As we write this, we are just under 5 weeks away from flying back to Canada – just 10 more days in Malaysia, followed by 3 weeks in Japan. After 17+ weeks (so far) on the road backpacking through Southeast Asia (and Australia), it’s crazy to think we’ll be heading back to Canada soon. This has been such an amazing trip so far, and has definitely broadened our perspectives on many things.
While there would be a mile-long list of things we’ve loved about SE Asia and will miss when we leave (we’ll write about that later), we thought we’d put together a list of things we’re looking forward to back in Canada, and lessons we plan to take back with us from our trip.
Things we look forward to back in Canada:
Shower stalls. Who would have though this would be a thing to miss? We can’t wait to say goodbye to wet bathrooms where taking a shower soaks the entire room and means wet floors for the rest of the day.
Fixed prices. Haggling is a way of life in SE Asia. It isn’t that difficult, but no matter what you pay, you feel ripped off. It’ll be nice to see a (reasonable) price on a tag or sign, and just pay it.
Drinkable tap water. After months of relying on bottled and purified water, it’ll be awesome to be able to drink tap water again!
Wearing shoes indoors. In most SE Asian countries, it is considered rude to wear your outdoor shoes indoors. In a person’s house (or our own house for that matter), it totally makes sense. But having to take your shoes off and on when you enter/leave shops and restaurants gets pretty annoying after awhile.
WINE! We’ve seen some Vietnamese rice wine, Laotian “Lao Lao” (known as the “cheapest alcohol in the world”), and many weird fermented drinks with anything from lizards to scorpions to cobras in them. Good, normal wine is hard to find, and often expensive.
Knives. Not as in “That’s not a knife, this is a knife” ala Mick Dundee, but as in a dinner knife. For some reason, the common utensils provided throughout SE Asia (and not all countries here use chopsticks) is a fork and a spoon. Who would have thought a basic knife would be such a rarity!
Non-carb based meals. As anyone who has read our blog knows, we have loved the food on this trip. But sometimes it feels like the choice of what to eat is either rice or noodles. We’ll need to detox off the carbs for a bit once we’re home (except for sushi – but that doesn’t have any carbs, does it? 😉
Even more important than those things we missed on the road, or the few minor annoyances, are the incredible experiences we’ll take back with us.
Things we’ll bring back to Canada with us:
A love for ripe mangoes. Sure, we’ve had mangoes before, but on this trip they have become a dietary staple. We just hope we can find nice, fresh mangoes back in Canada. For an awesome smoothie, mix them in a blender with some ice and…
A need for sweetened condensed milk. Not just for British desserts anymore, this is a common sweetener in Asia. From smoothies to “milk coffee”, we’ll be using the occasional can of this ingredient.
More frequent Asian cooking. Trevor cooked a lot when we lived in Canada, but our food experiences in SE Asia have opened our eyes. Bring on the Khao Soi, Cau Lao, pho ga, roti canai, etc. It may take some trial and error, but we’ll be figuring out how to replicate some of our favourite dishes. And egg coffee. We will definitely be making egg coffee.
More self confidence and patience. With the cultural and language barriers, SE Asia was always going to be a bit out of our comfort zone. However, having gone through this experience, we’ve proven to ourselves that we can push our own boundaries further than we even knew.
Less materialism. As we prepared to get out of our finance careers, we could feel our attitudes changing already. This trip has just reinforced that change. Material things are not important. Well, less important than other things in life, at least. It’s the experiences you have in life that you remember, not the label on the clothes you wear, the type of car you drive, or how big your TV is. And spending time with loved ones is time best spent, not time slaving away at your desk.
The last few weeks of our trip will be busy exploring our last few stops in Malaysia, then stuffing our faces with sushi in Japan. Once we’re “home”, we plan to spend a few weeks touring British Columbia, our favourite part of Canada. Then we need to start figuring out what we want to do with our lives when we ‘grow up’. We have a few ideas already. They range from some entrepreneurial ventures we’d like to start, to possibly learning Spanish and backpacking around South America. It’ll be nice to be back in Canada, see friends and family, and decide where we go from there.
You can check out all of our picture galleries from this trip here.