From Mandalay to Angkor Wat: Western Authors in Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam

Join professors Roy Grow and Burt Levin in Southeast Asia’s legendary sites using Graham Greene, Somserset Maugham, and George Orwell as literary guides.


“What is to become of us,” wrote Somerset Maugham almost 80 years ago. “We brought the best of ourselves and our way of life to Asia. Now it is all changing so fast. . . Will I know the place even a decade from now?”

In 1924 Maugham wrote The Gentleman in the Parlour, which some consider among the best Asia travel diaries. Witty, satirical, insightful, and self-centered, it gives us a glimpse into the often grating interaction between Western and Asian cultures.

Maugham’s journey took him from Burma to Hong Kong. He traveled over land, by boat, and by train, trekked across Burma, almost died in Bangkok, was overwhelmed by Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and was bored by the banality of Hong Kong. Our group will undertake a similar journey, attempting to see Southeast Asia as it was, using as our foundation a number of works by Western observers.


Wherever possible, we will stay in the same hotels (now remodeled and renovated) as the authors themselves did.


Burt Levin served in the U.S. State Department for more than 35 years, most of that time in Asia. Levin was the first foreign-service officer certified as fluent in Mandarin Chinese in the post-Korean War period. He held posts in Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and Hong Kong, was ambassador to Burma (Myanmar) during the height of the student-military confrontations of the 1980s, and has traveled throughout Asia. He is Carleton’s Sit Professor of Foreign Policy. Lily Levin is an accomplished chef, the author of a Chinese cookbook, and a cooking instructor.

Roy Grow first traveled to Asia in the early 1960s and has visited almost every part of the region in subsequent decades. Grow directs Carleton’s Beijing Seminar in Political Economy, which spends time in Thailand and Vietnam before traveling across China. He is Carleton’s Frank B. Kellogg Professor of International Relations and director of the international relations program. Mary Lewis- Grow first traveled to Asia in 1987 and has participated in all of Carleton’s Beijing seminar programs.


Trip Cost: $6695 per person double occupancy

Single Supplement: $2048

Price includes:

- Insight and expertise of the 4 Carleton tour leaders
- Accommodation in the hotels as mentioned in itinerary
- Local English-speaking guide in each destination
- Ground transportation in private air-conditioned vehicle
- Meals according to itinerary
- Boat trips according to itinerary
- Sightseeing as mentioned in the itinerary including all admission fees
- Gratuities to guides and drivers
- Five internal economy class air tickets (including airport taxes):
Bangkok-Yangon-Bangkok, Bangkok-Chiang Mai-Bangkok-Phnom Penh-Siem Reap-SaigonHanoi-Bangkok

Price does not include:

- International airfare to/from your home to Bangkok
- Visa fees
- Drinks at all meals
- Personal expenses

Payment and Refund Policy

Deposit--A deposit of $850 per person is due when making your reservation

Balance--Balance due on or before September 21, 2006

Refunds-- For cancellations made:

Before September 22--Full refund minus $50 processing fee
September 22 to October 13 -- Deposit of $850.00 per person will be forfeited
October 14-31, 2006--50% refund
After October 31--No refund

Reading List

Graham Greene, The Quiet American
George Orwell, Burmese Days
Somerset Maugham, The Gentleman in the Parlour

and one film-- Indochine (French with English subtitles)