Just a few insights after travelling in south-east Asia for ten months:
You know when you have been in Asia a long time when….
1. It seems completely normal to have chilli on your breakfast.
2. You don’t bat an eyelid when you see someone washing his or her elephant in the ocean.
3. You are most attracted to restaurants that don’t have any English signage as this is where you get the best local foods.
4. You have been bitten by at least 7 identifiably different species of mosquito and 6 species of ants.
5. Your normal state while doing any outdoor daytime activity is profuse sweating.
6. Huge insects no longer grab your attention like they used to, now you are looking for super-huge insects!
7. Gecko shit is a part of everyday life.
8. You have tried ALL the crazy ass fruits and vegetables!
9. You have a favourite local food place for each local delicacy.
10. Sticky rice becomes your bread replacement.
11. You are amused by other tourists taking photos of shops and streets, which now appear completely normal to you.
12. Meals without copious amounts of various types of chilli just don’t seem right.
13. You can tell when food doesn’t come with MSG by taste alone.
14. At the start you wouldn’t eat fish with bones, now you not only sift through sharp bones, you happily chow down on fish head like the locals do.
15. You can correctly identify all the European accents of your fellow travellers, and feel well aquainted enough with Asian countries to spot the Asian tourists from “out of town” and know which country they come from based on sight.
16. You realise that you can recognise many of the different Asian languages and often understand enough to know which language you are hearing.
17. You know which type of chilli (dried, fresh, in fish sauce, in oil, pickled) goes best with what dish.
18. Crazy Asian hair-raising public transport becomes pretty normal.
19. You know the locals will quickly realise you are not just a farang (foreigner) you are a local!
20. You have seen every conceivable spelling mistake known to man.
21. You know all the train, bus and flight timetables around Asia off by heart.
22. You can predict which dessert snacks are going to be salty!
23. Things like toast, mashed potato, peas, hummous, salmon and western herbs are elevated to such a celebrated status you engage in hour long conversations with other long term travellers in their honour.
24. A ten hour bus trip is not much of a drama.
25. Stones, wood and bugs in your food are an expected weekly feature and no longer surprise you like they used to.
It’s funny cos it’s true…