27th January 2020
When I was three years old, a waiter asked, “What do you want to do when you grow up?”
With a brief moment to consider, “Go places, see people, do things,” was my reply and the story of my life.
Travel was in my blood. My father traveled Europe as a starving artist, painting in Italy and along the banks of the Seine. My mother toured with Argentina’s most famous dancer, La Argentina. In high school, I toured Europe with a production of “Our Town,” leaving Berlin for Warsaw four days before the wall went up in 1961.
For me, languages were critical for understanding cultures and I spoke five - French, Spanish, German, Italian and English, and taught French, Spanish and English, as well as cross cultural education. My doctorate was in Educational Administration.
Fast forward many years, “I’m going to Nepal,” my friend Nancy announced one day. “Are you coming?”
“Of course, I am!” I proclaimed. And, so it really began.
In 1984, three of us trotted off to Nepal on a trip that changed my life. I found that aside from the languages that I spoke, I could not read the street signs, talk to people and nearly got shot for sitting on a rock that happened to be the great god Vishnu.
Returning, I found a freshman at Bryn Mawr from Nepal, who had just shrunk her clothes in the washing machine. “You teach me Nepali and I’ll teach you the washing machine.” became our deal.
She did, and her father, Nepal’s most famous artist and art expert, taught me the country. I went back many times, people asked to go with me, and then asked, “Where are we going next?”
So began Myths and Mountains, the travel company.
Since then I have probably traveled more of Nepal than most westerners, journeyed from Beijing across Tibet to the Pakistani border, explored a huge amount of India and a great deal of Bhutan. Dropping down into Southeast Asia, I have traveled through most of Vietnam, a good part of Laos and Cambodia, and a great deal of Myanmar.
Additionally, the non-profit I founded along the way, READ Global, has built over 100 rural library community centers, seeded nearly 130 businesses to sustain the centers and touched the lives of more than 2 million people. The program was the winner of the 2006 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s $1M Access to Learning Award.
Myths and Mountains has gone on to receive numerous awards and accolades, and I am Condé Nast Traveler magazine’s expert for India, Nepal and Bhutan; as well as Wendy Perrin’s WOW List expert for Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar.
So yes, “Go places, meet people, do things,” has been the theme of adventure that feeds the next chapter of the travel story that never ends.
Dr. Antonia Neubauer is the founder of Myths & Mountains, which was acquired by Wild Frontiers in 2019. She continues doing what she loves – planning tours through India, Nepal, Bhutan and Southeast Asia for clients looking for authentic experiences in these unique destinations, and supporting the work of READ Global in the many communities it has enhanced.