5 things learned from traveling in Asia

If I had 5 things to tell people before they got onto a plane and dashed off to Asia, it would be:

  1. Always bring your own tissue paper when you go out — do not assume you will find toilet paper everywhere or get paper napkins for free
  2. Check everything you buy before you hand over your cash — ask to open the box, plug in the appliance, zip the zippers
  3. Do not be shy to shove your way onto a train if you need to — this is no time to be what I call ‘North American polite’
  4. Do not pay retail, and do not assume 50% off is the right bargaining price; we went as low as 25% of the retail price tag
  5. Do not be surprised when in certain countries, children squat down in alleyways or in roads and just start peeing or that parents hold their babies to pee on any patch of grass — diapers are expensive!

Other than that, I’d probably add things like:

  • Do not think that you need to know the language extensively. Obviously, learning how to say ‘thank you’ is helpful, but you can get around in the world any way you please with hand gestures and universal hand signs for numbers (or use a calculator)
  • Not all of Asia is the same (OBVIOUSLY), Thailand is v. different from Hong Kong which is is v. different from China, etc
  • Not all Asians act the same way (either outlined above), or that they’re all shy, or whatever preconceived notions you have
  • Even in one country, each city can be different — think of the differences between New York & Los Angeles & Houston!
  • Do not be surprised when people snap lots of photos of you — you are foreign and therefore exotic to them

I think traveling is one of the best things a person can do in their lifetime to be exposed to different cultures, languages and customs, even if you don’t particularly enjoy them.

Being in another country where you are truly an outsider (China & Japan made me feel like that), you will start to feel what others feel when they enter your country for the first time.

(Although I should note that even as an immigrant myself, I am not above getting frustrated/angry/annoyed with other foreigners. 😛 But I do try my best to be more understanding and patient,which are two of my weakest personality points)

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.