March 2018 Trip to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia

March 16, 2018, is the fiftieth anniversary of the My Lai massacre.  This is an anniversary worth lifting up so this trip will be built around that date.

From 1985 until the late 1990s I led one or two trips a year to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.  Initially they were designed for university teachers and administrators, but came to include lawyers, NGOs, foundations, business people and veterans of the OSS.  The goal was to increase mutual understanding and help all four countries move to normal diplomatic, cultural and economic relations.

More recently I have organized trips for former anti-war activists and members of their families. These offer an opportunity to see the impact of the war, reflect with hosts on the role of anti-war activism, and experience fascinating cultures, histories, geography and cuisines. Meetings with government and US embassy officials focus on contemporary issues, including economic development, trade and the danger of conflict over territorial claims in the South China (a.k.a. East) Sea. 

The tentative itinerary is below.  The core of the trip is two weeks of programmed days in Vietnam, covering north, center and south.  People who want to have more time for conventional sightseeing are encouraged to come early and/or stay later.  I will provide an introduction to a capable Vietnamese travel agent and offer advice about excursions to Ha Long Bay, Sa Pa, the Cu Chi Tunnels and Cao Dai Temple, natural parks, etc.  

Depending on the amount of interest, I will include Laos and Cambodia in the trip or simply help you arrange your own program there before or after Vietnam.  Personally I recommend spending an extra week to get a sense of  two very different but related histories, cultures, economies and contemporary political systems.  (Laos could be scheduled before Vietnam or after Cambodia.)

The cost of the trip is about $2,500 for the ground program in Vietnam.  Laos will be roughly an additional $300 and Cambodia $700.   That does not include air fare between countries or from the US.  

You may be able to use airline milage on trans-Pacific flights.

When you write to me, say something about your strongest interests, including if you hope for encounters with professional counterparts.

My goal is to share my experience and personal relationships.  I do not earn anything from the trip, but your payment will hopefully cover my cost of accompanying you.

John McAuliff 
Fund for Reconciliation and Development

Tentative itinerary

(Pre-program sightseeing options:  Ha Long Bay, Sa Pa, Pottery Village or ?)
Sunday, March 11  program begins with meeting and dinner in Ha Noi
Monday-Wednesday, March 12 - 14  meetings, museums, special sights, US embassy
Thursday, March 15  fly to Da Nang, beach hotel in Hoi An
Friday, March 16  drive to My Lai for anniversary observation, visit site of Agent Orange project
Saturday, March 17  Cham temples or museum, meetings in Da Nang
Sunday, March 18  travel by train or bus from Hoi An to Quang Tri, visit DMZ and cemetery
Monday, March 19  Quang Tri land mines UXO projects, drive to Hue
Tuesday, March 20  Meetings in Hue and sightseeing
Wednesday, March 21  Fly to Ho Chi Minh City
Thursday, March 22  Meetings and sightseeing in HCMC
Friday, March 23  Visit Ben Tre in the Mekong Delta, the site of a less known atrocity
Saturday, March 24  Meetings and sightseeing in HCMC
Sunday, March 25  Departure to US, Thailand, or Cambodia; personal option for visit to Cu Chi  
                               tunnels, Cao Dai temple