Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Asia
Reload this Page >

Who, What, When, Where, Why: A reminiscence of your first trip to Asia

Who, What, When, Where, Why: A reminiscence of your first trip to Asia

Jun 16th, 2010, 02:00 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,677
Who, What, When, Where, Why: A reminiscence of your first trip to Asia

I"ve had some lovely experiences traveling in Asia, although so far I've only been to Vietnam, Cambodia, China (including Tibet and HK) and India. I'd traveled for years to Europe, but uncertainty about my abilities to get around, plus dislike of long flights, made me hesitant about Asia. However, Untours at that time offered a trip to Vietnam, and, having liked their methods of travel, I went for it. I'd love to hear what got you all started on your Asian journeys!

WHO: just me!
WHAT: Untour (apartment living, not structured, but with local guides/helpers)
WHEN: July 2002
WHERE: Hanoi, Hue, HoiAn, HCMC, Vietnam and Siem Reap, Cambodia
WHY: It was time to stretch my wings a bit, plus Europe was getting incredibly expensive!

Amy is online now  
Jun 16th, 2010, 03:35 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 11,334
I agree that Europe was getting much more expensive. It's a bit better right now, with the exchange rates being a little easier on the US$. DH and I still fly into Frankfurt and/or Zurich twice a year, and have done so for years.

My son convinced me to make that first trip to Hong Kong and Thailand. That was in the summer of 2001. I've now been to Thailand 20 times. I fell in love with the people and the place. No tours for me. DS showed me around that first time. He introduced me to a number of his friends. Now when I go to Bangkok it is sometimes on a solo trip. No guides are necessary.

I need to branch out and see other S E Asian countries...
simpsonc510 is offline  
Jun 16th, 2010, 05:01 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28,934
a co-worker visited hong kong and raved about it...i began to fixate on it.....for our 50th birthdays we made our first trip which was very successful....our best man then suggested bangkok and the rest is history....we simply cannot get enough of asia...

we still do europe and other places in between but asia is our focus...
rhkkmk is offline  
Jun 16th, 2010, 05:04 AM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 2,762
WHO: Husband & me
WHAT: Independent tour
WHEN: Jan/Feb 2009
WHERE: Thailand (Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Ayutthia), Cambodia (Siem Reap)
WHY: I had always wanted to travel to Asia and had traveled extensively elsewhere. (England, Scotland, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Scandinavia, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Austria, Turkey, Greece, Israel, throughout the USA & Canada) On our last trip to the Netherlands and Berlin we decided that Europe was beginning to lack the allure of foreigness and so we ventured to Asia. We recently returned from our second Asian trip - we traveled in May to Vietnam.
dgunbug is offline  
Jun 16th, 2010, 06:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,892
Okay, I'll bite -

WHO: My wife Jeane and I
WHAT: Independent tour
WHEN: July 2000
WHERE: Thailand (Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Koh Samui
WHY: It was there (and we'd already "done" Europe, Turkey, Kenya and much of USA and Canada).
Mar 2002 - Costa Rica (not in Asia, I know)
Jul 2003 - Bali (Canggu, Ubud, Lovina)
Feb 2005 - India (Delhi, Agra, Jaipur & Ranthambore)
Feb 2006 - Cambodia (Siem Reap), Laos (Luang Prabang) + Bangkok
Feb 2007 - Myanmar (Yangon, Bagan & Inle Lake) + Bangkok
Feb 2008 - Sri Lanka + Bangkok
Apr 2009 - Vietnam (Hanoi, Halong Bay and Sapa) + Bangkok
Feb 2010 - India (Varanasi, Udaipur & Aurangabad) + Bangkok
Jul 2011 (tentative) Singapore & Malaysia (Penang, Kuching & jungle resort near Sandakan)
Craig is offline  
Jun 16th, 2010, 06:27 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,851
WHAT: Smithsonian tour
WHEN: Oct '97
WHERE: China - standard east coast tour + Yangtze cruise
WHY: An article in the NYT on the Yangtze dam. I really wanted to see the three gorges before they were changed forever, and I got a very good bonus that year... I immediately fell in love with Asia. The tour was very comfortable, and had a study leader as well as a western organizer, but I did feel like I was in a cocoon, and now mostly travel independently. I've been back four times, three times for extended trips, and leave on my fifth in September.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 16th, 2010, 06:31 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,826
Who: My ex and I
What: Independent travel
When: December, circa 1985
Why: Impulse. Driving home from work, I saw a huge new billboard for Thai Air with a photo of a Thai dancer that said "Bangkok 5 days, 4 nights $799" We opted for 9 days, upgraded to Biz, spent 9 days in Bangkok and I was totally hooked!
Kathie is online now  
Jun 16th, 2010, 06:43 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 11,334
Wow, Kathie... 5 days, 4 nights... $799! Wish we could get a deal like that nowadays. haha
simpsonc510 is offline  
Jun 16th, 2010, 06:58 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 6,865
WHO: Me and a good friend
WHAT: Trip planned through General Tours (had private drivers & guides in the non-cruise portions of the trip and plenty of free time)
WHEN: November 2004
WHERE: HCMC, Pandaw River Cruise from Mekong Delta to Siem Reap, then to Bangkok.
WHY: We wanted to go somewhere exotic and SE Asia had been on my radar for a long time. It was an incredible trip and we had so much fun! We went to India the following November.

I have wanted to get back to Asia ever since, so my husband and I have two stops in Asia (Shanghai and Singapore)on a RTW trip that we leave for on Saturday!! I can't wait!
Florida1 is online now  
Jun 16th, 2010, 10:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,480
WHO: A girl friend from college and I

WHAT: Independent and impulsive- The itinerary was planned each morning

WHEN: 1981

WHERE:Flew from Jordan to Bangkok with a one-way ticket. Bought a Korean Air Student Pass in Bangkok. The "north" version included Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul, Tokyo, Honolulu, and Los Angeles, and was good for a year. I think it was about $300

WHY: My friend and I had planned the trip to Europe when my brother showed up and started talking about his travels in Asia. He gave me a copy of "South East Asia on a Shoestring" and told me the name of a hotel in Bangkok. That was all the inspiration I needed to add Asia on to the end of my itinerary, as I'd been to Europe many times.

My friend planned to remain in Germany, but at the last minute, came along to Asia as well. We stayed in all the well known dives (Remember Chun King Mansions in HK, and In Dae Wan in Seoul?). Kathy ended up staying in Taipei; Seoul was under martial law when I arrived, but sleeping on futons on heated floors (it was December) sold me on Asia. Japan felt like home, (I lived in Hawaii) but better, and the Yen was something like 300 to the US dollar at the time, so it was dirt cheap.

I think I've been back to Asia 15 times now. My husband and I dragged our kids all over from the time the oldest was 4 months old. In the last few years, I've also has fun travelling on food-focused trips with friends, and you all know about my obsession with India!

I am so comfortable in Asia. We are planning a trip to Turkey in September, and I feel like I'm going off to a different planet.
lcuy is offline  
Jun 16th, 2010, 12:12 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,677
Thanks for all the fascinating replies! I have a bit of a bug for South America, too, (planning Chile with Easter Island for July of this year) but I really keep veering into Asian countries for my next, next trip. (Australia is supposed to come after Chile, in 2011...)
Amy is online now  
Jun 16th, 2010, 03:03 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,997
Who: My former-beloved & me

What: Independent travel using United miles

When: Jan 1992

Where: Hong Kong (Hyatt in Kowloon), Phuket (Club Med), Chiang Mai (Riverside House), Bangkok (RO Sheraton). Amazed at everything we saw each step of the way. Highlights included the lights of HK; 10000 Buddhas monastery in Sha Tin; the smells (everywhere); the relaxation of Phuket, even at the surprisingly low-key Club Med; Doi Suthep; the architecture of Chiang Mai; spirit houses; the fun of CM Night Market; fresh pineapple from street stalls.

Why: What sort of question is that?
DonTopaz is offline  
Jun 16th, 2010, 03:21 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,870
Who: My neighbor and I; we ended up becoming best friends

Where: Bali

When: July 1986

Why: an Aussie friend had recommended it and said it was getting "spoiled"

What: A full month - crazy adventure. Rented a jeep and drove all over on our own with a lousy map. Befriended artists and musicians at cremation and whenever we broke down; bought so much folk art and fabric that we had a yard sale in Ubud for other travelers before we left.
crosscheck is offline  
Jun 16th, 2010, 03:34 PM
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 25,405
We're planning our first trip (3 weeks next winter), so this is wonderful to read. We're still debating between Vietnam and Siem Reap, or Thailand and Siem Reap (or even the possibility of just Vietnam, and saving Siem Reap for another trip). Of course, if we don't make our air reservations soon, we won't be able to get Biz seats for miles, and then I won't want to go (trust me, I'm not a prima donna, but we flew California to Cairo in coach and it's a killer!)
sf7307 is online now  
Jun 16th, 2010, 04:21 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 21,968
Who: My dad and I
Where: India
When: early 1970s
Why: I had received a very serious diagnosis and was recovering from surgery that had caused me to miss a semester of school. The surgeon recommended that my parents take me away someplace to recover, thinking that would mean Florida or the Caribbean. My Dad, instead, found a US$350RT fare from JFK to Delhi.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Jun 16th, 2010, 04:45 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,826
Eks, I like your Dad.
Kathie is online now  
Jun 16th, 2010, 05:02 PM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 2,762
Icuy - Turkey is wonderful and easy. We rented a car and drove around for 3 weeks. Google Matt Baron and check out his info.

Interesting thread. I'm loving it.
dgunbug is offline  
Jun 16th, 2010, 05:20 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 2,433
WHO: Me and the husband
WHAT: Completely independent (what's a travel agent?)
WHEN: November 2006
WHERE: Siem Reap; Bangkok; Chiang Mai; Ko Phi Phi
WHY: Honeymoon. Originally slated to go to Hawaii and the DH was pleading to see Angkor Wat, so we changed plans about 6 months out. I thought he was mad. Was petrified before the trip (had no idea what we were getting into.) Originally, I believe it was me saying, "Are you seriously talking about going to Southeast Asia?"...now, of course, all he says to me is, 'Can you PLEASE stop talking about Southeast Asia?!'
I was hooked from the moment we landed. 4 years and 3 trips later (Vietnam, Laos and Hong Kong; more Thailand; and Bali & Java) and we're already planning our next trip (to Japan in April.)
It's funny. Every year, at the end of our trip, we make a 'Top 10 places to go next' list. So far I think there has never been more than 1 or 2 of those places aren't in Asia. The word obsessed comes to mind.
filmwill is offline  
Jun 16th, 2010, 07:08 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 2,759
WHO: With colleagues
WHAT: Business trip
WHEN: 1978
WHERE: Hong Kong
I was 31 years old and had never been out of the US, except to Canada and Mexico. I had always longed to see Asia and in fact took the job solely because travel to Hong Kong was promised.

Just before my colleagues and I were scheduled to leave I came down with a terrible bronchitis. My boss told me I could skip the trip but since I didn’t want to miss the opportunity I delayed a day and proceeded alone on the PanAm non-stop from San Francisco to Hong Kong. (Was that PanAm 1?) I coughed mercilessly all across the Pacific but I was happy.

Hours later I noticed that we seemed to be circling. It was nighttime, but you know the feeling. The captain announced that there had been an accident at Hong Kong’s Kai Tak airport and the only runway was blocked. We were, therefore, going to Manila. We arrived in Manila at 2 in the morning. The airport was closed but they allowed us to wander around on the runway like the Night of the Living Dead. Vendors appeared out of no where selling snacks.

In a few hours we continued to Hong Kong. I took a taxi to the Sheraton (I had practiced Hai Loi Dung) and had to wake up my colleague roommate who was none too pleased to see me.

We spent two weeks in Hong Kong, working around the clock, but also eating, shopping, soaking up the views. The sights, the smells, the sounds of Hong Kong were seared on my consciousness. In the next 13 years, I made 50 round trips to Asia. I couldn’t cure the addiction so I succumbed and moved to Hong Kong.
marmot is offline  
Jun 16th, 2010, 08:39 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,400
WHO: Me, with husband David.
WHAT: On our own, as part of a 9 month RTW trip.
WHEN: 1998-99
WHERE: Malaysia, Indonesia (Bali), Thailand, Nepal, Hong Kong, Macao, Beijing, Taiwan
WHY: We were traveling around the world and flew from Australia to Bali and then to Malaysia where we went overland into Thailand. We spent about 3.5 months in the area using Bangkok as our hub. Loved every part of it!
After that, we couldn't wait to return.

Since then, I've been back many times; Bangkok in 2000 (one of those trips like Kathie did $1299 for TWO people!), Cambodia in 2002, Thailand in 2006, Bangkok and Siem Reap in 2007, Vietnam and Bangkok in 2009, and will be returning to Cambodia in October this year.

I have many trip reports here on Fodor's, but ALL of my trips and photos can be seen on my blog, http://www.wired2theworld.com
Kristina is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:59 PM.