Asian cable TV is full of glossy ads run by the national tourist offices of various countries, some in the neighborhood and some pretty far a field. Throw in lots of ads for first class air travel and you have a picture of a perfect world, a non-stop, five star bonanza of gourmet food, perfect white sand beaches, beautiful serving girls, and uninhibited luxury.
“Malaysia, truly Asia!” If there’s one thing that Malaysia truly is not, it’s truly Asia, not even truly South-East-Asia. Oh, it’s a nice place, and the people seem friendly enough, but believe me, a little bit goes a long way.
“Amazing Thailand!” This one is much more on the mark. Thailand is pretty amazing, in good ways, ways that will surprise and delight you. If there’s one place that’s worth going half way around the world for, Thailand is probably it. After five years, I still find it endlessly fascinating and comfortable, and I feel quite safe here, in spite of what you may be reading about the local politics.
“Incredible India!” This slogan is also precisely descriptive, although not in the way in which it was intended by the tourist board. India is incredible, unbelievable, as in, “can you believe that smell?” Or, “who would believe that there could be so many beggars in the world?” Or, "I can't believe I have to throw up again!"
The real punch-line here is Angola. Way out in South-West Africa, it’s a little strange that they would advertise in Asia looking for tourist business. For most of my life, Angola was a lawless place, a still-born state torn by revolutionary struggle, overrun by various armed factions, South African armed forces, and bandits. For some reason known only to God, they decided to go with the slogan: “Reach for the Sky!”