I don’t know about any of my fellow travellers, but getting on the plane at Bangkok to come home was the hardest part of the whole trip for me (and that’s including the moment I battled a wild dog with a stick…). Adjusting to life post-SE Asia is tricky. There are some huge jolts to the system, for instance…
1. Rice is no longer compulsory
There’s a whole host of carbs out there, from wholemeal brown bread, to gnocci pasta, to stodgy fried potatoey goodness. No longer will a menu have a fried rice list, followed by a fried noodles list. The world is your oyster (ooh oysters).
2. You are no longer an obvious tourist
Which means one glorious, magical thing – you are not bombarded by salesmen anymore. No one will shout ‘tuktuk’ at you across a road, no one will dangle elephant pants in your face, with a special discount, just for you, lady. In fact, if you return to a big city like mine, no one will speak to you on the street at all. Who knew I would start shouting ‘tuktuk’ at people for some good old conversation.
3. Crossing the road is very dull
Cars will stop at the lights, as will the bikes, and no one will drive at you at 40 miles an hour with 10 bags of garbage attached to the back of their scooter. Life’s just not as exciting without that constant fear of death, you know?
4. Sunsets just aren’t the same
I don’t know where you live, but where I am, the only sunset I witness is at 4pm, when the sun sinks below the buildings and I can’t see it anymore. What sunset? Does it still happen, if nobody sees it?
5. Sunrises don’t exist
No one has time for sunrises outside of South East Asia. No one can get up early enough, and if they could, no buses would be running to take you to a suitable flat spot where the sun could be seen, rising. And let’s face it, once we leave that paradise, we’re all grumpy morning people again.
6. Dogs are leashed and rabies-proof
No more wild dogs running at us, folks. No more gripping your friend’s arm until it bleeds because that huge Alsatian is running straight at you and it could have rabies. No such fun at home, I’m afraid.
7. Milk doesn’t taste so sweet
Back home, milk is… milk. It’s fresh, full of dairy goodness. But where did the gloopy sugary syrup of Vietnam go? Why doesn’t my coffee taste like dessert?
8. Red Bull has less… kick
Harmful chemicals are illegal again now, folks. No more getting messed up on energy drinks I’m afraid, you’ll just have to revert back to plain old alcohol.
9. Welcome back the red tape, and put down the scissors
No more climbing rocky hills with ladders propped half-heartedly across them. No more solo cave exploring. No more license-less moped driving. Law is law again, folks. And health and safety is strong in this one.
10. Water is drinkable
It has to be said, drinking straight from the tap again? It’s lush. No more journeys to 7/11 at 3am to hydrate after boozing. The tap will sort me out.
11. Things are EXPENSIVE
More expensive than they ever were before, it feels like. Ten dollars for one cocktail. Five for a beer. You have got to be kidding me. I could rent a moped for a day at that price.
12. Rain is permanent here
This isn’t South East Asia anymore because, here, the rain will not stop after 2 minutes. Here, the rain might stop, if we’re lucky, after 2 days. Or just never. Preferably in time for summer.
13. Beaches are rammed
Most of South East Asia has plenty of deserted beautiful beaches, golden sands, etcetera. But anywhere else, find a crappy stony beach anywhere, on a warmish sunny day in June, and there will be just about room for you to lay a towel next to the fat guy sweating into the sand next to you. But why…
14. Egg is not nearly so popular
Egg on a stick, egg fried rice, eggy bread, omelette, rice with fried egg randomly dolloped on top. It’s everywhere. It’s even in the coffee. And now? Where the hell is all the egg at?
15. You have left paradise behind
Rolling mountains, the longest of stunning exotic beaches, blue limestone waterfalls, crystal caves, shirtless Australian men… You didn’t quite appreciate it at the time (because no one ever does), but it was the bees’ knees, was it not?
Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com