Asia

Trekking in East Timor: The Road Less Travelled

Ellie Hattersley

Timor-Leste is a country under construction. The road up to Maubisse was patchwork: stretches of glorious tarmac interspersed with much longer stretches of road populated with construction vehicles and their operators, filling in fissures and creating drainage systems. A work in progress, like much of the nation. The directions we were going off were shaky, to say the least: amalgamated from the collected advice of old blogs and people whose friends had been there recently. Second- or third-hand instructions; recycled wisdom. But that was the easy part.

The Philippines: Islands In Search Of Identity

Michael Verdirame

An unwitting pedestrian attempting to make his way into Intramuros on foot may find himself a witness to one of these homeless relieving themselves in the bushes, a fairly common occurrence on the streets of Manila.  This dichotomy of poverty bordering wealth that is surrounding more poverty is emblematic of many stark contrasts that exist not just in Manila, but in the entire country.

How Pan-Asian Pop Went Global

Andrew Lam

Asian pop culture today crosses borders as easily as the bird flu. Korean rapper Psy, whose 2012 single “Gangnam Style” has garnered a record of close to 2 billion hits on YouTube, is probably the best example. But he’s not alone. Takeshi Kaneshiro, a Taiwanese actor with Japanese ancestry who Time Magazine called the "Asian film industry's Johnny Depp," has starred in Japanese and Chinese language movies for over two decades. 

Vietnam’s Other Dilemma: Smoking

Andrew Lam

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than one in four lights up regularly in Vietnam. Vietnam's Health Education and Communication Center estimated that smoking kills 40,000 people each year and if no measure is taken, nearly 10 percent of the Vietnamese population will have died from smoking-related diseases by 2030. So forget bird flu, smoking is a bona fide epidemic.

Go East, Young Man: Welcome to the Age of Appropriation

Andrew Lam

“Elysium” is the latest in a series of American productions that show how the Information Age has become the Age of Appropriation, one in which ideas and stories exist side by side for the borrowing, the taking, and ultimately, the mixing. What it also shows is that after almost a century of imitating the West, the tables are indeed turning and Hollywood is increasingly looking east. 

Banning Salman Rushdie Proves Calcutta Is No Longer a Cultural Capital

Sandip Roy

Calcutta finally completed its downfall from the cultural capital of all Asia to a narrow-minded, spirit-crippled, morally corrupt, goonda-governed provincial town. From being the great city where Rabindranath Tagore wrote ‘where the mind is without fear’ our urban concentration has now become the champion backwater place where the heart is squeezed by fear, paranoia and the over-riding greed for power.

As Asia’s Power Grows, U.S. Seeks to Strengthen Bonds

Andrew Lam

For longtime Indochina observers, the developing story is one full of irony and a signal for a major shift in the long if arduous U.S.-Indochina relations. Nearly four decades have passed, but America barely recovered from its psychic wounds. Vietnam, after all, was our “hell in a small place.” It spelled America’s ignominy. The country known for its manifest destiny was soundly defeated by what former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once called a “fourth-rate power.” Still, here we are, at the turn of the millennia, seeking a return. 

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