Wandering around SEA as a European tourist.
I have been traveling around South East Asia for more than one month now and I am aware that this doesn’t mean knowing SEA at all. It was for me an opportunity to grasp some impressions of the very rich cultures of this region, which a lot of Europeans like me are visiting every year. I wanted to see with my eyes the colors, taste the food (although “no spicy” is what I ended up asking the most!), visit a million temples, smell different essences, and learn new sounds to at least be able to thank people in their language for their warm welcome.
So in no particular order, I wish to remember the female street vendors, the incredible amount of motorbikes in busy intersections, and the cyclo drivers finding their way in those. I was astonished by the air conditioning dotting the top of buildings as well as the electrical wiring crisscrossing streets. I will also not forget the local people sitting on tiny chairs and little tables eating at all times, and the taste of exotic fruit smoothies. Last but not least, I enjoyed finding many spa and massage boutiques on nearly every street.
There are many different ethnicities and cultures in this region of the world and each of them has its colorful handicrafts and art works, with wonderful woven textiles and furniture carved out of trees.
As this is a family trip, I also asked my 10 and 12-year-old children what they would remember most about this part of the world before we head to a new destination, and here is what they said:
1. The way people live is different from us.
2. Spicy food (a lot of rice and noodles!)
3. Different transportation modes, such as tuk-tuk, cyclo drivers, night trains, sleeping buses…
4. Luxuriant vegetation, also in big cities
5. Long massages with advantageous prices
6. Taking off your shoes when entering houses or transport as a sign of respect
7. The presence of religion in daily life with thousands of temples and altars everywhere
All in all, we enjoyed the experience in South East Asia and will keep vibrant memories of our stay there.