In Reply to: Re: Cambodia, Laos posted by Watcher on February 07, 2008 at 15:08:11:
I was in Indonesia (Java and Bali), Thailand, Laos and Cambodia and I have been a couple of times to China. I discovered that you learn the most about yourself and the society where you live by looking at others who live differently. Asia is complicated to understand there is the culture gap, another mindset, political tradition and other way of living. Even when people speak english you don't know if you are talking about the same. And I am an outsider and looked at with certain prejudices, just like I look at those people with prejudices as well. There is fear and mistrusting between the Asian people and the white people fed during centuries of ignorance, wars and propaganda.
The last 20 years, more people are travelling but only to confirm their prejudices and not to establish some kind of connection with the people of the countries they visit. Disregard for the traditions and culture of the country, the need to convert others to...whatever religion and all kinds of misbehaviour from over drinking to improper dressing, either dirty or too exposed don't make the approach easy.
Indonesia is beautiful, the people are very nice, Muslims and buddhists alike. They know about hospitality.
Thailand is beautiful and relaxed, very easy for tourists but it's terrible to look at those old farts from western countries with thai young girls.
The south of Laos is poor but when you cross over to Cambodia you really see what misery means. Corruption and war have brought both countries to the ground, but somehow Cambodia stands behind and it will take long until it gets better, specially in remote areas. There is one place for tourists in Cambodia: Siem Reap where the ancient temples are with direct flights from all over Asia,nice food and places to stay all around, but the rest of the country is just depressing.
China is another story.There is the language problem. Most chinese speak only....chinese. Impossible to understand and to read. There is the propaganda and the country being closed for long time which makes the approach somehow difficult. There is the communist party still trying to control it all, but it won't go much longer. capitalism has grow and can't be controlled. there has been no religion for long time and now money has became god. it's the only thing everybody wants. Next to millions of poor and even slaves there are some multimillionaire people with this disgusting need of ostentation. Consumption without limits is there for some but all the others can see it happen even if they have no money to eat. This will cause problems sooner or later.
The freedom of meaning and press is controlled. people are put in jail for talking against the decisions of the government. Internet is controlled. Wikipedia, foreigner newspapers, blogs etc there is a fire ball to keep it out. But history is happening there at high speed. What took us 60 years to achieve, they do in 20. All this changes make people feel unsure and affect society in many ways. It's difficult for the young people to see glimpses of the way of life in the rich countries and not to prefer it. I can't choose any country that gripped me the most:my lazy side likes Thailand and my other side want to travel all of Asia and just see and feel how it is there. People who, against all odds try to make something out of their lifes, every day again and again, those grip my hearth the most.