Dinner-party Clichés about Asia

BY CLARISSA TAN
May 11, 2010
*Special to asia!

You too can attain the aura of the well-versed traveler, by dishing out these bite-sized “facts” at tedious cocktails. Best served quickly.

Never be caught flat-footed at a dinner party again. Here are some iron-clad clichés about various countries in Asia that, when said with a knowing look and a certain gravitas, are bound to get you thoughtful nods from other dinner guests. At least, we think so.

 

Food for thought: Take your pick with an assortment of dinner-party cliches throughout Asia to pluck at and rifle through

Food for thought: Take your pick with an assortment of dinner-party cliches throughout Asia to pluck at and rifle through

Illustration: Debby Ng

 

Malaysia

  • Malaysia is not Truly Asia
  • Kuala Lumpur has fantastic architecture with Moorish influences
  • Pulau Perhentian is Asia’s best-kept secret

 

Thailand

  • Thai food is second only to Chinese cuisine in its sublime blend of spices
  • Brothels standing side by side with temples – that’s the paradox of Bangkok
  • Some of those go-go girls actually enjoy what they’re doing

 

Singapore

  • Singapore is the Switzerland of the East
  • The Singapore Sling is undrinkable
  • Did you know – Singapore has a World Toilet Organization?

 

China

  • China has the worst toilets in Asia
  • Counterfeit-goods factories standing side by side with designer-goods factories – that’s the paradox of Shenzhen
  • You must visit the Great Wall before you die

 

Japan

  • Tokyo is hideously expensive
  • Japan has the best toilets in Asia
  • You must stay in a ryokan before you die

 

South Korea

  • Everyone in South Korea has had plastic surgery
  • Korean food is Asia’s best-kept secret

 

Laos

  • Laos is Asia’s best-kept secret

 

Hong Kong

  • Financiers standing side by side with fengshui experts – that’s the paradox of Hong Kong

 

Macau

  • Macau is the Monaco of the East

 

India

  • India is the largest democracy on earth
  • Extreme beauty standing side by side with extreme poverty – that’s the paradox of India
  • Indian water is undrinkable

 

Mongolia

  • There are no toilets in Mongolia

 

Indonesia

  • Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation
  • Bali has managed to retain its authenticity despite the onslaught of tourism
  • But Kuta is a hellhole
  • You must visit Borobudur/ Sulawesi before you die

 

The Philippines

  • The Philippines is the only Catholic nation in Southeast Asia
  • The Philippines is the Italy of the East

 

Australia

  • Australia is the West of the East

 

Vietnam

  • Hanoi is so much more charming than Ho Chi Minh City
  • Hoi An is so much more charming than Hanoi
  • You must visit Halong Bay before you die

 

Bhutan

  • You must visit Bhutan before you die

 

 

Do you have any helpful clichés to add to this list? Send us your comments below.

clarissa tanClarissa is a journalist who focuses on travel and the arts. As a desperately hopeful author, she writes short stories and is working on a novel. Clarissa won the Spectator’s final Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize for travel writing.

Contact Clarissa

www.clarissa-tan.com