Asia is as broad and varied as a continent should be, so how does one plan to go around such a vast area? There is the banana pancake trial; where veering off the lonely planet recommendation is unheard of. But how about some themed trips instead to see the real Asia?
So what is Asia known for? Well the food for one; have you ever struggled to find a Chinese take away? Thought not. UFC and other mixed martial arts tournaments dominates interest in combat these days, but a lot of martial arts originate from ancient Asian traditions so we have a martial art itinerary for you too. We will also look at how colonisation influenced Asia to what it is today and wars occurred in Asia. To top things off we will be using the vast land space to get away from it all with a very adventurous itinerary.
What better theme to start off with than a sampling of some of the more notable culinary examples of the region?
- China – The real home of Chinese food. Everybody has a favourite dish; sweet and sour, black bean, ginger dipping, stir-fry, dim sum, soups, noodles, rice, steamed bun, dumplings, there is thousands of combinations, and you don’t have enough time to try them all.
- Japan – There is much more to Japanese food then sushi. Other popular dishes include Domburi, Onigiri, Yakizakana, Ramen, Yakisoba, Oden,Chanko Nabe, Nikujaga, Yudofu, Omuraisu, and Tsukemomo amongst many others, Google them to surprise yourself!
- Malaysia – I have a Malaysian friend who I asked what the Malaysians don’t eat, he replied ‘rocks'; everything that moves or grows is eaten. “We’d eat the clouds if we could catch them” he said. Satay is the national snack – dipping small meat kebabs into a peanut sauce.
- India – Like Japanese food, Indian food is often stereotyped to spicy curry and poppadom. The sheer amount of spices is what makes Indian food as varied as it is. In Northern India you can find dairy based food and flat-bread; Southern India brings the reliance on rice, coconuts and vegetable stews to the table; Eastern India is where you go for your sweet desserts and Western India tends to mix a lot of these combinations up.
- Laos – Yes, whilst you can get deep fried bat here, the French colonisation had a big influence on Laos cuisine, so you can enjoy a freshly baked baguette with melted garlic on with your crunchy bat.
>> Discover the many weird fruits of Southeast Asia
Thailand is the only Asian country to not be under control as a Colony, and thus there is a few options here to see external influence on a country. We have already seen how it can affect food, but it can also influence building structure, language, law, culture and even the way people think, prime examples to visit are:
- The French in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos from 1858 to 1954.
- The British in Malaysia and Singapore from 1786 to 1957.
- The Japanese in Korea 1910 to 1945.
- The Spanish in The Philippines from 1565 to 1898.
- The Britain in India between 1765 and 1857
>> Check out 8 old colonial hotels you can stay in
With such a large amount of colonisation, you can guess that Asia has had its fair amount of wars over the years making a significant impact in the history books.
- The forgotten war between North Korea and South Korea ending in stalemate which divided the 2 countries is still present today and tension on both sides can be seen at the border between the countries.
- The Vietnam war in Vietnam was fought with Viet Cong underground tunnels that you can visit to get a taste of what life was like in wartime Vietnam.
- World War II in Japan saw the only use of nuclear weapons in history in sobering Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the scars are still there today for visitors to see.
- In the 12th Century, one country reigned over nearly all of Asia: Mongolia. See the history of the invasions into China and beyond in museums across the region.
- Even further back in time you can find war and fighting references on the Angkor temples in Cambodia on which this is the only recorded history of that period.
With war comes self defense. Martial arts has spanned hundreds of years in different forms and Asia produces the majority of them such as:
- Tae Kwon Do is a martial art biased towards kicking and sports competition in South Korea.
- Muay Thai boxing in Thailand utilizes the sharp quick attacks from knees, elbows and shins.
- Eskrima is the Filipino form of stick and sword fighting.
- Karate, Judo, Ninjutsu, Jujitsu and Sumo Wrestling were all made famous by Japan.
- Kung Fu was made famous and brought martial arts popularity to the world by Bruce Lee and originates from the monks in China.
So far the itineraries have been quite heavily about war, colonisation and fighting, so it’s time to get away from it all with an epic Asian trip.
- Walk, run, motorcycle, unicycle or whatever you choose to move yourself down the Great Wall of China, it’s still going to take a while to do any significant percentage of the longest man made structure in the world.
- Borneo Island hosts a huge and unique jungle. Trekking through catching glimpses of the wildlife, flora and fauna would be a good decision as long as you can avoid the mosquitoes.
- Cycle through and over the Himalayas mountains including the worlds highest Mount Everest for a breath of fresh air and spectacular views.
- Follow the trial of Genghis Khan by riding a horse through the nomadic region of Mongolia.
- Sail and dive around the entire Asian coast. Some of the most beautiful and interesting. scenery can be seen from and under the sea bed.
>> Check out unique modes of transport around Asia
Do you have a better way to theme your trip around Asia?
Read more about travel in Asia.
- Lesser Known Places to Visit in China
- Tips for Escaping Thailand’s Banana Pancake Trail
- How to Have Custom Clothes Made in Hoi An
- 5 Itineraries for 5 Different Theme Trips in Asia
About the author:
Robert Fitzsimmons is the freelance writer, photographer, editor, rockstar, marketing director, chef, engineer, tea boy and gardening assistant from adventurerob.com and travels the globe with a taste for adventure and trying new things.