Random thoughts after coming home from SE Asia

                              Random Insights and Observations from my Journey in SE Asia

  • People are genuinely kind and helpful. Because they have to be to survive.
  • "Same same, but different".. a slogan that made NO sense to me upon arrival.. and made ALL the sense in the world towards the end of my journey. Temples are everywhere... they are very similar, yet very different. Same is true for many things, including markets, in SE Asia.
  • Traffic is insanity. There are no road rules, just recommendations. In a 2 way street with 8 lanes of traffic and everyone driving 45mph+, if you need to cross the street, you literally just start walking. Traffic (bikes, buses, taxis..) swerve around you. You just stand on the lane line and hop across one by one until you make it to the other side. No honking. No swearing. Just normal everyday life. And I lived to talk about it. 
  • The amount of things they can fit into or onto one vehicle is astounding...

  • Driving: Is on the left side in Thailand, Laos, Myanmar. Scooters get the shoulder. The slower the scooter, the farther left you drive. Doesn’t matter if the road has a lane marked or not. You get to the far left of the road as you possibly can. And hammer the gas. And you pass on the right. No one honks unless they are letting you know they are there. Its not a ‘get out of my way’ honk.
  • Gas: Gas can be sold along the streets and roads from a pump (only found in cities), from glass jars with tubes connected to them, from alcohol bottles, from used water bottles, and everything in between. Gas is red or green. One gallon is roughly $1.00.
  • Math: They use meters. And celcius. And bars (for PSI). Its confusing.
  • Currency: Thai:        30Baht = $1.00          Laos:  8,700Kip = $1.00          Cambodia: Uses the USD. They have an official currency, but even ATMs dispense USD    Myanmar: will take any of the above.
  • Getting from point A to B:  I took trains, taxi cars, taxi scooters, tuk tuks, mopeds, and busses. Always the local busses. Once we got a flat tire in the middle of nowhere, the driver got out, took two spares out of the back, looked them both over and picked the ‘least patched’ spare to put on. He left the old tire on the side of the road.
  • Smog:  People wear ‘flu masks’ everywhere in bigger cities because the smog is awful. It FEELS heavy to breath at times, especially in big cities. People also wear them because of the dust – outside of main areas, most roads are gravel. And their gravel is red.
  • Laundry:  There was only 3 cities in which I found a washing machine and a dryer that I could use on my own. Otherwise they have laundry service. It’s found everywhere – it could be a person’s house, it could be a random washer on the side of the street, it could be picked up and brought back to your hostel. You pay double the cost for drying. They air dry. Even if the laundry place is on the side of a red dirt road. I did a lot of laundry in the shower.
  • Packing: I carried everything I needed in a 55L backpack. And had a small daypack for important things (passport, money, laptop). I had a lock for each pack, which I used religiously at first. Towards the end I never thought about it. People are just honest. And my stuff was starting to smell pretty bad so if someone wanted it that bad, they could have it. There was not one thing I packed that I didn’t use. I only wore my tennis shoes on the plane there and back. It was way too hot for them otherwise. I wore chaco sandals out of the box (literally got them 2 days prior to leaving) for two months.
  • Walking: I averaged 8 miles per day. My farthest day was 19 miles. My shortest was 4 miles.
  • Bugs: Mosquitoes. They are everywhere. And they are SO small you can hardly see them. Rarely see them biting. But they itch bad. And carry a lot of wonky diseases/illnesses. I had 14 vaccinations before I left and took malaria pills the entire time I was away, and for one month after I return.
  • Dentist: The cleanest dental office I have ever seen with the highest tech equipment I have ever heard of. Everything is done on site. You need a cleaning? They do it. You need a tooth pulled? You go up one floor. You need an implant? Up another floor. You need braces? Next floor. And they mold all of their stuff by 3D laser something. No ishy molds that make you gag.
  • Customs: Take your shoes off before entering a building. Whether a temple, a home, a restaurant, a massage parlor, or the local convenience store. I got over my fear of catching foot diseases really quick.
  • Weather: There was 1 day of rain. No day was less than 85 degrees. The hottest was 109. Humidity is THICK daily. I’d wring my ponytail out by 10am every day. I just got used to sweating all the time. By week 5 I was wearing long sleeves at night because I was cool.