Traveling the Asia Pacific to Explore Diverse Cultures

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In January this year, MasterCard announced that based on its findings Thailand was the most popular destination for travelers visiting the Asia Pacific.

Without discounting MasterCard’s survey, one thing should be reiterated: the Asia Pacific is an incredibly expansive region, encompassing a rich range of nations and cultures.  Indeed, many people fail to understand just how geographically impressive the region is.  The Philippines, Thailand, China, North and South Korea, Japan — these are just a handful of Asia Pacific nations.  Inclusive of Australia, depending on the context, the region can even incorporate parts of Russia.

Undoubtedly, traveling within the Asia Pacific presents a remarkable opportunity to explore diverse cultures, particularly in regions such as Southeast Asia where countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia are all geographically fairly close to each other.

But, what if you were able to travel the Asia Pacific not only as part of your job, but also as a way to give back to your country?

Adam Richmond is a Los Angeles-based, Canadian-born comedian.  Working as a comedian for more than a decade, he’s performed on shows like “Last Call with Carson Daly” and “Last Comic Standing” and in venues that include The Comedy Store, Icehouse, and Improv Comedy Clubs, not to mention venues throughout the United States and Canada.

But, beyond his career highlights and beyond Adam’s stage presence and edgy comedic taste, what stands out are the comedy tours he’s done internationally.  Not every comedian gets the chance to travel overseas and perform their material to international crowds.  Similarly, not every comedian makes the effort to travel overseas to perform for the military.

Over the years, Adam Richmond has done just that.

Three times he’s participated in an Armed Forces Tour and Marine Corps Tour (MCCS), traveling to Japan, South Korea and Guam in the Asia Pacific to perform for the United States military.  In Japan, Adam traveled and performed on five different U.S. bases in cities like Hiroshima and Okinawa and even performed on a U.S. base next to Mount Fuji.  While visiting a base in Okinawa one trip, Adam’s flight even got caught in a tsunami, with his plane forced to return to base until the storm ended, then him and his comedic buddy had to “bunker down”.

But frightening moments aside, in speaking with Adam, one can immediately tell how significant supporting the U.S. troops in the Asia Pacific has been for him, both as a comedian and a person.

“I’ve done a total of three comedy tours in Asia so far and one of the things that I realized when I first did these tours, and it made a big impact on me, is just how much the troops stationed in Asia miss their country … They’re living so far away and they don’t have much opportunity to get a taste of back home.  So, performing for these troops, I was able to do two things: make them laugh and remind them of back home.”

In 2007, Adam performed in Melbourne for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and although he didn’t perform for the military there, his time in Australia was also memorable.

“I had the opportunity to visit Australia during the summer, which was amazing and definitely something I recommend to travelers.  I also had the chance to visit Bondi Beach, a popular beach in Sydney, which was incredible.  It’s a beach I definitely recommend visiting. They are also great laughers over there and starving a bit for great comedy”

Visiting new countries and seeing new sites is part of the magic of traveling, but so to is experiencing new cultures, something that Adam reiterates.

“As a comedian, I’m always writing new material.  But, one thing I realized when I performed in Australia is that I couldn’t use a lot of my normal references.  Australians are not going to get many American cultural or news references.  That’s something I took for granted.  So, as a comedian, I had to pay attention and tailor my material accordingly.  It was a great learning experience.”

Adam Richmond’s 4 Favorites In Traveling Within Asia Pacific:

Favorite Food: I thought the sushi would blow me away in Japan, but not so much.  I mean it was good, but California does it pretty right too, with being more experimental and having it’s California influence.  It was really fresh though and miming what I want to eat is always fun.  So my favorite food was the Chinese food in China. Incidentally, over there they just call it “Food”.

Favorite Destination: I loved Okinawa because it was beautiful and the weather was great when I was there, but overall Australia was really fun because the people are fun.  Speaking the same language (sort of) also makes it easier to connect with the people.  Asian people are kind, but they seem to stay to themselves and don’t want to interact too much with foreigners.

Favorite Souvenir Purchase: I got a mini Japanese Katana sword letter opener that I still use a lot.  Haha.  But my favorite thing I got over there was a gift from the Marines that was a like a little statue of a Japanese building that recognized the service of the troops over there.

Favorite Experience:  I think making people who didn’t speak English laugh a few times was always fun.  Either it was interactions with people on the street, or locals that had jobs on the base.  Body language and smiles made it easy to communicate when they were open to connecting with me.  Smiling and laughter are universal.  But overall the experience of making the troops laugh, who were in need of a break, was what made my trip there so gratifying.

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