Burma (a.k.a. Myanmar)
For more than 50 years Burma (Myanmar) has been ruled mainly by dictators, rebel groups, and by people connected to the drug trade. Because of this, democracy has had a tough time finding a foothold in its society; those who try to introduce it are often faced with brutality and harsh punishment from the government. […]
Since 2500 B.C., the cultures that grew into the modern state of India have been involved in a wild dance of religion and politics that make the India of today one of the most colorful, culturally rich, hyperintense, and interesting places in the world. The culture, politics, and economic effects can run to such extremes, in fact, that tourists have often been divided in to “love” and “hate” groups when it comes to appreciating all India has to offer, in relation to the trials one must at times undergo to enjoy it.
While Indonesia’s spectacular beaches, natural resources, and laid-back lifestyle have attracted tourists, missionaries, and businesses for generations, recent political and religiously motivated events make much of the archipelago dangerous for Western tourists.
Mongolia is one of the world’s most untamed countries. This exotic land may be considered the last frontier in Asia, and despite a history that includes such all-powerful warlords and diplomats as Ghengis and Kublai Khan–roving horsemen who’s bands of warrior-statesmen were responsible for unifying the largest empire in history–it seems amazing this country has kept it’s independence, existing between such giants as China and Russia. But Mongolia survives, through harsh winters, a serious lack of infrastructure, and few natural resources… In Mongolia, you are nothing if not a survivor.
Macau is known more for its multitude of casinos and capitalist leanings than for its colored history or the policies of its current administrator. Still, history shines through the glitzy surface of Macau: there is a distinct air of colonial Portugal in its cobble-stone streets, open markets, and historic architecture. And as Macau has transformed itself from colonial underdog to wealthy destination, it is now undergoing another transformation, trying to attract a less adult and more family-oriented kind of tourist.
As near to out-of-this-world as only a few habited places on this earth are, Bangladesh challenges the visitor to find fulfillment despite excessive population density, national poverty, and robust environmental extremes. The rewards for those who take on such a challenge, though, are unique and intriguing insights into the rich regional Bengali culture and the current state of South Asian and global society.
For many thousands of years, the Chinese culture has been one of walls. Finished in the earliest days of unified China–during the Qin dynasty–the Great Wall literally surrounds much of the nation. This is more symbolic than functional, but the years since its completion have seen many more political and cultural barriers built, intended as much to keep Chinese pride and culture in as they are to keep the western world out.
The 9th-century founding of Novgorod by the Viking Rurik initiated a more than thousand-year history of wealth and war, trial and loss, conquest, Communism, and tyranny. The monarchic splendor and seething peasant ideology of old Russia, coupled with the complex social, economic, and political changes brought about during the Soviet era, survive today in one form or another in what is possibly the most enigmatic yet of this country’s many incarnations.