Like many of our expedition leaders, Susan has a joy for exploration that is tough to replicate. Here she tells us about her favorite spots around the world as well as her love for food and the sound of languages.
about tcsExpedition Leader Susan Cegavske
20 Questions with Susan
1. In my carry-on bag I always have a small pair of binoculars to view wildlife birds, and also to see special events and happenings as close as possible, like fire dancers on the island of Mauritius and the architectural details of the Taj Mahal.
2. On my first TCS Expedition I traveled on the Around the World classic itinerary in 2007.
3. The most unique thing I have done on a TCS Expedition was a toss-up between riding a camel at sunset in the Thar Desert in India or being eyeball-to-eyeball with a silverback gorilla in Rwanda. It’s a mind-blowing experience to see these hairy beasts shaking the trees all around you in the middle of their natural habitat.
4. A place I thought I’d dislike, but I fell in love with was Easter Island. It turned out to be such a magnificent, fascinating place with a proud culture and vibe all its own.
5. My absolute favorite hotel is the Oberoi Amarvilas hotel in Agra because every room has a beautiful view of the Taj Mahal. There is nothing like looking out and seeing the Taj at both sunrise and sunset for inspiration. The service and food also happen to be exquisite.
6. One place I haven’t seen yet, which I’m dying to visit is the Ladakh area in the northwest corner of India where Bangladesh and Pakistan come together. I’m attracted to the majesty of the Himalayas, the beautiful textiles made in this region and the daily religious practices of the area. It’s such a remote and unique part of the world.
7. The strangest food I have ever tried is a hit of vitamin C by licking a termite in the Daintree Rainforest in Australia. It tastes really tangy, like a lime or lemon. The Aborigine of the area knew to use it for health and medicinal purposes.
8. Some of my favorite countries to eat in are Southeast Asia and India. I love garlic naan and curry. Also, the national dish of Cambodia, amok is spicy and delicious, and quite similar to curry. One can’t beat the wonderful cuisines of Southeast Asia like pho in Vietnam and the myriad of flavors of Thai cuisine.
9. The best meal I ever had was at Canlis in Seattle. Outside the United States, though, it was in Florence, Italy. It was a memorable five-hour dinner under a starry sky, sitting in a renaissance courtyard being served multiple courses of gourmet Italian food, a lot of great red wine and lively conversation. Magic!
10. The best souvenir I ever bought myself is a really cool vintage Mongolian wedding blanket. They’re like handmade quilts, but they have tabs on the top to hang in the gers. The wife takes her wedding blanket and hangs it above her and her husband’s bed. As nomads, when the family moves the ger, the wife rehangs her blanket above the couple’s bed once the ger has been set up.
11. My favorite market in the world is any local market. Life is sourced at the markets. I especially love the markets in Cambodia, Bogata and India because life is so vibrant, and you can find fresh vegetables, curry paste, coconut milk, fresh spices, meat and fish- everything to eat like a local.
12. The one place I love going back to is India. I love how diverse and vibrant the country is. I love our Around the World trip and enjoy going back to each of these countries. It’s like visiting friends each time. I’m thrilled every time I get to travel on our Around the World trips.
13. When I need to relax I do yoga. I do classic sun salutations to connect with my breath and because it’s a complete workout and stress reliever.
14. My favorite thing to do on vacation is to rub elbows with and explore different and unique cultures. I’m not a “hang out at the beach” person anymore, and want to delve into a unique way of life.
15. My favorite experience for guests on a TCS Expedition is the experience of the journey- as a whole- it’s the unique opportunity of having all of the adventures at the same time, building on each other. You can always go to the Maldives, but to do it back-to-back with other fabulous experiences and be exposed to so many cultures provides a wonderful global perspective. Your world is blown open by seeing gorillas in Rwanda, scuba diving in the Maldives and then seeing the big game in Botswana and then gazing at the incomparable Taj Mahal. That’s the trip encapsulated. Stop after stop is the best experience. That is the experience that we’re really offering.
16. In my suitcase, you’d be surprised to find space. I leave lots of room to collect souvenirs in each place. I depart with a suitcase half empty as I love to shop for local treasures.
17. Before I go to a country, I try to learn about what’s unique in each place. In Mongolia, I went for the Naadam Festival, but later learned there was a jazz festival so I stayed longer to attend that event.
18. The first time I traveled abroad, I went to the South of France and Northern Italy with my older sister. I fell hard for travel!
19. My favorite foreign language to listen to is the language of the Mlabri, the yellow leaf people, a hill tribe in Thailand. The language sounds rather singsongy and there are only about 100 members of the tribe. I had the opportunity to trek deep into the jungle along the Thai-Laos border to visit the tribe. When I saw them gathering in the jungle, I recorded the amazing language because it was so unique and rare.
20. My best piece of travel advice is just GO! The hardest step is out your front door.