10 Things We Learnt From Backpacking In SE Asia

by Marc Valentine

Backpacking in se asia

Backpacking in SE Asia

Sadly, we have now officially departed from Southeast Asia…

Flying out of the region for the foreseeable future to persue some different, but equally rich & rewarding (hopefully) travel experiences in Europe…

On our recent departure from Asia, we thought we’d share a few of the biggest lessons we discovered after spending an ultra fun packed 4 months backpacking, partying, scuba diving, eating too much, exercising too little, making new friends, neglecting old ones, missing plane flights, busting caps at illusive (stationary) targets & general shenanigans in Southeast Asia.

Here are 10 of the biggest things that we learned + a few others that left a lasting impression…

1. There is no such thing as an orderly line in Asia. Period. (we searched high n low)

2. You will not be arrested & put in a firing line for missing a plane flight… we missed our first ever flight in Bangkok this year, and you know what – it didn’t turn out  to be that big a deal

3. Human beings are still human beings – no matter where they call home… most people have good hearts and will go out of their way to help you if you’re in trouble

4. Don’t take peace in your own country for granted… we are insulated from a lot of what goes on in the world, there are people fighting all over the world… apparently a lot of this is not “newsworthy”

5. The default reply to any question in Asia is always a very certain yes!...

Can I have a diet coke – no ice please? yes!
Can I have my curry a little bit saaa-picy (spicy) please?
I have disgusting breath that smells worse than Bangkok’s open sewers don’t I?

… if you think someone didn’t understood you correctly, they didnt!

6. Fact. Mostly people do not curl over & die the moment they bite down on a mouthful of Asian street food – in fact we ate it often, preferring the street food over many of the restaurants we ate at

7. Fact. Shooting an AK47 on automatic is definitely as fun as it looks in the movies

8. Most people in Asia live in worse conditions than you as a budget backpacker… ask that guy you think is ripping you off with those $2 t-shirts if you can see his home & he’ll prob show you a tin shack with a mattress lying on a dirt floor

9. Fact. dropping a naughty word in someones own language is the best icebreaker you’ll ever find

Hoi Ann Vietnam

Practising Our Naughty Words In Vietnam


10. Weather conditions will form a large part of your impression of the places you visit… it rained the entire time we were in Vietnam and left us with a less than 10/10 overall impression

A few additional things we learned…

1. Walking with earphones in – even if not in operation will drastically reduce the level of harassment you receive from street vendors

2. No matter how much you detest large international chains… whether it be the need for a western toilet, wifi, or reliable coffee – you WILL find salvation in a McDonalds or Starbucks on at least 1 occasion while on the road

3. You can have a conversation with a monk (they’re just just like real people) – we had a long conversation in Luang Prabang with a monk who had traveled to Laos from Thailand… unfortunately I wasn’t overwhelmed with Zen wisdom afterwards as I was expecting 🙁

4. The purchase of fireworks will bring out the inner child in any male

Did you take anything cool away from your own trips to Southeast Asia?

Feel free to add to this list by posting in the comments section below…

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

todd Wanderlusting December 15, 2012 at 10:36 pm

So after 49 years and 10 months I FINALLY made it out of The States……. flew into S.E. Asia and for the next 5.5 months in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia…. ALONE and knowing know one …..to say my life has been forever changed would be the understatement of the millennium. Holy crap…. I made more amazing/deep friendships/had more fun and adventure than I had ever in my almost 50 years in The States. Was running out of money and SOOO did not want to come back so I ended up teaching English at a public high school in Bangkok… no experience, no degree! I could go on for another 5 years writing but will end now. Suffice to say I have started a S.E. Asia tour company so I may forever live in S.E. Asia and never have to live in The States again 🙂 Hugs!


Marc Valentine December 17, 2012 at 10:50 am

Sounds like your having the time of your life – good for you!
Be sure to let us know how the tour company pans out 🙂


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