8 ) Don’t quench your thirst on Singapore’s Metro while reading the rules of carriage. Because it might be a little awkward when you glance over the $500 potential fine as you simultaneously notice the two policemen staring at you. This is even more uncomfortable when you become distracted by the fact they are armed and proceed to maintain a deer in the headlights expression – with the drink bottle still in your mouth. The smile and fade into the crowd trick works better when you aren’t carrying a backpack half the size of you – or at least I’ve heard so.
7 ) If you’re a lady: don’t touch the monk. I know, it’s not fair – they are so touchable, especially when they’re adorned in orange robes. So many occasions I’ve wanted to accidentally brush past them, to see what really happens. This is one cultural sensitivity I haven’t accidentally messed up. But, it’s taken a lot of self control – constant self control. So, if I can’t touch the monk, neither can you.
6 ) Don’t get in the tuk tuk when he offers it to you at half the usual price because he’s “going that way anyway”. It is way too good to be true. Be strong; do not let your hunger cloud your sense of judgement as you will end up spending longer arguing with him to take you back to where you were, than it would have taken to walk there. His (stupid) silk shop is not going to feed you.
5 ) Don’t go tubing in Vang Vieng. Okay, you can go tubing because it’s pretty fun, but don’t be one of those tubers that are culturally insensitive. Also, please don’t be one of those tubers who judge the culturally insensitive tubers only to be baited by the exluir of doom that is Lao Lao whiskey. Because you might just find yourself wearing stupid bandanas with an assortment of swear words written on them while dancing like you’re leading a Hare Krishna movement . You may also end up having to excuse yourself from dinner, only to walk 30 seconds down the street where you will have to excuse yourself all over the grass. Just don’t Lao Lao, even if it’s free.
4 ) Don’t book a 36 hour bus trip from Vang Vieng to Hanoi because chances are you are going to get food poisoning right before the bus is due. Word of the day: waterfall. Also on the same note, don’t trust the ticket salesmen who assures you that there will be a working toilet on this bus – he is lying. You may have cringed when the doctor handed you some pills called “stoppers” but they are now your best friend – ingest immediately and hand out the remainders like candy to your fellow travelers who are facing the same grim existence.
3 ) Don’t buddy up too much with the Vietnamese border control just because it’s really cold and you’re sick of waiting for the border to open up. They will be a little too excited by your presence and will ask you to pose in photos with them. Which is fine, until they show you the photos only to reveal that they’ve taken zoomed in photos of your face – creepy on a good day, but absolutely horrific after enduring The Bus Ride From Hell (above).
2 ) Don’t decide to get beach maintenance in Koh Phangan, Thailand. Everything will be uncomfortable from the beginning: you will have to use sign language to demonstrate that you want a wax. Then the two excitable beauty therapists will proceed to make large circular movements around their crotch while saying “ALL GONE?” on a busy road as other tourists meander by. Things will only get progressive worse, as you are taken out back to a room that looks like it belongs on a porn set. You will be instructed to lay down on a mattress on the floor, while the lady turns on the red light (classy). The therapist will kneel right between… you… while you endure thirty minutes of repetitive torture. Meanwhile your friend will be waiting for you while getting a manicure and pedicure – enjoy!
1 ) Don’t forget to put pants on. Yeah, who would have thought this would be featuring on my list, but it’s pretty key. Especially when your bus between Thailand and Laos takes you to one of the most gorgeous temples in the world, without forewarning you. You might just find yourself walking through Wan Rong Khun temple grounds with a little Thai man running after you screaming “Radddddyyy Radddddddyyy” which is apparently Thanglish for lady. He will wrap up your wicked white legs in a long white sarong, hiding the fact you come from a country without enough sunshine. Don’t attempt to tie the sarong yourself, he’ll be pretty insistent on doing it for you as clearly you cannot dress yourself.
Is there anything you suggest that others shouldn’t do in Asia? I’d love to hear your stories!