So you think you know your favorite places in Asia? Maybe. But when it comes to historical issues that people barely talk about, we all need a crash course. Asia is the most diverse continent in the world with countries that are melting pots of both East and West. Let’s review the historical facts that we barely know about some Asian countries. These are sure to surprise you!
1. Singapore made history by launching the world’s first FORMULA 1 night race
Race car fans, aka F1 fans, already know this, but most people don’t. In 2008, Singapore made history by opening the Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix, which was the world’s first-ever F1 night race. This annual racing event takes place in the Marina Bay Street Circuit, where the tracks are beautifully lit, illuminating not only the road, but also the nighttime views of Singapore. The Grand Prix draws crowds with several concerts to mark the occasion, as well as entertainment activities that cater to F1 fans of all ages.
Read also : The Ultimate 6-Day Singapore-Malaysia Itinerary for Beginners
2. Malaysia once had two time zones
This historical fact about Malaysia still blows our minds. Malaysians changed their time zone six times before settling with Malaysian Standard Time (MYT). Malaysia’s most peculiar experience with its time zone was when it was split in two because Sabah and Sarawak were 30 minutes ahead of all other regions of the country.
This small time difference has proven to have a negative effect on working hours and coordination between West and East Malaysia. Therefore, when Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad took office in 1981, he introduced a motion to merge the time zones. Therefore, West Malaysia’s time zone has been moved forward 30 minutes to match East Malaysia. Problem solved.
3. Most old buildings in Hong Kong have rounded corners and it has been that way since the 1950s
Of course, this discussion of historical facts about Asian countries wouldn’t be complete without some fun facts about old buildings. In hong kong, for example, you might notice that their older establishments from the 1950s have rounded corners. The reasoning is simple: at the time, architects and developers were concerned with making it easier for pedestrians to see directions and spaces. Our question is: how come this brilliant idea is barely applied in modern cities?!
4. The Philippines sheltered Jews and Russians during wartime
Filipinos are known for their generosity, and throughout their country’s history, this applied to foreigners in need of help. In the 1930s, then-President Manuel Quezon implemented the “open door” policy that transformed Manila in a temporary haven for Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany. Thanks to Quezon’s efforts, 1,300 Jews escaped the clutches of the Holocaust – arguably more than the number of Oskar Schindler saved.
In 1949, Philippine President Elpidio Quirino prepared the island of Tubahao in Eastern Samar for Russian emigrants from northern China, who feared the threat of communism and labor camps. An estimated 5,000 to 6,000 White Russians settled in Tubahao over 27 months.
5. Indonesia holds the Guinness World Record for having the largest packet of instant noodles
Next on this list of Asian historical facts is something that no longer surprises: instant noodles. Asians love instant noodles and Indonesia reportedly has one of the tastiest instant noodles on the continent.
In fact, in 2005, the food manufacturer called PT Indofood Sukses Makmur Tbk broke the Guinness record for the largest packet of instant noodles. Talk about loving noodles, right? This record-breaking packet measured 3.4 meters x 0.47 meters with a net weight of 664,938 kilograms, making it 8,000 times larger than the regular packet of Mi Goreng Indomie instant noodles. We’re salivating just thinking about it!
6. Taiwan pioneered bubble tea in the 1980s
In case you don’t know yet, we have Taiwan to thank for the bubble tea. This magical concoction first appeared in Taiwan in the 1980s, slowly spread throughout Asia, and managed to seep into Western countries. Bubble tea is also called boba tea or bubble tea, with variations like milk tea and fruit tea served with coconut jelly. What is your favorite flavor?
7. Thailand is the only SEA country that has no historical western influence
Did you know that in Thai, Thailand is also called Prathet Thai, which means “Land of the Free”? This is normal because Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia that was not colonized by a European nation. Considering that all of its neighbors went through colonial rule, Thailand stands out in the region as being untouched by Western powers.
8. China was the first country to use paper money
China invented paper money in the 7th century and was the first recorded country in the world to use it for transactions. Chinese merchants thought about it because the coins became too heavy to transport as the economy boomed. Copper shortages also led to the need for paper currencies.
9. Myanmar is home to the highest concentration of Buddhist temples in the world
A list of historical facts about Asian countries would not be complete without considering Buddhism as most of the world’s Buddhists reside in Asia. And something that Burma continually boasts of being Baganhome to the largest and densest concentration of Buddhist temples, ruins, stupas and pagodas in the world.
A kingdom with a rich history dating back to the 2nd century AD, Bagan once had more than 10,000 Buddhist temples and monasteries. To this day, many temples and monasteries are active sites of devotion. The sweeping views of these sacred spaces rival those of the Egyptian pyramids, and the best way to witness its majesty is from above on a hot air balloon.
10. Vietnam became the world’s largest exporter of cashew nuts in the mid-1990s
If you are one of those people who always find themselves snacking on cashews for snacks or on road trips, you should try cashews from Vietnam. Brought to Vietnam in the 19th century, cashews were originally grown to provide shade.
However, in 1990, the national government realized the potential of cashew production and decided to invest in the industry. In the mid-1990s, Vietnam became the world’s largest exporter of cashew nuts, supplying around 55% of the world’s supply.
11. Japan was banned from the rest of the world for 217 years and vice versa
From 1635 to 1852, Japan little contact with the rest of the world due to the Sakoku Edict Law. This trade restricted and prohibited many things, including Japanese foreign travel, foreign visits, and Christianity.
The law was passed due to a number of problems the country faced when it encountered foreign powers, such as the shipment of Japanese slaves to Europe and the disease smallpox. This long period of isolation was accompanied by delays in Japan’s technological advancements. But in 1852, the US Navy forced Japan to finally open its markets.
12. Cambodia has changed its name four times in the past 60 years.
Cambodia is one of the few countries to have changed its name several times throughout history. Between 1953 and 1970, the country changed from the Kingdom of Cambodia to the Khmer Republic until 1975. But under the communist regime from 1975 to 1979, the country was called Democratic Kampuchea.
From 1989 to 1993, the country was named the State of Cambodia under the transitional authority of the UN. When the Cambodian monarchy was restored in 1993, it was officially renamed kingdom of cambodia as we know it today.
13. South Korea has another nickname besides “Land of the Morning Calm”
We will end this article on historical facts about Asian countries with everyone’s favorite destination these days: South Koreaaka Land of the Morning Calm, — and aka Land of high mountains and sparkling streams. We bet you weren’t aware of this second nickname, but it definitely has its origins.
In 918 AD, a Korean general named Wang Geon coined the name “Korea”, which comes from the old Korean word goryeo, meaning “high and clear”. Apart from the fact that goryeo was also the name of an ancient kingdom, Korean terrain is mostly characterized by mountains and streams, which makes perfect sense for the second nickname that South Korea proudly waves.
Read also : 13 fun facts about South Korea you should know before your visit!
On our travels, we learn something new every day, but that doesn’t mean we can’t educate ourselves before our trip. Which of these historical facts about Asian countries were new to you?