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

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 1 May 2015
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He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
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Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

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Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
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Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

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Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
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Rainbow shades

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