5 Myths about Asia – Debunked!

Asia, Featured — By on April 22, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Intimidated by the thought of traveling to Asia? You shouldn’t be! LG Asia-Pacific editor Mary Tan busts some major myths about the region and gives you a glimpse at life as she knows it.

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Myth #1: Nobody speaks English!

Don’t be put off by the myriad of languages and dialects found in Asia — you can still get by with English or at least an open mind and a smile. In Singapore and Hong Kong, English is actually spoken almost universally, due to their years under the British, and it is widely understood in Malaysia, Indonesia and even India. In fact, many locals love English-language films and music and are widely exposed to American pop culture. While it may intimidating at first to be bombarded constantly with unfamiliar characters and sounds, there is no reason to be intimidated. Locals know that most tourists do not speak their language, and will usually do their best to communicate with you. Try to learn one or two opening phrases in the local language to help break the ice when approaching strangers — it will also prove that you are at least respecting their language enough to try!

Myth #2: They eat dogs and intestines and insects!

Eating Cockroaches in Bangkok

Eating cockroaches in Bangkok!

Hey, the French eat snails! While this myth isn’t completely untrue, it is unfair to say that Asians will eat anything that has legs — we also eat things that don’t have legs!

All jokes aside however, being put off by local food is the last thing that should even cross your mind. Asia may not be known for Michelin-starred restaurants and haute-cuisine, but the range of flavors, spices and gastronomical delights should be enough to convince you that this continent is a food-lovers paradise. Don’t show up expecting Chinese buffets with cheese wontons or kung pao chicken in takeaway boxes; the best food comes right off the streets and costs you next to nothing. Every country has its local delicacy and you may like some more than others, but you should never be afraid of trying them!

Myth #3: They’re uneducated /poor/corrupt/politically unstable.

While it is true that many Asian countries are developing economies, it is unfair to generalize int hat manner. Countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong, as well as cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul are urban and highly developed areas reminiscent more of New York City than swampy villages. The population in these areas are generally elite, well-heeled and well-traveled and often send their children off to the poshest private schools around the world! While poverty and other socio-economic problems are certainly present in many of these countries, they are often no different than what goes on in other continents.

Myth #4: Everything is so cheap!

Buyer beware! While the exchange rate would clearly be to an American/European’s advantage,  it would still pay to be careful when making purchases. Remember that in most outdoor markets, haggling is an accepted (and even cultural!) practice. It may take some getting used to, but it’s all part of the fun. This should be avoided however, in urban malls where prices are clearly displayed! In addition, don’t expect your purchases to last forever — many of these items are of a poor quality. However, if you are simply looking for a pretty souvenir to remember your time in a beautiful country, you will definitely have fun trawling the streets of shopping-obsessed Asia!

Myth #5: You can’t get a good party.

Living it up in one of Singapore's mega clubs

Just ask my Australian friend Hayden if he still remembers the time he showed up in Singapore, and ended up on the 71st floor of the Swissotel, drinking Moet straight out of the bottle, and then tell me again how anyone could ever say that Asia doesn’t know how to live it up? If anything, we have a reputation for throwing some of the craziest parties in the world! The best thing you could do is hook up with locals (see Myth #1 on how to do that) and find out where to go. More often that not, travelers end up hanging out with each other in ‘tourist traps’ filled with other foreigners — step out of your comfort zone and go where the locals are! Most of the time, you will find that their parties, be it glitzy glamorous or laid-back chill, will top any concierge’s recommendation.

What other myths are there? Leave a comment and let’s see if we can debunk them together!

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Read more of Mary’s travels at http://maryaroundtheworld.blogspot.com.

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    4 Comments

  • Awesome post. I’m living in Taiwan now and am loving life abroad in Asia! Taipei is an amazing city with tons of fantastic food, and the locals are super open and friendly to foreigners. It’s a bit off the beaten backpacker path, but I strongly recommend it.

    Also, Tokyo has the most Michelin star restaurants! Paris and London actually rank after it.

  • Aathila says:

    Great article. Traveling in Asia is an amazing experience!

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