10 June, 2016

You Only Live One Life

To me travel is the best education one can receive. I pride myself on living my life without regrets. This is why in 2012 I quite my job in San Diego, sold my car, moved out of my apartment and bought a one way plane ticket to Taiwan. I needed a drastic change in my life and I knew this could possibly be it.

After six weeks of winding through narrow streets, trying to find my way to one teaching interview after another I landed a job as a preschool teacher. Keep in mind that at this point in my life I had only taught at the college level. Now I was teaching three year olds who up until coming into my class only spoke Chinese. Talk about "culture shock" for myself as well as the little children I was teaching. For the first six months I wanted to quit every day. Everything was so different than what I was used to. I held on in hopes that it would get better.

Outside of teaching I was having a fantastic time, meeting new friends, exploring the Island and living the Expat life. I knew that if I could just become comfortable with my job that I would be accomplishing something huge.

Just like anything in life if you stick with it, teaching these young children became easier. Going to work every day was more enjoyable and I actually felt good about the impact I was making on their lives.

I ended up living in Taiwan for 18 months, it absolutely changed my life forever. I was able to travel al over Asia taking trips to Vietnam, Philippines, Bali and Thailand. My passion for travel
grew exponentially during this time.

After my teaching contract was over I moved back home, not knowing what the next step would be. I was just as scared to go home as I was to leave, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I moved back in with my dad at the age of 35. The one thing that I was for sure of was that I did not want to work for corporate America anymore and that traveling had to be a part of my life. During those first six moths of being home I almost moved back to Taiwan on several occasion. You see I had something they call "reverse cultural shock". I was lost and not sure of anything. Slowly I started doing admin for my dads company "Sprit Tours". Eventually I was able to try my talents out leading tours. After two tours in Bali and one in Costa Rica my Dad and Brother said that I was "indispensable". The rest is history.

I know that if I hadn't taken the leap to move to Taiwan, I would never have had the chance to work for the family business. I absolutely love what I do and I am so grateful for all of my experiences. You only live one life, take chances, be happy and have a positive outlook. All of these things will lead you to your destiny.

10 December, 2015

Retreat in Costa Rica with Yoga led by William Abel

Imagine spending 8 days in Costa Rica in the middle of winter. 
The good news is, Costa Rica doesn't have a winter like ours! And even better yet, there will be gentle yoga every morning with me, William Abel. That's right, a yoga retreat in Costa Rica with yoga led by William Abel, who has taught gentle yoga to travelers in places such as Thailand, Mexico, Cambodia, South Africa, New Zealand, and of course, Bali

Join me, and Spirit Tours, for 8 days and 7 nights for a spiritual retreat in Costa Rica.

February 24th to March 2nd 2015

Click here for more information 
Spirit of Costa Rica
February 24th to March 2nd, 2016

Join Yoga Teacher William Abel and Spirit Tours who has led several trips to Costa Rica for the past 13 years. We will enjoy daily Spiritual Practice along with adventures such as soaking in Tabacon Hot Springs, hiking across suspension bridges above the rain forest, zip lining above the forest canopy and snorkeling in the beautiful ocean.

Machu Picchu with Dr. Joe Hooper

June 28th - July 7th, 2016
Machu Picchu Sacred Sanctuary of the Incas

$3,274.00 Double Occupancy Land Package Only
Travel with Reverend Joe Hooper and Reverend Edward Viljoen. Explore the ancient city of Cusco, wonder at the beauty of the Sacred Valley. Visit the quaint city of Aguas Calientes that sits at the bottom of the Machu Picchu Ruins. Standing 2,430 above sea level, in the midst of a tropical mountain forest in an extraordinarily beautiful setting, Machu Picchu was probably the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire at its height.


This is a Private Tour. 

Please contact Spirit Tours for further information (707) 566-8078 about tours to Peru 
and how you can host your own private tour.

16 November, 2015

Seeing the world through the eyes of a young child living in two different cultures

Seeing the world through the eyes of a young child living in two different cultures

I never really thought of my childhood as being unique or different, until a tour member on our last journey to Bali simply stated “how unique of a childhood you had, spending half of it in Bali, learning their customs, beliefs and values and the other half living in the United States learning a completely different set of norms.”  It was at this point that I was able to revert back in time to my childhood and how I felt living in both Bali and the United States.

In Bali as a young child there was no electricity, water was brought up in buckets from the river gorge below our home. I was taught to eat with my hands; I spent most of my time with the Balinese family whose land we lived on eating bananas and rice.  At that time of my life I felt “Balinese”, in my eyes there was no difference between who I was and the people who loved and took care of me like I was their own.

I remember my first time back to the United States after living in Bali for over a year, my first instinct was to use my hands to eat (who needed silverware). I was of course, immediately told by my parents that I now needed to eat with a fork and knife. I was very confused and did not understand why, I remember very much preferring to eat with my hands to using silverware. This was just one of the very many cultural differences that I had to get used to after being back in the United States. 

As a teenager I refused to go back and visit Bali because I didn’t want to leave my friends. Little did I know at the time how lucky I was to have such an opportunity. Returning to Bali as an adult, I do not take any of it for granted. It still feels like home, the smell, the sounds and the people have stayed the same. I now know that the way I was raised was unique and very special. I feel so very fortunate to have been raised in two different cultures.

Did you travel growing up?

If so what was your experience?


Gitana Omi
Tour Guide

12 October, 2015

Traveling Sangha

I’ve had the pleasure of doing three trips with Spirit Tours, which are so aptly called “journeys of the soul”. Indeed, each tour was heart opening, full of unforgettable experiences, and a much needed perspective reboot.
Bhutan in 2012 was unlike any place I’d seen before – a country so pristine, so barely touched by Western influence, and so warm and peaceful, that it’s all but ruined my taste for anything less! I think fondly of the smell of the wood fire smoke, chanting with the monks, and the golden sunlight at dawn and dusk.

Japan in 2014 was such a delight! Kyoto was a beautiful, complex, and welcoming city. The tour, which focused on Zen Buddhism and the deity Kannon, (or Quan Yin), immersed us in the world of  Japanese art, culture, and the Buddhist worship of the Divine.

And then, most recently, I traveled to Bali in 2015. Now, anyone will tell you, Bali is ABSOLUTELY SPECTACULAR! “Heaven on earth” is a phrase used quite often, (perhaps why it’s known as the Island of the Gods), and for many, it’s like no place else they’ve experienced. The accommodations Spirit Tours arranged were perhaps the most luxurious I’ve ever had – every need was met, every sense delighted, everything was just so dang beautiful! The ocean and the lush tropical greenery of the island were breathtaking.

The people and their daily lives were so drenched in spiritual mindfulness that you couldn’t help but adapt to that way of life, too. Bali is nothing short of pure bliss.
But I was surprised to find that a major part of my enjoyment of the trip had nothing to do with Bali itself – and I realized it had been true of my two previous trips, as well. My favorite part of the trip was the spiritual family that formed amongst the members of our group, a phenomenon I like to call “The Travelling Sangha”.
“Sangha” is the Buddhist term that refers to the sense of spiritual community and family and I realize that it’s a quality I’ve often sought out in my life. As an only child, I was constantly taking on my friends’ families as my own. As a theater major and life-long drama nerd, it was the sense of community built around a show that really appealed to me. And here, halfway across the world, travelling with people I didn’t initially know, I found it again!
I had not previously met most of the people on this trip. Usually with Spirit Tours, one travels with a group from their spiritual home base. But for me and for maybe 7 others, we were joining a group from a different spiritual center. We were being paired to room with people we had never met, we were embarking on a journey on the other side of the planet which would expand and challenge us in ways we could not anticipate. And most of us were doing it with complete strangers. But we didn’t stay strangers for long. We were all there with a common goal – to experience the Divine in a completely new place and in a completely new way, through a completely new culture. Sure, we were also there to laugh, and get a massage or three, and to maybe enjoy a few cocktails on the beach, but we were mostly there to experience Spirit in a new way. And part of that new experience of Spirit came directly from the bonds we formed within our little travelling sangha.

At our last morning meeting of the trip, we sat in our open air meeting space – birds singing, sun shining, green as far as the eye could see, an inviting infinity pool trickling below us, our bodies invigorated from the morning yoga and decadent breakfast (don’t get me started on the incredible breakfasts there!). The group was tearful. We were sad to leave this beautiful place and for the experience of a lifetime to end, but mostly, and as many people commented, we were sad to leave the group dynamic we had formed.
But, as Spirit Tours owner, Jim Cramer (or “Om Jim” as he’s known over there), reminded us, that connection would carry over back into our “normal” lives. And it’s true. I’ve found that that sense of connection remains alive and well after a trip is over. When you return home and run into someone from the group, your heart lights up. When you see a group member’s recent accomplishments or pictures on Facebook, your heart lights up. And all of a sudden, you find that the heart igniting connection to sangha has not only carried over, but has expanded and broadened back home, too.

We travel lovers know that travelling changes us, opens us, pushes us in unimaginable directions. Some of life’s best memories come from time spent somewhere else. But I’ve come to find that travelling with a group heightens and enhances that experience. And the best part is, when you take a trip where a sangha is formed, you get to bring home an extra souvenir.

Many Blessings,

Ariana Kaiser
blogger for Spirit Tours

16 July, 2015

Ireland "home is where the heart is"

Ireland “home is where the heart is”

As I close my eyes I can see the Ireland's bright green rolling hills, I can feel the wind carrying me across the land and I can still hear the waves crashing upon the cliffs. This is Ireland the land that lies deep in me, the land that touches my soul like no other place I have ever traveled.

Ireland is everything they say it is and more. In May, 2015 Spirit Tours took a group of pilgrims to the land of our family ancestors. During this journey I was once again reminded that “home” does not always have to be where you were born, it may just be “where the heart is”. Not only was the land unlike anything I have ever seen, the people had an unexplainable joy to them that touched my inner soul.

On this journey we learned about Celtic Spirituality and how it is deeply rooted in the land that we walk upon. I was taught that by writing poetry you might free your mind of worry and sorrow while all along bringing new joy into your life. This pilgrimage brought me back to a place I had forgotten about, a place of innocence, dreams and playfulness. I am counting the days until I return to the coast of Ireland where I can hear the music of the people, see the beauty of the land and walk on the green grass of my ancestors.

Have you ever felt this passionate about a place that wasn't considered "your home"?

Gitana Omi
Tour Guide

If you like this blog you may enjoy:
Spirit Tours: The Faces of Spirit Tours
Spirit Tours: My Trip to Cambodia
Spirit Tours: The Itch to Travel

11 May, 2015

Spirit Tours: The Faces of Spirit Tours

People, the reason why we do what we do!  The look of awe and wonder in their eyes when we take them to places where Spirit reveals itself to them.  We love that.

Sometimes travelers make new friends.  Sometimes, they even marry their new firends.

Each tour is organized around a spiritual experience. Sometimes that experience is focused on yoga, sometimes on Qigong, sometimes on meditation.

Wherever we go in the world, our passion is that you experience the world in an expanded spiritual way.

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