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south china sea conflict

Country-Hopping in Shaky Southeast Asia

On 01, Aug 2014 | No Comments | In Culture, Malaysia, Thailand, Travel, Vietnam | By kanannie

My parents have been worrying sick over my well-being for the past few months. While they were mostly fine with us traveling through Europe (except for a brief conversation I had with my father about Russia), they were secretly alarmed when we told them Southeast Asia was next. In true Japanese fashion, they tried to hide their concerns from me.

Demonstrators being sprayed with water cannons. (Cheng Ko/Reuters)

The Taiwanese student demonstrations were on the news every night and they silently beared it until we were a few days away from leaving. My mother asked why we felt the need to go to Taiwan, right now, in the midst of these demonstrations. They got annoyed with me when I responded that I wasn’t planning on participating in the protests.

Student protesters occupying the Taiwanese Legislature. (Ashley Pon/Getty Images)

Protesters during a peaceful demonstration against the trade pact. (Mandy Cheng/AFP/Getty Images)

A protester holding up a sign. (Mandy Cheng/AFP/Getty Images)

A protester scuffles with police. (Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images)

A press conference in the Taiwan Legislature. (Wally Santana/AP)

Two weeks into my gastric issues in Vietnam, China started stirring shit in the South China Sea and bullying Vietnamese boats in Vietnamese waters. My parents were terrified. When I told them that we were watching the developments and we would be careful, they responded with a barrage of angry questions. “Why haven’t you left already? Why do you want to stay in Vietnam so much? Do you understand that Japanese factories were torched? Do you even watch the news? Why aren’t you leaving when the Chinese are escaping through the closest border available?!” I imagined a horde of middle-aged Chinese women with curly perms, colorfully patterned clothes and Louis Vuitton bags on their arms screaming and running along a dusty road towards the Cambodian border while deeply-tanned tuk-tuk drivers waited on the other side to whisk them away to Nowheresville, Cambodia.

Chinese nationals cross the border into Cambodia during the height of the riots. (Reuters)

Chinese nationals arriving in China after leaving Vietnam. (ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)

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