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Joe Germano from Transair International Travel on the power of Cambodia

Travelling to change the world (#traveltochangetheworld) is not just about experiences, but how they change the perception of our world.

Travelling to change the world (#traveltochangetheworld) is not just about experiences, but how they change the perception of our world.

The peak experiences serve to frame our regular existence and Joe Germano summarises this with something close to everyone’s heart.

“A whole family sitting on a raised platform outside of the hut eating together. It made me realise I practically never eat with my family. I’m too busy working. It opens your eyes to see the most important thing is family.”

Joe Germano will always be a bit of a special Agent to me, not in the MI5/ninja/Daniel Craig type way, but he was the first Agent who I really got to know 10 years ago as we were starting roomsXML – he was our second ever customer.

Cambodia Joe 3

“In Australia, everyone is ringing me three times a day, wanting everything right then and there. These people were just getting along with their everyday life. Sure it was simple, but they were just happy.”

Joe has an amazing back catalogue of experience and I suspect, a photographic memory for the details of his experiences. We’ve shared meals, business meetings and challenging bookings but I wanted the experiences that have shaped how he does what he does.

“Cambodia was amazing to see how they were as a people when you consider the absolute hell they have been through. Amazingly they are still smiling and happy,” he said.

“We did a three night, four day, down-to-earth cruise up the Mekong on Pandaw. The guide told us not to get dressed up coming to dinner, but in bare feet, shorts and T-shirt.

Cambodia Pandaw

“All of a sudden we grind to a halt. This guy jumps off the boat and starts digging steps into the embankment. We were standing there thinking what’s going on, the tour guide is walking in front of us hacking through jungle and we emerged into this village and all of these people looking at us going ‘my God, what are they doing’.

“I hack through as a few weeds in the backyard and pick up the dog poo down the side pathway. Clean heated office, ergonomic chair, five different options of where to buy coffee within 200 m. It’s not quite hacking a jungle.

“This temple was beautiful and ornate inside, you take your shoes off and the elders of the village were sitting near the monk performing the blessing of the water ceremony.

Cambodia monk

“They took it in turn to recite incantations, performing the rituals over the water in the bowl. As we were leaving the monk grabbed me and one of the girls, pulled out these red bracelets from inside the bowl and tied on around my wrist.

“The guide told us ‘Well whatever you do, don’t take that off, it’s good luck’.

“I’m not religious, maybe superstitious but I’m not taking this off unless it falls off. I still wonder why he picked me?”

There is something relaxed and genuine at the surface of Joe’s personality. His authentic nature is at the surface of who he is. That’s why the monk chose him.  It’s what makes him such a successful Agent.

Cambodia Joe

But to get to those situations, you have to put yourself out there, not only to experience, but to let those around you know that you are up for it.

“Later we sat having lunch with a guy who used to be the 2nd highest monk to the Dalai llama. But he stopped being a monk because his ambition is to become the Prime Minister of Cambodia. He wants to stamp out the corruption, to give something back to the people of Cambodia.”

In a place like Cambodia, people don’t share these ambitions unless there is something below the surface of their audience. They are the conversations that stick with you for a life time.

How do you build an itinerary that gives that pinnacle moment? Tune in next week.