Traveler's Journal

Why do some people love traveling in Southeast Asia while others don't seem to have any interest in going there?

There are many answers to this question but I, for one, can't wait to go back. My wife, Meg, my two boys, Ryan and Anthony, and I spent three months traveling there.

Honestly, I cannot say that we had one bad day during our visit.

Maybe it's the people, maybe it's the cultures, maybe it's the history, maybe it's the cost or maybe it's the food.

Probably it's all of the above.

I can't help but think that many people who don't like this part of the world haven't been there or refuse to change their preconceptions of the place.

This is especially true of Vietnam, although it has changed greatly over the past 30 years.

So have all the other coun-tries in Southeast Asia.

A few have lagged behind a bit, though. Laos and Cambodia are two of these.

Due to a fairly inward-looking Communist regime in Laos and the brutal rule of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, these two countries haven't kept pace with the rest of the world.

For many, that makes them ideal places to visit.

Moreover, recently they have opened their doors wide to tourism, and people are find-

ing the Asia they had been looking for before Thailand became so popular.

It is hard to imagine what the people of Cambodia have gone through, but somehow they have come out with a gentleness that could be learned from.

Laos is changing fast, with roads and schools being improved and constructed everywhere.

Vietnam already has set up

an extensive tourist infrastructure that can serve any traveler's needs.

Our family went to these countries with the intention of meeting local people and learning from them and about their culture. It was an amazing experience for all of us.

We moved from northern Thailand, down the Mekong River into Laos, then over to northern Vietnam. From there we headed south to the Mekong delta and finally up into Cambodia, culminating with days at the temples of

the Angkor Wat complex.

From the relaxation of Laos to the craziness of Hanoi to

the busy waterways of the Mekong delta to the unbelievable temples of the Khumers, there always was something interesting to see.

Also, it is one thing to travel as adults and quite another to go with children. Everything seems accentuated with them, from making basic decisions to deciding what and where to eat to getting accustomed to people's reactions to them.

Family travel is an amazing way to go. The world looks different seen through young eyes.

We look forward to sharing our experiences of traveling in these three amazing countries and hope we can encourage you to head to Southeast Asia and do the same.

About the presenters:

Meg and Paul Pinza have lived in Sequim for the past

19 years. Meg works at Newfields Northwest, a science laboratory in Port Gamble. Paul is self-employed and is a certified teacher, teaching at Queen of Angels School in Port Angeles for 12 years. Both attended Gonzaga University in Spokane, where they met.

Their sons Ryan and Anthony attend Sequim High School and Sequim Middle School. Ryan is a freshman and Anthony is in seventh grade. The Pinzas took one year off to travel around the world and can't wait do it again.

Traveler's Journal is presented by the Peninsula Trails Coalition as a fundraiser for the Olympic Discovery Trail. All proceeds buy food for volunteers working on trail projects.

Next week's presentation: "Climbing in the Alps of Tibet." For more information, call Dave Shreffler, 683-1734.

"Family Travel in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam"

By: Paul Pinza

When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 5

Where: Sequim High School cafeteria, 601 N. Sequim Ave.

Admission: $5 at the door (18 and under are free)

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