It’s May. School’s out and summer’s IN.
Which means one thing – it’s travel season! If you’re Asian, maybe you’re making a pilgrimage to the mothership. Even if you’re not Asian, you still might be headed to Shanghai, Bangkok, or some other place where the plagued U.S. dollar would actually buy more than cheap keychain souvenirs and white bread for breakfast.
But before you embark, here are some things to watch out for when traveling in Asia:
1. Getting ripped off. In Asia, haggling is not merely an art-form, but a life and death battle of epic proportions between customers (you) and the vendors (vultures). When shopping in an atmosphere where it’s customary to bargain down a price, aim to pay 1/3 of the initial asking price if you look Asian, and 1/8 of the asking price if you look non-Asian. THEN you might actually get a good deal.
2. Deciphering translated signs that don’t make sense. If you can’t read the native language, be prepared to rely on some funkily translated signs. Here are some pictures from my recent trip to China to illustrate:
3. Getting mowed down when taking public transportation. Lines are different in the East. Look below (From the Stuff Asian People Like Blog):
The image on the left shows how people line up to take a bus in the West. The right side depicts how people line up to take that same bus in Asia. It’s CHAOS.
So sharpen your elbows, squash any ounce of courtesy you have, and be prepared to kick some ass for a 4-block bus ride… because if you don’t, the granny standing behind you will be the first to beat you down for a seat.
Those are my tips for the time being. Feel free to contribute more.