The top 10 things we WON’T miss about Asia

by Sharon -- September 27, 2010

Our year-long Asia romp is coming to an end. Recently, Jason and I have been reminiscing about the good memories as well as a few of the bad.  While the good memories far outweigh the bad ones, there are some very distinct moments where I really wished I was back at home.  Here is a list of the top 10 things about Asia that we will NOT miss…

  1. Accidentally ordering cow brains: We will not miss having to choose our dinner like a crap shoot and being stuck with some mystery “meat” that could be anything from chicken to frog meat to something even worse…
  2. The Asian staring: Yes, Jason may love this because it creates a celebrity status for him, but in reality it’s really annoying.  Our first experience in mainland China involved every single person turning their heads to stare at us.  Talk about culture shock.  I probably wasn’t the most diplomatic of tourists myself, however, as I returned their stares with a mean glare and a face that said “what are you staring at?!!”
  3. The Asian shoving: Whilst patiently waiting in line for the bus, don’t be alarmed when an 80 year old Korean or Chinese grandma pushes you out of her way to get in before you.  This is not considered rude here, but to us, it was quite strange and didn’t make any sense.  Calm down, you’re gonna get a seat lady!!!
  4. The Asian bargaining: If there’s one thing that I’ve mastered through traveling, it’s the art of Chinese bargaining.  It’s common tourist knowledge that in many places in Asia, especially in China, foreigners are charged more than double the amount a local would pay for an item.  Because of this, I am now a bargaining master.  The first time I tried, however, I was so nervous that I could barely muster up the courage. Now, I almost always receive the “Chinese callback” (where the seller tells you there’s no way they’ll sell it to you for that price, so you walk away and they call you back by saying “ok ok!!!”).
  5. The other-worldly restaurant timing: In China, they served you one main dish at a time, making you wait as much as 10-15 minutes for the next dish to be served.  And then as if that wasn’t bad enough, they almost always served us our rice LAST.
  6. Durian: If you’ve never smelled or tasted this “fruit”, consider yourself lucky.  I will never be able to forget its awful smell, but for some reason Durian fruit has a cult-like following of people who eat it like it’s delicious or something.  I describe this “fruit” to taste like moldy meat.
  7. Communication barriers: After a year in non-English speaking countries, it gets very frustrating when you can’t even ask a grocery store worker where the drinks are.  Now that we are in Guam, it’s like sweet music to my ears when the gas station attendant says “how can I help you?” no matter how bored they look.
  8. Littering: There were a few places in Asia where the amount of littering that took place would be considered an epidemic in the US.  In some countries they littered because a trash team would come and clean up the streets, but in other places there was no one to do this, so the trash just piled up and sat there.  I don’t understand this mentality in the least; don’t you have a sense of pride in your city?  Do you really want your home to look like a dumpster one day?
  9. The water issue: In every country we visited, with the exception of Singapore and Japan, local tap water was not clean enough to drink.  This became a real nuisance as our only options were to buy new water bottles every day (which is terrible for the environment) or fill up a bottle with tap water and sterilize it using our Steripen multiple times a day.  Needless to say, the Steripen thing got pretty tedious, at least for me.
  10. Stinky bathrooms and drains: Squat toilets aren’t really that bad in theory, but I will die a happy person if I never have to SMELL one ever again.  The one pro of squat toilets- you don’t have to touch anything.  The many cons of squat toilets- the stench is terrible for some reason, you have to throw your TP away in a trash can, the Asian squat is impossible for anyone who hasn’t practiced it since birth, and you have to try to dodge other people’s urine and feces on the ground because some people don’t know how to keep it in the toilet.  In addition to the toilets, it’s also not uncommon for a terrible wafting stench of sewage to hit your face from one of the street drains.

Stay tuned for the follow up to this post where Jason will be revealing the top 10 things we WILL miss about Asia!

Be awesome and help us share:

9 Responses to “The top 10 things we WON’T miss about Asia”

  1. I’m scared to ask, but… did you actually accidentally order a cow brain or is it a figurative speech?.. 0_O

  2. OMG now I am terrified of the squat toilet…lol! What does one look like anyway… Do I need to start practicing now?

  3. Couldn’t agree with you more, but well the positives definitely outweigh the negatives! :)

  4. I hate the Asian bargaining since I myself an Asian is sometimes a victim of it. I share the same sentiment with the squat toilet. I’ll never ever use one again.

  5. Jaime,
    Fellow travel blogger in Korea here. Squat toilets are on their way out, but if you find yourself in an older part of Korea, you’ll see they may be your only option. They harken back to a rough-and-tumble time in Korea’s history… Anyway, no, they’re not especially difficult to use. Most people attempt doing so while…slightly intoxicated… which is definitely NOT a good thing. Try once while sober before stumbling around and embarrassing yourself.

    Jason: #1 - I didn’t order cow brains, but a big bowl of makgeolli did make an excellent (if accidental) lunch while hiking a mountain.

  6. [...] Sharon wrote the Top 10 Things We WON’T Miss About Asia. Today, I continue our “Asia Recap week” with the top 10 things we’re going to miss [...]

  7. We never actually really ordered cow brains, but we did order cow intestines and cow stomach lining without knowing what it was.

    All you need to do is Google “squat toilet” and take a look at all of the terrifying pictures…

    Western toilets are definitely all over Korea, as you said, but when you do go into the squat toilet it just has this terrible smell and you leave the stall feeling… just really dirty!

    Thanks for the great comments everyone!

  8. I can’t help but notice how many times China or Chinese was mentioned in this list. hmmm…. Now off to read Jason’s list and hope to see China in there too.

  9. Interesting about the “shoving” you mentioned. I thought the Asian culture was quite protective of a person’s ‘personal space.’

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