Of coloured moments to overload tut-tuts, there are some things that all come across when backpacking in Southeast Asia. Whether you spend the time of your time beaching, swimming, riding a motorcycle, meditating or trying to see everything, here are 15 things you probably learned.
Going From A To B Is Surprisingly Fun
Nightly bus rides with bad motion pictures in the lap, clasped in the waist of a scooter driver while weighing through Ho Chi Minh City traffic, or buying a vintage Minsk engine to tear down mountain roads – you know the action of motion itself for some of the best backpacking memories.
Everything Moves Slowly
Thanks to a combination of traffic, vehicle break-downs, bad roads, bad weather or punishment kittens you learned from the impossibility to arrive anywhere on time. Reservations made in advance were as rare as a concrete plan for more than two days.
Tourism Is Both A Blessing And A Curse
Irrespective loyalty, fake homes, irresponsible development and a lot of other despicable things – spend long time backpacking in Southeast Asia and you know that the destructive side of tourism starts to shine.
At first, you felt like part of the problem. But you have learned to search homestays, socially responsible tours, environmentally friendly projects and grassroots NGOs. Every little bit helps.
The Nicer The Restaurant Is, The Worse The Food
You know that it’s not the local popular food stalls along the way that you’re likely to give food poisoning. No, it’s the kind of connections that penne already serves pollo and special steak tartar.
A Tuk Tuk Can Be The Ultimate Luxury Trip
A good tuk tuk is like a cabriolet with a driver crossed with a couch. The ability of their people seems to grow as every hour passes, leaving them in the dark somewhere around a dozen passengers. For the price it is a luxury that can not be beat.
Cheap Deals Are Usually Too Good To Be True
Become a fully smiling driver offered you a sweet deal, then you agreed to help him “get gas”. And you quickly learned what that means: pretend to shop in soulless tourist trap boutiques while a friend gets “gas coupons” from the owners. Vision of the adventure faded to your eyes – but you never made the same mistake again.
The Durian Smell Will Chase You
Durian: The beloved ball of spikes with an acquired taste and a rather sharp aroma that smells like sweat, garlic and scented paint thinner – detectable from a block away. You’ve learned to love it or hate it – there’s no one in between.
Not All Monks Are As Serene As They Look
Some monks look serene, Some monks drink whiskey and smoke cigarettes You may have cloaked a red, or saffron-like, and secretly a smoke behind a crumbling temple wall or sipping a piece of Mekong Whiskey under a banyan tree.
Of course, this is forbidden by Buddhist rules, and it absolutely fought with your original imagination of monastic life. But nobody is perfect and old habits die hard.
“Happy Pizza” Is Not A Nice Name For Pizzas Served By Smiling Staff
It’s pizza that will bring you high.
Mushroom Milkshakes Are No New Rage In The Area Of Healthy Food
These will also bring you high.
Traveling Tattoos Can Be A Terrible Idea
A Balinese Om symbol symbolized much more than requested, an ambiguous word written in the Khmer script, a little butterfly resembling a mother’s spot – perhaps you learned it hard, or maybe you learned from the mistakes of others.
Southeast Asia backpackers know these tags are good: yolo moments of such (regrettable) power they actually survive you.
Thai Red Bull Is Much More Intense Than The Energy Drinks You Are Used To
It is actually called Krating Daeng and has reportedly inspired the creation of Red Bull. Whether you’ve waved it out of a bucket with a vodka or niped to zero-after-night business, its power was a poignant revelation.
Backpackers Wear A Uniform
Harem trousers, beer tops and a pointless bandana to finish it. Have you investigated and thought about the smelly, kidding travelers? Yes, I would like to look exactly like that? Probably not. But the uniform happened.
Do Not Bring Gum To Singapore
If you went to Singapore, then you know it has some weird laws, the illegality of chewing gum is one of them. But that’s just the beginning. Walk naked in your own house? Illegal. Drink a sip of water in the subway? Illegal. Rinse out a public toilet after use? Illegal, of course. Even publicly eating Singapore “National Fruit”, the Durian, falls on the wrong side of the law.
Southeast Asia Has Experienced A Lot, And Continues To Go Through A Lot
Regardless of the horrors of colonization, absurd and devastating wars, or the corruption and poverty that followed, the people of Southeast Asia have gone through hell. However, it was ultimately the incredible kindness of the locals that made backpacking Southeast Asia one of the best experiences of your life.
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