Eastward Bound: A Continent on the Move

It’s holiday season for many in East Asia, with Mid-Autumn festival coming up for the countries of Taiwan, Vietnam, and China, Chuseok in Korea, Muharram in the Islamic diaspora, and the Autumn Equinox in Japan. It’s a time of gathering, and one of the few times a year that people in the region get a few days off of work. But, with one of the most notoriously extreme grinds on Earth, and South Korea leading the pack at an average 2,069 hours of work per person a year, there are plenty of ways and places to unwind.

As an expat in the region, I don’t have the family aspect of the holidays, but I do have the time off, so here are some of my favorite places to go during that time. Luckily, for Deepblu readers, they’re all in tropical climates, so diving year-round is not a problem at all.

Phuket, Thailand

A friend and I attempt a Sears model pose in Phuket.

First off, Phuket is one of the best beach experiences you’ll probably ever have. There are so many bars per-capita in the region that you’ll likely not spend a moment not having fun. As for relaxation, boats leave the harbor regularly and will take you to the outlying islands for a day away or a dive trip. It was here that I did some of the best snorkeling through kelp forests I’ve ever done.

Tainan, Taiwan

This weekend I’ll be heading to the city that diver, filmmaker, and educator Dr. Till Dietsche calls home. This beautiful, historic city boasts both natural wonders and historical significance in amounts that are more than one could possibly take in over a short trip, but it’s a great place to unwind away from the bustle of Taiwan’s larger cities. Right on the ocean and surrounded by beaches, it’s a perfect spot to spend a holiday.

Sihanoukville, Cambodia

If the hotel doesn’t have it, you don’t need it. Photo: Sakal Guesthouse

I’ve noted it in a previous, more serious article, but it always bears repeating, Sihanoukville is an absolute charmer of a place. In addition to having a rampaging 24-hour culture to satisfy the appetite of any style of merrymaker, it’s only a short trip by boat to several outlying islands. Being a resort town in a developing nation is hard, but Sihanoukville has lovely accommodations and a wide variety of local and foreign comforts.

Vietnam

There is more than enough to take in, possibly even adjust to, when visiting Vietnam.

I can’t narrow it down to one city. Vietnam is, in my opinion, the best place to visit on the Asian continent. It has the finest food, the most relaxing atmosphere, a highly welcoming populace, and seemingly all the time in the world to take it all in. Even in modern cities you can watch as people take naps on scooters, impervious to the noise around them. Museums, tourist attractions, and 3,260 kilometers of shoreline keep the visitors rolling in.

Sabah, Borneo Malaysia

Borneo is a great place to get lost, and Kota Kinabalu is a great place to start the adventure. From the town, one can venture either deep into the ocean or the jungle, and emerge completely changed. Paying witness to some of the rarest creatures on Earth is one thing, but doing it in an ancient rainforest setting makes the taste of the experience even sweeter. In Sabah, what you’re not looking for will find you, and you’ll be pleased.

– Todd Allen Williams, Senior Editor