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The First Time Traveler's Guide to East Asia


Making your first trip to East or Southeast Asia? Wondering where to go?

Okay, I've spent significant time in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. I can weigh in on those places for you. I haven't been to Macau, Laos, Burma, the Philippines, North Korea, or Indonesia yet - of them, I've heard great things about the Philippines and Indonesia in particular, but I can't comment.

So, some thoughts about every country -

Japan - Still the crown jewel of Asia, Japan has something for everyone. There's ancient and hyper-modern culture mixed all together. There's amazing technology, high levels of development, basically nonexistent crime, ridiculously high standards of quality and hygiene, and the people are friendly and polite. English isn't widely spoken, but the Japanese take being good hosts seriously and you'll be fine in any major city. You can find quite literally anything here - amazing camping and mountains and forests and oceans, or hyper-developed space-age districts in cities.

The downside of Japan - It's fucking expensive. Like, really really expensive. I hate spending money on eating and sleeping - every dollar I put into basic "staying alive" stuff is less money to be invested in commerce or philanthropy, or learning, or having unique experiences that are more interesting than... well, eating and sleeping. Yet, eating and sleeping is brutally expensive here. If you're not a veteran traveler and don't have friends here, you'll be hard pressed to spend less than $100/day in Japan. If you slum it hard, you can maybe get down to $50/day. Everything's ridiculously expensive, ranging from 400% to 2,000% higher than still-developing countries in Asia.

Parkour Shoes and Reviews

On Jumping on Entrepreneurship

As parkour has grown in popularity, a lot of companies have created and sold parkour shoes. A lot of people ask me what is the best shoe for parkour, so I’ve put together this guide to the most common shoes people might suggest for parkour. This is by no means an exhaustive list, these are just the most common ones that I have enough experience with to review.

One quick note: I am a big fan of minimalist shoes. There’s a lot of research out there that shows that the more padding and cushioning a shoe has, the MORE damage it does to your feet, knees, and hips. That’s out of the scope of this article though.

Full disclosure: In early 2010 I received some free Ariakes from K-Swiss. This has not influenced my review, but I wanted to be transparent.

K-Swiss Ariake [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="K-Swiss Ariake Parkour Shoe"][/caption]Price: Around $100

Description: This was the first shoe created and marketed specifically for Parkour. They’re made by K-Swiss. They sent a lot of free pairs out to traceurs a few years ago to help spread the word about being a Parkour shoe. Many people wearing Ariakes got theirs for free, either directly from K-Swiss or from someone who got them from K-Swiss. They also come in lots of different (and crazy) colors, which can be a pro or a con depending on your preference. :)

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