For travelers expecting Asia to be all about pious monks and tranquil temples, they can be thrown off by the gigantic shopping centers. Some see them as monuments to the consumerism and materialism they were trying to leave behind.
This AP article talks about the malls of Manila. Despite being one of the poorest countries in the region, the Philippines has 3 of the 10 biggest malls in the world.
Shopping centers seem to be a divisive topic among travelers. Some loathe them for spreading materialistic values. Or is it a kind of “anti-tourist” snobbery? Others simply enjoy the bargains to be had and strolling through malls nicer than the ones back home.
For me, shopping centers helped shatter some preconceptions I had about how developed Southeast Asia was. The first time I went to Bangkok, I was shocked by how grand the malls around Siam Square were. My stereotype was that Bangkok would be poor and backward. All of those retail complexes were nicer than their counterparts in Honolulu, where I’m from.
What do you think of shopping centers in Asia? Love to visit them, or avoid them at all costs? Share your opinions in the comments.