Into the unknown was exactly what I have experienced thus far in my 4 weeks in Asia. With the latest stage being Thailand, Vietnam and China I have been in awe. I had no inkling of what to expect. I didn’t think Beijing would be so clean, I never knew Ho Chi Minh was a crazy mixture of discos and unexplained entertainment and I didn’t know Chiang Mai was so beautiful.
Although, that is the story of the adventure…”I didn’t know”. To learn for myself is key and not read a constructed tourist book. To explore and be lost makes the exploring more adventurous and dangerous. I literally love getting lost because you then end up in places you never knew existed. You see things that are local habits and it’s not a constructed tourism experience. I thought I would compose a quick “Mid week read” regarding some of the key cultural experiences I have experienced thus far that are undoubtedly eye opening to me.
Below is just a few things. If I was to write everything about what I saw about culture and the people then it would be a bestselling book…(our next year February 2020 – don’t miss out).
In all serious the story of culture is important to appreciate. We should appreciate what a culture can bring to a table and you never know one day these cultures could feature in the events programme of events near you. But I’m just going to touch on some “small points” that I have experienced so far in these countries and Asia.
As I wonder around I see generations and generations organising the street stalls, making the food, tidying the areas on the street, riding together on scooters, holding hands, laughing…family bonds of Asia are just spectacular to observe. The lessons of a grandmother teaches her granddaughter how to make the receipe, serve the plates and take the money are the future of the stalls and the economy. One example who I became friends with was Rottos’ which were these beautiful pancakes that I lived off of in Chiang Mai. They were beautiful and so enjoyable every night in Chiang Mai. But the most beautiful thing was the grandparents who had the story for 25 years (they had all there cuttings from local papers plastered on the stall) with their daughter making the ingredients and then the grandson serving and taking control of the money. It was a great site to see.
Family bonds are so important in life and witnessing the way and the care that the young take or their elders and the elders take of there young – is remarkable. Especially when a lot of situations I’ve seen – there living in a mattress in a market stall in the middle of a street. Just think about that. Bonds will never be broken.
I have never been to a hotel, restaurant, chemist and so that gives you as much respect as I have been given in Asia. Literally. Hot towels on arrival at notes and hostels. Water provided – given at most yes but not when your walking out the hostel with a half empty bottle and they give you a new one (although I then do refill the other one then have two). Respect is ingrained in the young. And throughout the places I have visited it’s been fascinating to witness and experience respect.
Like I don’t mean to be rude – but in the UK what is respect? Respect for our elders? Respect for politicians..(sore subject I suppose)? Respect for community leaders? Respect for each other. It’s all very simple but the level of respect in Asia – even towards each other local suppliers coming to restaurants and bowing to each other. Can you imagine in a restaurant in Glasgow a deliver of lager comes in and the guy bows and clasps his hands – I don’t think so. But why not? Why does respect in Asia completely smash what respect is in the Uk?
The noise. The absolute manic driving. And then you get to Shanghai and they are all electric. No noise. Just the occasional toot toot. But on majority the streets are at peace. Now why did I include this in a snapshot of culture. Methods of transport are passed down generation to generation. Tractor scooters are there, tuk tuks are there, large petrol guzzling trucks are there – but a lot of them are moving into history. This is because culturally societies are now educating each other. Yes that’s right. Policies that are in place is a positive legacy for countries to make on the country and the world as a whole.
So…where do I begin. Apart from the events world being so behind in the UK with the use of Phone App Technology phones are more than peoples lives here. In China alone the majority of everything is completed by phone. Paying for dinner (yes like Apple Pay…) but then giving the local busker a wee donation – done through a QR code. What I hear you say? Yep that’s correct. QR codes are used for everything. To find out further information about your seat and current location on the train just scan your QR on your arm of the chair. Need a quick umbrella in the pouring rain – fine the illegal vendor has a QR code. EVERYONE has a QR code to be scanned and then to allow people to quickly pay for something. It’s a mind boggle. But it’s there 21st century culture. We are now creating this technology overpowering cultural phenomena that will be in museums in 50 years as the history of our society.
Technology is taking the world forward but the world needs to catch up while certain countries in Asia move faster than can be seen.
Ho Chi Minh still slightly behind although with your phone you can order, scooter, breakfast and everything else and it is delivered by a scooter driver through one of the apps – one called Grab. But in China everyone is on there phone ALL THE TIME. Now this is not scientifically proven by scientists but it is by me.
All the countries I have visited will boom and keeping developing. Yes some already are – but the momentum is there. The passion is there. But importantly the young people with ideas and creative thinking but forward thinking is also there – that’s what we lack…