5 things I’ve learnt from travelling around Asia

Disclaimer: I hate travelogue-type lists as much as the next person, but I’m going to write one anyway. Why? Because these pearls of wisdom (yes, I’m very modest, I know) still haven’t made their way onto the internet in a list of five.

1) Never fall for the whole “I’m a cute old lady shopkeeper and I need to sell these souvenirs to feed my family” gag. What this really translates into is “Don’t be fooled by this facade, I’m going to make you pay at least twice of what you should pay you poor unsuspecting tourist!”

2) If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. 

This particularly applies to bargaining. Never settle for the first price a small stall owner in the Stanley Market quotes. In my experience, the best bargaining scenarios take place like this:

Unsuspecting, (not-so) innocent tourist (yours truly): I love this Chinese tea set! How much is it for?

Cute old lady, shop-owner, ready to rip-off unsuspecting tourist: Ah, you so pretty! For you, I get special price.

This is when she takes out a calculator, pretends to give me a discount and shows me an absurd figure.

Me: Too much, lah!

So, I take the calculator, and quote an equally absurd figure that’s less than half of what she’s asking.

Old lady shop-owner: Oh, no, no! Cannot!

And so, the calculator goes back and forth until you find a price you like. Which is when you throw her the curve ball:

Me: Sorry, lah, too expensive!

And presto, seconds after you turn to walk away, she comes back to you with the lowest price you’d quoted.

3) If you’re going to try street food, follow it up with copious amounts of alcohol to avoid food poisoning.

Listen, I’m all for your trying crickets in Cambodia (fairly safe, since they’re deep-fried), or skewered snake meat in Thailand. Heck, I’ve been that adventurous myself (no snake just yet, but maybe next time?) Just don’t eat any street-meat that’s still moving. Or making sounds. Or breathing, for that matter.

4) Never, ever assume that a cool drink will be sugar-free. Or syrup-free. Or un-sweetened. This especially applies to East Asia, where even if you ask for a bubble tea without sugar syrup, they will put it in. By. The. Gallon. Because ‘it’s free, lah!’ So really, double and triple check that there is no sugar in your beverage of choice, unless you like it that way – in which case, enjoy your diabetes in a cup (no judgement).

5) Avoid helping elderly people with groceries; suitcases at the luggage carousel; or across streets. 

Okay, so this one might be a big of a generalization over a ruckus kicked up by a babushka in New Delhi’s IGI Airport, a couple of years ago. Here’s the 4/11 on the situation.

Picture this: a frail, haggard old prune of a woman is waiting for her grey suitcase with a purple ribbon at a luggage carousel. She’s just had a 5 hour, 40 minute plane ride and she’s tired. She is also in the habit of coughing with her mouth open (but whatever, she’s old).

She spots her grey suitcase, and it’s twice her size and at least ten times her body weight. What do you do? Help, obviously.

So I take a handle and help her get the suitcase off the carousel.

And what does she do in response? She tugs at her suitcase, and tells me it’s hers. As if I didn’t know that when I said ‘Let me help you with that’ in my flawless Hindi (modesty is a virtue which I’m working on, clearly).

Anyhow, I’ve noticed that the elderly in this part of the world don’t appreciate being ‘helped’. Don’t help them unless they specifically ask for a hand.

If you liked this post, drop me a comment, if you didn’t like it definitely drop me a comment, and if you really loved it, like it, share it, or tell your grandmother about it. 


(Note to reader: I do not have ‘anger management issues’, my therapist just gets on my nerves when she tells me to count to ten in my head and take deep breaths! I mean, WHY DOESN’T SHE COUNT TO TEN FOR GOSH SAKES!?)


Author: Akanksha Singh

Twenty-something travel addict || Likes: coffee, sarcasm, the Oxford comma, blue skies, and cobblestone roads. || Dislikes: rudeness, carrots, and pigeons (read: winged-rats with satanic eyes).

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