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Asia & Australasia Overview

By Haider Ali

Posted: 17th December 2012 16:55

There are just so many countries to visit in Asia it would be difficult to pick out just a few.  But the few named will be worth the visit as they will cater to everybody’s needs.

Culture and Heritage

Asia is brimming with historical artefacts and wonderful monuments.  China is a great country to travel to if you wants to learn about a country that has a unique historical heritage.  The Yungang Grottoes in Shanxi Province show more than 51, 000 Buddhist carvings dating back 1500 years ago in caves and such.  Travelling to Shaoshan if you have the time is also a must as it’s adorned with monuments to the father of Chinese Communism Chairman Mao.  Bear in mind there are 502 airports in China so getting your way round a country that has 9.6m sq km of land mass shouldn’t be that difficult!

For all you Kung Fu enthusiasts seeing the Wu Wei temple near Dali may also be tempting as will the regular hotspots such as the Great Wall of China which was being constructed as early 7th century B.C.  Finally complete in 206 B.C by China’s first Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the wall is itself the personification of a civilisation that has evolved over five millennia contributing greatly to man’s history. 

Another great country with a wealth of culture and historical heritage on display is Japan.  Like the Chinese, they have contributed greatly to the world.  Westerners will be surprised that Japan has many fine castles.  Take the castle built in Himeji, which was once in the late 1500’s the biggest and finest castle in Asia.  The region in which the town is located in was also home to some scenes from the film “Last Samurai,” an action packed movie starring Tom Cruise. 

You can also travel to Kyoto which houses many of the countries Buddhist temples.  The Horyuji Temple, just south of Naha is also the world’s oldest wooden structure.  Churches are sparsely scattered in Japan too and the first one ever built can be found in Yamaguchi.  Built in 1549, the church was the brainchild of the man who introduced the religion to the country, Saint Francis Xavier of Portugal.

Fancy an Asian Curry?

The South-east Asian region is comprised of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka all famous for their own magnificent interpretations of the curry.  The origins of the dish pre-date Christ’s birth by about 1700 years during the Vedic period of Indian history where spices were mixed with meats. 

Tourists who visit the south Indian region, particularly Goa will find the familiar Vindaloo is the curry of choice here.  Fiery chicken or lamb mixed with potatoes and local spices should go down a treat along with a glass of beer.  The Punjab district in India has a special variation of the curry too primarily focused on the masala, which are a thick sauced dried and derived from onions, tomato paste, ginger and garlic. 

1117 miles from South India to Dhaka, Bangladesh you will encounter a curry that is focused around seafood.  Being located near the river Ganges makes seafood a heavy part of the Bangladeshi diet, but in the guise of a curry it really is the national dish that all tourists have to try.  Their version uses mustard oil and mustard seeds as the base, which is sure to give tourists a pleasurable eating experience.

Pakistan is really the epicentre of versatile curries because it has the Punjab and Kashmiri provinces apart of their own country as well.  Pakistan specialising in their own version the Karahi, which has heavy Afghanistan influences and also borrow heavily from the days of the Mongol empire, which brought along Persian influences such as saffron during the 16th century.

Approximately 1900 miles away from Islamabad is Colombo the Sri Lankan capital.  Sri Lanka offers the alternative to all three nations in this regard.  Rather than having an assortment of meats, rice is the national dish with spicy curry flavourings rather than using meats.

Beaches and Film Sets Down Under

Australia has 16, 000 miles of coastline, so you will be spoilt for choices in regards to beaches.  That means there are 10,685 official beaches as counted by the University of Sydney.  Whitehaven is the top ranked beach in Queensland decided by a traveller’s poll but in reality Wineglass Bay in Tasmania and Bells Beach is equally fantastic. 

Film buffs will be happy to know we have included the set of the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings in New Zealand.  The country is endowed with a variety of places to visit pertaining to natural beauty. But if its film sets you want to continue seeking out fly out to Thailand and have a studio tour of the set used for some of James Bond latest escapades.

Round up

If it’s a gradual tour throughout the continent you seek then Pakistan is the best place to start.  You can work your way eastwards towards India and China.  You will find friendly people and a rich variation in food, some that are particular favourites here in the west but cooked by the originators of the dish.  As you move eastwards to the likes of China and Japan you will come across some of the oldest civilisations in the world.  Famed for their architecture and history you won’t have enough time to see everything.  After all China has the third most World Heritage Sites after Italy and Spain.

For a more relaxing time work your way southwards beyond the China Sea to the continent of Australasia.  Here you’ll find numerous beaches and natural beauty in a country like New Zealand where the most popular movie in recent history among film buffs was recorded over a substantial period of time.  Whatever your decision you have endless choices to choose from when it comes to excellent destinations. 

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