Backpackers love a good visit to South East Asia (we’re everywhere here), and there are always stories about terrible bus journeys on the ‘roads’ of Cambodia, of terrible bites in Thailand and drunken escapades in Laos. Then there’s plenty of caves, diseases and dangerous traffic to scare Vientnamads too… So I’m just saying, in advance – beware, hypochondriacs:
1. With these ridiculous temperatures, you won’t be able to distinguish your normal forehead sweats from your feverish ones.
2. Poisonous animals like scorpions are waved in front of your face on sticks and are sold. To eat.
3. Traffic stops for no man. Especially at crossings and red lights.
4. Insects are everywhere and they’re so much bigger than European ones… (Their ANTS though oh sweet Jesus).
5. At some point, regardless of how clean the food is or how careful you are, you will get violently and horribly sick (horribly, and it’s likely that timing will not be on your side).
6. The amount of diseases you can catch will shock you to your core (trust me, I spent SO MUCH MONEY on vaccinations pretrip).
7. Wild dogs roam the streets at every corner. Unleashed. With evil in their eyes and naw such fluffy fur.
8. Mysterious laws threaten to imprison unsuspecting tourists everywhere, especially in Thailand (always carry your passport in Thailand or bang – detained. Never bad mouth the King in Thailand or bang – jail. Never leave the house without underwear in Thailand or bang – awkward phone call to the embassy from your cell…)
9. Mosquitoes are everywhere and they are trying to slowly eat you alive. Or at least give you a nasty life-threatening disease.
10. Small spiders, the ones you least suspect, hide in your shoes and wait for your ballsy foot to swagger in unaware.
11. Food is always a surprise. You think you’ve bought a bagel but it’s actually a hard lump of natural unrefined sugar (it tastes like caramel mmmm, beware the calorie song…) Bread can seem like bread but it will have some strange goo inside, and never take the pictures on snack wrappers literally.
12. Tuktuk drivers will tell you about a festival, on today only, lucky you. They will drive you there for a low price and will leave you at your standard Asian temple miles out in the sticks, where there is no music, no dancing, no fireworks, no celebration. Only you feeling stupid and paying to return the way you came.
13. Everywhere you go, locals are wearing face masks, as if there is some horrible airborn disease that has been kept a secret from tourists and is slowly killing off the non-Asian population…
14. You will get all kinds of rashes if you happen to be British or cold-country-born. Prickly heat will drive you crazy and constant sun cream and bite spray will have you scratching your skin all day.
15. You’ve chosen something green from a street food stall because you figure green is milder and it’s gotta be healthy, right? WRONG. It’s spicy as fuck and you’re back on the immodium again because you never learn.
16. You think it’s a massage. Just a massage. Ladies, gentleman, folks. It’s not just a massage. It’s a stabbing assault of your muscles by highly trained ninjas. The real skill is their ability to put in just the right technique to make you feel amazing afterwards, and you come running back for more a week later, when you’ve forgotten the agony…
17. Alcohol in this place is potent. Be warned, kids.
Feature photo credit: Ed Gregory