5 Valuable Learning Experiences to be Had in Asia
We know how it is: Sometimes, the worldly traveller needs more from their holiday than fun and relaxation. Developing travel trends tell us discerning holiday-makers want to learn something valuable from the countries they visit. You want an organically-occurring encounter in another country; you want to see it come to life, and feel it breathe. You want to draw the line between tourist and adventurer. Here are five ways to do that.
5. Eat toshikoshi soba in Japan during Chinese New Year
New Year’s Eve in Japan is a low-key affair, which means you’ll be swapping the hyper-coloured Chinese street parties for scenes of quietness and introspection. A Japanese family will gather and visit their local temple, where a bell is rung 108 times to symbolise the banishment of the 108 Buddhist sins. After that, toshikoshi soba: It’s a noodle soup made of dashi broth, buckwheat soba noodles, spring onion, tempura flakes and fish cakes. It’s a once-a-year-type dish (read: utterly, magically satiating) and quite readily available on the streets of Tokyo in the midst of the festivities.
4. Be guided through the Thailand Ayutthaya Temples
From its city streets to its lofty mountain peaks, Thailand displays itself as something of a historical enigma. You can sense the depth right away, but some of the country’s ancient stories aren’t so easily gleaned. So go farther afield. The Ayutthaya Temples stand as a signifier of a formative period in Siamese history, and with the right tour guide, you’re bound to discover amazing things.Our recommendation? Hop on a cruise from Bangkok - or for added authenticity, a rice barge - and ask your attache about the role the Ayutthaya royal family played in cultivating Thailand’s inimitable character. Still today, the Ayutthaya kingdom influences national art, architecture and a handful of 500-odd-year-old traditions. And the buildings themselves are incredible.
3. Catch a local smile at the Cai Be floating markets in Vietnam
‘Floating’ really is no misnomer, which makes it all the more impressive to see spritely locals traverse stalls, junks and rickety pontoons with calisthenic precision. Located along the storied Mekong Delta, the Cai Be markets demand you spend some time spent in silent immersion. Walk where you can walk, observe hand-crafted tools and freshly-harvested produce, and try connect with the people as you go. No words have to be said; with a single smile or a nod, unforgettable connections are made.
2. Let Angkor Wat take you back thousands of years
Khmer for ‘Temple City’, Angkor Wat is a trove of history and culture. It’s stood as the world’s largest religious monument for around two millennia, which makes it point A for those intrigued by ancient expressions of faith. Take three days to explore the Angkor Wat complex slowly: remember to pause, listen, and watch as the area gives up its many tales.
1. Behold the Golden Triangle
Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur make up the Golden Triangle. Choose a guide with scholarly knowledge (they come highly recommended, so aren’t hard to find) and be led through extravagant palaces, forts and castles, street markets, and the monuments of legend. Amritsar, the Golden Temple, Mandawa; hidden Hindu temples, regal mansions, amazing local stories. A Golden Triangle tour is India’s exclusive pass, and guarantees a level of exposure tourists cannot get.
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