In three days time we will celebrate twenty months on the road, on a journey across Asia without a date of return (yet). And feeling overly empowered by the experience, we have decided to enrich the popular section of “top things to do” with our best travel advices for the continent. Here are our top 10 Asia experiences, the things we would not miss no matter what.
1. Drinking Water
We have said this before. Do not stay thirsty. Dehydration can have serious consequences. Water comes in all sorts of shapes, streams, lakes, seas, rivers, fountains, rains, taps and plastic bottles, etc. Most guidebooks will recommend you never to drink from the first seven of them. But believe us, if you are up in the hills without anything to drink, you will most probably be able to find the fantastic seven rather the plastic one. If you feel uneasy about the source consider boiling, filtering and purifying, and only then drinking it. It’s surprisingly simple to stay alive (when it comes to water, at least).
2. A walk a day…
Keeps taxi drivers away. Not that we want them to stay jobless, but when we hear complains of travellers who are “attacked” by gangs of tuk tuk and taxi owners thirsty for a little business, we can only share one trick with them: smile, point to your feet and keep walking. Beware, that you will probably face back pain (heavy weight on your back), feet pain (if you walk more than a mile), sweat (remember this can cause dehydration. So see point number 1) and from time to time you may encounter angry dogs as you take your daily walk. If you are not ready for all this fun, resort to the smiliest tuk tuk driver and reach safely your destination.
3. Shopping malls
They are great places to cool down after a long walk our of town. Toilets are usually spotless (and come with hand-drying machines and all!). Generally, the place feels cleaner than you, but nobody dares telling you off.
Taking on an Indian saying, we try to remind ourselves everyday that “shower is essential, from the cradle to the grave”. Speaking from experience, Boris has divided shower in three main categories: shower that you take on a personal initiative, shower that you take urged by your partner, and the one that is imposed upon you by a stranger who happens to sit next to you for long enough. On Marta’s side, we can see shower from a different perspective: shower you want to take more than once a day (when you are invited to a posh home and it looks like a spa), bath or shower that you would take every day (rivers, lakes tropical rain shower and bucket showers when it’s hot like hell) and the one that is always last on the list of “things to do today” (winter bucket shower, shower in the absence of water source, soap-less shower).
Note to travellers: if you need to decide between shower and dehydration, please follow the advices in number 1 and drink that water.
5. Speaking to strangers
Keeping silent is only advisable during meditation times. Other than that, please do not stay lonely, most people are friendly, good and hospitable, and most of the times happy to talk to you, regardless of whether you understand them or not. Nod, smile, and forget your phrasebook, it won’t help. With a bit of luck you will end up in the nearest bar having a beer (Except for Iran, where that will be tea with sugar or underground drinks, there are no licensed bars over there).
They are rich in fatty acids and a good healthy choice. Did you know that coconut water is a natural isotonic beverage? It has most of the good properties of sports drinks, like the electrolytes, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and even sodium and potassium. Although it misses Omega3 and B12, and it only contains negligeble traces of vegetable protein, it is nevertheless in overall good for your body and mind and it classifies as a superfood, according to some . But the best of all is that…it fall from trees!
In case of emergencies, Polinesian doctors used to treat head injuries with coconut, to the point that there is evidence they used coconut shell to replace fragments of broken skull, sown, by the way, with coconut thread using a shark tooth (which is not coconut-made and non-vegan, but sounds cool to robinsons). Boris claims he has read this in a Thor Heyerdahl book, belive it or not, don’t try it at home (unless necessary).
7. Feeding stray animals
Not only because it is good karma, but because it is good. They are many, they are hungry and it is not their fault.
Note: do not follow this indication if your see a big board warning you “do not feed the monkeys” or “do not feed the trolls”… there might be local and particular reasons for that. Ask around.
If you can… and whenever you have the chance. It’s a great way to deal with the negative issues related in point number 4.
9. Sleep well
There is nothing better after a long day of sight-seeing in Asia than a good sleep. Go to bed early, for in most countries they wake early too and you won’t be spared the noise. If you are tired, find a shadow; if it’s dark, pinch your tent; if you re frightened look for shelter (or find a hostel) and in any case sleep well. Remember that any time is nap time! A practical study suggests that proper rest is associated with a drastic decrease in nail-biting. And it also helps with diabetes, heart issues, anxiety, libido and concentration, amongst a million of other benefits.
Beware that “when you’re overtired, you’re more likely to trip, or fall off a ladder, or cut yourself while chopping vegetables,” says Dr. A. Mindell, PhD, a professor at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and author of Sleep Deprived No More.
10… Anyone else, top 10 Asia?
Ops, after writing number 9, we can only think of sleep. So we will let you choose yourself what the tenth unmissable thing to do in Asia should be. Or actually, you can leave us your full top 10 Asia in the comments. In any case, remember, that life is simple and so is travel.