Well, it finally happened, I got taken by a scam in Southeast Asia. And not just the everyday “charging a tourist more than it should actually cost” situation that I get taken for literally every day. Before coming on the trip, I had steeled myself against the probability that I was going to have to be ultra-alert and resistant to scams and over-paying at every turn. I had encountered situations like that before in the Middle East and assumed it would be similar here based on reading about fast taxi meters in Vietnam or any number of other scams that travelers have to be wary of. I also had the memory of my friend Adil’s story — his bus in Thailand had been potentially gassed and robbed (at any rate, passengers woke up and had all of their valuables missing).
I spent the first six weeks in Philippines and Vietnam reading up on what to expect to pay at places, constantly negotiating and staying on my toes. Sure, I avoided some of the typical over-pricing, like the time we managed to pay the local rate on the bus from Da Nang to Hoi An, and also secured that rate for some fellow travelers. But in the end, none of the more serious scams had hit us. We never experienced any taxis with funky or broken meters and most people seemed very trustworthy, while at the same time being ruthless negotiators.
Uh, it’s January 30th? 2014?!?!?! It feels like it was just the New Year a couple days ago! Maybe that’s because it’s the Lunar New Year tomorrow. Or maybe it’s because I’ve completely lost all sense of time and reality.
It has been a crazy month. We entered Thailand on December 30th, Malaysia on January 6th, spent two days in Singapore (January 19th and 20th), and then spent one day in all three of those countries, reversing our route. We are now back in Thailand. For a large portion of that time, we were joined by Cara, a friend we’d made a few weeks before in Cat Ba island. But she eventually got tired of our snarkiness…
and went back home to the States, and we’re back down to two. Here’s a more in-depth summary of the last month.
Being away from home is always challenging because of the things you miss: your friends, your favorite foods, the familiarity and comfort of home, etc. And I miss all those things. But no one wants to hear about that.
A couple people have asked what things I miss that I didn’t expect to or that are unusual. Well, I don’t know what other people consider unusual. I’m coming to realize that my perceptions aren’t always in line with others’. But before we get into a debate of what the definition of ‘weird’ is and whether or not I fit in it (that would be a short discussion), here’s a list of the things I miss that may or may not be weird.
My favorite part of this trip so far is all the awesome people we have met. The locals who have shown us around have been incredibly hospitable and helpful, and the other travelers have been fascinating and adventurous people who quickly become friends.
Sometimes, though, we run into people we aren’t so excited about. Enter: snarky Lisa.