Seeing Asia Through the Four Elements
Spanning 30% of the entire surface of the earth, Asia is the world’s largest continent. From its dazzling array of natural wonders to its kaleidoscopic diversity of cultures and ancient history, Asia is a ceaseless marvel to everyone fortunate enough to experience its wonders. Through the lens of the four natural elements: water, earth, fire, and air, here are just a few compelling reasons why.
Water: the lakes, rivers and oceans
Nearly every country in Asia has a strong connection to water, as evidenced by its numerous beaches and famous waterways. The Mekong Delta in Vietnam is not only beautiful to look at, but its location makes it an essential part of how the locals live and thrive. Taking a journey down this river is the best way to better understand Vietnamese culture.
On the other hand, Cambodia is a favourite tourist destination for its long stretches of pristine beaches, remote shorelines, and five-star resorts alike. Whether you’re here to trace history or simply have a good time, Asia is an ideal destination for every kind of activity.
Tip: Aside from beaches, however, Cambodia also has age-old traditions concerning this element. Every start of November, they celebrate the Bon Om Touk (or the annual water festival) to mark the beginning of the fishing season. Time your visit right and you’ll be there to enjoy the festivities.
Earth: flora and fauna
With such lush greenery and unique animal species, Asia is a wonderland for people looking to get up close and personal with our earthly co-habitants.
The Bokeo Nature Reserve in Laos is a must-visit for this exciting tour called the Gibbon Experience. It’ll take you across the jungle via long treks and longer zip lines. On the other hand, the Taman Negara in Malaysia is one of the world’s least touched rainforests to date. Here, you’ll encounter a lot of exotic species of plants and animals, like the local Great Hornbill or Tualang, the tallest tree in the Southeast. Asia is incredibly diverse, and this applies to their ecosystems, too.
Tip: Part of the Gibbon Experience is to experience the Bokeo Nature Reserve at night. You stay in a (well-furnished) treehouse, which includes a canvas tent to protect you from forest insects. From your abode, you get a rare chance to experience the forest at its most undisturbed hour. If you’re lucky, you may even bear witness to the more exotic creatures that only come out to play when the sun sets.
Fire: a culture of fiery tastes
Asia is internationally known for producing the best kind of spicy food, such as Thailand’s Tom Yum soup, Malaysia’s Curry Laksa, or Laos’s Tam Mak Houng. Interestingly, the ingredients used for this wide range of dishes are rarely similar. For instance, Myanmar’s Mala Hin comes from a spicy bean sauce local to the country, and Indonesia’s Ayam Penyet packs a punch due to its generous helping of sambal (a type of local chili). Any traveler looking to take their palate on a fiery adventure will have a blast here.
Tip: If you’re looking for another kind of fire, Asia has the seasonal fire festival, which anyone can partake in. One of our favorite picks is Singapore’s Thimithi Festival or Fire Walking Festival, which is celebrated every mid-October or early November. About 4,000 Hindu devotees walk barefoot over burning coals at the Sri Marimman Temple as a show of faith to a goddess named Draupadi.
Air: the quiet breeze of the countryside
While technology is evolving fast in most of the region’s bustling cities, like Tokyo, Bangkok, and Jakarta, a good majority of the region’s citizens still choose to live in the countryside.
A short drive from Tokyo, for instance, is the tranquil town of Hakone. Its mountainous location keeps the place cool, thus providing the perfect escape and dose of fresh air. Meanwhile, travelers love to visit the remote village of Tana Toraja in Indonesia to bask in the high winds and immerse themselves in a long-preserved culture. In fact, the latter is even home to the Ke’Te Kesu’—a 500-year old burial ground listed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. If you’re tired of the usual fast-paced tours, then it’s worth traveling to the quieter parts of Asia.
Tip: Buddhism is a big part of Thai culture, and you have the chance to experience it first hand. Hidden deep in the mountainside, the Dipabhavan Meditation Center offers retreats for travelers interested in guided Buddhist meditation. Whatever religion you practice, anyone can enjoy its teachings. Surrounded by nature, it’s the perfect activity for those looking to clear their mind.
Asia is a place of diversity, with its countries often embracing the different elements across their cultures. If you’re looking for an itinerary idea for your next trip to Asia, then let these elements guide you on your path.
Written by Nancy Brannon exclusively for EXO Travel
Get it touch
Take adventage of