Like many life changing experiences, we often realize just how lucky we are as the chapter begins to close. With one month left to my Asian adventure of “work” and play, I being to realize just how much I love this part of the world. I’ve become addicted to zipping through gritty city streets on motorbikes, late night chicken skewers from hawker stalls and I have fully embraced the hippie pants. Whether cruising the backpacker circuit, living as an expat or doing some independent travel of your own, most people who have passed through Southeast Asia can agree that there is plenty to miss when it comes time to leave! How will I survive without the following things? I’m not sure if it’s possible.
1. Motorbikes: A 20 minute walk takes only seconds on one of these speed demons. It took me a few months to muster the courage to hop on, but the need for (affordable) speed has me cruising via motorbike on the regular. There’s a reason motorbike culture works so well here. They’re quick, incredibly affordable, and their ability to weave through stopped traffic will have you hooked. Need to cover a mile during Bangkok rush hour? Set aside 50 cents and hang on tight.
2.) Heat: The scorching Thai sun and oppressive humidity will challenge even the toughest traveler. In the heat of April, daytime sightseeing in much of Southeast Asia is downright dangerous. Arrival to this part of the world had me initially pining for the wool sweaters and icy windchill back home. But as my friends and family were suffering through blizzards this winter I began to appreciate, even cherish, this overwhelmingly tropical weather. Airy summer dresses work for every occaision and the humidity acts as a free sauna, no gym membership necessary. When it’s so hot that even the toothpaste melts, a cool blast of AC is never too far away. Malls and movie theaters in big Asian cities make for a welcome refuge.
3. Massage: Why cheap massage hasn’t spread to the rest of the world is beyond me. One hour of relaxing bliss comes to seven dollars over here, about 1/12 of the price for the same pampering in the US. It’s sinful to visit Southeast Asia (Thailand, in particular,) and not indulge in this affordable treat.
4. Cheap laundry: A pile of sweaty clothes is tough to avoid at the end of a full week in Southeast Asia. With laundry at 1 USD per kilo over here, you really have no excuse. Laundry shops that charge per kilo are everywhere, and make for hassle free washing and no excuses. If only New York City would catch on…
5. Street food: The closest I get to cooking these days is pointing to the curry I want at about one dollar per dish. It’s usually cheaper to eat out in Asia than to cook on your own, so eating on the streets is a no-brainer. My day usually consists of iced coffee and fruit in the morning, a noodle soup in the afternoon and a bigger Thai dish at night. I can get this all on the street (plus a few beers) at under 10 dollars per day. With such delicious affordable food around, what’s the point of stepping into a grocery store?
Does anyone have a tip or two about readjusting to life after Asia?