Monday, 26 January 2009

Why Asia? 15 reasons Asia rocks.

I've spent the last few years travelling and working in Asia. I still love it. It still feels fresh and exciting. Armin and I asked ourselves why the novelty has not worn off? Why are we still here? On a bus trip from Kuala Lumpur I took notes as we attempted to answer the question: Why Asia? We came up with the following reasons in no particular order:

Food. From the insects of Laos to the dog and scorpion of China. Uncooked duck embryo in the Philippines to snake in Vietnam. Alcoholic horse milk in Mongolia to Sushi in Japan. The cornucopia of tastes available in multi-cultural Malaysia can't be beat. However, it's not all extreme food. The standard meals are superb. Simply look at Thai cuisine. Asia has it all. Beans on toast will never look the same again.

Weather. No argument here. I'm sitting in Penang bathed in glorious January sunshine as I pen this.

Exotic. Walking along a blindingly white, palm fringed tropical beach with turquoise water lapping at your feet never fails to make you smile. You never get tired of it. Enjoy. Leave your troubling thoughts behind as a feeling of contentment washes over you.

Adventure. Walk along a jungle canopy walkway in Malaysia. Raft down some rapids in Laos. Go jungle trekking in Borneo. Horse riding in Mongolia. Elephant trekking in Thailand. SCUBA diving or snorkelling in the Philippines. Caving in Vietnam. Get lost in Cambodia. Asia certainly offers as much adventure as you can handle.

Culture. Experience the many varied peoples and cultures that make our World the wonderful place it is. It's not all commuting, working and mortgages. From the Ger dwelling Mongols to the sword carrying Tibetans the diversity of cultures is incredible. For example: At one end of the spectrum we have the extreme technological advancement of ultra-modern Japan. At the other end we have Burma where many people still live a life close to how our stone age ancestors would have done.

Affordable. The continent of Asia is geographically connected to Europe. However, in terms of affordability they're on different planets. For example: 20 cigarettes, Cambodia £0.15. UK £5.80. Single room, Laos £0.50. UK £80.

Relaxation. Asian people have a more relaxed attitude to life. This is underpinned by the availability of massage, yoga and meditation retreats here.

Nature. Deserts, mountains, jungles, beaches, coral, wildlife. Asia has it all in abundance. You could fill books describing the natural world here.

Philosophy. Many interesting religions manifest themselves in Asia. Tranquil Buddhism, colourful Hinduism, the haunting chants of Islam and the pomp and circumstance of Catholicism. Confucism still holds a powerful grip over China. Remoter places still have shamens and witch doctors. Many diverse spiritual and philisophical schools of thought here.

Ease of travel. Asia is well geared to modern low-cost travel. An ever increasing number of budget airlines are providing access to an ever increasing number of fantastic locations.

Language. Many people dream of learning a language. Here's your chance. Asia has hundreds of challenging tongues.

People. Once you step away from tourist hotspots, the Asian people are some of the friendliest on Earth. No 'London-cold-shoulder' here. People are warm and welcoming. I've never felt threatened here. They have different outlooks and priorities. They are way more relaxed than their Western cousins. The concept of 'face' results in less confrontation. Ideal for a gregarious individuals.

Party. If you like parties there's no end of possibilities here. Try the Full Moon beach party on Ko Pha Ngan in Thailand. The nightclubs of Bangkok. 24hr drinking in Jakarta's Bloc M Stadium disco.

Women. This is Armin's suggestion but I agree. Asian lasses are slimmer, sexier, prettier and more desirable than their Western cousins. To confirm this point we went out and photographed the first two Western women we encountered in Penang.

This phenomenon is known as Yellow Fever. We both have it! We can't understand why Western women are so BIG these days. If you like dainty women Asia is the place for you. If you like big birds stay at home.

Prostitution. Again Armin takes the blame for this one but there's sense in his logic. Prostitution is rife here. It's a socially accepted part of life. If you're male and your needs are driving you mad, it's a simple process of parting with some cash and doing the deed. There is no searching discos in the forlorn hope of getting lucky. Here, many relationships develop from an initial transaction. Also, any sexual fantasies you may have can happen here - for a price of course. Sex tourists can fill you in.

To conclude, it's plain to see that Asia has it all. I moved almost three years ago and I've not regretted that decision at all. I've had fun, adventure and experiences I don't think you could match in Europe. To put it bluntly I've had the time of my life.

Prostitution

That last post got me thinking more about prostitution. Sitting one night with the crowd of expats who currently inhabit the 75 Traveller's Hostel on Lebuh Muntri in Georgetown, the conversation drifted to Thailand and the charming women therein. One bloke chimed: "They're all whores!"

The chatter subsided as these words were digested. A lengthy discussion ensued.

From personal experiences I can see his point. One that sticks in my mind was when I was new to Thailand. Back in Oct 2006 I was in a disco in Chang Mai. I got talking to a woman who said she worked in a hotel. After chatting for hours I asked her to dinner. She agreed providing I gave her 1000baht. She wanted £15 to have dinner with me? I was disappointed to learn that I'd been chatting up a prostitute.

However, they're not all whores - it depends on where you go. If you go to certain types of bars it's highly likely you'll meet prostitutes.

And another thing. Thailand's a Buddhist country. Indonesia's a Muslim country. The Philippines is a Catholic country. These religions forbid the oldest profession so why is it so prevalent? The answer is probably a socio-economic one. I'm sure not many women would choose this life given the choice. A lack of education, opportunity and money are probably responsible. The fact there's a demand for these services doesn't help. Limited welfare and 'nice' girls marrying as virgins probably compounds the problem.

How old are you? In Cambodia, people are one year old when they're born. Zi Ting had two birthdays in Taiwan? I never really established her true age. The same thing occurs in Thailand. In Indonesia the date of birth can be fabricated to allow a daughter to marry sooner. The date of birth in passports seems to be, in many cases, a rough guess!

3 comments:

  1. Will Rae says:

    Continued : The Fat Lasses in Penang they fund the keys to the cake cupboard.
    The Brummie lass on holiday in swealtering Penang (or is it Borneo?), lost the Olympic 100m, as she stopped into Greggs to buy a cake, and a pastie.

    See you mate, I haven't the finances to be there, want to take my Ma someplace nice.

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  2. What's your average cost of living right now?

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  3. hi steve this sheeda, Im hanging out somewhere in the southern Philippines, having a great time. I missed my flight home and I thinnk Im stranded. But I dont give a fuck ... boozing every day and smoking 2 pax of smokes, not really a healthy lifestyle but the fresh fruit and vegetables make up for it. The wife is acting like a jealous bitch angry coz im having a good time. Steve never get married mate ... Bitches are all cunts. Fuck them all.

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Please be nice.