Southeast Asia is comprised of 11 countries with varying cultures and laws. The following guide(s) highlight some of the more common aspects between most of the countries but follow up for specific country information is highly suggested.
Before you arrive study up on local laws, banned items, and customs for each individual country you are visiting. You probably didn’t know that chewing gum is illegal in in Singapore and can cost you $1,000 USD on your first offense. Some of the common courtesies and behaviors in Southeast Asia are not as obvious to Westerners. Here are some common behaviors you should avoid in Southeast Asia:
Take off your shoes.
If you see a line of shoes outside of a door, remove yours and place them in the row. You should never wear your shoes into someone’s home and many businesses will require you to remove them as well. And while we’re on that…
Working on an Orchard – Part One
An inside look on what it’s like to work as a seasonal agricultural worker.
A year ago I was desperate for seasonal work when a friend suggested I fly back to the East Coast to come pick apples with him. I didn’t want to leave Northwestern U.S. at the time so I said maybe next year. Every year he leaves his life in the city and spends the fall at Mack’s Apples. And every year he returns glowing so when I found myself back in New England working tirelessly to pay off previous debts I’d incurred and let’s face it, getting horribly out of shape I thought why not? I wasn’t ready for another big adventure far from my home base in Mass but New Hampshire would provide me with lots of new territory to explore while being close enough to visit my friends, but mostly my cat who’s been fighting off an infection for several months now. My mom has been graciously taking care of her in my absence and I have time off on the weekends to go check up on her.
“WOW!” I pointed to the sign and shouted at my sister as she drove through the exit to International Departures at Logan Airport in Boston. It was starting to feel real now. A couple of weeks ago I had been planning a trip to Iceland. WOW is the premier airline for cheap flights there. We were now passing it. Three months ago I had returned from the West Coast to work seasonally, recoup funds, and pay off some debt so that I could travel without worrying about my jeopardizing my future— as much. It’s a careful balancing act coupled with some self-sacrificing for some of us who don’t have remote IT jobs or trust funds to rely upon. I planned to take a small trip to Iceland to satisfy my travel bug. I soon realized it would be much too cold to hitchhike and camp around as I’m accustomed to. With no one to split bills with my plans were falling apart. A Facebook post would change the course of my life for the next couple of months. My friend Lief, whom I had met in my previous travels had made a FB post asking if anyone could watch his dog while he was in South East Asia.
Just months before I had been debating Thailand or Iceland and had actually considered asking a couple of people, that friend included, if they’d be interested in either destination. Ultimately I decided on Iceland which would be a shorter trip and more inclusive to my general social group. I found it ironic that I now found myself in the position of asking if I could hop onto his adventure in one of those very places . A phone call later and it was decided. I was going to South East Asia. I had two months to prepare and not a penny in a savings. I hadn’t paid off shit. Buuuuuut. Asia. Those other plans could wait. I could adult when I got back. I spent the next two months working for Instacart doing 45-65 hours of grocery deliveries a week while a friend let me stay at his place in Somerville for well below market rent. My nicotine addiction was killing me both literally and financially but I managed to switch to vaping for the most part. I wasn’t too happy when I found out they were illegal in all the countries I was to visit. Not that anyone really cares here in SEA.
I was driving up the 7 last week listening to the Twilight soundtrack the other day. Yes, I own a Twilight soundtrack. I was broke and homeless in Eugene and the used cd store, Skip’s Records, was selling them for than the new retail value at Target (thanks a lot hipsters). After searching around several St. Vinnie’s and Good Wills I was coming up short. By the way every thrift shop has a copy of Seal and Celine Dionne. Every. Single. One of them. Kind of makes you think about how movies influence the music industry and vice versa. Anyways, I found the Twilight soundtrack and “Blue Eyes on Fire” reminds me of good times with a partner of mine so I purchased it for $1 at Good Will. Oh and it has Muse on it. They’re alright when not associated with vampire movies.
Back to my drive. So I’m driving through these mountains listening to the soundtrack. I get the most wonderful feeling when I’m driving solo with nothing but the trees, the steep curves of the road, and the music playing on my stereo. It can’t be described as anything less than euphoric. But then this song comes on.
You know that feeling when a song sums up your feelings in a way that you can’t? It’s that aha moment. Well I had that. Funny cause I didn’t like this song at first and now it’s my favorite song on the cd. But that wasn’t my epiphany.