By Lizzy Scully
Have you ever met a small boy while hiking on a trail who handed you his pet monkey, who then wrapped its arms about you and nestled sweetly into your chest? Have you sat under a sunlitwaterfall for hours letting all your stress wash away? One of Linette DeSano’s clients experienced these things during one hike while on a tour to Thailand. DeSano, long-time owner of Experience, Inc., a clothing and jewelry shop on Main Street, also runs Experience Adventure Tours. Since 2006, she has immersed small groups of women in Thai culture.
“It gives them a different perspective on life,” DeSano says. “For women to be able to come outside of their comfort zone in a safe, creative, and light way is life changing for them.” The women, who typically range in age from 40 to 60 (but have also been younger), covet adventure, but for whatever reasons haven’t actualized their ambitions. DeSano makes adventure a reality for them.
“I take care of everything for them,” DeSano says. However, she doesn’t offer luxury tours in five-star hotels. Though all the places they stay are clean, air conditioned, and have hot water, few have televisions and none are at fancy resorts. That, she says, would defeat the purpose of her trips. She wants to introduce her clients to real Thai people, food, and culture.
“Sixty percent of these ladies have never left the United States,” DeSano says. “And if they have, they have only been to Europe or Mexico. Thailand is so different. Everything is so foreign; everything is so fresh.” DeSano invites them to experience the “land of smiles,” where seeing monks begging for alms isn’t abnormal.
“It widens your perspective when you see a group of 20 monks in orange and mustard-colored robes walking from house to house with their bowls. People feed them. It’s not frowned upon like it is here.” She also brings the ladies to a traditional hill village where they interact with the residents and even sleep in a grass hut, and they visit an ancient cave full of carved stone Buddhas. And, of course, there are the Thai massages. “We get hour back or foot massage for $7 every day,” she says. DeSano recommends getting them twice per day—in the morning and evening, before and after shopping.
The trips are exclusively designed for women, adds DeSano, and include lots of shopping, walking, eating fresh fruit and seafood, swimming, and other things. Though she has considered adding men to the mix, she doesn’t want to change the itinerary. “My trips are based on what women want to do.”
On the other hand, DeSano is expanding her business to include tours to Australia and France next year. “There may be women who are interested in this type of adventure who don’t want to go to Thailand,” she explains. Plus, the two Lyons-based women she hired to lead those tours love and are intimately familiar with the regions they will be visiting and so can offer her clients authentic cultural experiences. DeSano appreciates that because she feels the same way. “I love Thailand, so it makes it easy for me to want to bring women there.”
For more information, please visit ExperienceAdventureTours.com. Their next tour is scheduled for January 2012.