about tcs20 Questions: Expedition Leader Susan Cegavske

Susan Cegavske

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, and her love for food and the sound of languages. 

1. In my carry-on bag I always have a small pair of binoculars to see the wildlife and birds, and also to see things as close as possible, like dancers on Hawaiian Islands and the Taj Mahal.

2. On my first TCS Expedition I traveled on the Around the World classic 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 beasts shaking the trees around you.

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 culture and vibe of 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 for inspiration. The service and food are also 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 beauty of the Himalayas and the beautiful textiles. It's such a 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. 

8. Some of my favorite countries to eat in are Southeast Asia and India. I love a naan curry. Also the national dish of Cambodia, amok, which is similar to a curry. You can’t beat the wonderful cuisines of Southeast Asia like pho in Vietnam and all the flavors of Thailand.

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 five-hour dinner under a starry night sitting in a courtyard with multiple courses of Italian food, great red wine and conversation.

10. The best souvenir I ever bought myself is a really cool vintage Mongolian wedding blanket. They’re like 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. When they move, she rehangs her blanket above the bed. 

11. My favorite market in the world is any local market. Life is sourced at the markets. I love markets in Cambodia and India because life is so vibrant, and you can get your fresh curry paste and coconut milk, fresh spices, meat and fish. 

12. The one place I love going back to is India. I love how diverse it is. I love our Around the World trip and I love to go back to all of them. It’s like seeing friends. I’m thrilled every time I get to go on our Around the World trips.

13. When I need to relax I do yoga. I love to do sun salutations to connect with my breath and it’s a complete workout.

14. My favorite thing to do on vacation is to rub elbows with different cultures. I’m not a beach person.

15. My favorite experience for guests on a TCS Expedition is the entire journey. It's the experience of having all of the adventures at the same time. 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 perspective. Your world will be blown open by seeing gorillas in Rwanda and scuba diving in the Maldives and seeing the countryside in Botswana and going to the Taj Mahal. That’s the trip encapsulated. Stop after stop is the best experience. That is what we’re really selling. 

16. In my suitcase, you’d be surprised to find space. I leave lots of room to collect souvenirs in each place. I leave with a suitcase half empty.

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 for that. 

18. The first time I traveled abroad, I went to…the South of France and Northern Italy with my older sister.

19. My favorite foreign language to listen to is the language of the Mlabri, the yellow leaf people, a hill tribe in Thailand. It’s 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 Mlabri. When I saw them gathering in the jungle, I recorded the language because it was so unique. 

20. My best piece of travel advice is just go. The hardest step is out your front door. So just go.