in Stockholm, dogsledding in Lapland, and exploring the city of Bucharest, which deservedly is called “The Paris of the East".
Zoom: What is their reaction when you tell people that you're going to this part of the world?
Sam: Most people are intrigued about south-east Asia, but think it is so far to travel. However, people who have already been there have confidently told me that I will love it. I anticipate they are right!
Zoom: During this tour, you will see a lot of natural beauty, plus architectural beauty and sites of historical importance. What aspect are you most looking forward to?
Sam: All of the above will matter to me, although as a history buff, I expect that aspect to really get inside my mind.
Zoom: A big part of experiencing this destination especially, is the food. How much does a destination's cuisine affect your desire to visit?
Sam: It's funny you phrase it that way, because I wouldn't actually think that the local food would matter to me in picking a tour destination. Still, I think you are correct in that it does influence one's choices. I personally love Vietnamese cuisine, since it is so fresh and flavorful. I have no familiarity with Laotian and Cambodian food, but look forward to experiencing the similarities and variations of those ethnic foods in relation to the more familiar Vietnamese.
Zoom: What are three top places you would like to visit next?
Sam: Near to top of my bucket list are India, Morocco and Greece
Zoom: Anything else you would like to add?
Sam: As the old saying goes: You get what you pay for. Zoom is likely not the cheapest travel option when you choose a destination, but the slightly higher cost is more than justified by the first-rate accommodations, meals and experiences. I've been a loyal Zoom client for 10 years, and Zoom regularly meets my high expectations. Keep up the good work Bryan and Joel!