TRAVELOGUE: Taking a trip to Southeast Asia, China

Lori Tison spent eight weeks in Southeast Asia and China during June and July. She visited Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. This photo was taken outside of Vang Vieng in Laos.



Lori Tison had always wanted to visit Vietnam. She just isn’t sure why.

Maybe it was the beaches — they looked gorgeous. Perhaps it was photos she’d seen of Ha Long Bay, a World Heritage Site and spectacular seascape of limestone pillars. She didn’t think it was the food, although a tasty staple of the modern Vietnamese diet proved to be one of the best things she ate.

Whatever the impetus, the retired air traffic controller spent two months last summer immersing herself in Southeast Asia. Among the highlights: Cruising the Mekong River, visiting two World Heritage Sites, staying in a monastery, and plenty of hiking, biking and kayaking.

Tison spent most of her vacation time with a tour group called G Adventures, an experience she raved about. While some disavow the rigidity and the cheesy tourist traps and activities that can accompany tour group travel, as well as the notion of spending so much time with the same group of people, Tison said the advantages outweighed the disadvantages.

Travel and accommodations were taken care of. The group got to see the highlights of each region and country. The tour guide in Southeast Asian was Cambodian, allowing travelers to benefit from his knowledge of the best times and places to go.

Tison said there was plenty of free time to explore on her own. And when she was with the group, she enjoyed the time with her fellow travelers.

“I didn’t know anybody on the tour group. Now I do. They’re on my Christmas card list. I’ve got new friends from all over,” she said.

Name: Lori Tison.

Hometown: Grand Junction.

Where did you go? China, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia.

When did you go? May–July 2013.

How long there? Two months.

Best meal? It definitely wasn’t the deep-fried crickets I had in Cambodia. It was probably the pho in Hoi An, Vietnam. (Pho is a Vietnamese soup consisting of broth, rice noodles, meat and herbs.)

Best deal? Having clothes custom tailored in Hoi An. I got a formal dress, a pair of silk trousers, two tops and another pair of pants for $200. There are hundreds of tailor shops. You go in, look through the catalogs, pick out the materials and get measured. The silks over there are beautiful. They make great souvenirs.

One travel tip you’d offer? I would say learn at least a couple of words in the native languages — hello, goodbye, please, thank you. Once you get there, slow down and talk to these people and meet them. It’s just amazing how warm and welcoming and happy they are, even after the Vietnam War. They look forward, they don’t look back. They don’t hold grudges. They’re just lovely, lovely people.


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