Dream Design
The Reading Room

Access granted in Asia

Words by Francesca Lee-Rogers

When it comes to special trips, Asia is often top of the list. Chaotic and modern, spiritual and spellbinding, it has an intoxicating mix of culture, food, and unique experiences.

Temple ruins
Stories for... The Heart

But you can discover a whole new world that goes beyond the tourist traps. With private access, meet knowledgeable experts and real locals to create meaningful connections and a more authentic perspective.

Searching for soul-enhancing experiences? Want to get to the heart of the locality? But at a loss of how to find the right people or get access? By drawing on an elite and extensive network, you can arrive at the most desirable events, open doors to unforgettable experiences, and meet people who are masters of their craft. This is how we ensure a trip isn’t just special but leaves a footprint on the mind, body and soul. As poet Oliver Wendell Holmes said: “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions”.

Embrace new traditions, learn about different ways of life through ceremonial exchanges and be taught unusual arts by experts. Do more than sit on the side and watch; jump in feet first.

Bangkok is home to the sacred tattoo art of sak yant, believed to offer power, protection, charisma and other benefits for the bearer. A visit to an authentic samnak or salon is a must, where the resident ajarn (master) reveals lessons about their complex craft. Embracing the intricacies of this detailed work is made a lot easier with researcher, author and Thai culture expert, Joe Cummings. He is an expert guide and TedX speaker on the symbolism of this ancient ink, from the tigers that ward off enemies to the five lines that bring good fortune.

Elsewhere, there’s the opportunity to experience the marvels of architecture by volunteering at one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap. With the right introduction, the German Apsara Conservation Project (GACP) will let you go behind the scenes for an exclusive opportunity to meet the team and see sites that are often closed off to the general public. Scale the scaffolding to sit alongside researchers at Prasat Kravan and learn about the techniques of their role first-hand and listen to their stories of the mesmerising Hindu deities.

Meanwhile at DeraMandawa hotel in Jaipur, the Mandawa family are eager to teach kite flying the local way. It’s a pastime that has been handed down through generations and offers a tranquil insight into the festivities and feasts of Makar Sankranti, the festival of the sun. The family can also show you how to tie a turban and wear a saree so you can fully embrace a way of life outside of your own.

Next time you think about going away, remember to look into the emotional and spiritual benefits of deeper connections with communities. When you know where to look, you can uncover a world of possibilities.