My former students from Hawaii Pacific College invited me to come to Malaysia for a reunion.  I thought it was impossible until I stumbled upon a $1,300 round trip airfare with Singapore Airlines, the #1 airline in the world (Houston -Moscow-Singapore-Kuala Lumpur / 29 hours).  Turning 40, 50, and 60 really hadn't affected me but turning 70 this year  made me realize that I don't have forever but I do have my health and enough money so off I went.  Enrique couldn't go because he can't get a US visa (blatant discrimination against single males under 50 from Oaxaca because they are the largest group of illegal aliens in the US) so I invited my friend Debbie Polhemus Ruiz to come along and she jumped at the chance.

I spent more than a month planning the trip and was able to keep it around $4,000 each including the international flight, hotels, meals, and sight-seeing for five weeks.  Our trip started in Hanoi, Vietnam, and ended in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  Those who know me know that I love travel and I have had some fantastic trips but this one was the best ever!  I took more than 5,000 photos, culled them down to 3,300 then chose 670 for a 55 minute slide show (with music).  I hope to have it posted soon for those who would like to see it.  Meanwhile, here is a quick summary with photos of the highlights of each country.  Debbie and I can't wait to get back to SE Asia.


I fortunately avoided Vietnam during the war but folks said I shouldn't miss it.  The Vietnamese people could not have been nicer.  There are 4,000,000 motorbikes in Hanoi so we had to walk in the street.  We saw Ho Chi Minh, a 11th century university, ancient temples, and the water puppet show.  We shopped, ate exotic dishes, and wandered the streets in the Old Quarter.



This is the old capital of Laos, filled with golden temples, a great night street market, elephant rides in the forest, a traditional dance theater, and more kind, welcoming people. 



We boarded our 38 passenger river boat to find we were the only two guests on board.  We enjoyed a leisurely two day cruise up the Mekong, stopping at caves and a village then overnight halfway up river.



After a brief walk around Chiang Rai, we went into the northern mountains where we stayed at the Akha tribe village.  We hiked to thermal springs and a waterfall and visited a kindergarten school.



Chiang Mai is my favorite city in SE Asia.  We had a great hotel near the Night Bazaar and the Old Quarter.  We shopped, had massages, visited temples, and went out of town to the Wat Soi Suthep and Hill Tribes Market.


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