Day 1 - Penang, Malaysia
In 1786 Francis Light persuaded the Sultan of Kedah to cede Pulau Pinang - the "Isle of Betel nut" - to the English crown. Legend has it that Light persuaded his men to clear the overgrown island of Penang by firing a cannon filled with gold coins into the jungle as an incentive. The island was renamed Prince of Wales Island, and its major town was christened Georgetown after King George III. Whether the story is true or not, Penang quickly became a major trading port for tea, spices, china and cloth. Here European, Malaysian, Hindu, Arabic and Chinese cultures met, melded and flourished. Today George Town is a cosmopolitan city that has preserved its unique heritage and its exotic blend of cultures.
Day 2 - Phuket, Thailand
Hailed as the "Pearl of the Andaman Sea," this island off Thailand's long southern coast boasts a colorful history. A crossroads for trade, Phuket has been a melting pot of Thai, Malay, Chinese and Western influences. Its importance over the past 500 years stemmed from the island's natural resources, which include tin, hardwoods and rubber. In the past half-century, Phuket has enjoyed wide popularity as one of the premier travel destinations in Southeast Asia. Travelers are drawn to the island's beaches, crystalline waters, and dramatic, forested hills.