Welcome to another edition of Life Behind Bars - that would be handlebars of course. This time around we have a big introduction: Say hello to James, Grasshopper Adventurers' new General Manager! Check out his incredible journey from first-time guest, to seasoned Grasshopper, and now GM:
I started my journey with Grasshopper Adventures as a guest. Working for a travel agency back in 2016, I was invited by the Grasshopper Adventures team to join one of their new tours, which was a deep dive into the Mekong Delta. I was stunned at how friendly and welcoming our guide was, how much I learned on the trip, and the amount of fun I had. There are some amazing tours, but it is a truly incredible tour that delivers well on all three points. Absolutely smashing.
Before joining that tour I had been living in Vietnam a number of years, working for a company that provided great walking tours for individuals and groups. What I recall most about this first Grasshopper Adventures experience was how much the guide was able to teach me – me, an expat who worked in travel and was already very familiar with the herbs, flavors, and soups of Vietnam. But our guide reached into his bag of tricks and wisdom and crafted such an informative and flavor-filled experience that I was blown away! I learned and sampled more local herbs, sweets, and soups on that tour than I knew existed and still consider this one of my greatest travel experiences ever.
Wind forward the clock a couple of years later to when I went to Myanmar and joined Grasshopper Adventures with my mom in tow, rolling in to enjoy the sights of Bagan and Inle on two wheels. We had a wonderful experience, and it was very impressive that neither my mom nor myself were ever “Templed Out” – this is a common traveler concern, and easy to understand when you are exploring a country with 2,229 temples and pagodas strewn about. We explored Myanmar beyond the highlights every tourist sees and felt so connected to the country as a result, so it has been a great heartache for my mom and me to see the ongoing conflict there. We both have such great memories of this country and cannot wait to go back. Grasshopper Adventures arranged every detail with such precision and care, and as I understand, there is still a bike shop full of brand new Cannondale’s ready to be ridden just as soon as travel returns to Myanmar!
These early adventures really lit a bike-shaped fire in my heart, and I now own more lycra than cotton, more padded shorts than jeans, and my apartment is so full of bikes and parts that on days when I need to take the cats to the vet I have to resort to the expensive tuna to lure them out of the spoke-and-frame jungle. Fast forward to recent years – I had the opportunity to join the Grasshopper Adventures team, looking after the Guest Support & Reservations departments and pounced at the chance. Since joining the Swarm (as a family of Grasshoppers would call themselves), I have had the privilege of taking part in even more tours, from the Mekong Bike & Boat Adventure, to the Chiang Mai & North Thailand Bike Tour, and the Stunning Shikoku Bike Tour of Japan, all of which have been great fun, but also an incredible way to connect with our guests and teams on the ground, and the experiences we offer.
After over a decade in travel, and with experience in a number of roles, it is a great honor for me to step in as General Manager for our long-serving Chief, Adam Platt-Hepworth. Adam is moving into a bigger role in the Grasshopper-Discova family and will be applying his signature touch to some other expereince brands we have under the same roof. I have met many of the Swarm in person at this stage, despite being spread across the continent, and am inspired by the passion, dedication, commitment, and innovation that I have seen and felt. After a couple of very challenging years for the travel industry, I’m in awe at how the Grasshopper Adventures crew was able to spring back to life. Their dedication to offering guests authentic, diverse, and value-packed experiences is truly commendable – many other tour operators lost their sparkle over the pandemic, but Grasshopper Adventures managed to improve – like a bottle of fine wine, we have grown richer, deeper, and more fulfilling.
To the future, I look forward to expanding our range of incredible Bike & Boat tours, building our capacity for self-guided experiences, and introducing more E-Bikes to new destinations. What I am most excited about though is the opportunity to welcome customers back to Asia to experience the joys of active travel, from biking to kayaking and everything in between. I think we all had too much time inside and now it is time to get back out into the world to Escape, Explore and Connect – and Grasshopper Adventures is here to help you do it!