Asia is the biggest continent on this planet with a whole alphabet soup of countries and cultures for you to experience… If you have already or plan on making the trip, you might seriously feel like you’ve stepped into a whole new world!
China alone had approximately 60 million international tourist arrivals every year. And it’s no wonder! Asia has always attracted people with its architecture, nature, and culture. You feel like you’re in a totally different world where you can sometimes even lose yourself… Well, if you saw that movie Avatar, you’ll be convinced you’re on another planet:
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00:27 — Out-of-this-world flavors
00:52 — Sleeping people anywhere
01:31 — One-of-a-kind animals…
02:06 — …and some equally strange-looking plants
02:38 — Lowest and highest points on land
03:21 — Some bizarre inventions
04:04 — Hoteles with robot staff
04:35 — Pandora on Earth
05:19 — Not your run-of-the-mill adventure activities
06:07 — Perfect marriage of nature and technology
06:43 — Only 1 time zone
07:21 — Teeth-blackening
08:01 — Longest bridge in the world
08:36 — The fountain of youth
#1 – OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD FLAVORS
Can I interest you in a bag of cherry-blossom-flavored Lays chips? How about a wasabi KitKat bar? Green tea Oreos? If you were ever curious about all the possible flavors your favorite snacks come in, then the Far East is your destination! Just be sure to wash all that down with some yogurt-flavored Pepsi if you’re in Japan!
#2 – SLEEPING PEOPLE ANYWHERE
While you’re munching on some strange snacks over in Japan, don’t be shocked to see people grabbing a power nap in random public places – on a street bench, in the subway, even at work! This sleeping on the job isn’t seen in a negative or weird light. In fact, it even has a name: inemuri, which translates to “sleeping while present”. And it’s seen as a sign of dedication to one’s work. Hmm, I wonder if I could get my boss on the inemuri train too… (wait a minute I am my boss..zzzz)
#3 – ONE-OF-A-KIND ANIMALS…
Asia has some of the most interesting animal species that can only be found on this continent… Take the Indian Sloth Bear, for instance. Is it a sloth, is it a bear, who knows!? Actually, it is a bear, but don’t worry if one crosses your path while you’re exploring the Indian subcontinent: these guys prefer a diet of fruit, ants, and termites to, like… you! There’s also the Proboscis Monkey (with a face only a mother could love!) that lives on the island of Borneo in Indonesia, which is in Southeast Asia.
#4 – …AND SOME EQUALLY STRANGE-LOOKING PLANTS
Indonesia is also home to some bizarre flora. Ever seen a corpse flower? Ever smelled one? Eh, trust me, you don’t want to. All I’ll say is that these giant plants’ “aroma” is what earned them the morbid nickname… A real jaw-dropper is the 10-foot-tall (3 meters), 15-foot-wide (4.5 meters), and 100-pound (45 kilograms) Titan Arum… Then there’s the 3-foot-wide (91 centimeters) Rafflesia, which literally looks like something out of the Mario world…
#5 – LOWEST & HIGHEST POINTS ON LAND
If your bucket list includes standing on both the highest and lowest points on Earth, head to Asia and knock ‘em both out in one go… The great Mount Everest in the Himalayas, as you may know, is the highest peak on the planet, rising above sea level at a staggering 29,029 feet (or 8848 meters)… As for the lowest of the low, no, the Challenger Deep doesn’t count! I’m talking about the lowest place on land, and it’s the Dead Sea, which is between the West Bank and Israel. (Hey, the Middle East is part of Western Asia, so I’ll count it!). Anyway, it’s over 1,400 feet (430 meters) below sea level!
#6 – SOME BIZARRE INVENTIONS
Asia has some weird inventions that you might be interested in owning! Japan’s Toyota-i-road is a combination of a car and a motorcycle. This little futuristic transportation device can fit into any parking space without trouble, and I’m sure it’ll be a head-turner wherever you go. It’s also electric, so no need for gas money… Some other kooky (yet seemingly practical!) inventions from the Land of the Rising Sun are eyedrop funnels, what can only be described as a butter mincer, and a fold-out pillow dictionary! (Hey, to make one of those inemuri naps a little more comfortable wherever you decide to catch some zzz’s!)
#7 – HOTELS WITH ROBOT STAFF
Gonna have to head to Japan for this bizarre sight as well. The Henn-na Hotel in Tokyo will also have you feeling like you’re in the year 3000… This is the only hotel in the world with a staff that’s mostly made up of robots! And don’t worry about having to learn to speak “Robot” – all the staff knows pretty much all major world languages. They also have a robot dinosaur for the kiddies! My only question is, can they DO the robot?
#8 – PANDORA ON EARTH
Avatar: the sci-fi/fantasy film that had all of us with our eyes bulging out of our heads and saying, “Oooh, the colors!” back in 2009… If you ever wanted to step foot into Pandora (that’s where the story took place, as a refresher), just head to China! The Zhangjiajie National Forest Park has the Southern Sky Column, which was actually officially renamed Avatar Mountain after the movie’s release! An astounding 3,500 feet tall (1067 meters), this sandstone pillar covered in greenery was one of the inspirations for the movie… So, art imitating life then imitating art? Fascinating!
#9 – NOT YOUR RUN-OF-THE-MILL ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES
Hey, instead of admiring Avatar Mountain from afar, why not give ‘er a climb? That same national park has an exhilarating Glass Skywalk on its Tianmen Mountain. Now, just imagine, you’re 4,700 feet (1433 meters) up in the air walking around on a 3-foot-wide (90 centimeters) bridge on the side of a mountain with only 2-inch-thick (5 centimeters) glass panels stopping you from a loooong fall! And, ya know, the thing about glass is that it’s clear…so…you can see everything below you! No, not interested? Then you probably don’t wanna hear about SkyCycle in the Philippines… Not unless you’d like to ride a bicycle on a tight wire 60 feet (18 meters) above the ground! Nope, I’ll be skipping both of those, thanks.
#10 – PERFECT MARRIAGE OF NATURE & TECHNOLOGY
These two concepts are almost always understood as stark opposites. But if you step into Asia, you’ll be questioning everything you knew about technology and nature… In China, there’s a perfectly trimmed juniper tree garden that, when looked at from above, turns out to be a QR code! And get this: it actually works when you scan it! Well, if you take an aerial shot of the garden, turn up the brightness on the picture, and then scan the photo, it’ll take you to the official site of China’s most popular messaging app!
#11 – ONLY 1 TIME ZONE
Ok, at first glance, this might not sound so bizarre. I mean, time zones, really? But think about it: China is one of the largest countries in the world, and you’d expect it to have at least 5 time zones, right? But it only has one, and that’s Beijing Time! So, every city in this country is on the exact same schedule… It sounds really convenient, especially if you wanna make a long-distance call to a friend on the other side of the country. But imagine: in some areas, people get up and go to work only to see the sunrise at lunchtime! That’s weird.
#12 – TEETH-BLACKENING
Whereas most countries in the West spend a lot of time and money trying to make their teeth look whiter, some Asian cultures do the opposite! Teeth-blackening is mostly practiced in small communities in Southeast Asia and Oceania, and it used to be pretty popular in Japan and some parts of China… But they don’t do this to rebel against that bandwagon pursuit of the Hollywood smile. No, the practice actually serves a useful purpose! It’s an effective way to protect teeth from decay and preserves them for longer. Plus, it has deep cultural meaning. It might look odd to outsiders, but they see it as a sign of health and beauty! Hey, I can respect that!
#13 – LONGEST BRIDGE IN THE WORLD
Heading back to China, let’s look at the world’s longest bridge. That would be the Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge. Simply looking at this thing twists your brain, so just imagine riding along its mind-blowing stretch of over 100 miles (161 kilometers)! It’s part of the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway, so if you wanna see this bad boy for yourself, you’ll need to take a train trip going to or from Shanghai and Nanjing… Oh yeah, and you’ll be about 100 feet (30 meters) up in the air, so don’t look down!
#14 – THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
And finally, probably the most undeniable fact that Asia is some sort of different universe must be the strange way aging works over there. That is, it seems to go a lot slower than in other parts of the world, mine included! I mean, have you seen Taiwanese interior designer Lure Hsu? What about Singaporean professional photographer Chuando Tan? They’re both undeniably gorgeous people, but get this: she’s going on 44 and he’s 53! Well, “middle-aged” is a whole different concept over there since a lot of Asian countries have extremely long lifespans… Japan itself has the most centenarians (that’s people who’ve celebrated their 100th birthday) per capita. It probably comes down to their healthy diet and active lifestyle, but if there is a fountain of youth, I’m willing to bet it’s somewhere over in Asia!