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Kelley man offering ‘off the beaten path’ trips to China, southeast Asia

Ken Wiggers stayed in this family’s home while visiting Nepal. Wiggers said he would rather stay in a home of a welcoming family he meets rather than in a hotel. Submitted photo
Ken Wiggers stayed in this family’s home while visiting Nepal. Wiggers said he would rather stay in a home of a welcoming family he meets rather than in a hotel. Submitted photo
While traveling along a 24 kilometer trail from Yangdi to Xing Ping, China, Ken Wiggers came across three rock climbers and joined them for a while. The rock climbers were from Slovenia, Wales and the United States. Submitted photo
While traveling along a 24 kilometer trail from Yangdi to Xing Ping, China, Ken Wiggers came across three rock climbers and joined them for a while. The rock climbers were from Slovenia, Wales and the United States. Submitted photo
By taking the backroads instead of more popular routes, Ken Wiggers comes across views like this one in Nepal. Wiggers hopes to take others on trips with him so he can show them sights they may not see on a typical touristic trips. Submitted photo
By taking the backroads instead of more popular routes, Ken Wiggers comes across views like this one in Nepal. Wiggers hopes to take others on trips with him so he can show them sights they may not see on a typical touristic trips. Submitted photo

What began as a short trip to China to teach locals how to speak English led the way to more than half a decade of worldly travels.

Ken Wiggers of Kelley first went to China in July 2007. A friend had asked him to spend three months over there teaching English classes. When Wiggers returned in October of that year, he no sooner had his bags unpacked before he packed them up again to head back to China in January 2008.

Now Wiggers wants to share his worldly travels with others through taking them on trips that are “off the beaten path.”

While some trips will be set up to have people stay at 5-star motels, eat at fancy restaurants and have strict schedules to follow, when traveling with Wiggers, there is no itinerary. The place to stay for the night may be a welcoming family’s home in a small village with a meal consisting of a wild animal that was caught earlier in the day. The mode of travel may be a bicycle or a train that makes stops in every village it passes through.

“You really get a chance to meet people,” Wiggers said of his mode of traveling. “You come back and you see your world differently.”

One of Wiggers’ trips was spent riding a Suzuki 100 for three days through the Paske area, staying the night at places he passed along the way. Another was spent on a 24 kilometer trail from Yangdi to Xing Ping in China. He traveled the route with three male rock climbers he came across who were from Wales, Slovenia and the United States.

He has taken several people on trips with him so far, including his sister and her granddaughter and a woman from California. Wiggers said the length of the trips depends on how much time interested travelers have to be away from home. Typically one month to six weeks is ideal to allow adequate time for sight-seeing.

“Ten days is not nearly long enough,” Wiggers said. “You really need time so you don’t rush things. Racing around is not fun.”

Though he could not name just one place as being his favorite to visit, he did say western China, the Tibet area, Vietnam and Cambodia were all places he enjoyed visiting. He has also been to Argentina and Chile.

“When you come back, you view everything differently,” Wiggers said. “It’s like you have a different lense to look at things back home.”

While traveling the globe, Wiggers has come across many people - some young, some old - who are on extended adventures, exploring a number of places. He said many people will end up volunteering at a place they come across.

“For a lot of young people, it really changes the course of their life,” Wiggers said.

Wiggers hopes to not only pass his love of traveling on to others, but also to he and his wife, Guiqiu’s, 14-month-old daughter. They plan on moving to China so their daughter can attend school and be exposed to Guiqiu’s native country. Wiggers said they also plan to have her attend school in other countries so she can learn other languages and learn about the various cultures practiced throughout the world.

Those interested in traveling with Wiggers as a guide can contact him by emailing ken.wiggers@gmail.com. He will work with prospective travelers to determine what type of trip they want to go on, where they want to go, cost of the trip, as well as depature and arrival times. He said some areas of the world are better to visit during certain times of the year, and he will take that into consideration when planning trips.

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