Pilgrimage to Angkorwith Tricycle: The Buddhist Review
Pilgrimage to Angkorwith Tricycle: The Buddhist Review
Three spaces available!
- January 8–18, 2019
- Accompanied by Helen Tworkov, founder of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review
- Guided by Khmer expert & former monastic, Chhon Chhea Yut
- Escorted by BJ Graf & Lauren Rathvon, owners of RetreaTours
- Explore the modern and ancient sites around Bangkok, Thailand, upon your arrival in SE Asia (2 full days in Bangkok)
- Discover Cambodia’s rich history via its stunning ruins, including the Angkor Wat complex
- Engage in modern Khmer Buddhism with local monastics and elders
- Limited to 12 guests
- Early bird price of $4999 USD per person (based on double occupancy) until September 30, 2018
- Option: Extend your trip with an independent exploration of Laos with Helen Tworkov
Itinerary at a Glance
- January 8: Arrival in Bangkok. Welcome dinner & orientation this evening.
- January 9: Enjoy modern Bangkok’s holiest Buddhist sites, including the Golden Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho & Wat Arun
- January 10: Explore the historic Buddhist city of Ayutthaya, once one of the world’s largest and most cosmopolitan cities
- January 11: Take a short flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia and meet your local expert & guide for the next 6 days
- January 12-17: Experience a fascinating blend of historic sites and modern Buddhist practice. We’ll explore the Angkor temples early in the morning, when the lack of crowds and mild temperatures are in our favor. In the afternoons & evenings we’ll enjoy dharma talks, visits to local pagodas, traditional arts workshops & more.
- January 18: Bid farewell to Cambodia & fly back to Bangkok and then back home–or continue your adventure!
We want to make your international arrival to Southeast Asia as convenient and easy as possible, so we will meet as a group in Bangkok, Thailand. We’ll start our journey here with a brief tour of ancient Buddhist sites and modern Buddhist culture in The Land of 1,000 Smiles. Our first official gathering will be this evening for orientation and dinner at our hotel directly on the Chao Phraya River. If you choose to arrive early, we can help suggest activities and hotels.
After breakfast, we’ll get an early start to explore the vast grounds of the Grand Palace, which houses the Emerald Buddha Temple, Wat Phra Kaew. The temples glitter and glisten as their mosaics catch the morning sun. The Emerald Buddha is carved from a single piece of jade & its temple is regarded as the most important Buddhist temple in all of Thailand.
Your first exposure to the Thai architectural style won’t disappoint! The magnificent buildings of the Grand Palace were constructed 220 years ago under King Rama I, the founder of Bangkok capital. It was once the residence of the Royal Family and is now used for ceremonial purposes.
Afterward, we’ll head just down the road to the Wat Po temple complex and the third largest reclining Buddha in all of Thailand. Wat Po is also regarded as the first center of public education in Thailand and it houses mural paintings, inscriptions, and statues that educated people on various subjects, including literature, archaeology, astronomy, geology, meditation, medicine, and the origin of Thai traditional massage.
On the return journey, we’ll see the unique riverfront Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun). The porcelain-mosaic on these towers have becomes synonymous with Bangkok itself! Did you know that all of the stunning porcelain bits used on this temple were actually just ballast from Chinese trading ships? One person’s trash is truly another person’s treasure!
This morning we’ll drive 50 miles (80 km) north of Bangkok to the ancient capital city of Ayutthaya. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was at one time one of the world’ largest & most cosmopolitan cities, the center of a kingdom that ruled for 417 years (1350–1767 CE). The ancient Buddhist monastery & temple ruins at Ayutthaya are a must-see, including the now famous Buddha head in a tree at Wat Mahathat.
We’ll continue on to Bang Pa-In Summer Palace of King Rama V, a well-preserved complex that displays the glory of former Siam.
We’ll bid our farewells to Thailand & take a short flight (~50 minutes) to Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Welcome to the land of Angkor, which was the largest pre-industrial city in the world and supported a population of almost 1 million people (1010–1220 CE). Allow the fascinating history of this area to soak in over the next week here.
On the way to our centrally-located hotel near downtown Siem Reap, we’ll acquire our 7-day pass to the Angkor Wat temple complex. When we arrive at the hotel we’ll take a moment to refresh and revive, and this evening we’ll meet with our expert Khmer guide, Chhon Chhea Yut (or “Yut” for short). We’ll remain in Yut’s capable & knowledgeable hands for the duration of our stay in Cambodia (for more about Yut, please see his bio further down this page!)
We’ll organize our time in Siem Reap, especially our Angkor Temple visits, on the weather. We’ve planned the timing of our temple visits very carefully, to avoid the biggest crowds and warmest times of the day. Over the course of the next six days, though, you can look forward to the following activities:
- Sunrise at iconic Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world. After sunrise, we’ll thoroughly explore these hallowed halls. This complex was originally dedicated to Vishnu when it was constructed in the first half of the 12th century, but Mahayana Buddhism prevailed in the later 12th century. Hinduism briefly made a resurgence in the mid-13th century, before Theravada Buddhism arrived, staying until the modern day. This religious ping-pong is evidenced in the unfortunate marring and destruction of certain Buddhist elements in Angkor Wat.
- An early morning discovery of Ta Prohm, one of the most picturesque spots in Siem Reap and well known for its thitpok trees slowly reclaiming the giant structures. It was founded in the early 13th century as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university. Ta Prohm is also home to the mysterious (or not-so-mysterious) carving of the “stegosaurus.“
- Time to examine the ruins at Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmer Empire. This complex is rich in gorgeous ruins, including Bayon, Baphuon, and the Terrace of the Elephants. Bayon was built in the early 13th century as the official state temple of the Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII. Perhaps most notable upon arriving at Bayon are the 200 faces carved into the upper parts, thought by some to be the face of Avalokiteśvara (Lokeshvara).
- Preah Khan is another picturesque temple being reclaimed by the jungle. It was built in the 12th century in honor of King Jayavarman VII’s father. (Just so you don’t think he was playing favorites, Ta Prohm was built to honor his mother!)
- Exploration of other temples in the greater Angkor Archaeological Park area.
- Participate in a traditional Khmer cooking class & learn the art of Cambodian cuisine.
- Enjoy a traditional arts workshop with Cambodian Living Arts at local pagoda & learn a craft such as shadow-puppet making. We’ll learn more about Cambodia’s traditional art forms and the importance of preserving them following their almost-destruction during the civil war.
- Be enchanted at a private performance by the Sacred Dancers of Angkor. This traditional Apsara dance existed in the 6th-7th centuries, and you can see hundreds of Apsaras depicted on the stone carved walls of around Angkor. This apsara dance performance is performed by the Nginn Karet Foundation for Cambodia (NKFC), a grass-roots charity created in 1994 to help 14 selected villages just released from the clutches of the Khmer Rouge.
- Spend quality time at both rural pagodas and historic pagodas within Siem Reap city. This may be a special opportunity to witness the Sangha as they gather for evening chanting.
- Engage with the local community and gain insights into the practices that have been passed down for generations. We’ll have the good fortune to meet with elders dedicated to preserving age-old spiritual practices.
- We’ll take a community-based ecotour of the Prek Toal floating community on Tonle Sap lake. The Tonle Sap is the lifeblood of Cambodia and is the largest lake in South East Asia during the wet season. However, during the dry season, it shrinks from 6,200 square miles to just 1,000 square miles. With the continuous change of the water level, whole villages—including schools, shops, temples, and pig farms—must move locations throughout the year. Here we’ll learn from local Khmer people about freshwater ecosystems and community life on the lake.
We’ll hold dear everything we learned from our Khmer friends as we pack up and fly back to Bangkok today, where our journey together ends. If you’d like to extend your journey independently in Southeast Asia (Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, or elsewhere!) we can help recommend itineraries and add-ons.
Join Helen Tworkov on an extension to Laos—details coming soon!
Chhon Chhea Yut is a former monk of 16 years and experienced tourism professional. Yut was ordained as a monk at the age of 9 and spent his formative years studying the Dhama first in Cambodia, and then at the Buddhist University of Chiang Mai (Thailand). He is a passionate ambassador for his country and has long been passionate about sharing Khmer Buddhism with curious travelers.
Yut is able to offer a great deal of insight into Theravada Buddhist teachings, and their intersection with Cambodian culture (both currently and historically). Yut is also able to lead introductory meditation sessions, teach basic “soat-moan” (chanting the Sutras), and translate discussions with monks, holy men and women, and local people along the way.
Helen Tworkov first traveled through Asia in the 1960s and this led to Buddhist studies in the Zen and Tibetan traditions.
In 1991, she founded Tricycle: The Buddhist Review and today serves on its board of directors.
She is currently finishing a book with Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche that illustrates how the acceptance of dying every day is a journey toward a joyful life.
Price & Inclusions
This journey is $4999 (USD) per person (double occupancy) before September 30, 2018. After that
If you prefer to have your own room, the single supplement is $525 USD and will be added to your last payment. (Click here to understand why this single supplement is necessary). Please note that we cannot guarantee you a roommate for this trip, and if
A non-refundable $1000 deposit holds your space. The second installment of $2000 is due by August 11, 2018 (150 days before the start of the trip) and the balance is due by October 10, 2018 (90 days before the start of the trip). Single supplement is due along with the last installment.
- Internal transportation within and between Bangkok and Cambodia (except initial transportation from the airport in Bangkok to
- All accommodation, from the night of January 8th until the night of January 17th)
- Most meals (except for 3 dinners), starting at dinner on January 8th and ending at breakfast on January 18th
- All site fees, including 7-day Angkor Archaeological Park pass
- All base tips
- Donation to Tricycle: The Buddhist Review
Price does not include:
- Cambodia visa fee (~$35 USD)
- International airfare (although we can and will be more than happy to help you decide on arrangements)
- Transportation from the airport in Bangkok to our hotel
- Travel insurance (required)
- Souvenirs, laundry fees, alcoholic beverages, snacks and beverages outside meal times
- 3 dinners
- There is a minimum of 6 guests that must sign up in order for this trip to take place. We will hold your deposit & payments until the minimum number of guests have signed up. Please do not purchase any airfare until you receive notice from RetreaTours that we’ve reached our minimum number of participants.
- If the minimum number of guests have not signed up 3 months prior to the departure date, we’ll give you the option to transfer your reservation to another tour or fully refund your money.
Payment Details & Schedule
A $1000 deposit holds your space; the second installment of $2000 is due on August 11, 2018, and the balance is due October 10, 2018.
We accept payments via check and credit card. For guests outside the U.S., please see RetreaTours.com/twdetails for your best option or contact us for bank transfer details.
- Paying by Check: Checks can be made out to RetreaTours and sent to 8821 NW 14 Street, Pembroke Pines, FL 33024.
- Paying by Credit Card or PayPal balance: You can pay with credit card or PayPal balance through the following the green buttons below. Please click the appropriate amount to be taken to PayPal’s homepage to complete your transaction. All PayPal transactions must be in USD. Note that you do not have to have a PayPal account to pay this way; Please click here for instructions.
Final installment due on October 10, 2018. We’ll provide you the amount and invoice well before the due date.
Registration Questions & Contract
Please click here or the green button below to access the registration questions via Google Forms. Your spot is considered reserved when you have completed these questions and submitted your deposit.
About our Practice on this Journey
During our time in Cambodia we will share:
- Frequent dharma discussions with Chhon Chhea Yut (“Yut”), a former monk of 16 years, and Helen Tworkov, the founder of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review
- Visits to local pagodas, where we may have the opportunity to witness the Sangha gather for evening chanting
- Engaging discussions with local monks and laity
- Meetings with elders dedicated to preserving age-old spiritual practices
- Guided meditations
You will also have free time for your own personal sitting and practice.
FAQ (info about visas, vaccines, currency, etc!)
- Passport and Visa information
- Health & Vaccines, Altitude, Travel Insurance
- Money & How to Get Local Currency
What do I need to know about the visa?
First and foremost, your passport MUST be valid at least 6 months beyond the end date of the trip (that is, July 18, 2019), and you’ll need three empty pages in the Visas section of your passport (make sure they are in the Visa section, not the Amendment or Endorsement section).
- Thai visa: Most likely your country is exempt from needing a visa for a 30-day period. You can see a list here, but please check your country’s State Department or contact us if you are unsure.
- Cambodian visa: Although visas are available upon arrival, to save time we will request that you apply online for a Cambodian e-Visa ($36 USD) at www.evisa.gov.kh/home. We will give you more instructions and information for that form when it is time to apply.
I have special dietary needs—can I be accommodated?
Vegetarians and vegans will find plenty of delicious curries and noodle dishes along the way, as well as some specialty vegan cafes in Siem Reap. Celiacs and those avoiding gluten will also enjoy the abundance of rice, meat proteins, and vegetable options, as well. Part of your registration includes asking about dietary allergies and special needs, but please feel free to contact us beforehand if you have any specific questions or concerns.
Can I drink the water?
In a word, No. Although many cities around the world are getting more advanced public water systems, we don’t recommend it. Not only from a pathogen standpoint, but it’s a different set of bacteria than your body is used to. Why risk an upset stomach if you don’t have to? We recommend drinking only bottled water, and you will want to rinse your toothbrush off in bottled water.
What vaccines do I need?
None are required to enter Thailand or Cambodia, but we suggest you work with your physician or your area’s travel health expert to decide what options are best for you. You can read the American CDC’s recommendations for Thailand here and Cambodia here, and the UK’s NHS recommendations for Thailand here and Cambodia here.
What about malaria?
As always, we request that you work with your physician or travel doctor when making these choices. Please see our blog about this topic for more information about malaria. You can see malaria maps of both countries by clicking on their names: Thailand & Cambodia.
Bangkok, Ayutthaya, and Siem Reap are considered no-risk to low-risk areas for malaria, particularly since we are visiting in the dry season.
Do I need travel insurance?
We require that our guests carry travel insurance because it just makes sense. It’s a relatively small expense but affords huge peace of mind! When choosing a travel insurance policy we require that you are covered for emergency medical expenses, medical evacuation, and repatriation. We also highly recommend you take out trip cancellation insurance, as this may cover cancellation penalties in certain circumstances if you have to cancel your trip unexpectedly due to illness, injury or other unforeseen circumstances.
Please see RetreaTours.com/Travel-Insurance for more information.
How much money should I bring?
Only what you need for extras (souvenirs, alcohol, massages, etc) and a few meals. We have included all base tips, but we would never take away the opportunity to tip more if you feel moved to do so.
How do I get the local currency?
The local currency in Thailand is the Thai baht or bath (THB) (pronounced “bat” or “bot”) and Cambodia uses both the riel (KHR) and the U.S. dollar. You can either exchange cash in or use a local ATM (which we prefer) to get local currency or U.S. dollars.
Just make sure you call your bank and credit card company to let them know you’ll be traveling, so they don’t put a hold on your card when they see it being used halfway across the world. You do NOT need to exchange money before you arrive in, as exchanging money while still in your home country usually has a very poor exchange rate.
What kind of hotels will we be staying in?
Our hotel in Bangkok is in the 5-star category and our hotel in Siem Reap is a charming 4.5-star property. They each have wifi, hot water, air-conditioning, and private bathrooms with Western-style toilets. You will receive your hotel name and contact info before the start of the trip.
How can my family get ahold of me in an emergency?
Before the trip begins we will give you the contact information for our hotels to pass along to your loved ones. If you choose to bring your cell phone or tablet, you can use VoIP services such as Skype, WhatsApp, and FaceTime to connect with your loved ones at home, as well.
Suggested Physical Fitness Requirements
This journey is not appropriate for travelers using wheelchairs or walkers. Guests should be able to walk 1-2 miles unassisted and participate in 5 hours of light to moderate physical activity on most days.
Some of our sites will have steep steps, either stone staircases or modern stairs, although it is not required to climb at each these spots if you do not wish to.
Early Arrival & Departure details
This journey will officially begin at 6 PM on January 8th. We understand that you may wish to arrive early to get adjusted to the timezone or that your ideal flight may arrive the day before. In this case, we can advise you on hotels (the one we are staying in or elsewhere) and activities for your time in Bangkok before the trip.
Please remember that if you arrive in the wee hours of January 8th (midnight to 7 AM), you’ll still need a place to rest your weary head, necessitating a room the night of January 7th/morning of January 78h. Otherwise, you may have to wait until 2 PM to check in.
Before you purchase your international airfare, we will let you know what time we are flying from Siem Reap, Cambodia back to Bangkok, Thailand on January 18th, and we can advise on the earliest time you should schedule your ongoing flight (if you are leaving Bangkok on the 18th). For those of you who wish to stay in the area—Thailand or Southeast Asia in general—we can advise on your itinerary!
Packing List & Weather
The historic averages for Bangkok at that time of year are 68-90°F, and the actual temperatures for those days in 2018 were 70-92°F.
The historic averages for Siem Reap at that time of year are 67-88°F, and the actual temperatures for those days in 2018 were 64-90°F.
Humidity will hover around 75% in both destinations. Hopefully for most of you, this will be a reprieve from some harsh winter weather! Although this is not the rainy season, rain can still occur, so you’ll want to bring some protection from the sprinkles.
In the weeks leading up to the trip, you can see the real-time weather conditions for Bangkok and Siem Reap by clicking the corresponding buttons below.
Here is a suggested packing list, clothing first and accessories second.
NOTE: As we’ll be visiting many active temples and sacred spots, you’ll want to approach your wardrobe with relative modesty, with shorts and skirts below the knee. You’ll want to cover your shoulder at sacred sites, so bringing a lightweight cotton scarf for a quick wrap solution is a fantastic idea. If you choose to wear shorts above the knee, you can also use a sarong/scarf to cover up during your time in the temple.
Considering the warm weather, you’ll want to opt for lightweight fabrics, like cotton or linen.
For any excursions at dawn or dusk, you’ll want to wear lightweight long sleeves and pants in order to prevent any mosquito bites.
Please use this clothing list as a mere suggestion, and wear what you feel comfortable in! You will have the opportunity to have laundry done at your own expense at the hotels; please confirm with the hotel that the laundry will be down by the time you have to check out in each location.
- 10+ pairs undergarments; you can always have them washed or wash them in your bathroom
- 3-5 pair light cotton pants or long skirts.
- 4-5 cotton t-shirts, blouses, or shirts.
- A light sweater/cardigan for chilly morning or evenings. Perhaps even a light shell/wondbreaker–the morning tuk-tuk rides to the Angkor temples are beautiful but can be quite cold!
- Sleeping attire
- Comfortable walking shoes. Boots aren’t at all necessary and can be cumbersome when going in & out of and temples (where you’ll have to remove shoes). Sneakers, comfortable slip-ons, or walking sandals (like Tevas, Chacos, or Keens) will suffice.
- A pair of sandals or flip-flops, if you wish. They’ll be convenient for around the hotels and local excursions.
- Scarves/sarongs are super handy for so many reasons (men and women, as outlined above, for cover-ups at temples)
- A swim suit for our hotel pools. You may wish to bring a cover-up for lounging.
- Some guests like to bring convenient inflatable meditation cushions for their sitting practice. Here are some examples over at Amazon: http://amzn.to/2wbHx92
- A hat with a brim is a great idea for your daytime adventures.
- Ear plugs and eye shades to help you sleep better and recover from jet lag more quickly. BJ swears by this! Click here for more of our tips on preventing and dealing with jet lag.
- Good sunscreen. Lauren prefers mineral-based ones like Devita: good for you, good for the environment. How do you know if it’s mineral based? If the active ingredient is either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide—that’s it. They might be a little pricier initially, but a little goes a long way.
- Daypack or camera bag. (If you need a recommendation on a camera, BJ would be happy to help, just email him. We can discuss what type of photography you like, how much you want to spend, and how much you want to lug around.)
- If you do bring your camera, don’t forget extra batteries and/or your charging cord! You may want to think about an extra memory card, too.
- Binoculars for your safaris (especially if you don’t have a zoom camera)
- Toiletries. Although our hotels will have shampoo and soap, you may wish to bring your own favorites, and don’t forget the hair conditioner!
- A few packs of travel tissues isn’t a bad idea, to keep on you for public restrooms.
- Wet wipes and/or hand sanitizer. Nothing replaces good ol’ hand-washing, but this will work in a pinch.
- Ladies will want to bring any necessary feminine hygiene products with them.
- Plug adaptor for electronics: Here’s a nice example of a great universal adapter and here’s one with USB ports, as well.
- A print out of your RETURN airline ticket itinerary. You can also have it readily accessible on your phone (you may want to save it as a photo).
- Photocopy of your passport and your visa, just in case you need them.
- A small travel umbrella; can work for rain (which we’re not expecting) OR as a parasol
- A lightweight rain shell or poncho.
- Small notebook and pen for journaling purposes, if you desire!
- A small flashlight (or the flashlight on your phone)
- Mosquito repellent. While there is no malaria in Bangkok or Siem Reap, there is still the slim possibility of dengue and the general nuisance of itchy mosquito bites. Prevention is the best solution!
- Enough of any prescription drugs you need, as well as over-the-counter needs. We recommend Imodium (anti-diarrheal), a probiotic (Lauren is a BIG fan of Jarrodophilus EPS), as well as melatonin and Benadryl for jet lag purposes.
- An extra pair of prescription eyeglasses and/or sufficient contact lenses.
- We will have wifi at all of our hotels, if you want to stay in touch via your smart phone or tablet. Don’t forget your chargers! We recommend setting up Skype, FaceTime, or another wifi-based calling service before leaving home, and familiarizing your loved ones with it before you leave.
BJ and Lauren live out of their suitcases year round and they swear by packing cubes! Rolling your clothes (instead of folding) and using packing cubes make packing a dream!
We suggest trip cancellation insurance, as well, as you never know what obstacles life can toss at you leading up to a trip. However, we do not require this coverage, we only suggest it highly.
Below you will find some options to look into, if this is a new world to you. However, we ask that you carefully consider your choice in travel insurance. What works for some people may not work for others, particularly if you have any pre-existing conditions. Please do take the time to consider the best policy for your individual needs.
World Nomads provides medical coverage for guests under 70 that includes trip cancellation, as well. You can use the box on this page to get a quote and see coverage.
InsureMyTrip.com is a good place to see and compare many policies at once, and you can refine the options by what coverage you would like. This website includes options from companies like Allianz, Travel Guard, Trip Assure, April, GeoBlue and more.
It may also be a good idea to check with your credit card companies, especially American Express, to see if they offer any medical coverage for travel.
Established in 1990 as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization, The Tricycle Foundation is dedicated to making Buddhist teachings and practices broadly available. In 1991 the Foundation launched Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, the first magazine intended to present Buddhist perspectives to a Western readership. Tricycle soon became the leading independent journal of Buddhism in the West, where it continues to be the most inclusive and widely read vehicle for the dissemination of Buddhist views and values.
Our readership includes longtime practitioners, those who are curious about Buddhism or meditation, and those who do not identify as Buddhist but value the teachings of wisdom and compassion that Buddhism has to offer. By remaining unaffiliated with any particular teacher, sect or lineage, Tricycle provides a unique and independent public forum for exploring Buddhism, establishing a dialogue between Buddhism and the broader culture, and introducing Buddhist thinking to Western disciplines. This approach has enabled Tricycle to successfully attract readers from all walks of life, many of whom desire to enrich their lives through a deeper knowledge of Buddhist traditions.
Tricycle has been recognized with the prestigious Folio Award for Best Spiritual Magazine three times, and has twice garnered the Utne Media Award, most recently in 2013. As part of our commitment to our readers who are seeking to implement or sustain Buddhist values and practices, Tricycle accepts advertising only from teachers, programs, centers, and businesses whose offerings we believe will support those aims. Because of this selective policy, we depend on donations to support ever-rising printing and production costs, content updates to our website, and life-enriching programs. The Foundation also hosts occasional pilgrimages that provide opportunities for new and experienced practitioners to explore sites of importance to Buddhist history and practice.
The mission of The Tricycle Foundation is to create forums for exploring contemporary and historic Buddhist activity, examine the impact of its new context in the democratic traditions of the West, and introduce fresh views and attainable methods for enlightened living to the culture at large. At the core of the Foundation’s mission is the alleviation of suffering that Buddhist teachings are meant bring about. Tricycle is an independent foundation unaffiliated with any one lineage or sect.
A three-wheeled vehicle aptly evokes the fundamental components of Buddhist philosophy. Buddhism itself is often referred to as the “vehicle to enlightenment,” and the tricycle’s three wheels allude to the three treasures: The Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, or the enlightened teacher, the teachings, and the community. The wheels also relate to the turning of the wheel of dharma, or skillfully using the teachings of the Buddha to face the challenges that the circle of life presents.
About BJ and Lauren of RetreaTours
Husband and wife team BJ Graf & Lauren Rathvon created RetreaTours in 2010 with one goal in mind: to make world travel accessible, authentic, and astounding. In order to focus fully on this passion, they moved out of the U.S. in January 2013 to reside full-time overseas. Each day is spent exploring new destinations, strengthening local ties & relationships, and creating memorable and transformative retreats and tours (aka, RetreaTours!)
BJ & Lauren craft each element of the trip with intention, and they understand that it is this careful attention to detail that sets them apart. Fueled by their passion, armed with know-how, and supported by knowledgeable local professionals in all of their destinations, BJ & Lauren set the scene for the vacation of a lifetime. The dynamic duo are available to answer any and all questions before the trip begins. From giving advice on the best flights and travel insurance to providing a packing list, FAQ, and even a tiny “phrasebook,” BJ & Lauren pride themselves on these ‘nuts & bolts’ of personalized service.
Please click a photo to see an enlarged version; you can use your arrow keys or mouse to navigate within the album. All photos have been taken by BJ and Lauren during their time in these beautiful countries.