Random Asian travel observations to date


koh lanta skieskoh lanta sky

One thing that one of our last couchsurfing visitors remarked upon was the fact that the clouds in New Zealand looked different. You know what? It’s true. So far, the skies in Thailand have been a source of fascination for me. The endless hues of blue, the vast blankets of white, and most of all, the long, low, straight lines of cloud that you’d swear spelled out words and sentences if you squint just hard enough. This is especially striking at dusk when they’re a rich, flat navy blue against a rosy sunset.

Even the moon looks entirely different. I’d never before seen it resemble the Cheshire cat’s smile. At home, the crescents are always vertical.

Everybody smokes. I’m not just talking about the locals. I mean the visitors, too. Is this a traveller thing?

Portions here are small. When dining out in NZ, I already find meal sizes there to be tiny, so this is no joke. Fortunately, my appetite seems to have shrunk a lot while on the road. Can’t say the same for T, though.

Travelling here is chaotic and confusing. You might think you’re headed to the bus station, but get dropped off at what seems like a random travel agent, until you realise it bears the same name as that written on your ticket. You might get transferred a couple more times. You might have no idea when to get off. But the drivers are pretty good at getting you where you need to go and making sure you end up in the right place somehow.

Scooters are everywhere. The variation in cars is interesting, too. In Malaysia most of the cars on the roads were really old models. In Thailand, late model sedans and utes dominate.

You really can’t rely on Google Maps in some parts of the world.

Weirdly, we encountered zero mozzies in Malaysia (a family member commented to T that the mosquitoes seem to be disappearing altogether. I remember sleeping in mosquito nets as a kid). There were quite a few bugs in Thailand, though, and I quickly learned not to venture out sans spray. We also saw plenty of dogs, cats, lizards,toads, and more. Our second resort on Koh Lanta was somewhat jungle-y, set among trees and bush, and the squawks of frogs all around after the rain was really quite remarkable.

Metal scanners at the entries to malls (Thailand). That was a new one.

At Customs, my passport always takes longer to process. I can only chalk this down to the fact that I was born in Malaysia, because otherwise T and I are on the exact same kind of passport.

Got any other thoughts to share about travel in Asia?

9 thoughts on “Random Asian travel observations to date

  • Reply anna May 24, 2013 at 07:51

    With the scooters, I was amazed at all the ladies who would wear skirts and heels and ride in the back, all while texting on their phone. I would be bracing the driver for dear life!

  • Reply krantcents May 24, 2013 at 08:01

    I remember traveling in Taiwan and the people on scooters wore surgical face masks. For a Westerner, that was disconcerting. I guess the air is pretty bad in Asia?

  • Reply Brian May 24, 2013 at 16:37

    Haven’t been to (real) asia yet (does Singapore really count??), so no stories to tell. I have enjoyed reading about Jessica’s trip and now yours though. Where are you off to next?

  • Reply Mike@WeOnlyDoThisOnce May 25, 2013 at 05:54

    Those are incredible photos of clouds–reminds me of some of Turner’s paintings.

  • Reply mochimac @ save. spend. splurge. May 26, 2013 at 12:02

    Traveling really opens your eyes. I’m so happy you’re doing this 😀

  • Reply cantaloupe May 26, 2013 at 15:49

    Haha, when I traveled with my Palestinian Lebanese boyfriend, he always got stopped by passport people and questioned. We went through four airports and each one stopped him. Me, being American, slipped right on through and waited on the other side for him, wondering what exactly they hoped to ascertain in a five minute conversation with him.

  • Reply Budget and the Beach May 27, 2013 at 03:02

    That’s interesting that the clouds would look so different. It always makes me think in amazement that we all share this planet, but some places on earth are so different from where we grew up and what we know. Really mind blowing. I’m enjoying this posts and learning a lot!

  • Reply Revanche May 30, 2013 at 13:54

    My observations:
    1. We are mosquito magnets. No matter where we go, we get eaten alive.
    2. Portions really are small, I tend to adapt since my eating habits tend to vary anyway, but I end up donating half my food to PiC in the heat or buying an extra portion to share.
    3. Looking Asian but indecipherably so is sometimes good: you get harassed a bit less if people think you might be local.
    4. I have held up photos of store signs while hunting down places I want; I’m terrible at “reading” (identifying Thai, etc.) so treating the signs as photos worked great.

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