The first half of our travels so far were all in South East Asia, and back in September we jumped on a few planes and made our way to Europe. Apart from the obvious differences, we’ve noticed a few funny differences in our lifestyle so we thought we’d share.
While we weren’t running around barefoot in Thailand and Cambodia, it was hot so we wore thongs (flip flops for our non-Australian friends). The ease of slipping into them and kicking the off once we got in the door was bliss. Thongs are washable with a quick splash of water and nobody was worried if you came into a restaurant wearing them.
Upon arrival in Europe, we have had to start wearing shoes again.
It was a shock to have to go through the process of tying laces, and ugh, wearing socks. It’s amazing how restrictive they feel. Given that this time of year is quite cool in parts of Europe we are visiting, we don’t have a choice.
Yes of course, SE Asian and European cuisine is different. That’s not what we mean though. With meals for as little as $3 AUD for the both of us to eat in places like Chiang Mai, it didn’t make sense to cook and eat at home. It actually cost more to do that. While we missed cooking, but we ate well daily.
The reverse is the case in Europe. We can get groceries fairly cheaply and cook a delicious dinner at home. It’s been fun to get back in the kitchen, but we have to think ahead now.
It should be noted that corn flakes are the cheapest breakfast anywhere in the world.
Every cab, tuk-tuk or songthaew in SE Asia has a negotiable price to some degree. When preparing to go somewhere that’s too far to walk we had to brace ourselves for the inevitable negotiation. It could wear you down a bit. In fact, the one time we thought it would be easy enough to walk a few kilometres in Chiang Mai, it was at the peak of the day’s heat despite being 4pm (note for young players – 12 noon is still just heating up). So, the negotiation is a necessary skill.
It’s been great to get to Europe and have metered taxis, Uber and public transport systems. Navigating a new city is just that bit easier. Although having said that, even with a familiar train system, we’ve gotten lost and confused. Our arrival in Budapest had us confidently navigating the metro and following what we thought were instructions to our Airbnb – only to quickly discover the metro stop our instructions led us to, was a hefty 5km north of where we needed to be.
Mental note: always get a second map source when navigating to an Airbnb.
Beer and Wine
We’ve made no secret of our love of enjoying a drink, especially craft beer and good wine. In SE Asia obtaining either of these was either difficult or expensive. There were few craft breweries to be found, so imports for us it was! A few craft beers would cost a few day’s budget so we would have to make them very occasional and live with local lagers the rest of the time. Wine was even more scarce or expensive.
Jump to Europe and good wine is inexpensive (Bless you, Spain) and readily available in the supermarket. Craft beer bars and breweries are abundant. The prices are good too. We’ve come to realise that Australia’s craft beer is quite expensive by comparison (yes brewers, we know all about excise tax and understand). It’s been great to go out and try a few different brews in a night.
Sure, we’re wearing a few more layers and the dollar doesn’t go as far as it did in the first half of our travels, but there’s a lot the same too.
- Wherever we’ve been, we’ve always been able to find a Starbucks to use some free WIFI (never for coffee though, unless absolutely desperate, and then typically immediately disappointed).
- There’s always an Irish pub to be found, even if tucked away hiding (classic Irish).
- There are nice people and surly people, and everyday people just living their lives.
- There are incredibly generous and lovely people everywhere.