Thoughts on Asia

Heather Markel, Writer, Speaker, Photographer, Traveler, Business Strategist

20 December 2018

What started as overwhelming became simply fascinating.

Now that I’m back in New York for a bit, I have some time to reflect on Asia and getting back. Southeast Asia blew my mind. Of all the places I’ve been, it’s one place I don’t see myself living for a long period of time, but I do want to go back as soon as possible and see the rest! Asia is absolutely fascinating. It’s entirely different from any place I’ve ever been. I miss learning phrases like “ca-mon” and “ka-pun-ka” for thank you. By a New Yorker’s standards, much of the places I saw reflected a lifestyle much poorer than I see in New York. I thought Americans worked themselves to the ground, but Asians have Americans beat. They work and work and work. And yet, somehow, they do not seem to be as stressed out as we all get about work. They also, generally speaking, (because this is not true of all of the people I encountered) treat people with respect, apart from some of the pushiness in crowded places!

Houseboats on Halong Bay.

Photograph by Heather Markel, Copyright 2018

I was sometimes surprised that, knowing how polluted some places are, people continue to use motorbikes emitting more dirt into the air. Vietnam was the biggest culprit and most people wear face masks. That made me wonder what I was doing to my lungs just existing there, and I even used an app that told me just how bad the pollution was in each location each day! 😮 At the same time, the  motorbikes made Vietnam. I was fascinated how, just by observing everything that happened on the bikes, I felt like I was watching daily life and culture whiz by.

“Sights, sounds, colors, people, houses, oh my!”

Even though it was Autumn, Southeast Asia was hot as hell! Well, ok, I haven’t been there (that I remember!) to make the comparison, but geez, sweat was pouring down my face by noon in Hoi An and my clothes were drenched by mid-day in Cambodia.

Love in motion.

Photograph by Heather Markel, Copyright 2018

I can’t believe how SAFE Asia felt! As a female solo traveler, I never felt in any danger – either from aggressive men or pickpocketers. Ho Chi Minh is the only place I was cautioned not to have my cell phone out in the open. Also, wow, do I miss the prices! Asia is unbelievably cheap. Laundry was $1/kilo, most meals in Vietnam it was hard to break $3, and spacious accomodation in decent hotels could be found for as little as $12!

I really miss being a one-hour flight to so many fascinating places that are normally a two-day journey. No matter which direction I chose, fascinating experiences awaited me, wonderful and gracious people, strange and delicious food (I even ate silk worms and a cricket!) oh, and the tuk tuks, I miss the tuk tuks! Crazy rides along the street, wondering if the bumps in the road would toss me out of my moving chair, shock that nobody crashed into us, and all the smells and sights and action all around. Asia, you are fabulous!

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