So long, Southeast Asia – Not Adieu, but Au Revoir

So long, Southeast Asia. Has it really been eight months? It seems as if we just left.

Words to live by

After Nusa Penida, we spend a few days on Nusa Lembongan. (Which is no Nusa Penida.) We are now in Denpasar, Bali’s main city. Tomorrow, we fly to Sydney, Australia and say ‘Au revoir, Southeast Asia.’

Some things we’ll miss about Southeast Asia:

  • People have been very good to us almost everywhere here. Ordinary, everyday people  have treated us with courtesy and respect. (In fact, usually the only people who are unpleasant to deal with are people in the actual tourism industry: ticket vendors, transport providers, etc.) Being strangers in a strange land, not speaking the language, means we are vulnerable. We can’t count the number of times our bacon has been saved by the kindness of locals.
  • Meeting wonderful and interesting people from different places, like Ulf and Susane. And Soufiane and Jessica. And Zane. And so many others. It’s a lot of fun hanging around with people much younger than we are.
  • Eating in restaurants every day. We haven’t cooked a meal in eight months. And we like to cook. But it’s traditional here to eat outside the home often. If you like rice and noodles and a thousand variations thereof – and we do – you’ll never go hungry. And it’s economical.
  • Speaking of economical, it’s refreshingly inexpensive. I’m sure this will change in Australia, but you get used to not worrying what things cost because whatever it is, it’s much cheaper than at home.
  • The weather, and the fact that it’s never seldom cold. We are both great lovers of heat and loathers of cold.
  • Amazing landscapes. Especially mountains. We don’t really take  photos in the mountains because cameras don’t capture the stupendousness of traveling through the high parts of Myanmar, Laos, and Indonesia.

Some things we WON’T miss about Southeast Asia:

  • Garbage everywhere. In combination with armies of idle people guys lying around doing nothing. When they could be picking up the trash. And digging a hole to bury it in. Takes no skill. But it’s a universal third world trait to be indifferent to living in an ocean of trash. This is hard on people like us, who become apoplectic if we find so much as a gum wrapper on our front lawn.
  • Animals in need of care. It’s another universal third world trait to be surrounded by mangy stray animals, some diseased, some crippled, some starving. And few people care. Even middle-class people in these countries purchase designer dogs most of the time. When there are millions of mutts around who’d like nothing better than a home to belong to. Caring for animals is a Western aberration.
  • People spitting everywhere. Accompanied by dramatically noisy, espresso-machine-like  horking up great loogies and phlegmy gobbing and general belching into people’s faces and eructations and other noisy expulsion of bodily material. Projectile nose-jets of snot. Explosive uncovered sneezes. Oh no, we won’t miss that at all. We know, we know, ‘it’s only natural’, but Jeeze Louise, keep it to yourself, people.
  • The general entropic state of decay in everything; even things that are new look like they’re falling apart or abandoned or just barely holding together or malfunctioning. It will be good to be someplace where this is not the norm.
  • People wearing surgical masks. It’s just creepy. This probably started in response to pollution in China or something, but now it’s become a thing everywhere. And covered people women in general (even baby girls). And the godawful governments of nearly every country in the area. How do such nice people end up with such brutes? (And no, they’re not ‘puppets of the USA’.)

‘All the world over, so easy to see
People everywhere just wanna be free’
– The Rascals, 1968

Words to live by II

What a long, strange trip it’s been. And it’s not over yet.