Stolen kiss. Grandson G. at the Peranakan Museum, Singapore, 2017.
Asia eluded me. I was born in the Far East but left too young to really remember. I was then raised in Africa. Spent the rest of my life between Europe and the Americas. And I’m sorry to say, the evolution of Africa and Latin America in the past 50 years have left much be desired.
So, when circumstances made us pack the entire family, grandson included, to South-East Asia end of 2017, I was more than curious. What would Asia be like?
Guang-Zhou airport, 2017.
Cultural Revolution, China, c.1967. 50 years separate the two pictures. GDP (Gross Domestic Product) per capita in East Asia and Pacific has tripled since 1990. In Guang-Zhou, the airport, the buildings we saw by the plane windows, the airlines, did not exist 40 years ago. Impressive? Yes.
In this vintage Mexican map hanging proudly on one of our walls, you can see our itinerary: stop-over at Canton (Guang-Zhou), a week in Singapore, ditto in Georgetown, Malaysia, a week in a Thai island, to the west of “Siam”. Bangkok, Siem-Reap, Cambodia. You can see Phomnh-Penh between Bangkok and Saïgon. This map was drawn around 1947. The product flows are indicated in red: petrol, sugar, copra, rubber, tin, rice, tea, cotton, spices… primary products mostly. Today, the majority of smartphones are manufactured in that region.
The longest Buddha. Bangkok. Executive summary. So long I could only photograph the head and feet.
And restored. Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia. The latter photo is the Blue Mansion. In the various places of Asia we’ve seen, they have managed to maintain the old and the new. Development and heritage.
Gardens by the bay, Singapore. in 2016, Singapore’s GDP per capita was 81,000 “International” Dollars. At purchasing power parity, which means that cost of living is taken into consideration to adjust GDP. As a comparison, the US GDP per capita, same conditions, was $53,000. In other words, Singapore is 50% above the US. For the sake of comparison, I hate to mention France’s GDP per capita: $38,000. Flat mostly for the past ten years in constant monetary terms. Which may explain a lot of things going on in France right now.
Ancient Chinese deity or warrior, Singapore. Tradition has been preserved, despite modernity. The Jade Emperor was just celebrated across Asia. A story of thousands of years. Can that be a clue? Tradition and modernity?
Bangkok, 2018. In Bangkok, all that glitters is gold. Thailand is not by far the richest country in Asia, but its GDP per capita is now equivalent to that of Mexico: around 16,000 dollars a year (PPP).
Our AirBn’B in Georgetown. Note the Matisse and Hiroshige prints on the walls of this very tastefully rehabilitated Chinese shophouse.
I‘ve often commented on our English friends’ poor taste in their naming of streets. From a Frog perspective, of course. It seems they have passed it on to Asia. The above is in Singapore. Observation: after Independence, Singapore has kept the street names of the English. I have seen no resentment against the former colonial power. (As is so common in many parts of the world.) In Asia, all indicates that the colonial past has been integrated. Part of history. And then “move on”. Visit the Singapore Museum and you will see what I mean. This is what I would call the “Fusion” concept.
The lotus flower. This, if I recall properly, is outside a Hindu temple in Georgetown, Penang. Next to a Chinese temple or a Mosque. Another variant of the “Fusion” concept. On certain blogs you can see Peranakan Chinese participating in Hindu celebrations such as Diwali. Fusion? Integration?
For the love of kingfishers. Another point in favour. Reasonably good beer across the region. 🙂
Honouring the gods and ancestors. (Another clue?) Georgetown, Penang. The painted young woman is not holding chopsticks, but incense sticks. To burn on the – real – altar above. And from what I can tell, this traditional garment (which name escapes me) is still worn – proudly – on special occasions.
Peranakan houses, Singapore.
The artist house, Bangkok, Thaïland. A puppet used to enact the Mahabharata, a Hindu myth or legend. In a Buddhist country? Fusion again.
China House, Georgetown, Penang. Food is universal? We didn’t try those tacos, though. Stuck to local food. (This post has cost me blood. As I’d arrived to the next image, I tried to preview, and the godforsaken system had gone into a loop and would not save!!!! Copied all to a Word file for structure and had to re-do it again from scratch…)
Allow me to thank the China House again for this perfect conclusion. And thank you for visiting and reading. This post has allowed me to further my reflection on a topic that’s been in my head for a while. To be continued…