So I’ve landed safely in LA. Yay! Arrived at 7pm last night (local time), and was picked up by my great uncle, before being whisked away to West Hills for an amazing Persian dinner before bed. My body needs to catch up on sleep and my brain is still going 100miles an hour while I try and sort through what has happened over the last couple of days. So I thought I’d jot down a couple of key differences that I stood out for me between the countries.
Vietnam, Kuala Lumpur and China all seem really into their soda/soft drinks. The number of times (and difficulty) I had to struggle to order a bottle of water was crazy. Especially in China – where apparently ordering cold water was unheard of. I asked for water, they delivered hot water. I then tried to explain I wanted it cold, and they gave me a cup of ice on the side to go with the boiling water. So confused.
I’m still trying to adjust to traffic on the right hand side. Vietnam seemed to (mostly) use the right hand lane, so I was slowly getting used to it. KL was left handed, and China was back to the right side. A wee bit of a mindfuck.
I still haven’t bought a plug adaptor, but in every single Asian country I’ve visited, their plugs have been upside down. A lot of their light switches are upside down too. APPARENTLY this has something to do with whether you’re American influenced, or British influenced. Who knew?
I mentioned it in my last blog, but wowza – the music in Asia was pretty amusing. I’m not talking about their traditional music, either. More their Top40 – Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift songs covered by (I assume) local musicians, and often stylized completely differently. I don’t know if this is due to copyright laws, or what, but hearing Sam Smith “Stay with Me” done reggae was a tad amusing.
Vietnam had cars, or motorbike taxis, and they were EVERYWHERE. KL and China had fewer taxis (though many motorbikes and mopeds), but they ALL seemed to have this idea that tourists are lazy, and needed to take taxis everywhere. Which I found a little strange. Sure, it might get me to my destination quicker (assuming I knew where the fuck I was going), but you would miss all the nooks and crannies of a place if you took a taxi. No thank you.
Each country has been vastly different with regards to food. This isn’t surprising, obviously, but there were a few things that intrigued me. For example, fast food menus in each country (that I’ve seen anyway) have been crazy different. I didn’t see the Chinese menu, but KFC and McDonalds in Vietnam (as well as having hilarious advertising) had a huge range of rice and chicken dishes. China was similar, but with a bit more range in other areas – and their chicken was sweeter (sweet and spicy, as opposed to sweet and sour) and their apple pies turned out to be red bean pies. Yep. Strange.
7. The Nod
In New Zealand, most people are familiar with the bro nod – the kind of swift upper nod of the head to acknowledge one another in passing. It’s the exact opposite in Asia – you practically bow to eachother. A little bit different.
The different money denominations have been strange to get used to. The Vietnamese “dong”; the Malaysian “ringit”, the Chinese “yen” and now the American “dollar”. BUT one thing I did find curious was (especially in China) how many businesses used scanners to ensure that notes weren’t counterfeit.
9. Social Media
China is incredibly strict! They don’t allow any social media that we have in the Western World in China. So there’s no Google; no Gmail; no Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. It was really difficult to get hold of anyone back home in NZ to let them know about my 24hour stop over in China, until I remembered they DO allow WhatsApp. Huge thank you to my friends who contacted my mother to let her know where I was!
EVERYONE smokes in Vietnam and China. I kind of take it for granted in New Zealand how clean and green we are, I think. But it really hit home when people started smoking IN THE AIRPORT while exiting customs. Yuk.
I’m about to open a bank account here in America (for my job) but was surprised to learn there are only a couple of nationwide banks in the States. Most banks are state wide, and if you open an account in California, for example, you’d incur charges if you used it in Pennsylvania, or some other state. Who knew? It makes sense, I guess, given how MASSIVE America is, but still – a bit of a surprise!
12. Compliments Apparently Asia doesn’t respond to compliments well. It’s not that they respond badly, but if you thank someone for their work or effort, they get really uncomfortable and awkward. This was particularly apparent in China, when I thanked China Southern Airlines for their efforts with helping us during the 24hour delay. I was really impressed by how they handled the situation, yet when I said something, they got really awkward…
13. Food Asia has some strange foods, man. Which is to be expected, because, you know, different country, but some of the stand outs for me – Watermelon: it was EVERYWHERE. Watermelon smoothies, watermelon juice, watermelon seeds (to snack on), and of course, the fruit by itself. I’m not complaining. I love the stuff. – Milk corn: where they boil corn in milk – Chicken feet / Duck necks / Pigs tail / Snails / Jellyfish: yeah, a bit to get used to. – Pork ribs porride: apparently porridge is a savory thing.
Trying to explain what a toilet was in Vietnam or China was damn near impossible. But when you WERE successful, this what most toilets looked like Yeah… it’s different! And now I’m in the States! While it’s a Western country, there are still some differences here, and I’m sure I’ll learn more as I get amongst it. We’re doing some errand running today – setting up a bank account; getting a sim card and all the fun stuff.
Let’s go, America!