Sunday, June 29, 2008

Things I learned in Asia

*Everyone in any small area knows most everyone else. Word gets around. Be nice to your waiter: He is related to someone.
*Don't muddy the water around you; you may have to drink it.
*Don't buy from the children: If they're making money in the streets they won't be sent to school.
*Get lots of small bills: You need to buy from lots of vendors to help them all, especially in the little villages. They don't have change.
*Don't bargain with the poor folks: You look like a cheapskate; relatively, you are rich. A buck/penny means more to them. Let them keep the change.
*Do bargain with the Tourist Market folks: It's fun, and if you both laugh, it's friendly.
*Use your Lonely Planet guidebooks: Wow! They were super accurate. That tiny woodcut-print shop in Kyoto was worth the whole trip!!
*Learn how to say "Thank You" in every language
*Laugh a lot! It's a universal language. Smile when you're not laughing.
*Go with a friend, or find one on the way: Double the fun.
*Take good shoes: Everything worth seeing is a walk.
*Plan on photo storage: We bought a tiny, 120Gig hard drive. Bring extra memory cards and batteries to switch out.
*Memorize the Microsoft/Explorer/Firefox pages: Everything is in Asian Characters, & figuring out how to toggle English is hard.
*You will get used to their harder beds. It'll take some time to get used to yours when you get home.
*Go to the boondocks: They are so glad to see you! The East West Siam Company was our introduction to the tribes all through Northern Thailand. There are a lot of other companies who pay the villagers for visits.
*Smile for at least a few of their photos: At Borobudur we were politely mobbed by folks who wanted photos with us. 'Round-eyes' are rare.
*Condense your purse/daypack to a minimum, & plan for secure storage for the rest. It gets really heavy.
*Early on find out how to get cash in needed quantities. We spent a harried time accumulating enough cash to get those lovely woodcut-prints in Kyoto.
*Take all your credit cards, more traveler's checks than you think you'll need and then as many $20 bills as you feel comfortable carrying. Tell your credit card companies where and when you're going. Authorize someone at home to call them in case they block your card.
*Splurge! You won't pass this way again. Buy it when you see it. Tighten your belt when you get home. Research what each place specializes in before you go.
*Find out when the disabled workshops are: Siem Reap's Artisans store is phenomenal. I regret not asking about these earlier in our trip.
*Plan on mailing things home: DHL & FedEx are the most secure way to send things.
*Don't put valuables in your checked baggage. Temptation is unkind.
*Learn about the local Children's Hospitals. They are all over SE Asia and worthwhile. We visited one at Siem Reap.
*If you're female: Master "The LOOK". It says 'Don't mess with me!' Don't respond to catcalls, or look at men. Learn how to discourage...
*If you're male: Don't look or talk provocatively or touch!
*Don't expect your guides to protect you from beggars and touts. They live there & know these folks have to make a living, too. Ask how to discourage them, & how to say NO.

2 comments:

The Schlosser's said...

Fantastic lessons! I LOVE the pictures I'm seeing from Gwin - breathtaking! Love you, Angie

Sylvie said...

Hi Aunt Susi! When are you gonna write about Ben?

Love,
Sylvie (your niece)