What to see in Asia

Evan and I are inveterate travellers. We spent three months backpacking around Europe in the middle of winter twice, in our twenties. And while we lived in London for three years, we tried hard to see a lot of the UK and Europe. But we’ve not seen all that much of Asia. Which I’ve always been a bit embarrassed about, given it is much closer to us. And Australia is, increasingly, a very Asian country. We’ve both spent time in a few major Asian cities on business (Singapore, KL, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul is the total list), but that’s not really a travelling experience (even if you do get to meet locals more than you would while backpacking). So we tend to think that we should have a fair bit of Asia on our itinerary. But we’re not that experienced with poorer countries. And the most interesting parts of Asia are the poorer parts.

I started with Cambodia, because I’ve always wanted to see Angkor Wat. And a friend suggested Borneo, because the rainforest, and the animals you can see, are amazing. Everyone I know who has been to Vietnam has come back raving about it. Ever since I spent two weeks in Tokyo, I’ve been fascinated with Japan (these models of restaurant meals are just one reason). And of course, I would love to see the Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Army. And much of Asia is particularly cheap, compared with Europe or the US.

But we’re also realising that we shouldn’t just go to places because we should. While we want this year to be educational, and give all of us new experiences, we also want to enjoy it. ¬†And Asia is likely to be the most challenging part of our itinerary, and also at the beginning. So I think we’re pulling back on how much time we spend there. At the moment, we’re thinking:

  • A week in Singapore (a very gentle introduction to Asia, probably easier to travel in than Sydney!)
  • A week in Kuala Lumpur – which has a few more authentic Asian sights (like the Batu caves)
  • A week or two on a beach in Thailand (which will be Christmas)
  • Possibly two weeks in Japan (where we can see some snow!)
  • Two weeks in China, and then Europe

While I’d love to go to Cambodia and Vietnam and Borneo, I’m hankering after Europe much more. And our chosen path around Europe (staying at least a week at a time in smaller towns and villages that are accessible by train) is surprisingly cost effective, at least for the level of difficulty.

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