10 things I wish I'd known before visiting south-east Asia for the first time


Taking a trip to Malaysia was my first time I had ever been to south-east Asia. It was a massive culture shock to be somewhere so different from home. I like to think of myself as pretty well traveled despite only having been to Europe and North America but it completely took me by surprise. It was unlike anywhere I had been before. Here are ten things I wish I'd known before travelling to the region for the first time.

1. Be prepared for squat toilets
For some reason I only though squat toilets existed in China which is ridiculous. This is not the case. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with squat toilets but it is just something I'm not quite used to. They take a hell of a lot of time to get used to when you've only ever used a western loo. All there restaurants always had a western loo but keep in mind some service stations and temples only have squat loos...

2. The toilets don't always have toilet paper
It seems to be very heavy on the old toilet situation doesn't it? But one thing I really noticed about going to the loo in Malaysia is that toilet paper is in short supply. Luckily I had already been warned about this from Michelle so always had some in my bag. I would have come unstuck a fair few times if it wasn't for her! All toilets have toilet sprayer which again was something I had never come across before. But you can use them instead of using toilet paper if you forget it.

3. Health and safety is not the same as home
We had a rather hairy time involving some fireworks and fire crackers which scared the life out of me! You could tell someone hadn't watched the firework safety video at school as a kid... Heath and safety doesn't really exist the over there and it definitely takes a while to go used to. You just have to learn to turn a blind eye!

4. Be prepared for people to ask you for pictures
I'd never been to a country where I was the minority before and one thing that really stood out for me was people asking me for my picture! One family asked me to pose with their children. Another man secretly filmed me when I was buying some food. People really did stare, especially where our friends lived as it wasn't a very touristy place so we stood out like a sore thumb. It wasn't uncomfortable and no one was rude but it took a while to get used to.

5. Drivers don't always stop at red lights
Driving in Malaysia was certainly an experience, luckily our friend was there to navigate. Everyone drives on the same side of the road as we do in the UK but that's where the similarities end! We were ok driving in Langkawi as it was pretty quiet. But on the mainland it was chaotic. No one seems to indicate, no one seems to stop at a red light and the traffic can be horrendous. The no stopping at a red light was particularly scary!

6.  Leave your shoes at the door before you enter guesthouses
I'm used to taking my shoes off at home at the door but it's never been expected of me to take them off at a guesthouse before I enter reception. It's a sign of respect in Malaysia so many will ask you to leave your shoes inside. This is why when you walk past any guesthouse you will see piles of shoes outside. If I had realised this I would have packed a pair of slippers.

7.  The sheer amount of whitening beauty products
I ran out of moisturiser while we were out there and popped to the pharmacy to pick up some more. It took me a good 15 m minutes to find something that didn't have 'whitening' or 'bleach' in the description. I couldn't quite believe the sheer amount of whitening products on sale from body lotion to deodorant. It's quite a sad sight if I'm honest and really makes you think.

8. No one wears helmets on mopeds 
No one at all wears a crash helmet on a moped, not even a six month old baby. Literally everyone drives around helmet free and it gives me a heart attack. See what I mean by heath and safety is not the same as home? Just because no one else seems to wear a helmet doesn't mean you should skip it if you decided to hire a moped.

9.  Sometimes eating western food affects you more than the local food
I love to stick to local food whenever I visit a new country but sometimes you just have a craving for food that reminds you of home. I'm talking burgers, pizza and chips. Sometimes needs must! I have no problem eating street food wherever I am despite people often warning against it. I think it's the best way to get a feel for a country. I was shocked that the times I felt a bit out of sorts - and really poorly at one point - was when I opted for the western food. So keep in mind eating western food won't necessary be better for your stomach!

10. The humidity is unlike anything I would have ever experienced before

My friend said before we went that in Malaysia you are always wet. Be it from the rain or from sweat because of the humidity. I thought he was exaggerating. But he wasn't! I wish I had been much better prepared to deal with it. Maybe taking a misting spray or lighter clothes from natural fabrics. It can get pretty intense!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for taking the time to visit my little blog. Your comments make my day!

Search This Blog

About me

About me
A Essex based lifestyle blogger who lives a champagne life on a lemonade purse!

Get in touch at
sophie.warner89@yahoo.co.uk.

As from July 2015, all PR samples will be marked with a *.
Follow

Blog Archive

Design by elevatormusik. Powered by Blogger.

Copyright

All content copyright to The Story of a Girl Who Lives Above Her Means unless stated otherwise.