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.

Nguyen Chi Thien: Dissident poet

Nguyen Chi Thien, who died on 2 October aged 73 at a hospital in Santa Ana, California, was a Vietnamese dissident poet who spent nearly 30 years in communist prisons in his native country. Thien had contracted tuberculosis while in Vietnamese prison, and doctors were investigating a large mass in his lung in the days before he died.

£2,249 - Travelbag: Includes Vietnam Airlines flights from Gatwick to Bangkok via Hanoi or Saigon and B&B at the Centara Hotel, Pattaya. “The family studios are a fantastic choice due to the spacious layout, dedicated children’s area and bunk beds,” says Anna Streatfeild (0871 703 4240; travelbag.co.uk).

Travel Challenge: Half-term Thailand

Each week, we invite three companies to offer us their best deal for a specific break. Today: a holiday for a family of four in Thailand during the October half term. Prices are for two adults and two children. Each package includes a week's accommodation, transfers and flights from the UK on either Saturday 27 or Sunday 28 October.

The Outsiders, By Gerald Seymour

In this newspaper, the novelist Gerald Seymour was asked which fictional character he thought he most resembled. His answer: "One of those johnnies who sent agents off in the early Le Carré stories but stays on the safe side of the border".

All smiles at the US-Vietnam cleanup agreement

The terrible legacy of Agent Orange

Forty years after war ended, Washington begins decontamination of worst-affected areas in Vietnam

Vietnam airline fined for in-flight bikini show

Bored by in-flight safety demos? A group of bikini-clad beauty queens in Vietnam recently strutted through a packed aeroplane as dance music blasted a song with the lyric “I'm crazy for banana.”

US to clean up Agent Orange in Vietnam

The US has begun a landmark project to clean up a dangerous chemical left from the defoliant Agent Orange, 50 years after American planes first sprayed it on Vietnam's jungles to destroy enemy cover.

Marathon speech by Cambodian PM

Asia's longest-serving ruler has set what appears to be a personal record for his longest public speech: five hours, 20 minutes.

Author E L James is looking to adapt her best-selling erotic novel, Fifty Shades of Grey, for the big screen

Fifty Shades is UK's best-selling book of all time

E L James' Fifty Shades of Grey has sold more than 5.3m copies making it the best-selling British book of all time, according to figures released by its publisher.

Hilary Clinton is looking forward to taking a break from politics

Jet-set diplomacy: globe-trotting Hillary Clinton breaks travel record

102 nations visited, 843, 839 miles flown. No wonder the tireless Secretary of State wants a break

The Weekend's Viewing: The World’s Most Dangerous Roads, Sun, BBC2
Engineering Giants: Jumbo Jet Strip-Down, Sun, BBC2

The World's Most Dangerous Roads might be the most quintessential Sunday evening programme ever made.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton makes historic visit to Laos

Hillary Clinton returned to the scene of the one of the darkest episodes of US foreign policy when she visited Laos and saw first-hand the aftermath of America’s “secret war” in which around two million tonnes of bombs were dropped on the country.

Remembrance: Australian war memorials in France,

Aboriginals still fighting for justice

Like other indigenous families, the Lovetts sent their sons to war but were thrown off their own land when they returned

A million attend Pope's open-air Milan Mass

Pope Benedict XVI has celebrated an open-air Mass for a million followers, capping three days of activities in Milan, Italy, aimed at showing support for the family.

The fortunes of Vietnam’s saola, right, contrast sharply with those of Britain’s rarest butterfly, the large blue, above, which is going from strength to strength

Antelope first seen 20 years ago is on brink of extinction

Vietnam's rare mammals may be sliding towards extinction, but Britain's rarest butterfly is going from strength to strength, a series of contrasting announcements makes clear today.

Faas: he had to persuade his bosses to run some pictures from Vietnam

Horst Faas: Photographer who brought home to Americans the horrors of the Vietnam war

His protégés were responsible for some of the most memorable pictures from South-east Asia

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
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Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
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Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
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Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
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'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
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New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
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Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn