'I've kept a running list of observations, travel tips for those of you coming to Asia for either a short trip or an extended stay, and thoughts on innovation, all gleaned from my first year based here. Please take them in the good humor intended. In no particular order: 1. If you need to get a taxi in Singapore, don't bother trying to hail one on the street. Join a queue at a mall or hotel or call or SMS in advance. When it's raining, don't bother trying to get one at all. 2. If there are long lines at immigration in Incheon Airport in South Korea, always go to the right-most line. The lines for the locals clear fast, and they also allow foreigners. 3. Tell the kids you are going to Phi Phi Island near Phuket. Hilarity will ensue. And it's a beautiful place. Ask for Ta and Kung at the Phi Phi Island Resort. 4. If you have the choice between an Asian or Middle Eastern airline and a U.S. or European one, always take the Asian or Middle Eastern one —even if you have to pay more for it. 5. Do whatever you can to get status on Singapore Airlines as quickly as possible. If there is a company that has higher service standards than Singapore Airlines, I'd like to see it. 6. If you happen to give a speech in Asia, expect a gift. This year I received a Cross pen, two flower bouquets, a wheel of cheese (admittedly that was Amsterdam), a fake leather bag, a watch, and a bottle of champagne. 7. If someone says, "Just a minute" in India, that can mean anything from a minute to a lifetime. 8. Skype is your friend. 9. There is some kind of food at every meeting in the Philippines. 10. The least friendly country to enter is the United States. 11. If you ask Filipinos to do a skit as part of an innovation workshop, stand back; there is some real local talent. 12. Beware of pushing random buttons on the side of your toilet in Korea. 13. Singapore is like August in Washington, D.C. every day. If you are planning to move to the country, at least ask whether you need to ship 10 pairs of jeans and a dozen sweaters. 14. Chicken rice rocks! 15. Don't even consider driving your own car in India. 16. China's potential is simply awesome. 17. Asia is a really, really big place. "Popping over" to Korea from Singapore takes seven hours. 18. If you go to Shanghai take the MagLev train. It drops you in the middle of nowhere, but it's quite an experience. 19. The food stalls in Singapore offer a ridiculous price-value combination. 20. The shopping malls in Singapore, on the other hand, do not. 21. With Slingbox, Skype, and MLB.TV, it can feel like you never left home. 22. The Night Safari in Singapore is worth the visit — particularly if you have kids. 23. Avoid eating dinner in your hotel room — even if you don't speak the language, find a restaurant that has pictures on the menu. You get a better window into local culture. 24. There are more Christmas decorations in Singapore then any city I've ever visited (the plane I am currently on has wreathes in the cabin!), which is kind of weird since I don't think the local population attaches any significance to Christmas beyond shopping (though that doesn't make it much different from other countries). 25. The Korea Air Limo buses provide very pleasant, convenient, and affordable transport between the airport and any hotel. 26. The US casts a long shadow, and people will ask your opinion on healthcare reform, the approval ratings of the President, LeBron James, and Apple's latest moves. Your only hope is to read The Economist or a similar publication. 27. If Apple isn't worried about Korean, Chinese, and Taiwanese companies, it should be. 28. Don't forget about Indonesia. It is the world's second biggest market for Facebook and Blackberries. It's not quite at BRIC level yet, but it's getting pretty close. 29. The way I minimize jet lag — switch to the new time zone as quickly as you can. If you are landing at night try to exhaust yourself so you will go to sleep easily. 30. Drink lots and lots of water. 31. Tipping is not expected in most Asian countries. 32. The Fuse travel adaptor with USB output jack is a wonderful add to any traveler's bag. 33. Many Asian airlines won't allow bags that weigh more than 7 kilograms as carry-on. They don't often weigh them though, so a bag that looks light is usually enough. I use a silver one since it looks lighter than black! 34. Kids learn to use chopsticks surprisingly fast. 35. Unless you are unusually adventurous, it's probably better to not get items on a dim sum menu that you don't recognize. 36. Few things make me happier after 40 hours of travel than going through Changi airport. Time from the plane to a taxi is usually less than 15 minutes. 37. The mooncake festival rocks. 38. "MacGyver" translates to more countries than you would imagine. 39. Asian hotels generally have ridiculously fast WiFi connections. 40. Every building in Singapore has a unique zip code — it's all you need on Google Maps. 41. I've been told really cheap bottled water in India is probably worse than tap water, because chemicals from the plastic eek into the water.'http://blogs.hbr.org/anthony/2011/01/50_first-year_lessons_f...-------------------------------GG Home Fool
All of those items listed I have found to be pretty much true.Starrob
Wow, that's a great list. I'm planning on going to Manila and Macau at some point this year so should come in handy.
Manila's most endearing aspect is its people - warm, friendly, very family oriented. Varying levels of English are spoken in most touristy service establishments, though you'll have to tune in to the Filipino-American accent, somewhat like Hispanic-American. Manila, the city, can be an assault on the senses, though. Unless you confine yourself to the shopping mall/ hotel circuit, you'll need to brace yourself for a pretty appalling lack of sanitation and hygiene in many areas. In stark contrast to the quiet luxury of the many gated, high walled villas hiding the country's very privileged few.It has great bookstores, though, particularly for serious learning, including the low cost ELBS versions. Easy to lose track of time exploring them.My favorite Philippino meal is Lechon - spit roasted pork. Scrumptious! Definitely deserves the claim 'best roast pork in the world'!'Lechon, or litson in Filipino (or, I suppose, in any Philippine dialect) is basically a roasted pig. The skin of a perfect lechon is crispy, yet it melts in your mouth after the initial bite. The better part is the belly, where the secret herbs and spices come in close contact with the meat.'http://visitpinas.com/lechon-filipino-best-roasted-pork-in-t...---------------------------------------GG Home Fool
I don't think that US is the least friendly country to enter. I find my own country India anything but friendly to even the residents. I have never had issues with US immigration over the last ~10 times over 14 years. I have never heard of any of my friends having any rude experience either. Although if you Google you will find no dearth of bad experiences. The travel/immigration influx is so huge in the US that even a small fraction of bad experiences are high in absolute numbers. My Indian friends had way worse experience in Europe (relatively).Much of the list is geared primarily towards oriental Asia and is inapplicable elsewhere and some items are not even travel related.Anurag
Funny - I've always found European entry to be a breeze, particularly in northern countries like Holland, Switzerland and Germany. Both UK and the US are painful in the total airport experience - endless lines, very slow processing, and incompetent baggage handling. I've lost track of how many times those airports/ airlines lost track of my baggage.Wait till you try countries like Vietnam and China - 'unfriendly' is putting it politely! As for India, the less said about it the better.----------------------------------GG Home Fool
Wait till you try countries like Vietnam and China - 'unfriendly' is putting it politely! As for India, the less said about it the better. Exactly. That is why it seems to me that the travel tips that said US is most unfriendly is totally Singapore focused.Anurag
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