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THE CON TRĂ‚U TIMES Issue 7 - July 2011

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Inside This Issue

THE CON TRÂU TIMES 1. Joining the Buffalo Family 2. Staff of the Month 3. Thailand Together - Happy Birthday Party for the 1st Time 4. Seuang River Community Health Service-Learning 5. Exceptional Customer Service in BT Sai Gon 6. Company trip to Phan Thiet - Relax seems to be the hardest word 7. The Blue Dragon 2011 Trip for Children with Disabilities from Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation 8. Feedback on what members of staff have been doing 9. Birthdays and Anniversaries

Tip of t he mont h

Joining Buffalo tours Mr. Nguyen Cao Xuan Vinh – IT Support – BT Sai Gon Branch Ms. Suphanee Suriya - Operation Executive – BT Chiang Mai Pham Huong Trang – VET Executive – BT Hanoi

Welcome to the Buffalo Tours team!

“Team work is the ability to work together toward a common vision. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results”

Andrew Carnegie

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Please join us in congratulating our new staff members on their positions at Buffalo Tours. We look forward to working with them in the future!

Leaving Buffalo Tours Ms. Chansamone Phetphothong (Khek) Reservation Executive - BT Laos Thank you for your contributions to Buffalo Tours and we wish you success in the future!


STAFF OF THE MONTH – June 2011 1. Ms. Le Hong Hanh – Walking Sales Executive – BTA Hanoi Congratulate Hanh, She has received the award of outstanding customer service. This award acknowledges individual employees who demonstrate outstanding customer service, flexibility and personal attention to develop and maintain relationships with customers. Hanh Le is a Travel Consultant, in contact with direct clients and her role is essential as she represents the company. By delivery a high quality service, she contributes to the good image and the development of the activity. I have received much excellent feedback on Hanh Le’s attitude and service to customers. Hanh Le is often cited in letters from clients telling us how much they enjoyed their tours. They mention her flexibility and attention to details. They remember her name and commend the excellence of her service. 2. Mr. Nguyen Hoang Hai – GR Executive - BT Hanoi Hai has given a big hand to the Flight Centre team to handle new booking requests as Flight Centre runs short of staff due to Lien being on maternity leave. Hai coordinated with BT Thailand, Cambodia and Laos to improve STA FIT itineraries which provides more logistical information and overall expectation to passengers. Trang Ops accidentally got drowned at the swimming pool during company team building trip (19 June) & Hai was quick to the rescue taking Trang to safe place, giving a kiss of life and first aid routine and bringing Trang back to life.

People are our most valuable resource! Nominate someone you think deserves recognition – someone who truly shines!

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THE CON TRĂ‚U TIMES rating e celeb h. b l il w ont and BT Thail staff once a m have n o w e will rom no Party for all onth, w thday ay m d e h t h t ir f B a ko a bir nd wee one who has hday party 2 y r e v E r every d a birt party fo uly 8th we ha rn or Petch, ll a m s J a po 10, nth. On Verawattana o m t on July a n h t r t a o p b a s h t am) : Nat e wa for Ms. ountant): Sh r Pam (FOX Te hon o cc ap (Chief A pat Chimpee Ms. Phatchad orn , a r 5 s n 2 r a w b uly Ms.Po rn on J untant) : She rtpanya o b s a o She w or Tun (Acc on Le e as held to at th d Netibu 2. This Party w eryone came e about 0 er Ev on July n the 7 floor. early. There w M) o (G it g h t b in e d le n en litt Buil room a in the room. K o the front g in t e me us t ady d took . ple alre 30 peo s suddenly an all members) u d n d a e t ff e a gre T st hanks B table (t


E M I T T r S 1 e h E t H e T g R o O T F d Y n T a R l i A Tha BIRTHDAY P Y P P HA

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THE CON TRÂU TIMES Before the party got st arted the o “Happy Bir rganizers to thday” in En ld everyone glish and T the cake to to sing hai while o them.It wa n e of the staff s time for th the room w brought eir birthday ere shut off ca . The cake lighted but was brough ke!! The lights in the wind fr t out with c om the air-c staff had to andles onditioner light them b lew them o up again, w “Happy Bir ff, the hile everyo thday” in En ne glish langu tic knife. Th age.. The ca continued to sing e cake was ke was cut pretty toug cutting the with a plash, it couldn cake Birthd ’t be cut easi ay presents BT Thailand ly. After were open were a sma ed!The pre ll, cute doll sent from per each Thanks to B T Thailand staff and all glad to cele members. W brate with e were so h Petch, Pam wonderful appy and , Tun, and e memory th v e ry a t we will ne one. It’s su & Tun ch a ver forget. HBD again Petch, Pam Written by: Ms. Lapasra da Janma (P A & HR , Adm in – BT Thail and)

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Health Service-Learning


euang River Experience is a community-based educational travel destination approximately two hours north-east of Luang Prabang. Community-based means Seuang River is owned by and operated for the communities. Buffalo Tours has the exclusive privilege to partner with the villages based on years of relationship building and goodwill. The partnership provides our school and university clients a unique and valuable learning experience. Antipodeans Abroad / Murdoch University School of Nursing recently conducted a nineteen day community health service-learning programme in Seuang River. The Murdoch team of graduating students and faculty supervisors wanted a professional nursing placement in a developing country. They choose Seuang River as the destination as very few medical teams had previously visited. They expected rugged and challenging conditions. What they did not expect was life-changing experiences. The following is an account of a typical morning in the villages. The afternoon heat had started to kick in. Sweat was running down everyone’s face. It was already well past noon but the pace of work had not yet slowed. The village cooks kept wondering when they could start to serve lunch. The team had already seen over one hundred patients, yet, with at least another twenty people to assess and diagnose they still had another hour of work ahead. Lunch would have to wait. Today was Friday and in the afternoon the team was returning to town for a weekend to relax. Everyday this week they had visited a different village to hold medical clinics, provide medications and conduct community health education sessions. Everyday was intense. By the end of the week everyone was tired and in need of rest. But with the clinic swamped by so many patients, an early return to town was impossible. Amid the confusion Caroline, a senior Murdoch

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faculty supervisor with over twenty years professional experience called out “Chipseng, I need to confirm that this patient had an ectopic pregnancy”. Chipseng is Seuang River’s Community Project Facilitator. Born in a highland Hmong village in Seuang River Valley he remembers growing up when there was no road, no electricity and no water supply. A thirst for knowledge and ambition unusual in a child of seven, he defied his parents to leave his isolated village for the opportunity to study in town. Through determination and years of hard work he pushed himself to ultimately return to the village with groups such as Murdoch providing invaluable services. After a brief conference with the patient Chipseng confirms “Correct. She was in the hospital over two weeks ago but now the abdominal pain is worse”. “Okay, she is probably septic and needs to get back to the hospital or she will die. I will talk to our students to confirm they will pay for the transportation. Can you let me know when we can do this?” There is a look of concern that underscores the seriousness of what Caroline has just said. Chipseng gives professional nod, quietly assures the patient and then calmly moves off to ensure the emergency


arrangements are prepared quickly. On the other side of the crowded village clinic one of the Murdoch students has called the other faculty supervisor in to consult on a difficult case. A little boy, brought in at the last minute by a worried mother. His temperature is 39.4, and climbing fast. “You’re right, we need to get him cooled down and stable.” The Murdoch supervisor confirms with the students diagnosis. “Somjan can you see if there is a cool, quiet place where we can treat him? Also please let his mother know we have some medicines for him to take that will help the fever.” Somjan, a senior Buffalo Tours guide, intently listens to the Murdoch supervisor and student before accurately relaying in detail to the worried mother what will happen. With no formal medical training, Somjan has relied on a quick wit and constant questions to develop his clinical ability to where he now knows exactly how to address this emergency. Within a few minutes he has the patient in a make-shift ICU in a neighbouring house. The fatigue in Somjan’s eyes are apparent. It’s not just the long week of work and intense morning session. Last night he did not return back to the village until very late at night. Another emergency evacuation of a young girl with suspected malaria required Somjan to accompany two Murdoch students and one supervisor to the provincial hospital two hours away on bumpy, dusty roads. Two hours to go, two hours to translate at the hospital and two hours back. All of this after a long day of work. Without thinking about his long-delayed lunch. Somjan keeps working with the team until the boys fever starts to fall. With Chipseng facilitating the emergency evacuation of the woman suffering septic shock from complica-

tion of an ectopic pregnancy and Somjan setting up the make-shift ICU, the clinics remaining cases must be translated by Sang. A quietly confident guide, Sang is veteran of many Seuang River projects. Sang is constantly moving between the waiting area, the assessment station and pharmacy. “Number 115 … 115? Are you there? 115” he calls to the waiting crowd. “Okay, please come this way and sit here.” No sooner is the next patient seated, he is called by another station to translate specific medical questions for diagnosis. Before finishing there is another call for him in pharmacy. Constantly in motion he smiles at everyone, gives the Murdoch team high-fives to keep spirits alive. When asked about the hard work he says “no problem .. this is normal... I love it”. After another 40 minutes of intense work the final patients are leaving. The local counterparts, the Pak Xeng District Health Officers, have been working at the pharmacy. Looking up from the registry they say “125 people – diagnosed and treated. That is a typical week at the district health office – and we did that in just a morning.” They are also tired, but proud of the work accomplished in cooperation with the Australians. Chipseng, Somjan and Sang have now come together. Exhausted but still supportive of each other the strength of their teamwork is apparent. It has been a hard morning of work after a very long week. But the work is not done yet. They still have to get the team packed up and back to town while ensuring that all the supplies and equipment are ready for next weeks clinics. Once again they just quietly nod at each other and start into the next work. Lunch will have to wait a bit longer. Written by: Mr. Graham Harper VET Business Development

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EXCEPTIONAL CUSTOMER SERVICE SKILLS COURSE As working in hospitality industry, customer service plays an important role in order to satisfy customers and create rival products. Therefore, Buffalo Tours has to hold a training course for all staff about Customer Service on 25th July, 2011. This was really a useful course. After my attendance, there are 2 things I understood thoroughly as below. All people around us are customers, including our family, friends, colleagues‌ not just who come to use our

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services. We should behave towards them honestly as from the depth of our heart, not just a business, then we will get all what we want. Smile is the best start to answer all questions and maybe the solution for all troubles. It makes everyone cosy and easy to begin conservation with stranger. In summary, ways in Customer Service are not right or wrong but suitable or unfitting to each situation, each kind of customer. Written by: Ms. Ngo Truong Phuong Thao Travel Consultant - BTA Saigon

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Company trip to Phan Thiet

Relax seem to be the hardest word! This trip is not for whom wishing a leisure trip. Of course, because this is time to do a lot of outdoor activities and take off all our stress. Fortunately, we had an organizer committee who had planned and prepared everything to ensure the best funny and successful team building ever happened. Key idea of all activities is team spirit. No team would

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start if lack of member. No game would complete without participation of all members. And we had never used up NEURONE like this to find out all clues. Highlight of first day trip was Creative (or Crazy) Fashion Show. All of fun came from confidential steps and crazy performed on catwalk grass-floor. Our show would be not the best beautiful, but I am sure, this show is unique! For more details please find out on facebook :).


Everybody got surprised each day especially when we run Buffalo Tours’s Got Talent Show on the second night. It was amazing time. We had singing, dancing musical comedy, guitar performance and stage’s competed games. The team had to create their own poem then sing it by Cai Luong (Vietnamese Traditional Music) and Rap style.. See more on Youtube please! So tired with full of fun and activities but the happi-

ness still follow us back to work. Me, personally did not wish to extend this trip but wish for more chance to connect each others. Goodbye Phan Thiet with nice Victoria Resort, I hope to come back someday and sorry for breaking your gentle environment :) Written by: Ms. Truc Nguyen Assistant Branch Manager - Buffalo Tours Saigon

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1 1 0 2 n o g a r D e u l B e h T ES rs

I u T o I T L I o l B a f A f S u I B D o t H e T t I a d W p N U DRE L I H C R O F P I R T

This June, Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation took 40 children with disabilities and 22 of their parents on a trip to Cat Ba Island. Blue Dragon sought to provide a trip away from Hanoi, so that the children and their carers could ‘recharge their batteries’. We planned to provide the children and their carers with a break away from their daily routine to have some true relaxation and family time. This was also an opportunity for the families to spend time with other families in similar situations, share experiences and learn from each other. On the first day there was some difficulty bringing the children in wheelchairs down to the beach, but the local people were very kind and helped out. The waves were strong – but the children loved it! They ran, crawled and jumped into the waves. After spending the day on the beach, the children and their carers played games back at the hotel. One game was called find your mother. The mothers were covered with a large cloth with only their hands showing through holes in the sheet. The children took turns to touch the mothers’ hands and put ribbons on the hand they thought was their mother. One mother ended up with two ribbons!

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THE CON TRÂU TIMES In another game, the children had to race to feed their parents yoghurt – blindfolded! One girl didn’t want to do it, she ate the yoghurt instead - her mother couldn’t stop laughing! On the second day of the trip, the parents and children split up and spent the day on two separate boats. The children spent the day playing games and the parents had the opportunity to share experiences and learn from each other. They also talked about the services they receive from Blue Dragon and were asked how Blue Dragon could support them more. Overall, the trip was a great success! The level of appreciation for the trip is highlighted in this diary entry from one of the mothers on the trip: We walked to the beach. The parents and children went down the steps to get into the sea. We all jumped into the blue sea, laughing and playing with the wind and waves. All the tiredness and sadness are gone with the waves and the blue sea. There was a parent holding a child in their arms in the sea. The strong waves pushed them into the water. They fell into the sand … but they still love to hold the sea in their arms. There was another parent holding their child’s hand who jumped over the waves and burst into a laugh. At that moment we only saw blue sky, the wind, the waves’ sound and laughter…everything else seemed to disappear; we forgot all the hardship, sadness, and disability…only the laughter in the windswept sea sky”. Thank you Buffalo Tours for making this trip possible! Sources: From Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation

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Buffalo tours – fantastic Hi, We have recently completed the most fantastic tour of Laos with Buffalo Tours. The organisation, hotels, food, tour guide, driver and transport were exceptional. We were impressed to receive a call from your office after the second day to check that all was going well. We have never had this courtesy from any other tour company and felt it was a nice gesture. Somboun is an excellent tour guide, very wise and sensible for his age, caring and compassionate and has great knowledge of his country and its people and the culture. We so much enjoyed his company, his enthusiasm and helpfulnesss. He was always happy and very mindful of our abilities and went beyond the call of duty when Kaye had a nasty fall. He effortlessly took us to the hospital in Luang Prabang where I was treated promptly. We had a lot of fun together and were always treated with the utmost respect. His spoken English and description of the sites was really good. Sid - our driver was very thoughtful and we could always stop for a photo stop when it was safe. He was a very careful and considerate driver. The hotels were all excellent standard, all a little different style with great views from our rooms which made it even more special. The staff were obliging and friendly and they were all spotlessly clean, well appointed and breakfast was tops. We felt the itinerary was excellent with plenty of sight seeing and great amount of free time and would not hesitate to recommend your company. If at any time you need to use our contact details as a commendation please feel free to do so. Laos was a wonderful country and your company made our enjoyment of it really special. Thankyou and regards George and Kaye Crethar




Anniversaries Birthdays: Nguyen Dao Thien Y Lưu Thao Ly Graham Read Nguyen Thi Mai Xuan Nguyen Thi Kim Hang Pham Quynh Trang Thewi Raengkla Boonsong Buangam Nguyen Son Hai Tran Thi Thuy Lien Nguyen Thanh Tung Deborah Youl On Chi Minh Nguyen Huu Duc

Aug 1st Aug 2nd Aug 4 Aug 4 Aug 4 Aug 7 Aug 9 Aug 15 Aug 18 Aug 20 Aug 20 Aug 25 Aug 26 Aug 27

SG Operation Team leader-Transportation Operation Executive Product and Acting Marketing Manager Travel Consultant- Team Leader – BTA SaiGon Operation Executive – Cholon Tours French Sales Executive Accountant – BT Thailand Driver – BT Thailand Tour guide GR Executive Driver – SG Office GM - BT UK Tour Guide - Cholon Tours Tour guide

Anniversaries: Pham Thi Dien – VET - Completing 3 years of service Nguyen Thi Thuy Van – GR Executive - Completing 1 year of service Nguyen Thi Thanh Nga – UK Concierge - Completing 5 years of service Nguyen Thi Ngoc Tien – French Sales Executive - Completing 2 years of service Do Hoang Long – Driver - Completing 5 years of service Viparat Kraisuwanasarn – Thailand Operation Manager - Completing 1 year of service Touy Sihalath – Thailand Operation Manager– Completing 5 years of service

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