by Vincent I. Porter
5 Things to Do in Asia that Are Out of the Ordinary
While all your friends are stuck in the office, poring over spreadsheets and listening in on meetings that could have been emails, it will be with the utmost satisfaction that you jet off to Asia. More so than anywhere in the world, Asia is a favorite haunt for backpackers. It has a fully fleshed backpacker infrastructure and, in many places, it is well-suited for a backpacker’s budget.
All packed? Time to make an itinerary. Most backpackers will quickly become familiar with the local hotspots when they arrive at a destination. Tourism agencies and other travellers will be singing the praises of various excursions and sights. But, it is much harder to find unusual activities that are off the beaten track.
Here are five such activities that you should squeeze into your schedule while you backpack through Asia.
1. Go to the Monster Café in Tokyo
Have you ever heard the Japanese talk about Kawaii? It means cute and the Japanese are obsessed with it. From girls dressing like dolls to Hello Kitty plastered all over the place, anything that could be seen as cute is pounced on and commercialized.
No place quite embodies this notion than the Monster Café in the quirky Harajuku area of Tokyo. This café goes all out, from the unicorn heads dangling from the ceiling to the neon food they serve. The servers in the café are girls dressed as ‘monsters’ (but still looking impossibly cute) and there are regular shows performed for kids during the day. It is the kind of place you need to go once, and only once, in your life.
2. Explore Divar Island in Goa
Most people, when they think of Goa, will picture beaches, bars and a raucous party scene. While this is not inaccurate, Goa has far more than just a nightlife. Get away from the beaches of Goa and you will be struck by the beauty of the region’s architecture and nature.
Divar Island sits in the Mandovi River and is sprinkled with gorgeous Portuguese villas, remnants from Goa’s colonial days. Spend some time wandering around, taking in the views and checking out the buildings. Don’t forget to visit the spectacular Divar Church as well.
3. Fire a Bazooka in Cambodia
As a pacifist, I have never had much interest in arms, but firing such a powerful piece of machinery is an exhilarating experience. Of course, you’re not actually shooting or hurting anyone, it is just some harmless fun. Shooting a bazooka doesn’t come cheap but it is a one-off experience that can just about be justified.
4. Visit the Upside Down House in China
The Upside Down House is exactly what it sounds like – a house that is completely upside down. If you go inside you will feel like you are walking on the ceiling. Look up and you’ll see furniture glued to what is supposed to be the floor. The house is in the Fengjing Ancient Town, situated about an hour outside of Shanghai.
5. Celebrate Songkran in Thailand
You will need to be in Thailand in April if you want to be there for the Thai New Year, also known as Songkran. This might not be the most convenient time to jet off on vacation but trust me, it is worth it. For an entire week, the country comes alive with celebrations and the energy is positively infectious.
The most common way to celebrate Songkran is to fill up a bucket or water gun and soak passers-by in the streets. Whether you want to join in with the festivities or not, there is no way to avoid getting drenched by both young and old Thais alike. Surrender your inhibitions and embrace the fun!