The Land of Giants
For over thousands of years, countless men, including those who called Southeast Asia home, traversed our waters. They travelled with precious cargoes of food and drink, textiles and jewels. Later on ships filled with silver and spices, porcelain and other manufactures would fill our shores.
Unlike the ancient Silk Roads though where overland trade has slowed to a trickle, trading ports in Southeast Asia have stayed robust after all these centuries. In fact, the world's ships today pass through our waters with more frequency and filled with more goods than ever before. Couple that with soaring populations (700+ million in 2022), Southeast Asia which was once considered a backwater, is now one of the most coveted regional markets in the world.
All this abundance does not come without a cost though. Scattered through different points in history we see the collapse of civilisations when resources were plundered with abandon. Add to that the pollution created by our modern manufactures and our shores that teem with life now also teem with death (plastic trash, mass coral bleaching due to ever warming waters, etc).
That same history, however, also shows men and women, who when they chose to change the course of the world, were able to do so. From the Emperors of China and Rome, to the Entrepreneurs of Asia and the Americas, seemingly set destinies towards doom were averted. And it is not just the mighty nor the wealthy that determine the world's course. As you will see, our history was charted just as much by the writers and philosophers, the poets and the peasants, the traders and the workers, and even the young people who dared when no one else would.
Not knowing what lay beyond but sure that life existed, on their maps they wrote, "the Land of Women, the Land of Immortals and the Land of Giants"
It is a very special place we live in on planet earth. All around us is water. But unlike the great oceans to the east and west of Maritime Southeast Asia, our vast amounts of seeming void is actually interspersed with vast amounts of life above and beneath it. More than 25,000 islands fill our waters, but some so small they disappear with the tides. On thousands of them though, close to 1,500 ethnic groups live and due to isolation dictated by geography, they speak around 800 regional languages.