Final thoughts on Asia
When I first went to Europe, I was a junior in college. I had never traveled outside the United States before then. It was a life-changing experience. The world in Europe felt foreign. They lived life differently, they spoke a different language, they ate different foods and they seemed so much more sophisticated. 35 years later, Europe feels like an extended cousin as our cultures have collided and English is spoken almost everywhere.
This summer we spent most of June in Europe, and we both came home feeling like Europe was holding onto a past life and was having trouble moving forward. We felt troubled by the vibe on the streets.
After just spending the last three weeks in Asia, it feels extremely different. I am really glad we saw Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam at the same time as even though they are separate countries, they are all connected and China looms over all 3. History has proven that the US should have got behind Ho Chi Minh, who really just wanted to make Vietnam a better place for his countrymen and we read that situation wrong. So Minh went to Russia where he found a different way to empower his people, through Communism. Communism still rules in all of Asia but instead of equality for all, there is Capitalism without votes. Capitalism creates an economy which is why 1/3 of the wealthiest people in the world live in China.
30 years from now I hope that Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam will find a new generation of voices to change their Government and allow a voice for the people vs the quasi-dictators that rule today. It appears that most people believe it will take that long because right now they are also just so happy to have peace and live their lives. All three of these countries are freely connected to the Internet so the youth are quite aware of the rest of the world and that makes an impact.
Hong Kong is slowly becoming another Chinese city but it is not quite there yet. Shanghai, on the other hand, is booming. The streets are packed, there is a lot of wealth, there are plenty of jobs, there is art, there is food, there is old, there is new, there is tourism, there is fashion, there is wine, there is everything….and the reality is they do not need us. They are completely fine not using US companies such as Google and forcing their citizens to use Chinese products. We felt the heavy hand ever so lightly. Here culture and language are extremely different even more so than I felt in Europe 35 years ago.
We came home, landed at JFK, which feels old and in need of a serious face-lift and I can’t help but think at one point China will rule the world. How they rule is yet to be shown but from the vast amount of people, their city planning, their efficient transportation and more, it will happen, the only question to be answered is when.