Paul Niel has hiked the Seven Summits – the highest peaks on every continent. Michael Pittman, a paleontologist, has searched for dinosaur bones in the harsh Gobi Desert. Amy Yu has visited some of the world’s most volatile countries, like Iraq and Syria.
So what’s the common thread connecting these three disparate personalities? Well, all three live in Hong Kong, they all love adventure and they all shared their captivating stories at Blueflower’s recent ‘Daring Reasons to Travel’ seminar.
Held at Blueflower’s trendy ‘Travel Salon’ in Wong Chuk Hang, the ongoing seminars are intended to stimulate intelligent conversation and offer tips on how to traverse the planet as a traveller rather than a tourist. Guests can browse the salon’s extensive collection of artworks and books from around the world, followed by a four-course meal prepared by Blueflower’s founder, Andrea Oschetti, who also happens to be a chef.
While Blueflower is technically registered as a travel agency, Oschetti said the label doesn’t quite fit. Blueflower offers bespoke trips tailored to the individual client, with the aim of creating intimate experiences that allow the traveller to explore a destination in a deeper and more fulfilling way. In other words, trips that “aren’t just about the bucket list or about following what the guide says”, Oschetti explains.
“I see myself as a mentor, someone that sits next to my clients and I help them to pursue their dreams,” Oschetti says.
Amy Yu, an American who has lived in Hong Kong for about eight years, has a keen interest in geopolitics, which has spurred her to travel to places that few dare to visit, either because of real dangers (in the case of Iraq) or imagined ones (in the case of misconceptions about Sudan). During a recent trip to Iraq, she met with a family from the Yazidi minority, an ethnic Kurdish group whose members are heavily persecuted. The family abandoned their home in Sinjar to come to Lalish, and by doing so escaped a perilous fate. Sinjar was attacked by ISIS in 2014, and thousands of Yazidis were killed or enslaved.
“To meet these people, and meet Yazidi women, it humbles you to know that you’re talking to people (that lived it),” Yu says.
“This is not just a story in the news. This is why I travel. You meet people and all of these things become real.”
Although adventure was the theme of the evening, Oschetti says Blueflower’s services are not just for mountain climbers and deep-sea divers.
“The company helps you to achieve these difficult-to-do dreams, but not necessarily just those,” he says. “I think that a daring trip to do, for example, is to go to Italy and try to explore the culture through its food and understand Italy through its food by changing the way visitors experience food.
“So, for example, being able to turn the tables and instead of being hosted in a restaurant, to be the host yourself – and to host the best producers of a region; to have picnics in the place where Saint Francis used to walk; to go in a real house of someone who is not a local who hosts tourists day in and day out, but has actually just opened for the first time to a visitor, so you experience true hospitality.”
Oschetti was referring to Blueflower’s food-focused trip to Central Italy where guests can invite the most interesting local producers to dine with them in a private villa.
‘Daring Reasons to Travel’ was the second seminar hosted by Blueflower, and the agency plans to host more in the future.
Blueflower’s upcoming seminars:
‘South American Food Battle’
Thursday, 23 March, 7pm
Discover South American cuisine with Hong Kong’s leading chefs in a battle for the best dish
‘Trips That Make An Impact: Conservation and Wildlife’
Wednesday, 5 April, 7pm
Hear from a safari specialist and learn about conservation efforts in Africa
For more information, visit www.blueflower.la/
Text: Emily Petsko