Travel in Asia - 2016 - 2017

john.b

Involved In Discussions
#1
Greetings! I used to check in here from time to time, not so much since that discontinuity awhile back. I wanted to mention some experiences with travelling in Asia and to offer to discuss that more if there's an interest. As background, I live in Bangkok, although I'm from the US, here for 9 years now, coming up on 10. I'll say a bit about the places I've been to, limited, since otherwise this post would go long.

Thailand: just seems normal to me since I live in Bangkok but we do travel in Thailand. People tend to use Bangkok as a base then see beaches in the South and go to the North to see what that's about, typically Chiang Mai. We also travel to Isaan, the more rural Northeast, since it's close, but it wouldn't be a major destination. Thailand is cool, not expensive, great food, with a cool tropical look to it, and friendly people. Sex tourism is as big as the stereotype suggests, but most people have nothing to do with that.

Cambodia: I liked Siem Reap the best of other places I've been, the ancient temples that include Angkor Wat. The rest of Cambodia is really undeveloped, nothing like Thailand, which wouldn't seem as rough edged as one might expect (or maybe it would, and I've just had time to adjust).

Vietnam: very nice! The food is great, the look is a little different, and the people didn't stay mad about that war. I liked Hanoi better than Saigon / HCMC, and didn't explore a lot of the more rural parts yet.

Laos: we traveled more here than in any other country, and it's nice. It was really just developing when we did, over several trips a half dozen years ago, but the country has probably changed a lot since. Oddly there are still unexploded bombs from US bombing there so not the best place to be hiking a lot, but it's cool to see a less developed country, and people are so nice.

Singapore: probably no point in visiting here since it looks like the West more than anywhere else, the most developed, but it is nice.

Japan: probably the most beautiful countries I've ever seen, with amazing food, much better than Japanese anywhere else. There's a long history, and lots of beautiful temples, and great rail support to go anywhere, on par with Europe, or likely a bit ahead of them. Needless to say it's developed, just as modern as the US. People are reserved, but that's not such a terrible thing, just unusual.

South Korea: I've only been to Seoul, and around there a little, but I liked it. Cities tend to look the same to some extent, so you might as well be anywhere, but it's easy to get around, with lots to see, and of course there are temples and whatever else, it's not just like the US or Europe. Language isn't as easy to work with here as some places (English isn't as commonly used as a back-up, also true of Japan) but it works out.

China: I've only been to Shenzhen, Beijing, and Shanghai, but I did like it. I'd recommend seeing China as much as anywhere else; it's really interesting, modern, and diverse. Language is a problem--English use support--but if someone is flexible and ok with travel in general it's not that bad, just harder than most other Asian countries. The visa costs more than other countries, especially since it's free in some others, and available upon entry, but it's not hard to get or that expensive, on the order of $100, maybe a bit over that. Hong Kong is ok, different than the rest of China in a few ways though, but as a crowded city I wouldn't mind missing it, even if English use and visa issues are a lot simpler there.

Taiwan: I've spent the least time here, only 3 days on a layover visit, but mention it since it's so nice there. It was like Seoul (Taipei was), just a bit friendlier yet. With a more remote countryside easy to access from there it might be a better all around travel option than South Korea, or they might still be comparable, I'd have to explore further to know.

Myanmar: I've not been there yet, but why wouldn't someone want to visit a truly original state country like that one, much more remote and undeveloped than anywhere else.

Indonesia: absolutely amazing for natural beauty, volcanoes and beaches, with lots of old temples for other sites. The people are nice, as nice as anywhere, and there aren't really limitations related to development issues, it's nothing like Cambodia or places like that. Malaysia would be kind of similar (both mostly Islamic countries, but Indonesia varies by island), but I kind of liked Indonesia better, just so much to see there.
 
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john.b

Involved In Discussions
#2
Re: Travel in Asia

I write a blog about tea and I end up posting travel theme articles when I go places, and some of those would describe things in more detail. It just also focuses on tea, but then I usually mostly let that theme drop for travel oriented posts, just not completely.

Here are some links, although I didn't get the search function to list out the related posts effectively.

http://teaintheancientworld.blogspot.com/search?q=travel

http://teaintheancientworld.blogspot.com/search?q=indonesia

http://teaintheancientworld.blogspot.com/search?q=korea
 

john.b

Involved In Discussions
#4
You should look me up and ask for input, if questions come up. I live in one of those countries and have been to the other two. This site has a message function but I can also be reached by message in a FB page for a blog I write (Tea in the Ancient World).

I guess that other set of bullets covered the two-sentence version summary of those places, but from there lots of details and issues come up. Odd I hadn't added one there for Malaysia. I've only been to KL once, and to Penang and Malaka then, and to Lego World across from Singapore just over the border there once. Malaysia isn't all that different than Thailand, to some extent. Culture shifts a little due to being a Muslim country instead of a Buddhist one, and there are surely plenty of other small differences (the foods, etc.), but the general look and level of development isn't so different.

I really liked Indonesia more, and Java more than Bali. Bali seemed like a whole-island version of a resort town, which is nice in a sense, but Java locals seemed very casual, friendly, and helpful, with that not at all related to them doing service work.

Thailand is cool but it's hard to say much about it since it just seems so normal to me now. People are friendly, it's safe and generally modern (with a few rough edges), the food is great, there's lots to see and do, and things are inexpensive (most things). English use is so widespread in Thailand it should be easy to get around. In Malaysia too, and Indonesia isn't so bad for that.
 
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