Asia has always been a magnet for adventurous travelers from the West wanting to experience a completely different culture and way of life to the one that they are accustomed to. From gap year students to retirees, the one thing that really makes a visit unforgettable is having the freedom to spend weeks or months exploring the many and varied experiences on offer.
Asia is the world’s biggest continent consisting of around 30% of the Earth’s total land area and is bordered by the Pacific to the East, the Indian Ocean to the South and Arctic Ocean to the North. Home to well over 4 billion people it’s also by far the most populous continent.
In being home to such a huge population, Asian cultures are varied and unique, with a great many languages, cultures and histories which continue to prosper and survive. Though without digging in too deep, this is a short overview and summary of the main cornerstones which permeate even the most unique.
Asia was home to some of the world’s earliest civilizations who developed predominantly around the lush river valleys of the huge continent, and who have been credited with first introducing many primitive technologies as well as the concept of mathematics.
Inland, the central steppes region has long been home to nomadic tribes who roamed widely on horseback. Asia was also the birthplace of most, if not all, of the world’s major religions including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism.
Asia and the Family
Throughout Asia the concept of the family is very strong as is the sense of group collectivism. It’s usual for several generations of the same family to live in the same place where old and young alike can get the care they need.
Children are also generally expected to be far more dutiful and obedient to their parents and grandparents than they are in the West. The idea of always honoring the family and never bringing it into disrepute is another typically Asian trait commonplace everywhere from India to China and beyond.
It was Asia that the world looked to for many of the exotic herbs and spices that first began being introduced to the West as long ago as Roman times. It’s these spices that characterize a great deal of Asian cuisine making much of it spicy and full of big flavours thanks to ingredients like chilli, coriander and cumin.
By far the most widespread crop throughout the continent is rice which thrives in the hot and humid conditions. As a relatively cheap food source this forms the backbone of a great deal of Asian cuisine which also tends to feature more vegetarian dishes than the more expensive meat.
Related: The Best Dim Sum in Hong Kong
Superstition and Luck
Alongside strongly-felt religious beliefs many Asian cultures also feel that superstition and luck have a great deal of relevance to their lives and the use of lucky charms is widespread.
It’s not known where many of these beliefs originated but in a number of cases they also play a major part in folk tales. So if you want to ensure good fortune on any visit it might be a good idea to check out some of the most popular good luck charms before you go.
Of course, the only way to really discover just how much the kaleidoscopic continent of Asia has to offer is to visit it yourself. Its vivid colors, unforgettable sights and experiences and smorgasbord of unique cultures will mean you’ll make memories you will never forget.
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