“...we have one life to live and are only here briefly, so while we’re still here I want to be intentional about what I put my energy towards.”
Meet Krystal Tan, as she shares with us her curated extraordinary experiences around the world and what she does for a living at Blue Sky Escapes. Satisfy your wanderlust by discovering more about Krystal’s adventures in Bhutan, Morocco, Rwanda and even somewhere close to home — Kranji.
Hi Krystal, may we have you to do an introduction about yourself and your background?
Hi there, I’m Krystal, and I run Blue Sky Escapes, a Virtuoso™ travel & lifestyle company based in Singapore which specializes in unlocking extraordinary experiences around the world. I spent my twenties doing time as a corporate M&A lawyer, before taking the plunge to officially set up Blue Sky Escapes.
Can you tell us more about Blue Sky Escapes and what inspired you to start this business?
I’ve always been inspired by the huge opportunities for personal and spiritual growth when one journeys to their inner and outer worlds. I have experienced, first-hand, the shifts in my own worldviews, no matter how big or small, after going on an experiential journey – and it always has you emerging with a renewed sense of perspective and clarity. This is what Blue Sky Escapes stands for as a company — a more inviting and enlightened world. Our experiences are designed to help spur you out of your comfort zone, discover the world we live in and enrich your sense of self.
What were some of the uncertainties or challenges you faced when starting/running Blue Sky Escapes?
Keeping the lights on when COVID hit.
When the pandemic hit, we felt immediately responsible and accountable to our team and decided not to let go of anyone, even when most (if not all) travel agencies we knew of were hitting pause, going bust or downsizing. We kept our entire team, did not furlough anybody and pursued the good fight. We implemented a business continuity plan, and my partner (and husband) and I stopped drawing a salary (this continued for 12 months) – we wanted to do whatever we could to support the business and team during this period and ploughed whatever earnings we had back into the company. Our sales team got upskilled to become an events programming (at one point) and content marketing team. There were tears, long hours and persistent self-doubt.
Interestingly, we continued to expand our team to support our new product lines, thanks to government wage subsidies and grant support. I think what has kept us in business today has been the team’s culture of curiosity and reflection — we ask ourselves these questions constantly: What experiences deliver an emotional impact? How do we facilitate a positive shift in the deeper layers of a person? I believe this hunger to explore is what has kept us agile and driven continuous growth and innovation.
You seem like an adventurous person who is not afraid to take risks. How would you describe yourself?
You should ask my husband that. He’d probably tell you that I’m quite free spirit and cannot sit still. I do feel that we have one life to live and are only here briefly, so while we’re still here I want to be intentional about what I put my energy towards. That might mean taking calculated risks, seeing the beauty across our circumstances or practicing the art of saying ‘no’ when it matters, so as to self-guide the kind of life you’d like to live.
What are some of your upcoming plans for the year?
Traveling! I’m finally going to see family in London — it’s been over 2 years since we’ve been reunited. Then I’m off to see for myself what pandemic travel is like. We have a number of events also lined up for the rest of the year — corporate events, off-sites and wellness retreats.
Which is one of the most interesting cultures you have come across during your travels/work?
The Layap. They’re the indigenous people residing in one of the highest and most remote villages in Bhutan. We trekked to this village in 2017 to meet with them. It’s a matriarchal, semi-nomadic community where the women are in charge and practice polygamy (i.e. they have multiple husbands). The women also wear conical bamboo hats shaped like antennaes said to better channel the voices of the gods. It’s a village that is also one of the richest in Bhutan because they pick and sell cordyceps which flourish at that elevation. And they don’t even know what to do with all this extra cash. Sometimes they hire private helicopters to pick them up from the high mountains to fly them down to the towns with their produce to sell at markets. They spend the money on sacks of rice, or a bow and arrow (archery is the national sport in Bhutan), not designer handbags or flashy cars. It’s fascinating.
Your favourite city/country and why?
This is a difficult one! If I had to pick one, it would be Morocco – I still dream about it. It’s a country that has the perfect balance of rich, authentic experiences and luxury. You could spend the day riding camels in the desert or breaking bread with a berber family in a remote corner of the High Atlas mountains and yet return to a luxurious riad with a butler waiting to serve you dinner on your private rooftop. And those colourful spice and textile markets… I wanted to bring everything home with me.
How would you describe your style?
I view clothing as a second skin. As such, it has to — at the very least — be comfortable, fairly uncomplicated, and not over the top. I prefer clothing made of natural fibers like organic cotton, hemp and linen — it’s breathable and better for skin (especially for activewear), more environmentally sustainable and doesn’t harm the workers handling the garments behind the scenes. Every occasion calls for a different style, and I realise whatever I put on usually reflects my own inner motivation for the occasion — nude tones or all-white for meditation sessions, or black with a burst of colour for hiking.
What is something you enjoy doing during your free time?
I’m always exploring new places — thanks to my curious husband who always has a treasure trove of ideas. Even after being grounded for 18 months, he still manages to think up something we’ve never done before. Just recently, we explored Singapore’s Kranji countryside on our bikes, rocked up into crab and seafood farms, got chased by a pack of dogs and hung out with fish hobbyists, uncles and their chickens purportedly imported from Japan.
One fun fact about you that not many people know
I play the African djembe — it really helps elevate you out of the thinking mind! I play for meditative purposes and whenever I feel “stuck”.
What was one of the most bizarre things you have come across in your life or during your travels?
A standout experience for my husband and I was when we travelled to Rwanda (my last epic trip before the pandemic hit) to track the endangered mountain gorillas. The night before the trek in Rwanda, we met with a gorilla expert who shared that as a toddler, when civil war broke out back in the 1990s, his father had taken him to the borders of Congo and left him there as his only hope for survival. After the war, his father returned to Congo and began a long search for him, finally finding him in the company of a family of mountain gorillas. No kidding. Apparently the gorillas had adopted him and looked after him during the period of his father’s absence. He claimed that when he was found, he was being nursed by a female gorilla. Ever wondered what gorilla milk tasted like? Picture the look on our faces as he recounted the story! And this was only the beginning of our journey to track the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.
Advice for people out there that wish to switch their career but do not have the courage to do so.
What I found was essential for me was taking some time out to mentally unplug and create space for yourself to feel into your next steps. Ask yourself, what comes naturally to you? What do you enjoy doing that has you losing track of time and also serves the needs of others? What could sustain you? When you take time to connect inwardly, you’d be surprised with the aliveness within you — there is a certain sensation to feeling aligned.
Your favourite quote that motivates you.
"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience." - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Krystal wears our Cotton Blend Tiered Maxi Dress in Orchid | Catching Daylight Maxi Dress | Catching Daylight Long Kimono, Catching Daylight Knotted Cropped Top, Box Shorts in White | Classic Straight Neck Tank Top in Black, Cotton Midi Skirt in Black | Slip Dress in Sage
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