Here is a summary of the political environment, in terms of notable events, in the countries we visited.

In Italy, the Red Brigades organization had become active by 1971 although not yet in Rome. (This is the group that would later kidnap and murder Aldo Moro.) Palestinian terrorists killed 30 people at Leonardo da Vinci Airport in Rome in December of 1973.

Greece was four years into a military dictatorship (described in the movie Z) that would be overthrown three years after we were there.

In Israel it was four years after the Six-Day War which had brought all of Jerusalem under Israeli control. Our hotel was in what had been, for 20 years before 1967, Arab East Jerusalem. The Japanese Red Army killed 24 people in Lod Airport in Tel Aviv nine months after we were there.

Ethiopia's problem with Eritrea, a few hundred miles north of Bahir Dar, was just simmering in late '71. Haile Selassie was secure but he had been dealing with increasingly restive landowners on the right and student activists (at Haile Selassie University) on the left for the previous decade. The drought a year later with its resulting famine in northern Ethiopia destroyed the emperor's support and he was deposed three years after we left. What followed was 17 years of civil war.

Aden, in which we sat on the ground in a hot 707 for a few hours in October of 1971, was part of the less-than-a-year-old People's Democratic Republic of Yemen. The country was controlled by a radical faction of one of the groups that had expelled the British four years earlier.

The typhoon system that gave us so much rain those first couple of weeks in Allahabad killed 10,000 people around the Bay of Bengal that fall.

The India-Pakistan war was brewing the entire time we were in India and we did, indeed, get out just in time. The Pakistani leader Yahya Khan declared a state of emergency on November 23rd, the day before we flew to Calcutta. The war began on December 3rd when Pakistan attacked several airfields in northwest India. The war, which India won, hurt U.S. prestige (the U.S. supported Pakistan), strengthened India's relationship with the USSR, and led to the formation of Bangladesh out of what had been East Pakistan. (The formation of Bangladesh was announced in January, before we arrived back in the States.)

Thailand was relatively stable in late '71. This was probably due in no small part to the infusion of U.S. money during the Viet Nam war. Bangkok was a popular R&R location for U.S. servicemen. Our flight from Bangkok to Hong Kong did not fly over Viet Nam.

Hong Kong was four years after riots and bombings inspired by the Cultural Revolution in China. And the British colonial government knew that they were 25 years away from giving the country back to the Chinese.

Taiwan was under martial law and the one-party rule of Chiang's Kuomintang in late 1971 (as it had been since Chiang arrived in 1949). The People's Republic of China (Communist China) had taken the Republic of China's (Taiwan's) seat in the U.N. eleven days before we arrived in Taipei. A month after we returned to the U.S., Nixon went to China.

Combine all of this with a couple of major airplane crashes while we were gone and our parents probably had reason to be nervous. I don't think any of us, with the possible exception of Jeanne and Bill, gave it a second thought.