I first met Robert Hearn on one of my flights. As a fellow flight attendant, we hit it off very well, and got to talking about our side businesses, and he mentions he runs a travel company for flight attendants. I was intrigued to say the least! He told me stories about their previous trips, and showed me videos from them, and I was pretty impressed! After our 3 day trip together, we promised to keep in touch, and that was probably one of the best decisions I have ever made!
My Fiance and I decided to take Robert up on his offer to visit Cambodia with him. We even managed to wrangle our good friend Michael along for the ride. We all had travel benefits, so the process was simple. We signed up online through his website, then we paid online. After our payment was made, Robert contacted us and helped us book our tickets. We had never been to Cambodia, or Asia using our travel passes so it took some getting used to, and Robert was an amazing help in helping us predict whether our flights would be full, whether it was cheaper to go full fare, and even to help us put the trip together.
We also decided that while we were off, we would take advantage and visit Thailand as well on our own. This is important, because it helped us see the value of what Robert offered.
When the day finally came to head out, we were super excited! We had our backpacks ready to go, and took our first trip which took us to Japan. We spent a few hours there then took Japan Airlines to Bangkok, and from Bangkok we flew to Phuket. From Phuket we took a taxi to the pier and boarded a Ferry to the Phi Phi islands. We hadn’t booked a hotel in advance, so we booked an overpriced on the boat, and proceeded to explore the island for 3 days.
Now, I consider myself fairly well travelled, but the experience in Thailand was a bit stressful, because we had to figure out everything on our own. For the most part, finding someone to translate wasn’t too difficult, but overall, we didn’t know what we were doing and that made this segment of the trip a little less enjoyable.
After our time in the Phi Phi Islands, we embarked on our journey to the main part of the trip, Siem Reap Combodia. It was cheaper and safer for us to take a full fare flight to Cambodia so we flew Air Asia there. When we arrived, a taxi driver was there to meet us, and we headed off to the Golden Butterfly. This is when I finally began to feel like I was on vacation. Robert met us at the hotel, and took care of everything. He did an amazing job in finding the Golden Butterfly, a hotel that while he insisted was not 5 star material, could have easily fooled me. The place was clean and immaculate with staff that treated you like royalty. You felt special there, it was an amazing experience!
Our first day there, we were taken to the Angkor Wat temples, which were amazing! The sheer amount of history and culture in those ruins were amazing, and slightly overwhelming. We spent most of the day traveling around by Tuk Tuk visiting each of the locations. Afterwards, we went to a local restaurant and dined like kings! By local standards, it was a little pricier than most, but well worth it. The food was cooked to perfection, and the atmosphere was great. They even provided free wifi. After that, we went back to the hotel and relaxed for a bit, then went out to experience the nightlife. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life! For $5 you can buy a bucket of alcohol and take it with you everywhere. We visited clubs, and shops, and bars, and even got to hear a local band do terrible renditions of American songs. It was an amazing experience!
The next day, we had lunch at a restaurant called The Haven, which per their website:
“HAVEN is a non-religious social enterprise that opened its gate in December 2011 and is a training restaurant for vulnerable young adults from orphanages* and safe shelters, as well as underprivileged young adults from very rural poor areas. By teaching them quality work skills as well as important life skills, we support these young people in their transition from institution to real world as well as giving them a chance to step out of the poverty cycle.”
You can visit their website at http://www.havencambodia.com/
We all put money together and left them a donation of around $2-300 to help them with their efforts. The food was superb, and the kitchen staff was obviously well trained. The food there was easily the best we had on our entire trip.
The rest of the day was spent shopping, or getting $5 massages. We honestly spent more money on massages than anything else. It was a wonderful experience.
Our final day was spent at the Phnom Kulen National park, which was an amazing experience. Before we hit the waterfalls, we spent time paying our respects to the giant Buddha carved into the side of one of their hills. We saw a lot of poverty there, but more than that, we saw people working hard, with little businesses catering to everything from food to trinkets to incense. After our time there, we went and swam in the waterfalls! The water was cold but refreshing and it was packed full of visitors, but there was plenty of room for everyone. That night we went out to visit the night life in one final hurrah!
It was honestly the trip of a lifetime, and having Rob there made such a big difference. We were with a wonderful group of likeminded people who all deal with the same frustrations, and it helped bring us all together. Because of that closeness, visiting each of these sites felt like a trip with family and friends rather than a trip with strangers. We were all flight crew of some kind, mostly flight attendants and being able to vent, or share experiences that we could all relate to made it easy to connect with everyone. Compared to our visit to Thailand alone, it was like night and day. No stress about where to stay, no stress about where to go, and no stress about what to do. It really made our trip memorable, and now we feel comfortable visiting on our own if we ever decide to one day.
Angel M. and Tara S.