What I love about my experience of Asia so far is that everything is an adventure. The simplest tasks can involve a combination of sign language, pointing and laughing. Yes it seems that when some Asians don’t understand you they tend to giggle endearingly, the mood is instantly lightened and some kind of understanding is eventually formed.
These mini challenges result in a sense of accomplishment. You fill like you’ve achieved something even when it was only managing to order breakfast!
I enjoy this process. Due to the unpredictable life here not much is set in stone which leaves time for spontaneous moments of comedy and kindness from local people. Everything by and large works out as it should in the end! I like to remember that I’m on holidays and for once I don’t need to be in a major rush.
Some people try to “do” Asia like it’s Europe. Most things cannot be organised way in advance and I think rightly so as it is very difficult to predict how long one needs in a particular place or what place suits at a certain time/weather conditions.
Treating Asia like it is Europe will only result in disappointment. Not because the food is less interesting or because the people are less inviting. Quite the opposite in fact. If you are open to the fact that everything may not in exactly on time in Asia then maybe you’ll take the opportunity to observe the locals and find out what daily life is really like as opposed to getting collected and dropped off at various hotels which, once inside feel all too like home.
That is why traveling by bicycle is so ideal here. You are travelling at a speed that is most suitable for experience what I like to call the everyday ramdoness; the cutting of enormous ice blocks,the transportation of entire families on one moped, passengers on mopeds clutching bunches of chickens in either hand and more!
This guy is transporting all the piping he needs for his house: about 3 metres long!
Local children in particular treat you like royalty. It must be strange for them to see two pale western people cycle past on the lowest form of transport here that only young children and elderly people use. However, they are not “blinded by our paleness” to borrow a phrase from Ed Byrne; you quickly hear a macorena style chorus of “Hello” coming from all sides. These greetings bring an instantaneous smile to your face. Not because you are enjoying attention as such but because their happiness is simply contagious.
Don’t get me started on the food over here. That will be pictured and gladly described as we travel with each push of a pedal, each “Hello”, and every smile. Here’s hoping we’re not as pale by the end!