World Smile Day which takes place on the first Friday of October in honour of Harvey Ball who created the Smiley Face back in 1963. Smiley has come a long way in fifty-two years! In 2017, World Smile Day will be on Friday 6th October.

The message for World Smile Day is “Do an act of kindness. Help one person SMILE.”Smiley on World Smile Day

From chirpy monks in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan to giggling young girls in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, we have met countless happy and smiling people on our travels around Asia.

During our travels, when language is often a barrier, a smile is often the best form of communication we have. Here are some of those smiles we have been greeted with, and have made us smile in return.

The Smiling Faces of Asia

Kon Tum, Vietnam

These three playful girls popped out of their home to say hello in Kon Ro Bang, a small village on the outskirts of Kon Tum in Vietnam’s Central Highlands.

Kon Ro Bang Village (near Kon Tum) Vietnam | Fourteen countries, fourteen smiles

 

Srimangal, Bangladesh

Often in many countries, it is quite difficult to get photos of people, especially adults but this is definitely not the case in Bangladesh. It seemed to us as if every Bangladeshi we came across wanted us to take their photo. Getting a Bangladeshi to smile and relax was sometimes tricky but we soon found out that if one of us stood behind the other (and the camera) and made a stupid face we would manage to get a more natural pose. This is what we eventually did with this old man who wanted us to take this photo but would stand to attention and look rather stern every time we went to do so.

Ramnagar Village Srimangal Bangladesh | Fifteen countries, Fifteen smiles

 

Haputale, Sri Lanka

Here’s a friendly tea picker taking a break at Dambatenne Tea Estate, a large plantation on the outskirts of Haputale, built by Sir Thomas Lipton in 1890.

Dambatenne Tea Estate Haputale Sri Lanka | Fourteen countries, fourteen smiles

 

Sary Tash, Kyrgyzstan

We met this friendly guy somewhere between Sary Tash and Irkeshtam in southern Kyrgyzstan whilst hitching our way to Kashgar in China. There were plenty of security checkpoints along the route and most of the military personnel were pretty surly and just checked our passports and sent us on our way but this solder was a happy fellow. All he wanted was to practice his English with us whilst the driver presented his documents in the rudimentary guardhouse.

Sary Tash to Irkeshtam Kyrgyzstan | Fourteen countries, fourteen smiles

 

Trongsar, Bhutan

This smiling monk was happy to pose for the camera at Chokhor Rabtentse Dzong (fortress) in Trongsar, a small town in central Bhutan.

Chokhor Rabtentse Dzong (Trongsar Dzong) | Fourteen countries, fourteen smiles

 

Kampong Cham, Cambodia

This photogenic Khmer girl was relaxing outside her house on Koh Paen, a small island close to Kompong Cham, connected to the mainland by a rickety bamboo bridge.

Koh Paen Kompong Cham Cambodia | Fourteen countries, fourteen smiles

 

Kashgar, China

This smiling Uyghur was relaxing on the steps of the Id Kah Mosque in Old Kashgar just before the Friday Call to Prayer.

Kashgar China 38r

 

Kyoto, Japan

This group of Japanese tourists and their guide waved, smiled and gave us the obligatory peace sign upon entering Kinkaku-Ji, a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto better known as the ‘Temple of the Golden Pavilion’.

Kinkaku-Ji Kyoto Japan | Fourteen countries, fourteen smiles

 

Thanchok, Nepal

This Nepalese man was one of the porters that came with me when I trekked the Annapurna Circuit a few years ago. There were about ten porters in total in the trekking crew, of which this gentleman was the eldest and the fittest.

Around Annapurna trek.Thanchok | Fourteen countries, fourteen smiles

 

Erdenedalai, Mongolia

This young lad was looking pleased with himself because he had just won a thrilling bareback horse race at the annual Nadaam Festival in Erdenedalai, a small town in southern Mongolia.

Nadaam Erdenedalai Mongolia | Fourteen countries, fourteen smiles

 

Muang Khua, Laos

We took this photograph in a small village en route from the Lao/Vietnam border and the small town of Muang Khua in northern Laos. We had stopped in the village to have lunch and whilst walking around it, this young lad beckoned us over to take his photo.

Laos.Border to Muang Khua | Fourteen countries, fourteen smiles

 

Manufui, Indonesia

Everybody we came into contact with at the once-weekly Manufui market was extremely friendly. It was one of those scenarios where we, the tourists, were the star attraction and we had great fun interacting with the locals and taking pictures of them. Manufui is a scruffy little place near Kefamenanu in West Timor.

Manufui Market West Timor Indonesia | Fourteen countries, fourteen smiles

 

Mrauk U, Myanmar (Burma)

This young girl took a break from pulling water at the local well to pose and pull a funny face for the camera in Mrauk U, a small town of significant archaeological importance in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

Mrauk U Burma (Myanmar) | Fourteen countries, fourteen smiles

 

Mathura, India

This trio of Indian teenagers rode up behind the jumbo auto rickshaw we were travelling in near Mathura, a medium-sized town close to Agra that is renowned as the birthplace of Lord Krishna.

Mathura India (15).jpg

 

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Kirsty took this photo of a young Thai boy sitting in a songthaew (*) at Wat Pa Pao, a little visited Shan temple in Chiang Mai whilst on her Day of Photography. Next to the temple is a school and she got there just as the school-songthaew arrived full of kids and she spent some time fooling around with them and taking photos.

 

A Day of Photography | Chiang Mai | Fourteen countries, fourteen smiles

(*) A share taxi usually based on an adapted pickup truck or similar, containing two long benches.


 

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