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Meet the Team

Management Team

Andrea Ross

Andrea Ross
Journeys Within Founder & Wild Frontiers U.S. Director

With British parents, Andrea grew up in England listening to stories of colonial Africa and the Far East. At the age of eight she took her first solo trip to Australia to visit her aunt and she hasn’t stopped traveling since.

In 2003 Andrea moved to Cambodia where she founded Journeys Within Tour Company and Boutique Hotel. In the 15 years that followed, she set up offices in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar, as well as the U.S. headquarters in Truckee, California. In 2018, Journeys Within was acquired by Wild Frontiers and Andrea took on a leadership role in expanding Wild Frontiers’ U.S. operations while still working with clients interested in Southeast Asia tours.

Andrea has been a Condé Nast Traveler “Experience Maker” for Southeast Asia since 2007, was recognized by Travel + Leisure as an A-List agent, and has been included in Wendy Perrin’s WOW list of trusted travel experts since its inception. Andrea splits her time between the US and Southeast Asia and travels extensively to make sure the guides, drivers and hotels used by Journeys Within are up to standard. She loves to find new and unique trips, hotels and experiences for her guests.

Since starting the tour company, Andrea has focused on philanthropic travel and the idea that travel can change the world.  She is on the board of directors for Journeys Within Our Community, a non-profit organization that she cofounded in 2005. She is also on the board of the Marine Megafauna Foundation, using her knowledge of travel and philanthropy to help their amazing mission.

Andrea has two children who are great travelers and go wherever she goes. When in the U.S. Andrea continues to travel, speaking at clubs and schools, promoting philanthropic travel, fundraising for JWOC, and building the Wild Frontiers brand amongst U.S. travelers.

April O'Connell-Cole

April Cole
Journeys Within Director

April is a seasoned traveler from sunny California and invaluable member of the Journeys Within team. She started her professional career in marketing, but after having her son in 2006 she felt it was time to move away from the corporate world and follow her heart. April really wanted to find a company that was focused on making a positive impact in the community and found a match at Journeys Within in 2007.

April adores Southeast Asia — everything from the people, to the food, to the culture — she even adores the heat! If you ask her about her travels, she will most likely share her fascinating conversations with locals, and describe a delicious local dish she just tried. She is passionate about philanthropic travel so she is also fantastic at involving guests in the JWOC projects in Southeast Asia. She knows what an enriching experience traveling can be, and feels that being able to create unique experiences for our guests and traveling with Journeys Within has afforded her a true “dream job.”

In 2017, April joined Andrea on Wendy Perrin’s WOW List of Trusted Travel Experts for Southeast Asia as well as the 2017 Condé Nast Traveler “Top Travel Specialists We Trust” list. When April isn’t busy planning tours for our guests or overseeing the U.S. office operations, she loves spending her free time with her husband and their two kids. She is also very active within the local community as a member of the Rotary Club of Truckee.

Dudley Nigg

Dudley Nigg
Chief Financial Officer

Dudley was born in Newcastle, England and raised in Malawi, Central Africa. Whilst in Africa Dudley started his career in finance as a Qualified Charter Accountant (CPA equivalent). He continued to grow within the finance industry and was transferred to London. He was offered the opportunity to transfer to California and was appointed Executive Vice President of Midland bank.

Dudley continued to excel in the banking field, being named EVP of Wells Fargo Bank. While working for Wells Fargo, Dudley was the first to introduce and implement internet banking. Because of this achievement, he was named Banker of the Year by American Banker and was identified as one of the 15 most influential people in commercialization of the internet by Business Week.

After retiring from Wells Fargo, Dudley circumnavigated the world in his sailboat “Happy Now.” He also was our first tour leader with Brandon on the Journeys Within Mekong Experience and continued to lead the trip for two years. He now works out of our Truckee address, but spends one month a year in Southeast Asia also keeping our finances there ship-shape! We are very honored and pleased to have Dudley on the team.

Paul Raymore

Paul Raymore
Marketing Consultant

Paul was born and raised in Seattle, Washington – a city with an amazing multi-cultural population and history. From an early age his parents emphasized that he was being raised as a “citizen of the world,” and an early love for travel was fostered by family trips throughout North America and Japan.

Paul attended Stanford University, majoring in Philosophy and spending time studying abroad at Oxford University (which served as a convenient jumping off point for trips throughout the United Kingdom and continental Europe). The travel bug bite him hard after graduating in 1998, with extended travels through Greece, southern Africa, South and Central America, and road trips throughout the western U.S. being the result. Now, as the father of two young ones, he appreciates the challenges of travelling with children, but loves nothing more than the immediate connections kids can make throughout the world.

Paul is very excited to get to know Southeast Asia as a member of the Journeys Within team, and to spread the word about Journeys Within and the Journeys Within Our Community non-profit to as many new travelers as possible. When Paul isn’t in the Truckee office, he can usually be found spending time outdoors with his family in the Tahoe area, or volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters.


Jay Austin
Regional Director of Operations – Cambodia & Vietnam

Jay started travelling at 18 years of age spending a great deal of time in her early 20’s working with small Pacific Island nations to develop fishing as a niche tourism market. In her mid 20’s she branched out, travelling around the world with her husband. It was during this trip that she found herself enchanted with Southeast Asia, prompting a move to northern Thailand in early 2012. Upon her return to Australia in 2013, Jay decided to take her passion for the tourism industry further by completing a Masters Degree in International Tourism & Hotel Management.

Her strong background in Hotel Management and love for travel inspired her to move to the island nation of Samoa in the South Pacific in late 2014 to manage a beach resort, but her love for Southeast Asia never diminished bringing her back to the region in late 2015. Jay now lives in Siem Reap, Cambodia with her husband and is still enchanted every day by all of the wonderful experiences that Cambodia continues to offer.

Narla Phay

Narla Phay
Assistant Regional Director of Operations and Customer Concierge

Narla grew up in Banteay Mean Chey province 150 km from Siem Reap. The oldest in his family, he came to study tourism and hospitality management at Build Bright University in Siem Reap.

When Brandon had to visit the tourism police to help some guests who had lost their tickets, he met Narla and invited him to come and work at Journeys Within. After coming to work at the Journeys Within Boutique Hotel as a front desk manager, Narla received a JWOC scholarship. His hard work and studying paid off and after graduating, he gained considerable experience as a Country Director for the tour company.

A tireless advocate for helping the Cambodian people, Narla is now a member of the JWOC Board of Directors and is currently serving as Journeys Within’s Assistant Regional Director of Operations. He reaches out to guests and coordinates with the hotels, country directors, and guides to ensure our guests have the trip of a lifetime. Any special requests? Narla is your man!

Naida Dizdarevic

Naida Dizdarevic
Tour Consultant

Most of Naida’s adult life she dreamt about traveling the world — a dream that came true when she got the opportunity to move to Argentina for 6 months in 2006. Returning to her home in Sweden after her time in South America, Naida realized that she wanted to experience more so she made a big move to Australia for her first job in the travel industry, consulting on country-wide tours.

Another one of Naida’s big dreams came true when she took the opportunity to work for an NGO in Siem Reap. Having fallen in love with Cambodia, she is now looking to help other people discover the region’s beauty. Naida works our of the main office in Siem Reap, working with our ground operations partners in Southeast Asia to ensure our guests have the trip of a lifetime.

Tara Buffington

Tara Buffington
Tour Consultant

Tara’s passion for travel was sparked when she studied abroad in New Zealand in her college years. She bought an inexpensive car with friends and drove across the country, soaking in the beauty of the magnificent land.

After graduating from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in Global Studies and Psychology, she moved to Buenos Aires where she taught English and traveled around Latin America. Ever since she has made it her mission to travel as much as possible with the goal of learning about other cultures, history, and herself. Her appreciation of stunning landscapes and food from around the world is also satiated by the travels she takes!

While she is a mountain girl at heart (from Lake Tahoe, California) some of her favorite travel memories include motor biking on the streets of Hoi An, Vietnam; salsa dancing with locals in Trinidad, Cuba; checking out street art in Lisbon, Portugal; perusing the colorful markets of Antigua, Guatemala; boating across the Greek Islands; driving around Tasmania solo; and trekking in the Gokyo and Everest Base Camp region of Nepal.


Makara Put
Cambodia Country Director

Makara Put was born in Kok Chork village, right in front of Angkor Wat as the third child in a family of eight. He was the first of his siblings to finish high school and the first person in his village to finish university.

From a young age Makara, has worked very hard to support himself and his family, taking jobs as a construction worker, gardener and electrician in during school vacations. After high school, he spent three months studying English and then he secured a job as a waiter in a restaurant in downtown Siem Reap, eventually being promoted to manager. It was during that time that he saw an advertisement regarding scholarships from Journeys Within Our Community and decided to apply in hopes of one day attending university and was accepted.

During his fourth year at the South East Asia University he was hired at the Journeys Within Boutique Hotel as a Front Desk Manager, cementing his place in the Journeys Within family. Since then Makara has graduated with a degree in Business Management.

Most recently Makara brought his work ethic and dedication to work with the Journeys Tour Within Tour Company team as Country Director in Cambodia. In his free time he continues to volunteer, promoting education and fitness, and coaches a children’s basketball team.

Linda Chhay

Linda Chhay
Central Booking Manager

Linda grew up in Siem Reap. In 2004, she graduated from university in Phnom Penh with a degree in Tourism and Hospitality Management. We like to joke that Linda can see the Matrix because she picks up computer programs so quickly! She tells us that the first time that she ever touched a computer was at university, which makes her skills that much more impressive.

Linda works closely with Leak and Sokunna, and every Journeys Within Tour passes through their capable hands as they request and double check every booking and reservation before assembling the final package.

Linda lives with her husband and three children in Siem Reap. Linda’s only flaw as far as we can tell is her driving — she has been known to take an hour just to back out of the Journeys Within driveway! Luckily she has a great sense of humor about it and never lets Brandon’s teasing get to her. In fact, she might have the quickest wit in the office!

Sreyleak Ouk

Sreyleak Ouk
Booking Coordinator

Having spent most of her younger years in Phnom Penh, Sreyleak eventually moved back to her birth place of Siem Reap to be nearer to her family and friends. She grew up with the dream of working in an office where she would get the opportunity to meet interesting people and work with different cultures. This led her to study Tourism and Hospitality Management at the Angkor City Institute, giving her the chance to share her passion for her country and help people to experience the wonders of Cambodia.

After university, Sreyleak began work at one of the top hotels in Siem Reap, the wonderful FCC, where she worked as Tour Coordinator, organizing interesting and exciting tours for the hotel’s guests. Sreyleak heard about Journeys Within through Linda and the two friends have worked together for years now, first as a Central Booking Assistant, and now as a Booking Coordinator.

Leak loves spending time with her husband and two adorable sons, Win Win and Leap. Leak is fun-loving and harbors a secret love of Karaoke.


Chieu Hem
Central Booking Assistant

Chieu Hem was born in Treang Village, in Siem Reap, Cambodia. She is a university student at South East Asia University, and is studying English in Education. She previously worked as an office assistant and a substitute teacher at Bayon English Academy (BEA), before joining Journeys Within to pursue her dreams of working in the travel industry and she says that her dream destination is Japan, which she hopes to visit one day. In her free time she loves creative crafts, reading, gardening, eating ice cream with friends or visiting the temples.

Kanika Peou

Kanika Peou
Accounts Manager

Although she was born in Siem Reap, Kanika spent most of her younger years growing up with her two brothers in Battambang Province, where her father worked as a doctor.

With a mind for numbers, Kanika quickly moved back to Siem Reap where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance from Build Bright University, as well as brushing up her English language skills at the Australian Centre for Education (ACE) here in Siem Reap. These qualifications combined with Kanika’s wonderful smile make her a huge asset to the company.

When Kanika isn’t calmly trying to sort out our accounts, she likes to stay active and spend time with her friends in and around Siem Reap.

Krittayot “Chris” Pijayatham
Thailand Country Director

Krittayot “Chris” Pijayatham was born in Bangkok and received a degree in International Relations from Ramkamhaeng University, and a Commercial Diploma in Business Administration from Assumption Commercial College. He spent nearly a decade working in imports before following his passion for travel and worked in the airline industry for another decade. His desire to provide travelers around the world with a unique, exceptional, and unforgettable travel experience led him to Journeys Within.

Chris has ventured far and wide, and says that while his favorite city is London, his favorite local destination is Chiang-Khong, where the fresh air and peaceful natural setting can’t be beat. He loves cycling, cooking and trying new things.


Onkeo “Keo” Phontasin
Laos Country Director

Mr. Onkeo, who is a native of Luang Prabang, joins us with years of experience working in the tourism and hospitality industry.   He is a graduate of Pasabandith College where he studied General English & Communication. After working at the city’s high end restaurants, hotels and the renowned textile company of Ock Pop Tok, he decided that a career in tourism was his dream as he loves meeting new people from around the world and sharing the sights and culture of his home country.

He and his wife have two boys and live on the outskirts of town with his parents, three cats and a little dog. He enjoys spending time with his family, helping his parents out with their farm, traveling, reading and meeting friends in his free time. He invites you all to come and join him and his family in their newly built farm Sala when you come to Luang Prabang!!

Khoa and Michelle Nguyen

Khoa & Michelle Nguyen
Vietnam Country Directors

Trained as an English teacher, Khoa was raised and educated in the south of Vietnam. Happiest when he is making those around him smile, Khoa left teaching to pursue a career in the travel industry and has been working with Journeys Within Tour Company since we moved into Vietnam.With a passion for local food – he ranks snails cooked in coconut milk and café sua da (Vietnamese iced coffee) among the areas must-tries – Khoa takes particular pride in showing off his old stomping ground of the Mekong Delta. He met his wife Michelle while she was roaming the world, and now the pair manage all of our tours in Central and Southern Vietnam. When not making incredible experiences for our guests or inspecting hotels and tours, they split their time between enjoying their friends and family and traveling together with their two small daughters.

Dar Le

Dar Le Khin
Myanmar (Burma) Country Director

Born in central Burma into a public servants family in a difficult political and economic environment, Dar Le has overcome great struggles to be the successful and proud Burmese woman she is today. At a very young age she moved to Malaysia to get valuable work experience and earn money sorely needed by her family. Here she experienced foreign culture, learned the English language and discovered the opportunities available in the travel industry.When she went back to Burma, now known as Myanmar, she took the first opportunity to work within the tourism industry. Whilst working she managed to achieve her Bachelors degree and also helped her two younger sisters to attend university. Dar Le’s success in the travel industry has developed her passion to present Burma’s culture, history, nature and people to the world.

She is the reason Journeys Within offers tours to Burma as she convinced Andrea and Brandon to take their first trip to this amazing country, and has since become a friend. With her infectious smile and positive attitude, as well as her strong work ethic Dar Le is a wonderful example of what makes Myanmar so special.

Mu Mu Myint
Myanmar (Burma) Booking Coordinator

Ms. Mu Mu Myint grew up in Yangon and attended the University of Yangon, where she received a Master of Science Degree in Physics and the Yangon Institute of Economics where she received a Master’s degree in Development Studies. She loves traveling and learning about the traditional customs, natural landscapes and about the cultural heritage of each country. She has visited Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Japan, with Japan having been her favorite destination thus far. Mu Mu has taught Japanese to neighborhood children on a volunteer basis and worked in the H.I.S Japan-Myanmar office for several years and developed community lodge at Natmataung (Chin Hills). Mu Mu says that she is excited to share community-based tourism within Myanmar, with tours designed to reduce poverty by creating local job opportunism through tourism. Mu Mu is always a positive thinker, a hard worker and warm-hearted. In her free time she enjoys watching movies and reading.