Well, a new brochure from One+One should help. One+One organises 14-day tours in Thailand and Indonesia accompanied at all times by a local guide. This not only offers a sense of security, it also means that you'll get to places that even experienced backpackers don't know about. And with your own interpreter you will be able to speak to whoever you want.
Male customers and mixed couples get a male guide and females a female. The brochure also reassures that none of the guides has a criminal record. Phew. Prices from pounds 1,350, excluding flights.
For a different view of the Far East, look at the Eastern & Oriental Express - Road to Mandalay brochure. Part of the posh Venice Simplon-Orient- Express company, it offers train trips through Thailand and Malaysia and on to Singapore, and a cruise on Burma's Ayeyarwady river. Despite insisting that you do not have to dress up, the guests featured sport strapless cocktail dresses, pearls and Chanel sunglasses. The locals, meanwhile, seem to spend all their time serving drinks.
I'm sure a journey like this could be fun but the pictures make you think of a sad bunch of first-class travellers who wish the whole world looked like Marbella. They're the sort of people who probably don't give a hoot that Burma has an appalling human-rights record, including using virtual slave labour to build tourist facilities. Why should they when they are on a luxury ship where "cocktails are accompanied by tinkling piano". Prices? Astronomical.
One+One, tel: 01823 432604; Eastern & Oriental Express - Road to Mandalay, tel: 0171 805 5060.