In 2010 I was already deep in the Asian continent. But it was the Asian part of the Russian Federation what makes it different and pretty European...
My first real trip to an „Asian Asian“ country was to Vietnam on the turn of the year 2013 to 2014.
From a continental perspective, my second trip was in May/June 2018 to Kirgistan and Kazakhstan. But you'll find it in the „Post-Soviet Space“ because it is not „Asian Asian“, even though pretty Asian already, especially in comparison to the Asian Part of Russia.
So, my third or respectively second trip to an „Asian Asian“ country/region was my trip to South East Asia in August 2018. I was starting in Singapore but immediately continued to Malaysia, specifically to the island of Tioman, because I respectively we had a family gathering there. I didn't travel in Malaysia and only the island (which I can recommend, by the way) doesn't count for me as „journey“, because it were simple beach holidays.
The family gathering was the main purpose to go to Asia. But to fly half the world only to stay there for about half a week would have been exaggerated, so I decided to connect it with something else in the region. Already in February 2018 I attended a concert in Vienna of one of my most favourite groups called Kodo from Japan. They distributed flyers about their annual festival on their home base Sado Island called „Earth Celebration“ always taking place in August: https://earthcelebration.jp/
So I connected the family gathering with this festival in Japan, starting in Singapore with a stop over on Tioman, heading back to Singapore and from there flying to Japan (with a stop over in Bangkok). Below you'll see the reason where my idea to go to Japan was coming from:
What did I like more, Vietnam or Japan?
I was already asked if I enjoyed Vietnam and/or Japan and what I liked more. In my opinion you cannot compare them or it would be unfair as they are pretty different.
For example I know that Vietnam is very popular and people love it. The landscape is really beautiful, without question, and the places I have seen were interesting and I liked them. But I have to say that it didn't „impress“ me somehow... And Singapore impressed me even less. Yes, sure, super modern buildings, skyscrapers and you can see that they got money in a short period of time. This is nice for the people there but it bores me...
Whereas Japan was a bullseye! You see and feel that Japan has a long history and they connect old traditions with modern times. I already mentioned that Vietnam has beautiful landscape but Japan too. In addition their architecture, music and art, their language and behaving complete the picture. In Vietnam I only recognised specific aspects. Even though Hanoi is one of the oldes cities (capital) in South East Asia, Vietnam as a country and/or the society are quite „young“ or experienced devastations through Chinese or French occupation, revolution, the Indochina War followed by the fierce Vietnam war. Whereas Japan's history is more consistend and coherent, also with inner conflicts but never occupied or devastated from outside – except WW2.
This is why you see, hear and feel the „high“ culture in Japan: the details in their buildings and architecture. Even the sound of the language (IMO the coolest sounding language in the world!) and how they express words leave the impression that every single word is important, meaning it seriously and expressing respect. Same even for their moves and (facial) expressions etc. But I guess that on the other hand side these „masks“ lead to (inner) pressure and high rate of suicide...
But I also have to say that comparing Vietnamese and Japanese people is some kind of unfair. It would be like comparing someone from a Scandinavian country with someone from the Mediterranean area!
Their lifes are pretty different. Vietnamese people spend time outside, on the streets, in the fields, on the water etc.; they are socialising, loud and busy, making business and going from here to there. Whereas Japanese people are in my opinion introverted, polite, quiet and I would also say that they enjoy time they spend in small groups like mainly within the family. For Japanese foreigners could bring problems and contact is a bit more like „hmmm, when it really has to be....“ or „I don't want to make (and/or show) a mistake...“, whereas for Vietnamese foreigners could mean business, regardless of mistakes :) So, two totally different mentalities.
And Singaporians? I cannot say anything specific. Time was too short and the city couldn't catch me, so I was also not really in the mood of finding out.
As a conclusion I'd say that Japanese are the „Scandinavian people“ and Vietnamese the „Mediterranean type“.
Japan was one of my greatest journeys so far, because I got to know new cultural aspects. The Asian continent is huge, so I cannot say what to see next. But I definitely would like to go to Japan again. The Earth Celebration event and Sado Island are really awesome and I want to spent time there again.