Touring Asia and Making the Most of Your Travels

Asia has so much to offer to those who choose to visit. There are many elements of Asian culture that truly intrigue people all over the world. Asia embraces a unique way of life and brings a whole new perspective to the table as far as everyday life is concerned. One can truly learn a lot by exploring different areas of Asia. From China to Japan, to Indonesia, each Asian country embraces a one-of-a-kind appeal that no other country can quite compare to. Unique clothing like the kimono, historical sights such as the Great Wall of China, and religions such as Buddhism are just some of the factors that make Asia into a wonderful place to visit, learn about and explore.

When travelling becomes increasingly important in your life and you have more time to spend exploring the world, Asia is one of the best places to choose. For children and adults alike, Asia can bring a lot to the table and open your eyes to cultural differences and lifestyle choices that differ immensely from those that we have grown accustomed to. Broadening your perspective on Asian culture is extremely interesting and appealing, on a number of different levels. If you are planning to pack your bags and embark on an Asian journey, you will want to be sure to make the most of your trip by documenting it with photos and videos, but you will want to go above and beyond to ensure that you are making the very most of your trip.

If you are going to be spending time in Asia, it would be a fantastic choice to make the most of it with the help of one of the Asia escorted tours that are available these days. Asia escorted tours are ideal in making sure that you do not miss a thing when it comes to exploring new territory. We all know that Asia is a large continent, flooded with knowledge and beauty. There are so many famous sights to see, but there are also hidden treasures that only an experienced tour guide could familiarize you with. Asia escorted tours are effective in making sure that even the most sacred treasures of Asia are revealed.

Whether you are a college student majoring in Asian studies, or an executive who travels to Asia regularly for international business matters, there are a number of influential and valuable things to be learned through Asia escorted tours. There is nothing quite like the refreshing feeling of travelling to a beautiful place, rich with culture and history.

Rising Asia and Its Implications

I find the notion of “A Rising Asia” interesting, and I think it presents a major opportunity for the localization and translation industry in the years to come. I was first introduced to this concept many years ago by Nick Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn in their excellent book, Thunder from the East. (They were also among the first to point out the promise of China/Rising Asia, several years before the “experts” did.) I really liked the book because it also quickly provided an economic history of the world and is a very easy read.

I thought it would be good to update and expand upon an article I wrote for GALA a little while ago. I have been surprised how little real awareness there is even in the localization industry where leaders often equate Asia with China & Japan (CJK). This was really brought home at the #LTBKK conference, when I saw what a revelation Biraj Rath’s excellent presentation on the Indian localization market opportunity was, to many industry experts. LISA, to their credit announced an India Forum shortly after the conference.

So I thought it might be useful to provide a basic primer on the broader Asian market opportunity. For some in the L10N industry this might all be obvious but here goes anyway. I am interested because:

– There are a lot of people living in Asia (maybe 95% of the next billion Internet users)
– The Internet has very low penetration thus far. Multilingual content will very likely play a key role in driving increasing penetration and commercial opportunity.
– They will need a lot of information quickly (huge opportunity for automated translation technology)
– Largest concentration of young people in the world (also the Middle East and Brazil)

Asia is extremely diverse, economically and culturally, but yet there are some strong common elements. It is also much less connected than Europe. Today, we are aware of the current economic momentum that India and China have, historically they both also had a deep and lasting cultural influence on much of Asia. An awareness of this history is very useful in developing effective business strategies for different countries. The internet is only just beginning to take root in much of Asia (18% vs. 73% for North America), however, it is expected that almost half of all Internet users will be Asian by 2013. Already, China has more people online than the US. Asia could be a major opportunity for companies that learn to tap into this new emerging online population. But this will require an understanding of the diversity and characteristics of the various segments and will also need new approaches in communication and marketing. Asian economies continue to rise in importance and growth, as both a supplier and consumer. Today China and India are the largest mobile phone markets in the world.

Some interesting and perhaps less known facts about Asia that provide a useful contrast to Europe are shown below. They also give one a sense for the different type of opportunities available and the differing reality of Asia.

-GDP per Capita in Asia (~$15,000) is less than half of the EU average and there is a much wider standard distribution and a large population living in poverty throughout the continent.
-While India and China are among the fastest growing economies in the world, the GDP per Capita is $2,800 for India and $6,000 for China and they should still be considered developing economies.
-The top GDP/Capita countries (2008) in Asia are: Singapore ($52K), HK, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea ($23K), Malaysia, Kazakhstan and Thailand ($8.5K).
-India has 22 official languages that are as distinct and different as the 23 EU languages, and also include at least 6 different scripts. English is only spoken by about 7% of the people in India. However, it is possible to get deep penetration into the Indian market with 5 key languages.
-There is very little local language content for Asian languages on the web in general. Based on a survey done by Asia Online in 2007, less than 15% of the total content on the web is in Asian languages. Almost 90% of the Asian language content is in Chinese and Japanese. There is huge need for more local language content all over SE Asia.
-Mandarin is beginning to edge out English as the preferred 2nd language in Asia
-China is now the fastest growing patent office in the world. The WIPO and others state that China is clearly an emerging scientific and technological power.
-The share of Asian country based patent filings is now in excess of 50% of all patents filed across the world.
-India has more gifted and talented students in high school than the total school student population in the US.
-China has more students in Science and Technology college degree programs than India and the US combined.
-McKinsey has identified a “Rising Asia” as a stable long term trend that will fundamentally change consumption patterns. Gartner suggests using IT to reach the market. They suggest that global companies use IT to ‘lighten’ their Asian business model to address the specific cultural, geographic reach, and supply chain considerations.
-The wealthy Asians are concentrated in major cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Delhi, Seoul, Manila and Bangkok.
-China is now the fastest growing market for Bentley and BMW.
-More cars are now sold in China than in America.
-Even countries like Laos, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Cambodia which have very low GDP/Capita are interesting markets for cell phones and basic commodities.
-An understanding of Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism cultural perspectives can dramatically enhance your communications strategy into most parts of Asia.
-The fastest growing Facebook markets in 2H2009 are Taiwan, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand.
-Google is not dominant in key Asian markets, in Korea they have less than 2% search market share and they are a distant second in China and Japan. Maybe even completely out of China soon. Local companies dominate because of better understanding of local content, language and customer preferences. This suggests that standard US approaches may not work as well in many Asian markets.
-Chinese social networking startups have produced many innovations that have led to them becoming profitable much faster than US equivalents like MySpace and Facebook. We are now seeing Asian innovation gradually making its way to the west.
-Most of Asia has been relatively unscathed by the global financial and real estate market collapse.
-India is increasingly considered a “soft power”. Influential culturally way beyond it’s direct sphere of influence.
-The venture capital markets in India and China are rapidly developing with help from “returning” entrepreneurs and hostile US immigration policies.

But simple strategies like simply making your web content available in the local language may not work. Asian cultures may look superficially similar and even western on the surface, but can have deep cultural differences. The localization market is estimated to be $1.5B in 2010 and could grow dramatically. My sense is that those numbers miss much of the impact of recent growth as the Facebook trends show, mobile computing and successful bottom of the pyramid marketing strategies.

All of these factors point to fundamental shifts in the global economy and indicate that many of these trends will accelerate further. Asia is a significant opportunity for informed globalization managers — and probably key for long-term leadership for many global enterprises. Global companies need to develop broad and unique country-specific strategies to be able to prosper and thrive in this rapidly changing world. Localization and translation will be key elements of any successful globalization plan and should present significant opportunities to vendors that prepare for this change.

It’s wise to remember that the Chinese ideogram for “change” can also mean “opportunity.”

Wonders of SouthEast Asia

History meets the contemporary and brings out a beautiful combination in Southeast Asia. This chunk of the continent is home to the best tourist destinations, with a variety of landscapes all over. Tourists fall in eternal love with Southeast Asia, all thanks to its sun-kissed beaches, jungles, lush green peaks and a variety of climate changes. To add a cherry to the top, Southeast Asians are known to be the friendliest hosts and would accommodate to the needs of the tourists in the most hospitable ways.

Planning to explore the Southeast chunk of Asia? Here we’ve picked the best travel destinations for you. Whether this is a family trip, backpacking adventure or your anticipated honeymoon, Southeast Asia would delight you a great deal!

1. Cambodia
The land of Cambodia is famous worldwide for its tourism and textiles. The country is home to attractive temples that would most certainly draw your attention. Angkor Wat, also known as the City Temple is the most popular among these. Since it dates back to the 12th century, touring the temple is an amazing way to explore Cambodia’s past. The Bayon Temple and BanteaySrei are some others that are most often admired by tourists. On the Gulf of Thailand lies the wonderful Sihanoukville and its white sand beaches. The Silver Pagoda stands out for its architecture and the gold Buddha statues. Cambodia is warm nearly all year round, leaving tourists with more choice of when to visit the country.

2. Thailand
If there’s one destination you can’t miss in Southeast Asia, it would probably be Thailand! You must have heard of the great Phi Phi. It is located close to Phuket, and is the ultimate spot for beach lovers because of the million activities the archipelago supports. Once you’re in the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, do not miss the Grand Palace. The amazing architecture of the gigantic palace and its majestic lawns would leave you awestruck! If you can allow yourself more time in the country, explore its Northern side. The traditional ways of the hill tribes will amuse you a great deal along with the endless adventures the landscape offers. For your eyes to witness the most breathtaking views, take the rail journey from Thai to Burma. Along with the picturesque views, learning more about the history would keep you entertained along the way.

3. Laos
The landlocked land of Southeast Asia has attracted tourists because of its landscape and unique culture. When in the Northern Laos, explore LuangPrabang. This town was listed as UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. Despite being small in area, its beauty is matchless to any other part of Southeast Asia. Backpackers would fall in love with VangVieng. The city is famous for the endless adventures it offers and also stands out for the limestone karst hills. The serene atmosphere of the city makes it a perfect tourist spot. Tham Kong Lo is an amazing limestone cave on the PhuHin Bun River. It is considered one of the most special wonders of Southeast Asia. If you’re looking for adventures, it is a must to visit these caves.