A natural people person, Silk Holidays’ Kenny Fan made the switch to travel while looking for a less-routine career path.
“After graduating from university majoring in economics, I got a job at a bank and was a customer service representative for about a year,” Fan tells PAX. “I found it was too routine for me and I got into the tour operator industry, where I enjoy communicating with people and providing advice with their travel arrangements. Most of all, I’ve learned so much by talking to other travel professionals.”
Based in Richmond, BC, Fan joined Silk Holidays in 2005 and currently works as assistant manager of sales and marketing for the Asia-specialist tour operator, a role he’s held since March of this year.
This week, PAX checks in with Fan on eating live octopus, a handy travel trick for Asia-bound passengers and a memorable Malaysia home-stay.
PAX: What are three essential items you always travel with?
Kenny Fan (KF): My headphones & music, travel neck pillow and sunglasses.
PAX: What are some of your favourite vacation spots?
KF: I'm not a sun destination person; I enjoy the cultural part of every place I visit. That also means I like to visit some lesser-known spots. I always tell people that the world is just too big for a few destinations – go out and explore and you will be surprised.
PAX: What’s your favourite airport and why?
KF: There are a few. The Haneda airport in Tokyo stands out the most. The airport creates an old town atmosphere in a modern airport – it well represents Japan as a travel destination. Another one is Vancouver airport – I just have a feeling it will be one of the top in the world very soon! It might not be the biggest or the busiest, but it has an intimate west-coast atmosphere which makes it feel like home for me.
PAX: Most memorable food/meal you ever ate while travelling and where you ate it?
KF: Eating a live octopus in Seoul was definitely my most memorable food moment. Imagine eating it while it was still moving and those suction cups on the tentacles stick onto your tongue! It was pretty much tasteless except for some seawater flavour. I wouldn’t eat it again but I do enjoy trying different kinds of food while I'm travelling. I truly believe food can bring out the real culture of each place.
PAX: What’s your biggest travel pet peeve?
KF: Waiting for my luggage! For some reason, my luggage is often among the last few pieces to come out from the carousel. Many times I’ve worried that it’s not coming out and I wonder what I would do during the next few days of a business trip or a vacation with the family. Luckily, I’ve only had two mishandled luggage incidents. Phew!
PAX: What are your hidden talents?
KF: I can cook! None of my friends and colleagues believe that, but I can cook for a group of eight to 10 people with ease. I don’t believe in following recipes and I make my own creations. I hate the clean-up part, though!
PAX: When flying, window shade up or down?
KF: Usually up if I sit by the window. You’ve got to enjoy the aerial view when taking off and landing. A trick I learned from a colleague is to always choose the right side of the plane to avoid the sun when flying to Asia. Not many people know that!
PAX: What's your funniest travel anecdote?
KF: When I was co-hosting a FAM to Malaysia, we had a village home stay experience in Langkawi. The village was in the middle of nowhere on the island (at least to me that was). I was assigned to a home in which the host hardly spoke any English and we had to use hand signals for communication. Showering was a challenge, as there was only a big bucket of cold water and nowhere to place my clothes. I had to put the clothes on top of my head and clean off with lightning speed. The geckos crawling in my room will also definitely stay in my memory. Nevertheless, it was a great experience with a local family.
PAX: What should travel agents be aware of right now in regards to Silk Holidays?
KF: Silk Holidays is a boutique national tour operator. We specialize in Asia from bargain getaways to customized tour programs. We create a “worry-free” and one stop booking for our guests which includes special airfare and competitive prices. We are here to help our agency partners to grow their business by helping them diversify their products.
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