I have written before about the proliferation of advertising and marketing in Asia. This is truly the land of marketing overstimulation. The ubiquity of ads, commercials, billboards, signs and posters first struck me in Bangkok, but it has been consistent across the entirety of the continent we have explored over the past four and a half months. Never before Bali, however, had I found a museum dedicated entirely to marketing — specifically Marketing 3.0, or “Marketing for Good.” Continue reading
It’s been a long trip. About three months in, we probably would have decided to come home had it not been for the prospect of visiting Borneo. We had this fantastical idea of what it would be like. For Rebecca, she wanted to go to see orangutans in the wild. For my part, I thought that going to Borneo would be like the movie Congo, where we would meet a gorilla named Amy who would talk to us and protect us from the other bad gorillas. (Clearly, my brain confuses gorillas with orangutans.) In any case, we dreamt of an island wild and unspoiled. Thanks to the palm products industry and lack of awareness about wildlife conservation, the reality is quite different.
The last leg of our journey is upon us. And unlike the first leg of our trip, or first two-thirds really, all of our transit from here on out will be by air. We wanted to begin our Indonesian stay in the east and work our way west. But when we went to book flights, Air Asia wouldn’t let us do the many short flights in one day. So we decided to go to the offices at KL Sentral to speak to a human, thinking we could work it all out. Confusion and eventual dismay ensued. Continue reading
I was going through my pictures the other day, clearing valuable space for more pictures from our travels, when I came across a picture I had taken in Siem Reap. We had wandered down a street looking for a grocery store and got fairly lost; not surprising, since the street signs weren’t in English and no one away from the tourist areas spoke English. Suddenly, I look up, only to see possibly the weirdest billboard advertisement I had ever seen: a poster for a weight loss product with a woman stepping out of a giant fatsuit.
Rebecca and I have seen a lot of sports fans here in Asia. Or at least, that’s what we thought we were seeing when we saw lots of people walking around with American sports team merchandise. So, seeking some kind of community with these fans, I began shouting, “Go ___________ (insert team name here),” hoping the person would turn, find me, and smile or give a thumbs up at the very least, like what happens in the US. Instead, what we get is a confused, perhaps vaguely frightened look. It’s because they have no idea that they are wearing a Yankee or Dodger hat. They have no idea why I’m shouting at them.
We are rapidly approaching 100 days since we began our Asia adventure. 100 days is long enough to begin running out of the things we packed, particularly sunscreen and moisturizer. While Thailand’s beautiful islands have tons of places that offer these two products side by side in the skin care aisle, finding suitable replacements for the products we take for granted at home has been difficult, and shopping for them has shed light on a critical cultural difference between the West and the East. Continue reading
Rebecca’s cousin recently informed me that the water we had been drinking throughout our travels in Thailand, the cheapest we could find, was distilled water. Distilled water, he informed us, leeches minerals out of your body, disrupting your electrolyte balance. So to counteract this, I decided to go with my tried-and-true method of rehydration: Gatorade. It has valuable electrolytes, and it’s something I’m familiar with; I’ll just water it down with my distilled water to counteract the sugar. Luckily, with Gatorade’s excellent branding, I was able to find a bottle even though I don’t speak Thai. So here’s to Gatorade, one of America’s most recognizable brands, for saving me from passing out on those hot Thai days.
One of the most popular tourist activities in Asia is shopping. Goods are very inexpensive, and the prospect of a $10 silk scarf, or a $2 pair of shoes, is simply too good to pass up for many. As I wrote a few weeks ago, there are some great bargains to be found here. But while you will find lots of inexpensive goods of relatively poor quality everywhere, what you will not find is a wide variety.
When I was a pre-adolescent, I attended a middle/grammar school called Frank Antonides School. FAS had all the things a school should have, except a good music program. A violinist, I played the flute and oboe parts in everything, usually as the only “flute” or “oboe” in a sea of boys blasting brass trumpets and emptying spit valves on the floor. One song that I was particularly fond of was a little ditty called the “Baby Elephant Walk.” It consisted of a dainty melody for flute that conjured images of tiny pink elephants parading in a neat line, trunks linked for safety’s sake. It’s either that, or the image of elephants running in herds in the Serengeti, that I have in my head when I think of elephants. Now that I have ridden an elephant, I can safely cast those images away. Continue reading
When we planned this trip to Southeast Asia, we knew that we would be encountering some wacky weather. For most of the trip, it was going to be hot. But for about a month, we anticipated some stormy and cool weather. That month happened to fall while we were in Vietnam, specifically in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital. We arrived on February 15, and for the duration of our 8-day stay (while we recovered from illness), it was cold and rainy, for which I was completely unprepared. So, I decided to buy a fleece jacket. And in my successful outing, I realized that the way I shop at home is really stupid.