Have you seen the episode of Friends in which Chandler admits that he hates dogs, even puppies, because you can never tell what they’re thinking from their eyes, and Ross – that he doesn’t like ice cream because it’s simply too cold? Well, that’s how I feel making my announcement. Everyone loves South East Asia. Food is cheap and delicious, you can count on the weather any time, there are beaches, monkeys, baby elephants, awesome diving spots and even better parties. What can one possibly not like about all of this?
1. Did I mention good weather?
The heat is unbearable. The humidity – even more so. They say, everyone gets used to it after 2 or 3 weeks. Well, not me! It bothers Piotrek and myself more and more every day and in our worst moments we will say no to good company if it doesn’t come in an air-conditioned room. You’d better not leave at all between 11 and 3 pm, but if you have to, dress like the locals do: long trousers, long sleeves, covered head. Whatever I put on, it’ll be soaking wet after 20 minutes anyway, better to protect my poor skin whipped by the ruthless Asian sun.
But the worst part is yet to be discovered. It’s simply impossible to keep your backpack, your shoes and your sleeping bag mold free with this humidity! Half of my supply from Poland consisted of anti-fungal spray…
2. Tourist attractions.
Wooow, there are giraffe-women live in the Thai mountains! Fact: the women of the Karen tribe are very often relocated from Myanmar and inhabit a village created only to feed the tourists’ lust for exotic encounters. A human zoo. In a Cambodian elephant sanctuary you can ride the majestic animals! Imagine that someone offers you a bison ride or a bear cuddling session in Europe. Would you do it? Well no, because bears are not to be cuddled and bisons are not to be ridden. Why on Earth would anyone think that elephants are? If you want to see one, it’s a good idea to do a lot of research beforehand and choose a spot that doesn’t abuse animals.
A taxi/ rikshaw/ tuk-tuk driver will very happily help you get to all your desired attractions, mostly because they have just a village idiot to whose account they can add another zero.
3. Sexualisation of holidays.
You’re strolling around one of Bangkok’s or Phuket’s night markets and for the twenty-fifth time you hear: Mister, come ping pong show! Best ping pong show for you! Completely unaware of anything, you wonder – why would someone ask you to pay for watching a game of ping pong?! So here it comes: the Thai ping pong is a ladies’ game which doesn’t require a bat. The ladies do more than that, they also open bottles, peel bananas… In Cambodia every guesthouse has a sign on the door informing that sex with underage Khmer girls is as illegal as sex with underage Western girls and prostitution is not cool either. Really, people need to be reminded about that? When did holidays stop being about embracing new cultures, exotic food and amazing sights? Is it enough to get anonymous to get deprived of some decency?
4. The noise.
The terrible cacophony of roaring engines, honking vehicles, babbling stallholders, yelling tuk-tuk drivers. You can hear the radio way sooner than you see the bus that’s playing it. And the Asian selfie culture not only includes taking tryllions of pictures varying only by the level of duck face, but, most importantly, making sounds. Three girls deciding to start a selfie photo shoot somehow magically convert into squeaking sea gulls fluttering their wings in great excitement over a freshly found fish.
The only way to rest one’s ears is to find your own uninhabited island, get lost in the jungle or participate in a meditation course.
5. Mosquitoes and other flying and/or crawling vermin.
Small, soundless, vicious, cunning. Just think of all the mosquito-borne diseases and that all it takes is one unlucky bite… Our local mosquitoes are peaceful lovely hummingbirds compared with them. These Asian monsters don’t make the slightest sound when flying and start their feast by injecting a bit of anesthetic. One minute you’re fine next one you can’t fit into your favourite trousers, not because the cuisine is so delicious, but because of 40 mosquito bites per 1cm2.
How to protect yourself from them? Spend all your holiday wearing a mosquito net, that’s how.
So that we’re clear, all these things, they bug me enormously after several months spent in this region, but I can see myself longing for a fresh mango shake, white sand beaches and an aromatic bowl of tom yam from Bangkok’s busiest food stall the minute my shoes get drenched in snow…
How about you? What are the countries you don’t get along with so well?
Thank you for letting me use your pictures, Escapades Magda!