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Living the Asian dream

Updated on April 26, 2015
Great China Wall
Great China Wall
Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House

Splash out on a holiday. If you are going to Asia you might as well make the most of it. Go all the way, getting the rough with the smooth, zig-zagging through different cities.

First on the list has to be Mumbai, long remained so but remains Bombay in the eyes of many. No special reason has to be given but the fact that it represents India, the land of civilization where religions and cultures have long intermingled. One could as easily have chosen Calcutta or any other, but once you go to India it will be a pity not to visit as much as possible.

These cities are all conglomerations of inscrutability and charm. Somebody told me actually a very touching story a while back about the length of pavements in India. In one case, an Indian architect constructed these, in the big cities not according to the standard road constructions but he made them wide enough for social reasons. He said that was because very often people sleep on them, and therefore he made them as wide-enough as possible to give leg room!

Any trip to Asia would have to include Sri Lanka, and more precisely to Nuwara Elya, that awesome, beautiful city high in the mountains, a place characterized by mesmerizing waterfalls. I am told in their hay day, the British ruled the land from the top. No amount of writing can explain its beauty because of its dramatic green effect of the terrain.

Singapore must be next on the itinerary. So many people said the capital is marvelous you might want to visit to explore its cleanliness and delight and see what the country has to offer. Dubbed as one of the economically-successful states in south-east Asia Singapore is a tour de force. I will always remember Bogie Street, somebody told about a long time ago where men dress up as women with the full frontal. They are not quite transvestites, but might be doing it for the touristic trade. They look like real women back then.

Next, it’s got to be Kuala Lumpur, the capital of experience. Many are flocking there in droves to live the Asian dream. Plenty to see, much change has taken place, and somebody told me it’s very expensive but I don’t really know what yardstick he was using. Malaysia is a gastronomically rich city with hundreds of colorful festivals across its 13 states that are flanked by the South China Sea. Its towering skyscrapers look and five-star hotels sit metres away from ancient reefs.

Bangkok in Thailand is the capital to be in for many reasons. The original notion has been this is the sex capital of the east, but this is probably unfair, because in this day and age, you can have go-go rumpus where ever you go in the world.

There is a lot more to Bangkok than the usual stereotyping for this is a bustling city of economic activities and tourists who come from all over the world. There is a sense of dynamism and vitality where the smile never goes away and people are always polite under the most strenuous of circumstances.

Beijing has to be another dominant city because it is here were politics and economics, in common parlance, Marxism, was, is practiced. There is a sense of hugeness about the place where the Great China Wall is just one scenic trapping in this age-old city for Beijing truly represents a land of mystique. Of course the city has changed because if the exceeding economic pace of development. But I always had the idea Beijing as the “city of bicycles” which is altogether not a bad thing because of the environment.

Another place you might say is the soul of Asia, Seoul. A capital that is today of that beleaguered misnomer country, South Korea, it has built up to be as the proud conurbation of south-east Asia. In many ways the Korean Peninsula became a torn nation when it was split into north and south, but this is today made up because of its economic prowess and capitalistic experience.

As a contrast to this is Pyongyang, the capital of north Korea that has remained in the grips of ideologues, occasionally “hotting” up the international system through its threatening nuclear capability.

If you can get to it, why not live the experience, and witness a system that is totally different from the ones that you have been used to. You might be pleasantly surprised if you care to chance it and have the inclination for real adventure then why not pack up and go. Probably you can get there from across the divide from South Korea.

From there it is straight to Manila, the city starlets among the Philippines archipelago where cultures, civilizations, religions and even post-colonial legacies have mellowed together to create many perceptions. When I think of the Philippines I still think of the dictator Marcos and his wife Imelda with her 4000 shoes.

That’s a legacy that will continue for a while, recognizing as well it’s a crying shame to continue to think of a country in terms of its former tin-pot dictator for the Philippines has a great deal to offer. So far me then a trip there is about conjuring images.

The last visit has got to be to be Sydney. Here again tricks play on the mind because when you think of this Australian city, you think of the Sydney Opera House and Kangaroos. I would like to see both, you might also.


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