A thought provoking visit to the charity "COPE" while in Laos, which was optional, to be told how it works to provide injured people with prosthetics and how teams of young people are trained to locate and clear unexploded cluster bombs. Not a depressing experience but a reminder that this work is ongoing and funded by donations.
Seeing groups of young people clearly enjoying going to school and trying to make the most of their education. Something that not all children in these countries have access to.
A very positive and uplifting atmosphere in the places we visited as people try to get on and better their lives.
You know it's going to be hot, but the heat really saps your energy and affects your mood.Drink lots of water but don't forget to replenish lost salts and sugars to keep energy levels up. Loose clothing is a must.
Heavy drinking of alcohol and heat isn't the best combination.
Read the trip notes as it was obvious some people on my trip hadn't. Any questions asked about the itinerary,modes of transport,airport transfers and most importantly, the reasons for the group kitty to tip staff at hotels,drivers, local guides etc were all covered and explained.
Mosquitoes weren't a major risk in March as it wasn't the rainy season, but some people will always get bitten so need to take more protection than others. Take what works for you but I believe the majority of us were on anti-malarials though not all on DEET.
American dollars were the most practical currency to take.
An average evening meal with a drink and tip usually worked out to $10. Quality of food in simple cafes to stylish restaurants was mainly very good.
Take ear-plugs to cut out the noise of bed-room air-conditioning. The quality of hotels was better than expected by me.
SE Asians are a very polite people.Things may not happen as they do in the West nor as quickly. Leave pre-conceptions behind. Go with the flow.