Travel article offers poor ideas of Asia

Asia is not bad water and a sex trade. Question your assumptions.

Referring to the guest column, “Traveling tips for those headed to Asia,” published Oct. 31, Liam Austin sketches a superficial, if not misrepresented, picture of Asia. His article could be summarized with the following – Visit Asia for her nature, maybe for the sex trade but not for drugs. He even gives some words of caution: Don’t drink the tap water because it can make you sick.

While one was looking forward to an enlightening read, Austin simply reinforces the common stereotypical views of Asia. He takes the many different countries in Asia, each with their own unique culture and geography, and lumps them as a collective whole. Certainly there are many beautiful nature spots in Asia, but don’t expect tropical rain forests or rivers flowing by your doorstep wherever you land in Asia. Take Singapore for example, the country I am from. It is a small island of about 651 square kilometers situated in Southeast Asia. It is a cosmopolitan city that has experienced rapid growth in the past few decades and one can find modern buildings and clean swept streets lining almost every nook and cranny of the island. Yes, we do have some beautiful parks, but the only “river” that mirrors what Austin speaks of is the large canal that flows through some of the residential estate.

It’s interesting how Austin highlights the thriving sex tourism in Asia, not because of the intense efforts by Asian governments to remedy the situation, but because of the fewer restrictions present in Asian countries compared supposedly with Europe. Again, he cautions about the strict anti-drug laws, yet he does not go on to conclude about these two points. This makes one wonder: Is Austin proposing that Asia is a great place for the tourist looking for sex, but not for drugs?

Being an international student from Singapore, it is sometimes frustrating, and even saddening that the numerous and unique cultures of Asia apppear to some only as what Austin has described. Asia is certainly much more, and if you ever visit Asia, go with an open mind and decide for yourself what different Asian countries are like. Anyone is welcome to Asia, but certainly not those who go there for the sex trade. Lastly, drinking tap water is safe in Singapore. Most Singaporeans do speak good English, because (surprise!) English is our first language. It would certainly help if the Daily (something that I do look forward to reading) published more enlightening and accurate articles, instead of stuff like Austin’s.

Lindy Heng is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]