Even though it’s only been a few weeks since I returned home, our trip to Asia feels like a hazy dream. This is not a recount of the whole trip but a collection of some of my favorite memories along the way.
Music: By me
Thank you to Finn for being the best travel companion you could ask for. Thank you to the many other people who were so welcoming and helped make this trip amazing (especially Kevin and Mitch for flying from New York back to their homes to show us around).
In general terms, Asia is bounded on the east by the Pacific Ocean, on the south by the Indian Ocean, and on the north by the Arctic Ocean. The border of Asia with Europe is a historical and cultural construct, as there is no clear physical and geographical separation between them. It is somewhat arbitrary and has moved since its first conception in classical antiquity. The division of Eurasia into two continents reflects East-Westcultural, linguistic, and ethnic differences, some of which vary on a spectrum rather than with a sharp dividing line. The most commonly accepted boundaries place Asia to the east of the Suez Canal separating it from Africa; and to the east of the Turkish Straits, the Ural Mountains and Ural River, and to the south of the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian and Black Seas, separating it from Europe.
China and India alternated in being the largest economies in the world from 1 to 1800 CE. China was a major economic power and attracted many to the east, and for many the legendary wealth and prosperity of the ancient culture of India personified Asia, attracting European commerce, exploration and colonialism. The accidental discovery of a trans-Atlantic route from Europe to America by Columbus while in search for a route to India demonstrates this deep fascination. The Silk Road became the main East-West trading route in the Asian hinterlands while the Straits of Malacca stood as a major sea route. Asia has exhibited economic dynamism (particularly East Asia) as well as robust population growth during the 20th century, but overall population growth has since fallen. Asia was the birthplace of most of the world’s mainstream religions including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Jainism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, as well as many other religions.
Given its size and diversity, the concept of Asia—a name dating back to classical antiquity—may actually have more to do with human geographythan physical geography. Asia varies greatly across and within its regions with regard to ethnic groups, cultures, environments, economics, historical ties and government systems. It also has a mix of many different climates ranging from the equatorial south via the hot desert in the Middle East, temperate areas in the east and the continental centre to vast subarctic and polar areas in Siberia.