Travel

Springtime, just before the new century began. As Laos is now the new Cambodia, Vietnam was then the new Thailand, and my girlfriend and I had arrived – with our backpacks – to see what all the fuss was about. The capital Hanoi had dazzled, and we were due to take the train 420 miles down the coast to Hué. We were late, though. We were always late.

For a flavour of South-east Asia, eat local

Look for the long queues and order seasonal dishes. Andrew Spooner offers some tips for budget diners

A taste of austerity: Can chef Valentine Warner conjure a feast from wartime food rations?

Seventy years ago this month – on 8 January 1940, to be precise – food rationing was introduced to Great Britain, and it wouldn't finally be shown the door for another 14 years. That means that anyone who was a toddler at the start of the Second World War would have been of school-leaving age when meat and bacon were finally taken "off the coupon" in the summer of 1954. Understandably, childhood obesity wasn't seen as a problem.

Thailand sends 4,000 Hmong asylum-seekers back to Laos

Thai troops packed more than 4,000 ethnic Hmong into military trucks yesterday for a one-way journey to Laos, all but ending the Hmong's three-decade search for asylum following their alliance with the US during the Vietnam War.

The Merry Misogynist, By Colin Cotterill

Magical mystic is a cut above

Album: David McAlmont & Michael Nyman, The Glare (MN)

In this intriguing alliance of soul and classical forms, David McAlmont uses selections from Nyman's back catalogue as the backdrops to song-stories drawn from recent news reports, all concerning people on the cusp of crisis.

How to keep it comfy on the flashpacker trail

South-east Asia specialises in cheap yet chic lodgings. Andrew Spooner picks his favourites

Daniel Howden: Victory demonstrates that Greek politics is stagnant

When a party leader with every possible advantage staggers to victory at the third time of asking, trailing two election defeats in his wake, it's clear that politics have stagnated in Greece. George Papandreou has finally succeeded in following his father and grandfather in becoming prime minister but it's an empty victory that will be met with little enthusiasm.

Typhoon slams into northern Philippines

A powerful typhoon slammed into the northeastern tip of the Philippines today, tearing roofs off houses and uprooting trees, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Honeymoon couple in river 'tubing' tragedy

Woman finds husband's body after three-day search

Origami champion, 12, captures Thai hearts

Prime Minister tells boy with refugee parents that he can travel to Japan

Legal challenge over 'unsafe' Laos drugs conviction

A woman jailed in Laos on drugs charges who returned to the United Kingdom to serve her sentence launched a legal challenge today against her conviction.

Pregnant prisoner flown home from Laos – but child's father left in jail

Woman convicted of drug trafficking allowed to return because she is pregnant

Pregnant Briton jailed in Laos flown home

A pregnant Briton sentenced to life imprisonment in Laos for trafficking heroin flew home Thursday to serve the remainder of her sentence, just weeks before she was due to give birth.

Pregnant Brit jailed on drug charges to leave Laos

A pregnant British woman jailed in Laos for trafficking heroin will be sent home tomorrow to serve her sentence in Britain, a Lao government official said today.

Anne Keothavong: 'I didn't want to lose my handbag. It wasn't like he had a knife to me'

The Brian Viner Interview: She has seen off muggers and slept in an attic full off cockroaches, but the British No 1 knows she will face one of her greatest battles at the All England Championships
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there