Truth be told, I had no desire to visit Asia before I moved to Guam in 2009. That all changed the moment I set foot in Narita City on my 24-hour journey from Dallas to Guam. The Hubs and I had a long layover in Narita, so we decided to venture out. Tokyo is now a frequent stop and destination for me.
What I love about Asia is just how different from the western world it is. Every traveler should visit Asia at least once in a lifetime!
See How the Other Half Lives
…The other half of the globe, that is. Asian lifestyles, traditions, and thinking are so different from the western world. I didn’t scratch the surface of understanding until I moved to Guam and started traveling to Asia regularly. I’m so glad I opened my mind to these colorful and fascinating cultures! No one enjoys it, but seeing poverty in Asia opens your eyes to just how fortunate middle class westerners are.
A visit to modernized countries like Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Singapore allows a glimpse into extreme wealth in Asia and that’s an interesting study as well!
Please Your Palate
If you go to Asia for nothing else, go for the food. I’ve had some of the best food of my life throughout Asia and Indonesia. My favorites?
- Dumpling soup in Hong Kong
- Vegetarian curry in Little India, Singapore
- Carpaccio in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo
- Bean salad in Ubud, Bali
- Apricot croissants in Hong Kong
- Dessert crepes in Harajuku, Tokyo
Where City Meets Safety
I have friends, Harry and Kiyomi, who are long-time residents of Tokyo. Kiyomi, told me she could walk down the streets of Tokyo at night holding $100 bill and no one would bother her. I’ve experienced that for myself, having spent time alone in Tokyo. The same goes for many major Asian cities, and coming from the U.S. you just don’t expect that! It’s a refreshing change from the random crime of mega cities in America.
Witness Centuries Old Lifestyles
There is a village in Hong Kong that remains one of the last of its kind, a working fishing village. The Tai O fishing village is accessible from the Big Buddha, but because it’s a bit off the beaten path, I didn’t see it the first time I went there. There’s always something new (or old) to discover in Asia.
OMG the Shopping
There are places in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Seoul where the shopping is so extensive, husbands go there to die. Every metro station is a mall and every mall has floor upon floor of shops. Sure, “average American-sized” women like me (Mindy Kaling quote) can’t fit in the clothes, but that doesn’t rule out beauty products, electronics, and the sheer intricacy of window shop designs. Then there are the street markets — fish, tchotchkes, hot food, you name it — which are full of character, cheap, and so fun to explore.
The World’s Most Modern Structures
See Cultures Collide
Singapore is overtly British and Macau is Portuguese. The melding of cultures in Asia is truly fascinating. All your preconceptions of Asia go out the window when you see black and white cobblestone streets in Macau and a thriving Arab Quarter in Singapore.
I had sworn off zoos for the most part, but I was pleasantly surprised at how natural and humane the enclosures at Singapore Zoo are. Not to mention the vibrant monkey population there, like the impossibly stylish Douc Langur, pictured above. Hong Kong’s Ocean Park also has lots of sea life and even the elusive red panda. If you are an animal lover, you can expect great things from some of these exotic zoos. As with any wildlife or animal activity, I recommend doing your homework to ensure you’re an eco-friendly traveler.
The World’s Most Efficient Transportation
I rode the Shinkansen, Japan’s fast and efficient bullet train, from Tokyo to the Fuji Rock Festival in the mountainside village of Naeba. Singapore’s metro system is among the world’s most clean and cheap. Hong Kong also has a safe and cheap metro, albeit one that requires forgoing personal space at rush hour.