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by Rick Green, photography by Brian K. Smith

Rafflesia Tuan-Mudae flower.

Secluded in the sub-montane forests of Gunung Gading National Park on the island of Borneo is the Rafflesia tuan-mudae, an unusual endoparasite that relatively few have had the privilege of witnessing in full bloom. Fortunately, while Brian was en route to Kuching, I spotted a Facebook post by the Sarawak Tourism Board that said three of these plants were blooming. I was able to alert him before reaching Malaysia, and he was lucky enough to capture its full lifecycle.

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by Rick Green, photography by Brian K. Smith

Sue Lynn Tiong, The Bangsar Babe

Malaysians are inveterate foodies. No surprise, then, to come across numerous food blogs when I was researching Malaysia online. One of the best was by Kuala Lumpur's Sue Lynn Tiong (above). Her Bangsar Babe blog is a full-time effort at exploring Malaysia's gastronomic offerings. While Sue Lynn is not as analytical as my Vancouver food blogger friend, Mijune, she covers a lot of territory.

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by Rick Green

Geling duo in Lo ManthangMeasured elephantine blasts from the gleaming twelve-foot brass and copper horns erupted over the backdrop of the brisk Himalayan breeze. Accompanied by smaller horns and assorted percussion, the musicians struck a lilting cadence that drew out a troupe of costumed monks from the arched entrance of Chyodi Gompa.

The stout maroon edifice is the last remaining training monastery in the Kingdom of Mustang, a semi-autonomous region in Nepal on the Tibetan border. Chyodi rises prominently from amongst a warren of houses enclosed within the medieval walls of Lo Manthang, Mustang's capital.

The musical commotion attracted a handful of scruffy onlookers who gathered themselves along the top of the earthen walls defining the courtyard's perimeter. As the masked performers lurched down the broad steps, they gradually fanned out into the gray, dusty enclosure, whirling in a mysterious choreography that spoke a fantastic language.

This represented the myth of Dorje Jono, a Buddhist deity who saved his people from the vagaries of a drought brought upon them by his demon father. Normally the tale is performed over three days during Mustang's annual Tiji festival that falls sometime between mid-May and mid-June. However, the Chyodi monks treated us to an abridged performance since our trekking party arrived a month too early.

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by Rick Green

Traveling Trader, MustangIt's easy to take simple things for granted. But when they unexpectedly serve a vital purpose, like preserving your dignity, indifference can turn to reverence.

There were seven of us, along with our guides, porters, and horses. Earl and Nazima, two photographers I was working with, had suggested we go to Mustang, a semi-autonomous kingdom in northern Nepal and one of the few remaining pockets of traditional Tibetan culture. In the 1950s, Mustang had been a base for the insurgency against the Chinese occupation of Tibet, which was why it had been closed to foreigners until 1992.

"Why not go there before it’s ruined?" they asked.

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