The East has always been a region of mystery so to speak, especially for the western man. Stories about Eastern countries always tend to have an air of mysticism. In movies, the wise man of the story is almost always of oriental origin and always speaks in riddles. As a matter of fact, had Yoda been human, he would most definitely have been oriental.

Where do these stereotypes originate from? A combination of things, most probably. First of all oriental people tend to look more stern appearance-wise. Secondly, the culture of Eastern countries is very different compared to that of the West, combine that and the fact that Eastern doctrines usually have a lot of metaphysical overtones and metaphors, thus making the relatively false, yet compelling illusion of wisdom along the lines of "strong with the force young Skywalker is".

Whatever the truth may be, this poetical wisdom together with the stunning nature found in many Eastern countries, make them very popular places for a vacation and with good reason.

Eastern countries are loved by travelers because many of them consider their culture a higher one in its close relation to spiritual teachings. During the past 50 years due to the growing disappointment with Western culture, travels or even pilgrimage to the East started to seem to like a way of escaping from the material world that surrounds us every day. It makes us feel important, like we are doing something that is worthwhile. Many have chosen to join cults for this reason, but for those of us with more sophisticated taste, evangelism is too cliche and politically motivated. It lacks the feeling of being something from out of this world. All of this recent popularity of the East is quite frankly an indicator of the discontent with our meaningless lives. In a way it is true, the East is a newly developed region, so ancient traditions are still alive in many places. The understanding, however, that it is also a means to profit is crucial at least to those, who are capable of rationality.

The beautiful nature just adds to the overall feeling of mysticism in the East, since a higher path of thinking is stereotypically existant only in an ancient environment, being close to such places, seen in all those movies has both a romantic and a metaphysical factor. It just seems way more genuine.

To be more to the point, the nature in the East kicks ass.

The people also play a huge role in this combination. Westerners feel as much at home in the East as Pat Buchanan does in a gay bar (or don't they?!?!), that is largely due to the totally different way orientals appear to "the white man". They seem in harmony with the environment and the wisdom, or at least one assumes that they are.

The truth is quite possibly one that is displeasing to say the least. Though spiritual teachings are a personal thing, the fact that these are used to profit from others is not personal at all. This, however is just dangerous in a moral way. There are serious threats in the east, such as disease. Visitors of Thailand, for example, are always warned not to drink the local water and not to eat at street dining places, due to the many forms of illness they may encounter, including dysentery and cholera. Westerners are used to doing many things without even thinking that it is dangerous. Crime would also fall under this category - it is greatly advised not to travel around non-tourist-friendly places: white skin is seen by many as an indication of wealth, something criminals would want to get their hands on. Another thing is the fact that people of the East have a lot to blame the White man for, colonisation for one, and some of them feel hatered for Westerners (just as parts of our society have for Eastern types, only they have their reasons). On a less dangerous note, Westerners tend to buy stuff they see in bazaars, which is a great mistake since most of the things sold in such places are likely to be badly made. The East is, for the most part, Scam Town.

Even so, none of these dangers are valid reasons to miss-out on the magnificent expierience the East provides.