Asia is by far the largest and the most heavily populated continent on Earth. The 17,200,000 square miles that comprise the landmass feature mountains, deserts, cities, jungles, and pretty much every other geographical feature you can imagine; the nearly 4.5 billion people who live in Asia are diverse in countless ways. So to state the obvious, these fifteen images don’t necessarily encapsulate everything the continent of Asia has to offer. That’s what encyclopedias and/or world travel is for. But these snapshots of everyday life all around Asia can be funny, bizarre, confusing, and surprising, so if you’re looking for entertainment, you’re in the right place.
The Google Street View camera is an unbiased, unblinking focalizer, dutifully recording all it sees as the car beneath it rolls along city streets, down country lanes, and over highways and byways all over the globe. While the primary purposes of Street View images are to help people pinpoint the location of a residence, business, or cultural attraction prior to a visit and to allow the remote exploration of faraway places, often enough Google Street View photos capture moments of pure comedy, the occasional tragedy, and plenty of strangeness in between. (Just don’t go looking for Street View images of China. Or North Korea.)
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15. Roadside Rock and Roll Deer Mask Man
This guy knew exactly what to do when he realized the Google Street View car would soon be rolling down this rural Japanese road: he grabbed his axe and his deer mask and posted up by the side of the road, ready to play some sweet licks as he became part of history. I assume that’s his car a little ways down the road, showing that he overtook the Google mobile, leaped from his vehicle, and struck this perfect pose at the perfect time. That’s dedication, people.
14. Biker Down In Fujieda
Bicycles are ubiquitous across most of Asia (and much of the world, in fact), so it’s inevitable that Google Street View archives are filled with pictures of people falling off their bikes. This woman’s entire account was recorded by a Street View car: the first image of the sequence shows her rounding a corner, soon she strays too near a drainage ditch, then she begins to wobble, finally she falls off the bike into the ditch, and in the last images taken as the car pulled away, she dragged herself to her feet and attempts to pick up her dignity.
13. Family Scooter in Taiwan
Personal space is treated differently in many Eastern countries than it is in most Western nations; people in the East tend to be much more comfortable crowding closely together than are their European and American counterparts. Scooter travel is also more common in Asia than in most Western countries, and certainly more prevalent than it is in the United States. Here, we see a that comfort with proximity and scooter driving merge as an entire family shares a single scooter while driving around in Taiwan. And the adult is the only person wearing a helmet.
12. Crazy Crowded Truck in Cambodia
Remember that crowded scooter from Taiwan we talked about a few seconds ago? Forget about that one. This Cambodian truck takes the cake in terms of maximum passenger load. If we assume there are only two people in the cabin of the vehicle and no one out of sight on the other side of the visible passengers riding atop the cab and in the truck bed, then there are no fewer than thirteen people on this one very small, rickety truck. And actually the count is likely fourteen or fifteen people, as there are likely three in the cab and at least one person blocked by the gaggle of passengers in the bed. That’s not really safe, guys.
11. Fukushima: The Nuclear Ghost Town
This is but one of many haunting images recorded by a Google Street View car driving through the city of Fukushima, Japan back in 2013. The once-thriving city was almost totally abandoned following an earthquake and subsequent tsunami that led to the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March of 2011. Dangerous amounts of radiation were released into the surrounding air, water, and down into the soil, rendering the region unsafe for humans for years to come. At least we can visit from afar thanks to the intrepid Google car.
10. Friendly Dog Photobomb
Technically this isn’t an image from a Google Street View, but rather from a backpack-carried camera snapping images of a hiking trail. And for most of the duration of the hike around a small South Korean island, the cameraman was followed by this happy golden retriever. The dog tailed the camera up and down and all around the little island, immediately becoming an internet sensation once the pictures were posted online. Why? Because that’s one damn cute dog, that’s why.
9. Tipped Over Truck in Thailand
This dramatic Street View snap captures the immediate aftermath of a truck rolling over onto its side on a busy road in Thailand. It looks more like a picture captured by a photojournalist than a robot: note the shocked man leaning forward with hands on his knees, presumably the driver of the toppled truck. The camera recorded a moment of raw human emotion, and fortunately shows an accident in which no one got hurt.
8. Ship Smashes Into the Shore
This shocking Street View shot shows what happens when a massive ship that belongs out at sea strays too close to shore at too great a speed. The bow of the massive Asia Symphony cargo vessel has smashed through retaining walls and protruded into a roadway, creating an obstacle for any traffic passing through the area. We just hope there weren’t any cars on the road right when the ship came smashing into the shore, because in a competition between a multi-million pound ocean going vessel and a sedan, the ship wins.
7. Japanese Macaques Chillin’ In Hot Springs
Also known as Snow Monkeys, the Japanese Macaque is a unique primate indeed. Known for their striking red faces and their fondness for hanging out in natural hot springs to ward off the cold of their mountainous homeland, these monkeys have long been a source of fascination for their human counterparts. Here, a group of Macaques casually watches as a Google camera passes by, recording this image in the aptly named Jigokunddani Monkey Park in Japan.
6. Google Car Gets Ticketed in Japan
In a glorious series of images, this Japanese Google Street View car recorded the entire process of its traffic stop and ticketing. The speed trap was set up on a roadway in Hokkaido using a discreet radar gun perched on a tripod, which can be seen in some of the earlier images from the series. The Street View car must have cruised past the radar device going a touch too fast, because suddenly a police officer appeared on the street, waving the car over toward another cop who sat there casually in a folding chair writing out tickets for car after car.
5. Serious Traffic in Cambodia
Driving around in Cambodia is not for the faint of heart. This image shows a serious traffic jam at a downtown intersection in this bustling Asian nation, but this is hardly a rare occurrence. Traffic is regularly snarled in the capital city of Phnom Penh, with motorcycles and scooters snaking their way around cars, trucks, and busses with little regard for the right of way. Here we see vehicles facing in every direction and no chance of getting anywhere fast.
4. South Korean Prostitutes
Prostitution is technically illegal in South Korea, but don’t tell that to the thousands of sex workers and their deep bench of clients who engage in the activity there. According to a 2007 estimate, South Korean prostitution accounts for as much as $13 billion annually, and in the capital city of Seoul, there is even a Red Light district. And not long ago, a Google Street View car drive through that districts recording this (and other) images of those distinctive rooms with glass walls, soft pink lighting, and curtains ready to be drawn closed.
3. Scooter Down! Scooter Down!
With millions of scooters zipping around the streets of Taiwan, it’s inevitable that now and then one of them will be involved in a traffic accident. The fact that this accident happened right as the Google Street View car drew near is a bit rarer of an occasion, though. Whoever was riding the scooter that’s now tucked underneath the hood of that minivan probably had a much worse day than he or she was expecting; hopefully they walked away with only some bruises and a headache.
2. High Skiing the ATV in Japan
This picture, captured by a Google Street View car in Monzenmachi Dori, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan, depicts one of two things. Either the man riding that four-wheeler down the street is perfectly executing the automotive stunt technique known as “high skiing” when a vehicle is driven on two wheels, or he has been caught at the exact moment that he starts to roll over and have an accident. More confusing, though: is that a glitch that depicts the same rider ahead down the road, or is this in fact a synchronized move with two people on ATVs?
1. The Pigeon Head People
Here we see eight people standing stoically as a Japanese Google camera passes among them. But these are not ordinary people… They’re pigeon people! Or people wearing creepy pigeon masks, anyway. The funniest thing about the series of photos recorded as the camera passed by these alternative folks is that if you pan to look backward after passing them by, you’ll see that they all turned to watch the Google camera continue on its way.
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