Mark and Jean Travel to Angkor Wat, in the style of Norman Rockwell

Southeast Asia 2023

Journeys » Southeast Asia 2023

October 20, 2023:  Our fifth and final trip for 2023 is… the best of Southeast Asia!  From ultra-modern cities to ancient jungle temples, this promises to be an exotic ride.

I get by with a little help…

As I mentioned in my post about our Japan trip, most of our travels have been to places with a Euro-centric culture.  I thought Japan would stretch us a bit, but with help from friends in Tokyo and a couple of fantastic day-guides, it was a breeze.  While the culture is different, the cities are thoroughly modern and efficient.  With planning and a little help, it was a piece of cake.

Southeast Asia will be a different story.  While I could pretty easily sort out the ultra-modern cities of Taipei and Singapore, the rest was more challenging.  We wanted to see the ancient temples of Ankor Wat, Luang Prabang, and Chiang Mai, deep in the jungles of Cambodia, Laos and Thailand.  That was a bit out of my bailiwick. 

So we enlisted help.

For the most of this trip, we will be with Road Scholar for their Best of Southeast Asia: Thailand, Laos, Cambodia & Vietnam tour.  We’ve had several friends who have traveled with Road Scholar, and their reputation for education and activity is excellent.  Before the Road Scholar tour, we will explore Taipei, Taiwan on our own.  After the tour, we will visit a friend and former co-worker, Melissa, in Singapore.

Taipei Taiwan (Bing AI,, realistic)
Taipei Taiwan (Bing AI, realistic)


Our journey starts in Taipei, Taiwan.  Taiwan (the Republic of China, or ROC) has been much in the news of late.  China (People’s Republic of China, or PROC) has played wargames on Taiwan’s doorstep, and the US has pledged our support. 

Historically, the main island of Formosa (Portuguese for “beautiful”) has bounced between Chinese and Japanese control.  It was ceded to China after Japan’s defeat in WWII.  But China’s civil war resumed as soon as WWII ended, and the republicans, led by Chiang Kaishek, were pushed out by Soviet-backed communist forces.  They retreated to Formosa, and eventually transformed their stronghold into the democratic Taiwan we know Today. 

Ximending Night Market, Taipei, Taiwan (Bing AI)
Ximending Night Market, Taipei, Taiwan (Bing AI, realistic)
Taipei Taiwan Longshan Temple, (Bing AI, realistic)
Longshan Temple, Taipei, Taiwan (Bing AI, realistic)

There was no formal truce in the Chinese Civil War; China claims Taiwan as a renegade territory.  Though it is not recognized as a country by the UN, the US and a few other countries back Taiwan’s independence.  Why does China still want Taiwan?  Pride I’m sure.  But also, Taiwan is prosperous.  They lead the world in high-tech microchip manufacturing… 60% of the world’s microchips, and 90% of the most advanced chips, are made in Taiwan.  That gives some context to the US bi-partisan CHIPS act to shift some manufacturing to the US, and the US backing of Taiwan’s independence.  Technology is the backbone of the our economy and defense, so Taiwan is of vital interest.  

We will explore the main city, Taipei, with its many parks, museums, and night markets over a long weekend before beginning our Road Scholar tour.

Chinese warplanes around Taiwan, realistic
Chinese warplanes around Taiwan (Bing AI realistic). They weren’t really this close, but I’m sure it felt like it to the Taiwanese

The Best of Southeast Asia

My work as trip-planner ends as we begin or Road Scholar Best of Southeast Asia: Thailand, Laos, Cambodia & Vietnam tour.  We begin in Bangkok (oriental city… ok if you are an eighties kid, you knew I’d put this link in somewhere).  From there we will visit the sites of ancient jungle civilizations at Chiang Mai in Thailand, Ankor Wat (the largest temple complex in the world) in Cambodia, and Luang Prabang in Laos

Ta Prohm Temple Angkor (Bing AI)
Ta Prohm Temple Angkor (Bing AI, realistic)
Chiang Mai Golden Naga staircase, realistic
Chiang Mai Golden Naga staircase (Bing AI, realistic)
Mark and Jean at a Luang Prabang Baci Blessing Ceremony, photorealistic anime
Mark and Jean at a Luang Prabang Baci Blessing Ceremony (Bing AI, photorealistic anime)

We will at last make our way to Vietnam, with stops at Ho Chi Mihn city, Ha Long Bay, and Hanoi.  I must say, I approach Vietnam with ambivalence.  My Dad’s stories of Vietcong bullets splatting on his transport plane as he landed there in 1969 will be playing in my head as we land.  It was a long time ago, and also not so long ago at all.  Thank you Dad.

Vietnam Halong Bay with sailing junk, photorealistic
Vietnam Halong Bay with sailing junk (Bing AI, photorealistic)


We cap our trip with a weekend in Singapore, where we will connect with a former Accenture co-worker who now calls the city-state home.  After a few Singapore slings, we will be ready to (finally) turn our sights homeward, and family visits over Thanksgiving.  We’ve a lot to be thankful for this year.

Singapore Supertree Grove viewed from Marina Bay Sands rooftop, photorealistic
Singapore Supertree Grove viewed from Marina Bay Sands rooftop (Bing AI, photorealistic)

The pictures…

Yes, as with the post about our Japan journey, these are all AI-generated.  I’ll replace them with real photos after the trip.  And no, I still have not used AI to write a post.  I think I will try it to help me with planning for 2024 though, so stay tuned.

Journey Map and Itinerary

The map below shows our planned route, with a lot more flights between destinations than we normally do.  There just isn’t any other practical way to see the sights!  The Itinerary includes details from each day… admittedly a bit less detail than I typically provide, as I’ve outsourced 90% of this trip!

Travel Bytes

Travel Bytes will likely wait until we get home for the holidays, though we’ll try to get a few social media posts out to FB and Instagram.  I’ve given up on twitter the bird X.  When I do post bytes, you will find them below, or in your inbox / social media if you are subscribed.

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