The opportunity we have at the moment is amazing. We get to visit places some people might only ever dream of, we get to experience unbelievable things, taste some amazing (and awful) food, see sights that lots may only ever see in the media, take in and be part of different cultures and not have the daily worries and difficulties we would have working back home.
But as a traveler it is sometimes difficult on the road. We’ve been talking a lot recently about all the things we didn’t realise would arise when on our trip. These home truths were never found on other websites or blogs so for future travellers and others just wanting more of an insight into our travels here’s a short list.
First thing scamming! Everyone is out to get as much as they can out of a tourist, it’s literally ridiculous sometimes. Getting a local bus for a tourist can sometimes be triple what a local will pay. Everything can be negotiated in South East Asia and you’re never sure whether you’ve got a good price or not. In England (and Europe as far as we know) it’s the same price for everyone and set prices all around, as good as haggling can be it’d would be nice for locals to be honest sometimes and just tell you the real price straight off!
Where next?? – this is a question we ask ourselves all the time. On a holiday you’d normally have a week or two to chill out wander around and find out what there is to do. Since we are traveling around and having such a short time in each place we’re constantly thinking about where our next stop is, where will we stay? What is there to do? How do we get there? How much shall we spend? Etc etc The research you need to do can eat into the time you have in one place and we can sometimes feel like we’ve missed out on some things or sometimes it’s just the fact we haven’t been able to chill out and appreciate a place.
Customer service – now this is only based on our experience so far in SEA and it’s not the general rule we’re sure but when entering a restaurant or buying something in a shop there are normally no smiles or welcome greetings like there would be back home. Even on organised trips the guides can sometimes not be very friendly and lack information. For example the Ha Long Bay trip we’ve just been on we checked into our cabin for the night on the boat late afternoon and we’re given no other instructions so as we were ridiculously hungover and cold we slept for a while. After about 30 mins the boat was very quiet and I went out investigate why. I found that the main boat we had been on (not enough bedrooms on there for us so others were placed on a different boat that was attached) had left and we were the only ones left on board the second boat! There have also been times on organised trips and on long bus journeys when the bus has stopped for a 10 minute break and we’ve literally had to run after the bus as it was leaving without us with our luggage and everything still on board. Sometime the most friendliest people we see are the children we met who have been eager to play and show off to us.
The food – food on SEA is very different from back home, lots of rice and noodles. Before leaving home the food was something we couldn’t wait to taste, imagining it to be so tasteful and exotic. The truth is it’s kind of the same a lot of the time… Just rice and noodles with some type of meat or fish thrown in… And in some circumstances who knows what kind of meat or fish it is. Western restaurants aren’t always readily found and when they are it’s still an uncertainty as to what you’re going to get!
Roads – driving in SEA is crazy. Everywhere we’ve been so far has had a ‘beeping system’ and no real lanes. It seems so long as you beep you can go in whatever lane you want as fast as you want. It’s been pretty scary at times.
Hangovers – the Chang beer over here is unregulated meaning that 1 bottle of beer might be 5% the next 12%, you can be hammered after only 3 beers. This makes drinking crazy crazy crazy. And then the hangovers even worse! Being hungover in a place you’re not sure of and knowing you’ve got to make the most of seeing this place can make for the worst hangovers ever!
Friends and family – obviously being away from home is difficult sometimes. We both miss family and friends and home cooked food!! Going out for food every day is amazing but also takes it’s toll and takes away the niceness of it.
However, we are fulfilling a life long dream by traveling and seeing these places and we promise we are trying to make the most of every day (hungover or not). We just wanted to give you all a bit more of a real insight into our experiences.