"Japan — The home of ninjas, sushi and Hello Kitty
Mongolia — a nomadic land of vast spaces
North Korea — Orwell's worst nightmares come true "
All three of those are technically true, but are there better descriptions we can give?
Possibly. If you have better ideas, feel free to plunge forward and edit it - that's how WikiTravel works! Rmx 15:29, 9 Dec 2005 (EST)
As the author of the admittedly glib descriptions above, I'd appreciate it if they don't get watered down to meaninglessness though. "Japan - Great food, great scenery and friendly people" would be equally true, but tells the traveler absolutely nothing... Jpatokal 12:20, 11 Dec 2005 (EST)
Better is fine. But not merely blandly different. "Las Vegas" is a reasonable English icon to stand in place of "gambling city". If you were going to change it to something different (i.e., other than Gambling), that would be okay. But merely axing the synonym isn't so good. The change that was made to NK was simply wrong -- tourism is allowed. A different change might have been okay, but Orwellian is the shortest summation I can think of. The description of SK as "one of the four dragons" left the reader to wonder what the other three might be and whether they might fly in and eat him tonight, so I nixed that change too. Lastly, the phrase "Possibly the most advanced country" is meaningless, and should be taken out and beaten repeatedly. -- Colin 02:32, 26 Dec 2005 (EST)
I'd like to voice my support here for Jpatokal's descriptions. Lively spicier writing is better and that's all there is to it. This is a travel guide, not an encyclopedia durnit.
Hi Xltel and Wrh2, any particular reason to skip my edition? I won’t to raise a political debate here. Here’s my opinion of my modification. I changed “Countries” to “Countries and Regions” because Hong Kong and Macao are definitely not countries. As for Taiwan, I add a common comment “precious island of China”. When I am talking about China, I am not meaning P.R.C or R.O.C, I mean a culture China. Besides, both P.R.C and R.O.C have a same China in their name as well.
Sorry for the quick reverts. The Taiwan article is a magnet for political edits on both sides of the argument, so any potentially controversial edits are usually quickly reverted. In this case "precious island of China" reads as "Taiwan is owned by China". It would be better to simply leave it as-is to avoid controversy (in my opinion). As to the "Countries and Regions" edit, the concern there would be that people start adding all sorts of regions to the list. Perhaps take a look at Wikitravel:Region article template and see if there is either another heading that we can put Hong Kong under, or perhaps some other way to list countries while still noting that the rules for visiting Hong Kong are different from those for visiting mainland China. -- Ryan 21:14, 15 March 2006 (EST)
It looks strange to see Macau and HK in a section labeled "Countries". -- Colin 01:37, 16 March 2006 (EST)
True. Perhaps we should just change the heading to the standard "Regions" and be done with it. I'm still very much against the "precious island of China" edit however, which is why I made a revert in the first place. -- Ryan 02:15, 16 March 2006 (EST)
HK, Macau and Taiwan are now a sublevel under "China", which I think is uncontroversial — as long as China isn't equated too closely to the PRC. Jpatokal 04:06, 16 March 2006 (EST)
Agree about "precious island". In English at least, the phrase earns a blackbelt in awkwardness. -- Colin 14:52, 16 March 2006 (EST)
Removed title renegade in reference to Taiwan. It is a subjective term (countries that recognize the ROC, for example, will not use it nor will the people of Taiwan) that provides little info that is of value to travelers (see Wikitravel:The traveller comes first), while at the same time is likely to incite edit wars (as is currently happening). WindHorse 01:46, 11 May 2007 (EDT)
This cities list is one too many. I'd propose removing Ulaanbaatar, as it's hardly the feather in Mongolia's sightseeing cap. Any objections? --PeterTalk 23:29, 6 March 2008 (EST)
I propose replacing Lhasa with Shanghai. In terms of importance, Shanghai is definitely way more important than Lhasa, and Shanghai is the main commercial centre of China. I'm not discouraging people from visiting Lhasa, but I guess we can compensate for Lhasa's removal by putting Tibet in the "other destinations". What do you think? Superdog 11:34, 18 July 2010 (EDT)
Lhasa has a more distinct and unique culture than Shanghai, but yes, Shanghai is the center of business. Although I don't mind leaving it as it is, I wouldn't object to switching them out, either. ChubbyWimbus 16:34, 18 July 2010 (EDT)
I think the reason for including Lhasa has been that it represents Western East Asia. Eastern East Asia has been fully represented already, and China already has 2 big cities from the Eastern side. --globe-trotter 18:51, 18 July 2010 (EDT)
I'd be fine with jettisoning Pyongyang for Shanghai, as the former is of virtually zero travel relevance, and the latter incredibly important. I understand, the desire to keep all the national capitals, but nonetheless... --PeterTalk 17:44, 19 July 2010 (EDT)
Definitely Lhasa's culture is more unique and distinct than Shanghai's, but in terms of economic importance, Shanghai is definitely much higher. I'm not sure how such lists are set up, but if economic importance to the world is the main factor, I would even say remove Kyoto and put in Osaka.
There is not really a strict standard on how to choose the cities. Everything is considered, but we try to balance it out to emphasize both diversity and popularity as a tourist attraction/city. In this regard, a city like Osaka falls way short of a city like Kyoto. ChubbyWimbus 11:32, 23 July 2010 (EDT)
I do think Shanghai should be listed. I wouldn't mind dropping Lhasa. I'd rather drop that than Pyongyang since then we would still have a big city from all the countries. --globe-trotter 17:46, 23 July 2010 (EDT)
So shall we just settle on replacing Lhasa with Shanghai, and listing Tibet under other destinations. Tibet is definitely off the beaten track for the average traveller, and based on this, I think it does warrant a listing under "other destinations". Tibet would presumably cover Lhasa as well, since Lhasa is the capital of Tibet. --Superdog 00:12, 26 July 2010 (EDT)
Yeah, that sounds okay. If Shanghai must enter, I'd also rather get rid of Lhasa than Pyongyang. I'd replace Qomolangma with Tibet, since it is located within Tibet on the "Other Destinations" list. ChubbyWimbus 02:30, 26 July 2010 (EDT)
I've removed it. I've also added to Central Asia. I've also discussed WHY on the Mongolia talk page. The only thing left to do is make it so that the Mongolia article shows up top:
Asia : Central Asia : Mongolia
I put it back. I think we need discussion first in this case, especially since there are a number of intertextual references to Mongolia here that will have to be rewritten. Wikipedia refers to it as East-Central Asia, and culturally, Mongolia has things in common with both, so let's discuss please. Texugo 05:43, 17 March 2008 (EDT)
Really? What does it have in common with East Asia? Please tell me.
So... nothing in common with East Asia?
I'm sorry but you're going to have to wait for discussion. For one thing, it is physically separated from the other places we have designated as Central-- if you make it Central Asia it sticks way off the side the rest of Central Asia on the map. For two, it shares a great deal more Chinese influence and history than many places in Central Asia. I think we need to build a consensus before moving things around so much. Texugo 06:13, 17 March 2008 (EDT)
That's ridiculous. One: What Chinese influence? Most countries "influenced" by China took on the Chinese characters at some point, adopted Taoist philosophy, elements of Chinese etiquette, cuisine. As far as I can tell it's more that THEY influenced CHINA.
Furthermore, the physical separation is only completed thanks to Chinese occupation of Uyghur land. Not to talk politics, just saying, between Kazakhstan and Mongolia is Chinese administered land filled with Central Asian people, among them, the Kazakhs, who are also a sizeable minority here in Mongolia.
I don't claim to be an expert here. You may very well raise a consensus for this change, but I don't think it's so cut and dried as to not provoke some discussion. The simple fact is that this article has been kept as East Asia for a long time, and I think a new user coming in and changing it on day one is a little hasty. Texugo 06:21, 17 March 2008 (EDT)
I think it IS pretty cut and dried, I think just most people on here haven't actually took the time to think about Mongolia. It kinda just got thrown onto the East Asia page all "It's got nomads!" (something China largely lacks and Kyrgyzstan does not)
But very well. I will wait for discussion.
Thanks for your patience. Just so others can see what it would look like, I want to post here the map you altered. Moving Mongolia to Central Asia would result in this:
Fair, but I'd like to throw out there that THIS was a compromise. A truly accurate map of China would include green and blue stripes through the west to indicate the LOCAL population's being southern or central Asian, while the COUNTRY ITSELF is run by East Asians (hence its colouration.) Therefore, Mongolia is cut off because other dominant cultures of the region are under "occupation"
Look, if any Chinese people are offended, I'm sorry. I'm trying to prove a point about another country, not you. Although if any are reading this: Free Tibet, Free East Turkestan.
Actually, Tibet makes a great point. Tibetans are a Sino-Tibetan people (hence related to the Chinese) residing in an area smack-dab between South Asia (Nepal, India) and Central Asia (East Turkestan).
TIBET, if it were an independent state, would be a nuanced case. I do not see Mongolia as such, since the majority of the population are ethnic Mongols and the largest minority are Kazakhs, another Central Asian group.
AFGHANISTAN is a nuanced case, since they are made up of Persians, South Asians, and Central Asians.
TAJIKISTAN might even be nuanced, since the Central Asia page seems to define Central Asia as "Turkic" (perhaps why people object to Mongolians being included?) but yet they are Persians (like some Afghanis and almost all Iranians)
Wikitravel's geographical hierarchy is not about politics, it's about geography. Is Mongolia located on the eastern side of the Asian continent? Why, yes, it is, so the logical place to file it is under East Asia. Does Mongolia have any borders with Central Asian countries? Why, no, it does not, so slotting in there would be rather odd.
Now, I'm perfectly fine with little pointers in East Asia saying that Mongolia, Xinjiang etc are sometimes culturally considered parts of Central Asia. However, the way Wikitravel is set up, each country has to be part of one region and no more.
And one last note: you're conflating "Chinese" with "Han". The Manchu (Qing) were from China, not Mongolia, yet they ruled both for centuries, and Mongolia shares a lot of culture with northern and western China (Inner Mongolia, Gansu, Xinjiang, Tibet, etc.) Jpatokal 08:12, 17 March 2008 (EDT)
This is ridiculous. You say it's about geography but if you dropped all the borders the middle of the continent would be somewhere in between Kazakhstan and Mongolia. There is absolutely no reason why Mongolia should be considered part of East Asia except it's "connection" to China which is by virtue of people like the residents of Xinjiang who are geographically CENTRAL and CULTURALLY CENTRAL Asian.
You also say its not political but clearly your whole argument centres on the "legitimacy" of the PRC as a "unified China" with all residents being "Chinese". And I quote: "The Manchu (Qing) were from China, not Mongolia, yet they ruled both for centuries, and Mongolia shares a lot of culture with northern and western China (Inner Mongolia, Gansu, Xinjiang, Tibet, etc.)" We don't have to agree about whether or not Tibetans or Uyghurs are part of "Greater China" but we can at least admit THAT's up to debate. The centre of Asia is not. It is in Xinjiang, right between Kazakhstan and Mongolia.
No, the legitimacy of the PRC or whether Tibetans/Uyghurs are a part of "Greater China" is specifically not up for debate. Our regions consist of entire countries, so splitting up China between East and Central is not an option. We've also got Turkey in "Mediterranean Europe" and Russia in "Eastern Europe", which doesn't mean either is 100% Europe, it just means that there's no better alternative. Jpatokal 11:25, 17 March 2008 (EDT)
OH WAIT, I'll put it to you another way. Russians are EUROPEANS. But Russia has claimed half of Asia. Does this mean that by virtue of its proximity to Russia, Mongolia is Europe? Similarly, by virtue of its proximity to China, is Mongolia East Asia?
Back to how you guys seem so convinced that Kazakhstan is obviously Central, while Mongolia and China are east.
Wait it turns out I'm not done making fun of you for saying there's no political angle to this definition, just pure geography:
Let's not confuse political geography (borders) with politics. China has internationally accepted borders (regardless of groups who'd change them) and that's what we use around here. That said, if we call China east, it pretty much makes Mongolia east too, given that there are no other countries up there to warrant making a separate "Northeast Asia" region. Texugo 10:31, 17 March 2008 (EDT)
Agree with Jpatokal and Texugo, one of our core policies here is that the traveler comes first... we divide things up in groups that make sense for travel... we are not an extension of Wikipedia, where all of the history and politics come into play... we're only concerned with dividing the world up into chunks that are digestible for and make sense to a traveler... btw, as far as I know none of the other guidebook writers like LP etc put Mongolia in Central Asia, much for the same reason – cacahuatetalk 21:37, 17 March 2008 (EDT)
Okay, wow, ONE: I did NOT say that we should recategorise China. I recognise China's borders as being there and think China should be considered East Asia. I am however saying that within those borders, not everything is so simple, and since Mongolia is (shocker) outside of those borders, it is not bound by China's decisions. Furthermore, as you'll see from the map, Mongolia is hardly east of a line drawn down the middle of Asia. Most is east, some is west, etc. If we're gonna categorise Mongolia based on its so-called "Chinese cultural influence" and proximity to China, let's move Vietnam into East Asia too! How bout that? Also: Fuck Lonely Planet. Lonely Planet writes crappy guides. Cite me Lonely Planet's categorisation of Mongolia and I'll be mad you picked Lonely Planet, but I don't even think it says it. I have never heard from anyone (Mongolian people, Kazakh people, Russian people, American people, British people, Chinese people or ANY travel guide) that Mongolia is anything BUT Central Asia.
Also, FOR THE TRAVELLER? It's not like Mongolia is an enclave of China. It is perfectly possible to visit Mongolia without visiting China. In fact, its perfectly possible to visit Mongolia and the REST OF CENTRAL ASIA BY TRAIN without hitting up China. Granted you have to go through Russia, but again, by that reasoning, why don't we just call Mongolia EUROPE?
I have actually yet to hear one good point from one of you as to why Mongolia is East Asia.
The problem is that going on pure geography, central asia looks something like this:
But that's not how politically or culturally shit falls. So we are gonna run into problems trying to categorise states. I maintain however, that since we categorise Poland as Central Europe (by virtue of their location sort of on the Eastern centre, their Central European culture, and their dislike of their Eastern neighbours) we should similarly categorise Mongolia. Is that REALLY so objectionable?
Please STOP YELLING. Wikitravel works by consensus, and that means you have to convince us that you're right, not the other way around.
As for Poland, if you look at the map, you can see that it's right next to all the other Central European states. There's been plenty of ink spilled on the topic of splitting up Europe though...
At the end of the day, though, these debates are remarkably unproductive: does it really make any practical difference which region a country is in? If you want to promote Mongolia, the time you (and I) are wasting here splitting hairs would be much more useful to put into improving the Mongolia article itself. Jpatokal 03:44, 18 March 2008 (EDT)
Well, I wrote the following response at the same time Jani was writing, but I'll go ahead and post it anyway:
I think we are all aware that Central Asia is basically what that map shows but many places often get a dually classified, something Wikitravel's geographical hierarchy deals with by grouping countries geographically and explaining the difference in the Understand section. (I seriously doubt we're going to put Pakistan, India, Nepal or Bhutan in "Central Asia" either, though your map shows them.) If you'll have a google or three online you can easily find tons of situations in which Mongolia is referred to both as East Asia and as Central Asia, and you might could even find some guidebook which backs your position. However, for our purposes, geo-politically Mongolia falls into a contiguous block with the rest of East Asia, exactly as Poland falls into a contiguous block with Central Europe. It just makes sense visually. And by the way, I don't think your accusatory attitude is helping your cause. Texugo 03:48, 18 March 2008 (EDT)
I'm not trying to PROMOTE Mongolia. I mean, honestly. Who do you think is better to be thrown in with for tourism? Japan/China/Korea, or Kyrgyzstan/Tajikistan/Uzbekistan?
As it happens, I'm planning trips to both Kazakhstan and Mongolia. However, I'll be visiting them separately and arriving in Mongolia via the Trans-Siberian from China, because there is no way to visit Mongolia from Kazakhstan. Guess how many flights there are from Ulan Bator's airport on any airline to anywhere in Central Asia? That's right, zero. And no roads, trains or boats either. Jpatokal 07:12, 18 March 2008 (EDT)
No, I don't think we should move Pakistan either, but that's because Pakistanis almost universally identify as South Asian, and the vast majority of their country (by all definitions) is not in Central Asia. Some definitions go BY cultural/geographical proximity to Mongolia, others (such as your backward one) omits it entirely. I would stand somewhere in the middle, except that you'll never find a Mongolian who calls themselves "East Asian", and other than you two, the only definition I can find of Mongolia as non-central Asian comes from the USSR, which omits it because its of Central Asia Republics of the USSR, which Mongolia couldnt be because it wasnt part of the USSR.
The first google image that came up for "Central Asia" agreed with my definition (although admittedly most of the rest were images of the former USSR states in Central Asia, which for reasons stated above did not include Mongolia), everyone's beloved wikipedia lists it as "east-central asia" which to ME sounds like the eastern part of central Asia, but the only other definition is that its part of BOTH. (Unless you're arguing its the central part of east Asia, in which case I'd like to ask what the WEST of east Asia is)
If you look at the links for "East-Central Asia" on Wikipedia's Mongolia page, they go to both East Asia and Central Asia. Jpatokal 07:12, 18 March 2008 (EDT)
And seriously, I've never met anyone before joining wikitravel who thought of Mongolia as East Asia. And if we do keep Mongolia here, I really am going to push for Vietnam as well (since its the northernmost of all southeast asian states on the Asian continent, adheres to Chinese buddhism, used Chinese characters pre-colonialism, and has heavy Taoist and Confucian influence, all of which are unique among southeast Asian states, excluding Singapore)
Finally, I'd like to admit it does look like it's just me yelling at you two. However, I feel that means we need more people throwing in their two cents. So far, we have one person who supports Mongolia being moved to Central Asia (a rabid fan of Central Asia, obviously), and two (one of whom has never been to Central Asia by anyone's definition, the other one has only been to China) who want it to be part of East Asia.
I count three of us (Jpatokal, Texugo and Cacahuate) chiming in, and all of us have extensive Asian travel experience, but you're welcome to raise this on Wikitravel:Requests for comment if you need more views. Jpatokal 07:12, 18 March 2008 (EDT)
Wikitravel needs regions to break up big regions into manageable pieces. For example, in the US, we have Northwest, California, Mountain States, and Southwest. In common usage, those words have meanings which overlap, or in which one state has subregions which distinctly belong to different large regions. But because we want a clean regional hierarchy, we hammer the square pegs into the round holes. In other words, we often are forced to use regional terms improperly in order to fit our needs. So if you think Mongolia is in a different region under the usual terms of the words, that's fine but we're still going to use the terms incorrectly because it's the best fit to our needs. It sometimes makes my head hurt. Sorry if this one has made your head hurt. -- Colin 13:23, 18 March 2008 (EDT)
I happened to specialize in Central Asian studies during my undergraduate education, and all Mongolia-related classes were cross-listed for both Central Asian studies and East Asian studies. So this debate is not unique to Wikitravel, but it is uniquely irrelevant for Wikitravel. First and foremost, the region articles exist for the purpose of site navigation, not for the purpose writing about cultural geography. Second, they exist so we can give a broad overview of the region, to give context to a traveler wandering around the place.
I suppose one could argue that the Central Asia article provides necessary context for travelers to Mongolia—although this would be hard to do, since the Central Asia article is presently underdeveloped. But in any rate, rather than engage in an effort to reorganize the hierarchy (which is an endeavor for which costs usually outweigh benefits), it would be far simpler and more productive to pour your enthusiasm upon the articles in question—write about what makes Central Asia distinct, and then provide sensible links between the Mongolia and Central Asian articles to resolve the worry about providing context. --PeterTalk 13:44, 18 March 2008 (EDT)
I'm willing to accept Peter's position, as I understand it, which is that Mongolia stays classed under East Asia but more goes into the Central Asia section for Mongolia and for Central Asia in general.
East Asia, also popularly known as "the Far East" (especially when compared the the other "East", the Middle East) is what used to be known in the West as The Orient, a mysterious land inhabited by a race of inscrutable tea-sipping Orientals. Behind the caricature, though, is a uniting factor in the form of Chinese influence: China, as by far the largest and, historically, the most technologically and societally advanced culture in the region, has given its writing system (Chinese characters), religion (Mahayana Buddhism) and philosophy (Confucianism) to all the countries in East Asia.
For some reason Mongolia is included in this, despite it being a country that once conquered CHINA and forced THEIR culture ON THE CHINESE. It's also neat to notice how the Mongolians have never adapted Chinese characters, Mahayana buddhism, Confucianism, or even chopsticks.
If the unifying factor of East Asianness is culture, Mongolia should be in Central Asia.
See the discussion one section up which is a lengthly discussion about this exact issue. In particular, note that you have not in any way discussed the points given for why we do things the way we do. -- Colin 04:08, 12 November 2008 (EST)
Does anyone know anything about Mongolian history? There is no mention of Mongolia anywhere in the history outline. At the very least, it deserves to be given it's place in the final paragraph outlining its current status. ChubbyWimbus 22:15, 30 August 2009 (EDT)
I think it might be good to mention Genghis Khan and Mongolia being the epicenter of the great Mongul Empire of the 13th and 14th centuries. Texugo 22:39, 30 August 2009 (EDT)
Alright, so I deleted the negativity presented in the description of Beijing, and I don't see any reason why it shouldn't stay deleted, so I'll bring it up here. I don't think it's necessary at all to introduce the city as "smoggy and noisy" when effort was made to present the other cities in a positive (or at least neutral and unbiased) light. I am not against mentioning the smog on the Beijing page however, I don't think it needs mention on any other page, because the city has so many GOOD things to offer (much more than some of the others listed).
I've read guidebooks about places I've visited (prior to visiting), and I must say that when the descriptions are littered with negativity, I'm turned off the GUIDEBOOK, not the location. For Wikitravel, I think it's best to avoid becoming that sort of guide. The description reeks of pre-Olympics China-bashing. Even Pyongyang was given some respect in its description to present it as appealing. Any further information about the city should be on the city's page. Most of the descriptions of the cities are rather dull here, but dull is better than unnecessarily negative.
Does anyone REALLY think that the smog and noise are so important that they need to be featured as the most important part of touring Beijing?! ChubbyWimbus 00:14, 12 March 2009 (EDT)
Nope. But it is more interesting as written now than how you had left it—I was also tempted to revert. I'd suggest giving it another one-liner description altogether, more colorful and interesting than what's there now. All those city 1-liner descriptions could use a re-write, in fact. --PeterTalk 00:17, 12 March 2009 (EDT)
The current city descriptions are quite dull. Aside from Hong Kong's description, which I think sounds rather charming, none of these descriptions do their respective cities any justice. They sound quite boring:
Beijing - smoggy, noisy, and fascinating metropolis capital of China
Most of them just say that a city is or was once a capital city.
There are also 10 cities listed, and the current total is supposed to be 9. While Ulaanbatar is the least travelled, each nation should have one city on the list, I think. What do you think about eliminating Shanghai? ChubbyWimbus 16:07, 3 August 2009 (EDT)
- Probably not for going live, but maybe it can provide some inspiration?
Pyongyang - Live the Juche dream, in the mother of totalist city planning / Just because you are paranoid, doesn't mean that they are not out to get you?
Hong Kong - Where else can you buy Manolo Blahnik shoes at 2AM and wake up to proper tea and biscuts, with the waiter taking the order in Chinese?
Shanghai - Cash is king, in the largest city of the largest communist country in the world?
Kyoto - Go hunting for geishas/maikos and serene temples between the rows of drab concrete cubicles in Japan's ancient capital?
Ulaanbaatar - The butt ugly capital of one of the most beautiful countries on the planet?
Tokyo - Try being an ant for a day in the worlds most organised megapolis?
The word "metropolis" was overused (descriptions of Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong all contained it), so I changed a few words. Now only Shanghai uses "metropolis", but with this in mind, there may be alternative word choices that work better than my own. Feel free to play around with it for better wording. ChubbyWimbus 19:30, 26 July 2010 (EDT)