Things I Hate About South East Asia

Things I Hate About South East Asia

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I want to start this off by saying I really like Asia… especially South East Asia. It’s one of my favourite parts of the whole world and that’s why I keep coming back time and time again.

However, despite all the love I have for Asia, there are some things I seriously hate. If you’ve spent much time in SEA you might relate to these things, or if you’re planning to head here anytime soon, this list will help you prepare. Here are the things I hate about Asia:


Stagnant Water:

I don’t know what winds up in some of the streams of river here, but it smells and looks disgusting. The other day I was walking into a high-end shopping center and on ground level just outside the entrance, there was a massive area of stagnant water. It smelled so bad I literally gagged. Lots of the pools of water here are filled with rubbish and have a grey, glossy film to them. Ew.

Crappy Footpaths:

Many countries cater well to pedestrians; most places in SEA do not. If the sidewalks are even present, there’s a good chance they will have chunks of concrete missing out of them or be on crazy angles. It can be a real challenge walking around them at nighttime, in the dark, as they seem to have random holes in them without warning. Ankles beware.

Taxis Who Refuse the Meter:

I’m sure this doesn’t just happen in Asia, but it’s so annoying. I have had NUMEROUS taxis here in Bali refuse to use the meter with me, asking for 2-4 times what the fare should cost. I just tell them it’s too expensive and walk off, most of the time they’re suddenly eager to use the meter again.

To get a fair estimate of a fare, find out what the local rate per km is, then Google Map how far the distance of your journey is.


Tourist Prices:

Now, I should preface by saying that I don’t mind paying more than locals for attractions, especially religious sites that might otherwise be unaffordable to the people who actually live here. However, in most parts of South East Asia, there are two prices. The foreigner price and the local price and they can vary a lot. Even in stores where the ‘prices’ are marked on them, you can bet the locals are not paying anywhere near that much.

Spitting, Coughing etc

Today I had a foot and leg massage. Within 5 minutes I was almost falling asleep, feeling very relaxed as the knots in my legs were gently rubbed away. Meanwhile, a meter or so away from me, a lady was coughing up phlegm, loudly. In another massage the other day, the technician kept coughing while massaging me. The entire massage was spent in an awkward limbo of enjoying the physical sensation of the massage and being repulsed by a stranger coughing so close to my body.

Insane Aircon:

Outside it will be a nice 30 degrees and so you’ll dress appropriately, shorts and a tshirt perhaps. Whenever you go inside anywhere, whether a department store, restaurant, minimart or taxi the aircon will be so ridiculously powerful you’ll wish that you had brought a cardigan and jacket. And gloves. And a scarf.

Other than that, I love Asia and I am so happy to be here. Less than a month left in Asia and I am already feeling sad about leaving, but I wont miss any of these things.

Do you hate anything about Asia? Have these things annoyed you too? Let me know in the comments below!


  • Kaylin says:

    I don’t mind paying a little more for stuff and I get kind of annoyed at backpackers who haggle over a freakin shirt like their life depends on it (dude, it’s like a dollar more just pay it, that’s practically nothing to you but actually alot of money to them) but I HATE getting ripped off by taxis and tuk tuks. I would often ask my hostel how much is it supposed to cost for a certain trip, and then I would get drivers telling me twice or 3x as much when I asked. I got lucky in Cambodia as my hostel sent someone to collect me from the bus station when I arrived in Siem Reap, and I just used that same guy the whole time I was there to go to Angkor and all the sites because he was super nice and I knew he was trustworthy/wouldn’t rip me off since he was semi-affiliated with my hostel. He never told me a price higher than what the hostel said it should be for the distance/time.

    Also the whole hocking up a loogy publicly grosses me out. I lived in Korea for a year and that was the WORST. And people would just do it anywhere, even on the freakin subway platform. Yet blowing your nose (WHICH IS THE SAME DAMN STUFF JUST COMING OUT OF YOUR NOSE INSTEAD OF MOUTH) is taboo there.

  • Izy Berry says:

    I didn’t know blowing your nose was taboo! That’s so weird. I like to ask the hostels etc the price too, although often they are slightly inflated as well. I think it’s important to find a middle ground between what you’re happy to pay and what’s a fair price. I wouldn’t haggle over $1 for a shirt. I remember being with some really budget travellers that were haggling over around 20 cents until the salesperson caved. How sad? Like, really?

    Thanks for dropping by, Kaylin!

  • I hear you on the spitting, coughing, and NOISE PICKING! I always insist on meter or agree to a reasonable price in taxis but i also hear you on the number of taxi drivers that refuse it. Grocery stores and malls are ALWAYS freezing, and massage places too… Tourist prices I deal with. The smell yes, but never noticed the water but will keep an eye out. We love SEA and will be back again for several months in 2015!

    • Izy Berry says:

      Perhaps our paths will cross finally when you visit in 2015 as I plan to spend a lot of time here after central America! I was in a taxi yesterday that was so cold I was shivering, meanwhile it was 30 degrees outside. Come on!

  • Oh Izy, I completely agree with all of these, though hadn’t thought about the stagnant water.
    Another thing that gets to me at times, o’s the rubbish. People in SEA appear to have a distinct lack of care for their environment. Yesterday I was on s boat trip near a national park in Vietnam. It was beautiful, limestone caves, local men fishing, rice fields. So peaceful. After the boat, I got off and along the embankment was tons of rubbish everywhere. I’ve even encountered people throwing huge plastic bags near beautiful waterfalls. It smells, looks dirty and attracts rats, eugh!

    Apart from that, Asia is great!