Uncle Les's Travel Diary: Good Morning Vietnam, Good Afternoon Cambodia, Good Night Thailand.


We did it! We took our 15 hour flights, our good walking shoes and a crate of Pepto-Bismol as we explored a part of the world we had never seen before.

Read on for a brief summary of our travels.

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi, Vietnam. Hot. Meet 30 American tour companions. All agree it is hot, and share pictures of dogs and grandchildren. Meet Tour Director Mr. Larry, Oklahoma ex-pat now living in Bangkok. Is herding tourists easier than herding cattle? To be determined.

Day 2: Explore Hanoi. Hot. May be more stars in skys than motorbikes in Hanoi, but I doubt it.  Interstellar travel is safer than trying to cross street. Visit Ho Chi Minh’s tomb and get three hour lecture on Uncle Ho, the Abraham Lincoln of Vietnam. Or maybe it was  Thomas Jefferson.

Day 3: Hot. Tour of Hanoi Hilton, infamous prison. We learn the French tortured heroic Vietnamese patriots in the compound for 100 years. We learn Vietnamese treated American POW’s to volleyball, shuffleboard and afternoon tea. History is written by the winners.

Days 4-6: Hue and Danang. Hot. Lots of shrines and lots of buffets. One very cool temple is inside a cave in a mountain, but the buffets are all in hotels. We wave to China Beach.

Day 7: Cu Chi. Hot. Experience history of Vietnam War and explore Viet Cong tunnels. Barb is champion tunnel rat and leads the way, even dodging pesky bat. I see a new hobby in her future.

Day 8: Saigon, aka Ho Chi Minh City. Hot. Shopping for gifts to bring back home. SPOILER ALERT: You get a scarf, and you get a scarf and you get a scarf!

Day 9: Saigon: Hot. Visit Vietnam War Museum -- most moving part of entire trip. Take night-time Vespa motorbike ride through the city, taking life into our own hands.

Day 10: Cambodia. Very Hot. Three ancient temples including Angkor Wat. Very cool, but hard to keep the Hindu-Buddhist-Blend Transitions straight. Fitbit registers new record for steps in one day, not including steps at breakfast buffet.

Days 11-14: Luxury resort in Northern Thailand. Hot. Go on mixed zipline/Ninja Warrior adventure taking life into own hands. Go on elephant trek, taking life into own hands once again (but very slowly.) Buffet triples in size, as does my waist line.

Days 15: Bangkok. Very hot with added humidity. See more shrines and temples and discover that the Peoples Republic of China eases population crunch back home by sending 1 million visitors to Bangkok daily to visit each shrine and temple. Hear story of "King and I" from three different local guides. I assume the Chinese tourists are not told this story.

Days 16: Bangkok. Visit Jim Thompson's House. Surprised to learn Big Jim lived in Thailand, until realize this Jim Thompson was the founder of a silk empire, and not the former Governor of Illinois. And unlike most Governors of Illinois, the Bangkok JT didn't end his life in jail, he just mysteriously disappeared one day and was never seen from again. Shoe boxes full of cash were not said to be discovered in his closet. Evening brings a choice of Kick Boxing or a Cross Dressing show, because what trip to Bangkok is complete without one of those?

Day 17: Goodbye to all our new friends and warm thanks to Mr. Larry who succeeded in his mission. No tourists lost, no temples vandalized, no buffets left uneaten. We couldn't have done it without you!

Note in closing: Written in early hours after 37 hour travel day and one hour sleep in my own bed. All omissions are mine. And oh yeah, we had a great time!
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