How To Write About SE Asia – A Sarcastic Guide To Travel Writing!

So you’re backpacking around the world, visiting incredible places you once only dreamed of. The sights, sounds and smells filling your senses, and you ache to share the experience on your blog – if only you could put it into words…

Well, South East Asia Backpacker reader Brandon King is here to help! Follow this template and you too could write like a pro!

Template for Southeast Asian Travel Writers…

Ahhhh, (insert country name), where the smell of saffron blends with motorbike exhaust and smiling schoolchildren shout “helloooooo” as they chase after you, eager to make contact. Nestled in the bosom of the Orient, (Country) is where old and new blend together better than a spicy fish curry. (Country) is every bit the exotic locale you envision it as, but now comes with a distinctly modern twist.

Holding tradition in one hand and grasping at modernization with the other, it is in (country) that you can catch monks on mopeds and peasants using their worn fingers to send text messages. (Country’s) colonial heritage (omit if writing about Thailand) will peek through from time to time, giving you a glimpse into the past.

Make no mistake about it, though – (Country) is fast hurtling towards the future after recovering from the political turmoil of the (insert decade from mid-to-late 20th century). Those were rough times for the (what) people, but their future looks to be as bright as the sun when it rises over (what national landmark).

And that. Is. It.

Pretty straightforward, you just need to cut-and-paste a name or two into this and you should be good to go. If you foolishly choose to write your own introduction, just remember that use of the word “exotic” is obligatory, as is at least one moped reference.

More Travel Writing Tips:

  • Always emphasise the contrast between old and new, tradition and modernity. This is essential to all good cliche writing about SE Asia.
  • What country in SE Asia didn’t see political turmoil sometime in the 20th century? Use the 50’s for Burma; the 60’s and/or 70’s will cover all of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.
  • Food-related similes or metaphors are always good. Be sure to make them corny. And cheesy.
  • You can also use this as a template to write about India. If you do so, substitute “cow” for “moped”.
  • The key to good travel writing is always making a place sound good. I call this the “Lonely Planet approach”. So even if a city is completely without merit, you should learn how to make its weaknesses seem like assets. Let’s try this with Compton, California:

Ahhhhhh, Compton, California. The birthplace of some of the most significant hip-hop acts of the 20th century, from Eazy E to NWA, and a city with a rich legacy of political demonstration. Look past the turf wars, and you’ll find a city soaking in more reality than a waffle in gravy. It took Rodney King to put Compton on the map, but now that it’s there, don’t expect it to go away anytime soon!

See? It’s fun and easy and now you too can earn dozens of dollars writing about SE Asia.

Editor’s Note: For some serious travel writing info, head over to our writers’ page!

About the writer: Brandon King resides in Shanghai, China, where he is the Marketing and Communications Services Manager for In-house Web, a web development agency specializing in Chinese social media and constructing bilingual English/Chinese websites.

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