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Today's Topic...

For 2007, we’ve chosen some subjects that we think are worthy of dedicating an entire issue to, either because they are on the minds of most people or because they interest many of our readers in particular. The first themed issue of the year is the one you’re holding right now: In it you will find everything Asia. Now, you won’t find everything you need to know about Asia, as its vastness prevents that — a magazine the size of a phone book wouldn’t fit comfortably in the seat-back pocket in front of you, nor would it easily slip into your briefcase for later reference. What you will find in this issue, though, is a lot of fascinating information and stories from as many places as we could squeeze in.

I was in China last December and was impressed with its size, history, people, and progress. But I’m sad to say that I didn’t see the crickets we talk about on page 56. This article provides an intriguing look at a cultural idiosyncrasy that you really have to know about in order to experience. So, now you know, and on your next trip to China, perhaps you’ll be able to check it out. If you do, take pictures and send them to us!

This fall, I’m planning to visit Vietnam — and hopefully Bangkok as well. I have so many friends who have already made it to both places, and all of them report back with wonderful stories. I found our story on one of Vietnam’s largest exports to be very interesting. Think you know what it is? Turn to page 50 to see if you’re right.

In fact, speaking of testing yourself, you should take the quiz on page 36. I have to admit that the words quiz and test have always given me the shakes, and I did about as poorly on this one as I did on so many in school. (I was the kid in elementary school who would change the answers on my math tests after they were handed back and then take them home and complain loudly that I didn’t understand why they were marked as wrong.) But now, even though I still might get wrong answers, I think quizzes are a fun way to learn new things — and sometimes to find out how much you already know. Besides, if I can recall even a quarter of the answers, I’ll be a long way toward improving my trivia game.

We also have a great story on eating our way through Osaka. In this case, the words and the pictures are equally fun and eye-opening. I’ve spent only a short amount of time in Japan, but the food you can find and taste there is, to me, one of the many culturally fascinating things about the country.

There are so many other great stories, as well, including an insightful interview with Houston Rockets star Yao Ming. Man, is he tall! But more than that, he obviously loves his hometown of Shanghai, and he was eager to share its specialness with all of us.

I also really enjoyed — and hope you will, too — the factual information we included in UpFront. It’s a nice snapshot of five different cities that you should definitely know about, not to mention visit.

I could go on and on, but just as with the magazine as a whole, the space here is limited. Feel free to peruse the issue at your leisure. I promise you’ll learn a few things and be entertained at the same time.

In the future, you can look forward to issues dedicated to music, being on the road, and the environment (I’m very excited about that one). We’re really enjoying taking an in-depth look at these topics, and we hope you’ll also enjoy reading the stories we unearth.

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Sherri Gulczynski Burns