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Deborah Chan

Travel Writer & World Explorer

Deborah is behind the Ardent Traveler, a travel site focused on sustainable travel, unique accommodations, and personalities in the travel industry. Deb's writing has appeared in Travel & Leisure, Asian Geographic, The Star (Malaysia’s leading newspaper), Going Places Magazine, Wild Asia, Smart Travel Asia, Yahoo! Travel, Greenty and Live & Inspire. 

She is the author of "Live To Last", a heart-gripping memoir written to inspire youth and young adults to step up and step out to make a difference in this world. In the book, she shares pivotal events that have shaped her perspective on life - from witnessing the crumbling of the World Trade Centre to her radical move from the corporate world to rural Cambodia. 

Aside from writing, Deborah is also an independent sustainable tourism consultant. She has assessed over 70 sustainable tourism award applications and visited over 40 sustainable tourism operators across Asia using the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria developed by UNWTO including reputable brands such as Soneva Resorts, Hilton and Shangri-La Hotels. 

Since young, she has always had a heart for the rural poor. In 2014, she took a huge leap of faith and moved to Cambodia with her family, her husband, and her one-year-old son. In two years, they built four literacy centers, trained and developed local leaders and teachers and successfully kick-started a volunteer program called STORM (Short Term Operation Relief Mission). Deb has over 16 years experience in community development projects and has invested time with across Malaysia, Aceh and Dumai (Indonesia), Chiangmai (Thailand) and New York (USA).

Married to her teen hood sweetheart, Deb and Terence now reside in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah working in partnership with Starfish Foundation Malaysia. Their work takes them into the rural interiors of Sabah where elevate, educate and empower marginalised indigenous communities.

They have traveled to five continents and isn’t planning on stopping despite having two young ones in tow - in fact, they both agree that travel is a powerful form of education. 

Speaker for:

What does it take to craft a legacy that sticks? Deb offers a glimpse into a pivotal event in the ghettos of New York that rocked the world and shaped her perspective on life and seeing the world. She will share a radical chapter in life where she moved to rural Cambodia with her husband, baby and a few bags in tow in an effort to make life count.