Here is a selection of images from our Asian adventures that we hope you will find educational and inspirational. We welcome you to share yours in our Forum and tell us the stories behind them (login required).
Visiting a foreign country where most people don't speak English can be challenging when you don't understand the local language. If you are travelling independently, you may be surprised at how resourceful you can be and how much can be communicated non-verbally. It can also compel you to seek help, meeting people you might otherwise not have.
Now and again, we encounter businesses or attractions that wish to communicate to foreigners, yet their message may have gotten lost in translation or presented in a humorous fashion. Here we offer you some choice examples for your enjoyment.
Burma, or the Union of Myanmar, is the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia. It has an ethnically diverse population whose culture, heavily influenced by its neighbours, is based on Theravada Buddhism. In traditional villages, the monastery is the centre of cultural life.
Due to Burma's economic and political isolation, visiting the country is like travelling back in time. While it is one of the region's poorest nations, its people are warm and the country is rich in experiences.
Cambodia is a predominantly Buddhist country that is geographically dominated by the Mekong River and the Tonle Sap. Agriculture is the leading sector of the economy with rice being the principal crop. With the achievement of political stability, tourism is the fastest-growing sector in the country.
Most visitors come to Cambodia to see the splendours of Angkor and get the Great Lake nearby as a bonus. However, there are also beaches, mountains, and national parks for the more intrepid.
China is the world's oldest continuous civilization. It encompasses a varied geography from the high alpine Tibetan Plateau to the coastal areas of the South China Sea, the desert regions of Xinjiang to tropical Hainan Island. Hundreds of ethnic groups are represented within its borders, with the Han the most numerous.
It takes more time and effort to travel independently, off the beaten path, but patience and curiosity will see you amply rewarded with experiences of a lifetime.
Hong Kong offers diverse experiences that are readily accessible with a very efficient transportation system. On the one hand, you can visit one of the most densely populated places on the planet; on the other, you'll find rural villages and country parks few foreigners have ever seen.
Hong Kong is both a modern metropolis with gleaming skyscrapers and a traditional Chinese society that practices a mixture of Buddhism, Confucianism, and animism. Either way, you're bound to have an adventure.
The world's second-most populous country, India is a diverse collection of peoples that only came together as a country under the British. It is home to one of the oldest civilizations and gave birth to Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism.
Just as diverse are its landscapes: beaches, desert, plains, jungle, mountains, rivers, teeming cities, relaxed rural areas. Intense, colourful, and dynamic, India is an experience without neutrality. For better or for worse, it will leave a profound impression on you.
Laos is a mountainous, landlocked country of 6.5 million people, lying virtually forgotten between Thailand and Vietnam. It is one of the poorest countries in Asia, but is culturally rich with 49 officially-recognized ethnic groups.
There are few grand sights comparable to Angkor, Halong Bay, or the beaches of southern Thailand. Laos is a tourist backwater, and that is its attraction – you can relax and really have a vacation. Action-seekers can go trekking in the north or tubing on the Mekong, but inevitably wind up kicking back with a Beer Lao.
Malaysia is a fascinating fusion of experiences with Malay, Chinese, and Indian cultures of peninsular Malaysia on the west side of the South China Sea, dense jungle and tribal peoples on the island of Borneo to the east. From modern Kuala Lumpur to Mt. Kinabalu, a range of activities can be found, both outside and in.
A visit to Malaysia is not complete without diving into its outstanding food, especially that found on the west coast of the peninsula. Situated on an important trade route, it is a melting pot of culinary influences. Sampling the Chinese-Malay Nonya cuisine is a must.
Sandwiched between India and Tibet, Nepal is a crossroads, both culturally and geographically. Most inhabitants are Hindu. However, there are a number of Tibetan refugees, along with the traditional Tibetan Buddhist regions of Dolpo and Lo (Mustang).
Although a small country, Nepal has an epic landscape that completely mesmerizes you. Most people visit to go climbing, rafting, or trekking. Others seek a spiritual experience, be they followers of Buddhism, Hinduism, or New Age religions. Whatever your attraction, you will be transformed.
With 7,107 islands, the Philippines is justly famous for its beaches and watersports. Azure waters, white sand, and tossled palm trees are the everyday, but not the only attractions for the adventurer.
Situated near a major trade route, Filipino culture has been shaped by outside influences and colonizers, such as Malays, Chinese, Spanish, and Americans. Not only are its people diverse, the Philippines is one of the most biodiverse places on Earth.
Taiwan is an interesting dichotomy of modernity and tradition. It's a young democracy with a vibrant, export-oriented economy, but also maintains Buddhist, Confucian, and Taoist customs. It fuses influences from aborigines, Mainland Chinese immigrants, and Japanese colonists which makes for a fascinating cuisine.
Geographically small, Ilha Formosa is surprisingly diverse — densely populated western plains, rugged throughout most of the interior and east coast, tropical in the south. Thus, a range of experiences are conveniently available within a small radius.
Famous for its beaches, friendly people, and easy going lifestyle, Thailand is the most popular tourist destination in Southeast Asia. A variety of sights and activities cater to a range of interests, and modern amenities accommodate budget to luxury travellers.
Most visitors begin their stay in Bangkok – the country's commercial, political, and cultural capital – then head south for beach and watersports, or north for trekking and hilltribes. Off the beaten path, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, rainforests, and rivers beckon.
The 13th most populous country in the world, Vietnam consists of a thin strip along the eastern shore of the Indochina peninsula that is only 50km wide at its narrowest point. However, nearly 80% of the land consists of mountains and hills, which is why the flat lands of the Red River and Mekong deltas are the most developed and populated regions.
For such a small country, Vietnam is surprisingly diverse geographically, offering a variety of activities and attractions to the visitor. Trek amongst the hill tribes in the temperate highlands, kayak through the amazing karst islands of Halong Bay, or relax on brilliant white sand tropical beaches. You'll be sure to build up a hunger to explore Vietnam's fabulous cuisine.
Women of Asia
The extraordinary women of Asia are the backbone of society – rearing children, maintaining the household, and often working long hours outside of the home, even engaged in back-breaking manual labour. Despite life's burdens, we find they are always gracious with a smile and hospitable hosts.
As food and festivals are two areas of great interest to us, we naturally find women to be part of, if not the, subject of our photography. They are typically involved in food preparation and are usually the most colourfully dressed at various celebrations. Here is a small selection of the Asian women we have met on our travels.