I know, I know…Asia is a big place. Depending on your definition it comprises up to 49 countries and 60% of the world’s population. However for the purposes of this blog post ‘Asia’ refers to China, Japan, Korea and all of South-East Asia.
Despite the huge cultural, historical, religious and ethnic differences that exist between China and Japan, Korea and Malaysia or Thailand and Vietnam, there are some striking commonalities. Here are a few uniquely Asian idiosyncrasies.
1. Couples outfits:
It is ridiculous just how common this phenomenon is among young, Asian couples. From colour-coordinated outfits and matching t-shirts to full-blown Ken & Barbie haute-couture, they just can’t get enough of the matchy-matchy.
2. Hello Kitty:
I always used to think that it was only 10 year old girls who loved the ultra-saccharine Hello Kitty, but across Asia you’ll find her in business hotels (see below if you think I”m joking), clothing for adult females and males, home decoration, appliances and basically anything you can stick a cutesy logo on.
Although Durian is only native to Indonesia and Malaysia, it appears all across East and South East Asia in all its various stinky guises: durian puffs, durian pastry, durian ice-cream and even durian flavoured coffee.
While the taste of durian is somewhat bland and benign, the smell has variously been associated with vomit, used surgical swabs, dead animals and countless other pejorative comparisons. In fact, while Asia loves to eat durian, doing so in public is guaranteed to make you a social leper and perhaps even result in a hefty fine.
4. Whitening cream:
It’s kind of ironic that while white people are constantly trying to get browner, brown people are always trying to look whiter. Just goes to show that we’re never fucking happy really. In the western world tanning salons, spray-on tan and sunbeds are the norm. In Asia, it is almost impossible to find cosmetic products (including soap, moisturizer or suncream) that doesn’t also contain whitening agents.