So this is the time of the year when we look back on the past 365 days and ask ourselves: “So…that was it?” Don’t worry, I will not bore you with elongated stories of what happened and my no very precise prediction of what will be. But allow me some words about my job and the place I live in.

I mean… my job is great!

For more than 20 years, I am working in the tourism business and that basically means one thing – making people happy! What could be better than getting up every morning knowing that people will put their dreams into your hands and trust you in making their “most beautiful days of the year” even better.

And working for a company like Asian Oasis makes that job even more rewarding…literally!

In the end, you – the valued customers and guests – are proof that we must be doing something right, as you have helped us getting another three very prestigious awards. The fact that a renowned company like TripAdvisor has given Asian Oasis a “Certificate of Excellence” makes me proud indeed.

But even better is the  Wild Asia’s Responsible Tourism Award 2013 for the Best in Community Engagement and Development that we received for the Lisu Lodge, as it reflects what we are all about – giving you the best experience in hospitality and responsible tourism.

It is in that light that we had to make a decision this year that wasn’t easy but it was necessary. We decided to take all Elephant riding tours out of our programs in order to protect these magnificent animals and protect them from abuse and exploitation. Of course, we know that there are people who depend on the animals to feed whole families, but in recent years, the conditions for the former work elephants have been getting worse and worse.

It is a bit like teaching Norwegians, Icelanders or Japanese that you can use a boat to hunt and kill whales but people might rather use the boat to go out to sea and watch the whales. Let us all hope for a similar development in Thailand when people might be more eager to actually see the gentle giants in their natural (or natural-like) habitat, where they could actually feed families by taking care for the animals.

The future of Thai- Elephants? Admired from a distance

Yes, I have a great job!

…but as we see here in Thailand, it is also a job that is very sensitive to “change” or crisis.

A lot of my friends or our customers from overseas were very worried about the current events in Thailand with mass demonstrations and the like. Often my friends asked me “What is going on?”…and I almost dare not to answer them as we know that things are hardly ever “simple” and even less “black & white”. But they also asked me “Is it safe to come Bangkok/Thailand?”

Well…of course it is. It is pretty easy to avoid getting “into” a demonstration. Just don’t go there.

If anyone of you has ever been to Bangkok and went up to a higher vantage point,  let’s say to the 20th floor of a hotel, and just looked around. There are buildings in the horizon in every direction. Even the biggest demonstrations can not even nearly cover all that.

Demonstrations in Bangkok- for the young and the older

I am quite sure that people who came to Bangkok during the unrest of 2010, stayed in the Sukhumvit area for the average two or three nights and did the average “Grand Palace, Wat Po & the Klongs” tours wouldn’t have even noticed what was going on around Phratunam.

Bangkok is really big…Thailand is even bigger…and there are many nice things to see.

Without even getting close to any demonstration.

In with these words, I want to wish all of you a happy, healthy and peaceful 2014!

See you in Thailand.