When you go backpacking in Asia, you have to get used to many things that are not always only pleasant. After traveling for a while, it’s funny to notice that those things that used to be weird and maybe even frightening, have become everyday stuff. Backpacking in Asia helps to grow a thick skin and thanks to the experiences gained on the road, small things don’t shock you anymore. We have made at least these observations during our ten-month trip. How many can you identify?
All kinds of bugs from cockroaches to giant spiders and rats. When you have traveled in Asia for a long time, you don’t even bother to pay attention to lizards chilling on the walls. Cockroaches scurrying on the floor don’t make you feel disgusted either. In the evening, rats running on the streets are an everyday sight as well. Bed bugs are quite common in hostels in Asia and almost every traveler finds unpleasant bite marks on their body at some point. A tarantula on the bathroom wall still causes a panic attack but after going back home, spiders the size of a fingertip that used to be so scary will just make you laugh.
Relaxed clothing. You get so used to wearing summer and hippie clothes that after the trip, jeans and a shirt feel as comfortable as an armor. Sometimes several days pass wearing only a swimsuit and a beach towel. Because the wardrobe that fits in the backpack is not very big, you end up wearing mainly same clothes from day to day.
Carelessness toward you looks. You can easily spend weeks on the road without even remembering that you are carrying a makeup bag with you. The tan and happiness caused by traveling are enough to create a blooming look. Who would even bother to wear makeup in the hot and humid Asian climate? When you do your hair, brushing and making a messy bun is definitely enough and guys cut their beard time to time, or then not.
Repeating same things when you meet new people. It’s always great to make new friends but sometimes you just get bored of answering the same questions over and over again. We wonder how many times we have answered questions like “where are you from” and “how long have you been traveling”. When you travel with someone, you also have to listen to the same stories that your partner repeats from word to word and your ears automatically lock after the first sentence.
Ignoring hawkers and taxi drivers. At the beginning of your trip you might still have the energy to answer politely to every tuk-tuk driver and vendor that occupy every corner in Southeast Asian countries. When you have traveled for a while though, you start to completely ignore the people shouting after you or just wave your hand while passing them.
Getting used to all levels of accommodation. When you sleep in cheap hostels and guesthouses, you never know what you get with your money. A two-dollar dorm might offer a comfy bed in an air-conditioned room, or a creaky and hard bunk bed in a dark and stinky chamber. A warm shower and toilet paper are a rare luxury in Southeast Asia. When you have backpacked on a small budget for a while, you start to appreciate small things like clean bed sheets and a toilet that flushes.
An easygoing and laid-back attitude. When you travel, you finally have time to relax. The weekdays or time don’t really matter. In many Asian countries, everything is normally opened on every day of the week. If you feel especially good in some place, it’s hard to even remember how many days (or weeks) you have actually spent there. We often have to ask each other what weekday it is. While traveling in Asia, your patience will also grow as many things run slowly and you often have to wait for the bus to leave until it gets full. A bus journey can easily take 10 hours instead of the scheduled 5 hours and nobody will even mention anything. Unexperienced backpackers are often easy to recognize because they lose their patience already after waiting for 15 minutes. They either get angry or try to bribe the driver to leave by paying a triple price.
Adapting to new cultures easily. When you backpack around Asia, you get quickly used to to the fact that the language, currency and culture are different every time you change the country. It’s always exciting to get to know a new country and already after a few days, you have learned the new currency rate and local greetings and eat the local food like a pro.
What other things have you noticed while backpacking?