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Alumni Travel Reading: Bangkok to Bali


South-East Asia has a rich history that stretches over several thousand years. At the crossroads of the Indian Ocean world, it facilitated contact between Western Asia and Eastern Asia for centuries, and was a key region in the maritime component of the silk route. Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam have all played an important role in shaping the cultural history of South-East Asia, and today a dozen countries with over a hundred languages comprise this area. This tour will go through four countries, and straddle almost a millennium of history.

Travel Guides

There is no dearth of travel guides for the entire region, but also guides for individual countries and others that are themed for cultural or natural heritage:


Bangkok is the bustling modern city of Thailand, and one of the top tourist cities of the world. It is therefore no surprise that it has its own tourist guides:

Bangkok to Bali: Oriental Express

Two lines of women dancing,_Bali.JPG
Photo by Saranabhi


Selected and Annotated By:

Pushkar Sohoni
Area Studies Specialist for South Asia

For more information about this and other Penn excursions, please visit the Penn Alumni Travel Web site.


Bali is the darling location of tourists to Indonesia, partly because of its unique culture in the archipelago. An island where most of the population practices Balinese Hinduism, it has long been studied by anthropologists, musicologist, and historians.

Bateson and Read's Trance and Dance in Bali

This is part one of the famous film by Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson. For additional segments go to

Balinese Gamelan in Ubud Palace

A more contemporary film of Indonesian gamelon performance


Thailand: Culture and Politics


Located off peninsular Malaysia on a small island, Georgetown is the capital of the state of Penang. Founded as a British trading town and named after King George III, the city is known for its colonial fabric.



Singapore Botanic Gardens

Boardwalk bridge over water towards trees

Eco-lake, Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore. Taken by Sengkang

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