The Lessons Adults Learn When Travelling Asia

Asia is one of the most travelled continents on the planet. Some places are like British colonies, that’s how many backpackers and tourists visit them yearly! As a result, it may feel as if it doesn’t have the culture and experiences that you’re searching for. If it’s full of Brits, it’s like being at home only hotter.

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However, this attitude fails to recognise the variety of such a spectacular region. Whether you’re in Thailand, Malaysia, or Singapore, you’ll see and do things that you didn’t know existed. It’s not rare for travellers to return home and change their lifestyle because of the lessons they learned in Asia. And that’s why it has to be on everyone’s bucket list.

 

What will you learn from your trip? Everybody is different, so the experiences aren’t the same. But, there are a few that seem to hit everyone hard. Continue reading to find out more about them.

 

Sweat The Small Stuff

 

As westerners do, it’s tempting to think of Europe and the US as the centres of civilisation. These continents dictate everything from politics to technology, which is why they are in front. Even if that is true, which it isn’t, it’s wrong to say that a region’s way of life is superior to another.

This is strikingly obvious in Asia, where the lifestyle is the polar opposite of the one you have in the UK. Instead of working all day and drinking and eating in expensive restaurants at night, Southeast Asians love to chill out and relax. It sounds boring to foreigners, yet when you get there and get used to the laid back atmosphere, you realise that they have cracked it!

The ability to sweat the small stuff, such as eating as a family and spending time with friends, is a feature of Asian life that everyone can benefit from since it promotes healthy morals.

 

The Best Experiences Aren’t Obvious

 

Once you book your flights and your adventure is slated for a specific time and day, your imagination will think about the incredible sights and activities. From Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap and the Taj Mahal in Agra, there are many things to do that belong on your bucket list.

The crazy part is, this isn’t the stuff you remember when the journey is over. Instead, you’ll think about the time you spent twenty-four-hours on a bus without any food, or the moment a tiny tuk-tuk took on a fifty-tonne lorry and won. You’ll remember the local dishes you hadn’t heard of that blew your mind and the small villages off the beaten track.

In short, you’ll learn that the best experiences aren’t the ones you expect, encouraging you to say yes to the stuff you may have previously rejected.

 

You’ll Never Want To Leave

 

Asia is addictive. From the food to the weather and the people, you’ll dread the fact that you have to leave one day. Lots of tourists track SIBOR rate to see if they can afford a holiday home and stay in the region forever!

Of course, it’s probably not feasible, not with your family and friends at home. Still, there’s a lesson – you should never judge a book by its cover. People love to wax lyrical about golden sandy beaches and ice-blue water – Asia has all of these features – and they end up pigeon-holing places as a result.

In reality, it’s not the stuff you see on a TV advert or Instagram story that makes you fall in love. It’s the whole package, from stunning coastline to bustling night markets that sell insects as food. Hopefully, you catch the bug and indulge your love of travel as it’s an unforgettable experience. 

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Time Is Limited

 

Asia is the biggest continent in the world, with hundreds of countries making up its borders. Clearly, you won’t be able to fit in all your activities in one go. Apart from having to come back for round two, you recognise that time is limited. Therefore, you’ve got to prioritise the things that grab you.

Learning how to rank tasks is an essential part of life as people won’t make decisions for you, and if they do, they won’t be in your best interests. Therefore, you’ve got to stick to your guns, whether that means travelling solo or as a couple, or breaking off from your group to experience a once-in-a-lifetime activity.

There are only so many hours in a day, and it’s essential that you use them wisely and don’t waste them.

 

Wuhan Virus and Your Travel Plans

I have to admit that this thing is starting to look pretty scary. The number of cases that have been reported in the past couple of days have grown from 7000-9000+. Delta and American airlines just shut down all of their flights to and from China. Wuhan Coronavirus has spread to India, Nepal, Dubai, and virtually every Asian country as well as France, Canada, Australia, and the USA. So far it has not spread to any country in Africa or Indonesia yet – but it’s really just a matter of time. If you are planning to travel internationally any time in the next few months – it is likely that this will affect your travel plans – if it hasn’t already.

We in Hawaii are further from everywhere than anywhere else in the world – but the entire world comes here – including multiple daily flights to and from China. The chances of Wuhan not being here – are probably lower than the chances of it being here. That’s a big worry – the Honolulu International Airport only started screening for the virus yesterday – and frankly, that’s too late. How many thousands of visitors have come and gone from our airport since this started? How many from China? From Wuhan?

And, in our airport, everyone from everywhere encounters everyone else from everywhere else.

But, let’s hope that I’m wrong about all of that. Let’s hope that they find a solution soon. Let’s hope that a vaccination and a cure are imminent.

Personally, I’ve got plans to go to Australia in late February. Given the rapid spread of this virus – I’m not sure what the situation will be like at that point. There are currently nine cases in Australia – in some of the cities I plan on going to. There is a possibility that the virus will grow over that amount of time. There is a possibility it will surface here. Flights to other places may be cancelled.

The thing with a pandemic is that it happens very fast – so we have to be ready for plans to change.

Cappadocia – Goreme – Fairy Chimneys and Rock Cut Churches

Goreme Cappadocia TurkeyIn Central Anatolia lies a land that looks like it comes from The Lord of the Rings- Cappadocia. Even the name has the ring of a fairy tale Kingdom.

“I, Sir Vago of the Kingdom of Cappadocia, do ride forth to seek out new lands and great fortunes.” – or something like that, though Cappadocia was never a kingdom of its own and in fact was a place of troglodyte refuge for Christian outcasts and societal misfits.

The landscape of massive stone chimneys (wistfully called fairy chimneys) and dream like rock formations are the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. From the 4th to the 11th Century a community of Christian refugees carved an unbelievable number of churches from the stones. Houses were also carved and the traditional livelihood was agriculture until the 1980’s when a tourist boom started.

A new friend we met in Goreme, Cemil, has lived there since that time and he remembers when there were only three hotels in Goreme. Now there are hundreds and  when we arrived, they were almost all full. No need to tell you what the number one industry is now. Many people come to Goreme just so they can enjoy Cappadocia Balloon Tours. There is nothing quite like floating over the fairy chimneys as the sun comes up.

Goreme is a magical place and filled with charm. An interesting fact  is that in Goreme, it used to be that if a man didn’t own a pigeon house, he wouldn’t be able to get married. These days there must not be many marriages, though more likely is that that particular tradition was tossed aside with agriculture when tourism became so lucrative.

Virtually everything in Goreme is directed at tourists from the hot air balloons to the travel companies, tour companies, restaurants, and tourist shops. Unlike other tourism hot spots though, the prices seem reasonable and the people don’t seem so hungry for the hunt.
Goreme Cappadocia Turkey
It’s one of the things that really makes me sick about tourist places is that the people who work in tourism tend to forget that the clients or customers are real people, instead they become prey. It’s the same for criminals, people become prey and they are something to be hunted. I went through it myself as a tout and as a stock broker, if people simply become a means to an ends, life becomes much less magical and satisfying. While we did encounter quite a few people who were on the hunt in Goreme, it was less than r Fez and the hunt itself was less in your face than either place as well.

We had a very nice breakfast with our friend Cemil at the Blue Moon Hotel before heading out to the Goreme Open Air Museum. this is an astounding place, though no more so than Goreme itself. The big draw at the Open Air Museum are the rock cut Byzantine churches and the painting and frescoes they contain. Admission was 15 lira each.

Goreme Cappadocia TurkeyFlash photos weren’t allowed and several guides told us not to take photos at all which was a bit extreme(they say the flash destroys the color of the old paintings). And in fact, everyone was doing it.

The rock cut churches had interesting pews and tables carved in them, graves which had been robbed or excavated in the floors, and of course the paintings. This was a monastic community and then became a pilgrimage site for Christians in the 17th Century.

Hanane was not overly impressed with the paintings, in particular the Red Ochre made very little impression on her. “I could get up there and paint the same thing right now. They’re fake.” By this point, we were laughing each time she called something fake but I still think she was partly serious. Once again we opted to skip the extra fee, this time 8 lira each to see the frescoes in the Karanlik Kilise. I feel no regrets over that. I really hate to pay an entrance fee only to be faced with another entrance fee.

Goreme Cappadocia TurkeyWe exited feeling that we had both seen enough churches. While we didn’t have the time this visit to go to the underground cities, it was a nice thing to whet our appetite with the rural charms and comedic tourist hunting that takes place there. As examples of how the hunt is conducted in Goreme you can look at the names of the Pensions. Flintstones Pension, Bedrock Cave Hostel, Ufuk Pension, Shoestring Cave Pension and more. We were recommended to try the Peri Cave Hotel, though as I wrote previously, we were very fortunate to be staying in the Moonlight Cave Suites.

We strolled through the Rose Valley and then went back to Goreme village where we had a bad dinner, at Cappadocia Pide Salonu. Not recommended. Awful.

From there we hiked up to the highest point in Goreme and watched the sun go down and the lights of the fairy chimneys flicker on in Goreme. A bottle of wine would have made it perfect.

From there it was back to our cave to enjoy the hot tub, king size bed, and overall luxury of the Moonlight Cave Suites. Warning – don’t scroll down or you will see more of me than you want to.

too much exposure

Underground Seoul – Korean World Beneath Your Feet

South Korea was such an amazing country to visit.

The Seoul subway system and more. I loved it. I know this is a little weird and I’m not sure if it is a leftover from those days when I used to build underground forts and secretly explore abandoned California goldmines with my childhood friends, but the scale and the well, majesty of the underground world in Seoul blew my mind.

And then there’s the fact that I love trains. A subway is, after all, a train. So, maybe that’s a part of it too.If you want a bit of help getting around you might want to get Frommers Seoul By Day Guide

All I know is that from the moment I went down to the subway at Incheon, I knew that I was experiencing something awesome. Down, down, down and then not just a city commute but a commute from another city in a mostly underground tunnel with a super cool system of giving a card but charging a deposit of 500 won and then returning the deposit when you arrive at your destination.

As you go down to the subways in Seoul, you go down these massive escalators and truly burrow into the bowels of the earth. The thing is, you find more than just trains down there. At Seoul Station you find an underground museum and at Gyeongbokgong you find a massive underground complex of culture – and at Namdaemun and Dongdaemun there are actually two underground shopping areas- one with bargain shops and one with modern luxury goods…and let me just say, both areas are far bigger than any walmart. I’m not talking about some little caves with shops in them or even big tunnels, I’m talking about an entire city that exists underneath Seoul.

Here are just a few of the things I experienced underground in Seoul —
restaurants,bathhouses (Jingjaebongs), movie theaters, book stores, swap meets, museuems, bars, karaoke, barber shops, and dentists.

I don’t want to mislead you- there are plenty of things above ground in Seoul and the high rises are filled with beautiful examples of modern architecture, ultra modern shopping malls, and ultra modern museums, and more than a few incredible Seoul Hotels . But there is just something very cool about the fact that an entire second city lies hidden beneath the surface and is connected by trains you don’t see above. It’s amazing to watch hordes of commuters, students, and families pouring into and out of the ground like ants. And when you are down there, waiting at the platform – there are the vending machines. Ten types of hot coffee, plenty of cold drinks, snacks you’ve never heard of, things that look sort of familiar but taste completely different.

Seoul Subway ShopsThere are thirteen lines and the entire subway system provides more than 8 million trips per day!The system serves not just Seoul but also the surrounding areas of Incheon, Gyenggi-ddo, Gangwan-do, and Chungceongnam-do. There is nearly a thousand kilometers of track in the system and 70% + of it is underground.

Every station has restrooms that are clean and immaculate and in some cases incredibly ornate. Seriously, I went in one and felt like I was in the restroom at a five star hotel. In addition, some of the stations have ‘library’ waiting rooms where you can sit and read or wait for friends. Some of them were decorated with gorgeous art and I saw a couple of carefully tended fish tanks as well.

In fact, so much of Seoul is underground that planners are also planning an underground highway system to take care of traffic problems above ground.The city plans to build 150 km of underground highways as the first phase and more to come.

So, if you go to Seoul- be sure not to miss what’s underneath your feet.

Vietnam Travel Tips – Easy Riders and Sweet Spots in Vietnam

Finding hotels and hostels in Vietnam is the easy part. The hard part is starting your trip around the world. Make sure you include Vietnam on your round the world itinerary and follow these Vietnam travel tips.

There are many travel opportunities in Vietnam. Historical remains are scattered all over the country. Its rich culture and legacy has been attracting travelers from different countries. The Vietnamese are friendly and warm. Touring around the country isn’t difficult because locals are there to assist you.

Easy Riders in Vietnam

Vietnam motor bikeAdventure is absolutely experienced in Vietnam. One tour not to not miss is Dalat’s Easy Rider. Easy Rider provides a special tour by you riding on a motorcycle.

While you might choose to hire a car or a motorcycle, travelers will have a closer view of Vietnam’s attractions like the Central Highland, Mekong Delta, and Ho Chi Minh. This is also the best way to meet the locals and taste authentic Vietnamese cooking along the countryside.

The price is usually $60 to $75 depending on the route taken. Easy Rider has been featured in many guide books. .

 

Top Tourist Sites in Vietnam

Vietnam’s mountains, beaches, cities, and historical sites are major attractions to travelers.

Old Quarter of Hanoi- This is situated in the city of Hanoi. Shopaholics will truly enjoy the streets of Old Quarter. Shops of different goods and services flourish in the area. The tube or tunnel houses of ancient Vietnam still remained in the town’s street. Restaurants, art galleries, and craft stores offer a great way to explore the culture of Vietnam.

Halong BayHalong Bay- This is a World Heritage Site affirmed by UNESCO. It has unique and remarkable grottos and caves. travelers must see the 3000 small islands scattered in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Hue- This remarkable site is one of Vietnam’s spectacular cities with deep historical remnants such as the Royal Citadel, Flag Tower, Royal Palace, and Royal Tombs.

Temple of Literature- The disciples of the great philosopher considered this temple as a holy place. Vietnam’s first university was built in the area since 1076.

Being an upcoming tourist destination, the infrastructure, including communications, is getting better day by day.International calling services and internet access are provided in all major hotels and resorts and the postal service is available 24 hours a day.

Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum- This is the most visited spot annually. This place is popular as the resting place of the country’s most significant leader. The museum displays figures of the communist leaders and military collections.

Top Hotels in Vietnam

Vietnam is a paradise attracting thousands of travelers. Accommodation in Vietnam is pleasant and affordable. It is a perfect holiday vacation spot for families and for solo travelers. Most of the luxurious and major hotels in the country are found in the cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh such as:

Majestic Hotel- It has been in service since 1925. The hotel has an ambiance of complete elegance. They offer big discounts in travel packages. Accommodation includes free airport pick up, Wi-Fi access, and a smoke free wing. They have a spa, fitness center, and swimming pool for your leisure time.

Hilton Opera Hotel- This hotel is near the Old Quarter. Tourists will surely be pampered in their guest rooms fully furnished with cable TV, internet access, and work areas. Delicious Vietnamese cuisine is served in their fine restaurant.

Continental Hotel- This is situated in the center of Ho Chi Minh convenient to other tourist destinations in the city. The hotel is built with classic architecture and their restaurant serves Western cuisine.

You will never get bored on a Vietnam tour. Hiking, jungle trekking, and water sports are some of the recreational activities you can enjoy while you discover the wonders of Vietnam.

Make sure to include Vietnam on your trip around the world.

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