Cultural Notes and Observations: Cambodia

  • Drive on right side of the road
  • People rarely honk while driving
  • People are very happy and friendly
  • Feels very safe
  • A large hammock culture
  • Lexus and Land Rover and the vehicle of choice in large cities

 Food I’ve tried

  • Kamer rice noodle salad
  • Beef Lok Lak
  • Cashew nut shake
  • Frog Soup
  • Stuffed frog
  • Fried Spring Rolls
  • Fresh Spring Rolls
  • Wonderful mango shakes
  • Coconut rice balls

Cultural Notes and Observations: India

  • People will often say “Slowly Slowly”
  • People stare at you (more than usual) and sometimes ask for photos
  • Red carrots
  • Cows have a large hump on their backs and are considered holy animals. They walk freely everywhere
  • New Delhi feels quite sketchy
  • Sometimes metal platters to serve food
  • vegetarian
  • eat with your right hand
  • Head bobble
  • Hindu
  • Women wear sarees
  • Everyone constantly honks their horn when driving

Food I’ve tried:

  • Samosa
  • Raita
  • Idli
  • Ghee (clarified butter)
  • Indian chai Tea – a daily treat
  • Red carrots
  • Yak Cheese – tasted like a cross between Emmental and Gouda
  • Aloo gobi: Cauliflower with potatoes sautéed with garam masala, turmeric, sometimes kalonji and curry leaves.
  • Baati
  • Chapathi – bread made of whole wheat flour
  • Dal – lots of different types with lentils
  • Kofta – Gram flourballs fried with vegetables. Gram flour, veggies, rolled into balls with gram flour and fried in oil and then cooked with curry.
  • Makki di roti – had for breakfast mostly
  • Paratha- Wheat flour. Can be stuffed. Common stuffings: potato mixture, paneer, muli(white radish).
  • Puri – Bread made with wheat flour
  • Live Chennai – like sprouted chickpeas
  • Green Chutney
  • Peanut Chutney
  • Chilli paneer
  • Aloo Tikki
  • Bitter Melon
  • Paneer masala dosa
  • Vegan chocolate balls

Cultural Notes and Observations: Thailand

  • Buddhist
  • Very touristy
  • ATM fees are expensive – 200 baht per transaction
  • So many curries!
  • Use plenty of peanuts and basil in cooking
  • Street food is cheaper than in other parts of South East Asian
  • Elephant pants for sale everywhere
  • Moi Thai boxing is very popular. You always see posters and car with megaphones advertising them
  • Throughout the country, there are posters and shrines to commemorate the dead king
  • Lots of French tourists
  • Local’s English is not as good as in other South East Asian countries
  • Signs at major tourist attractions are only written in Thai
  • Tour guides do not provide much information
  • Hard bargainers – will not budge much on prices

Food I Tried:

  • Green curry
  • Red curry
  • Yellow curry
  • Massaman curry
  • Penang curry
  • Thai Pumpkin soup
  • Mango sticky rice
  • Pad Thai
  • Indian pancake
  • Coconut ice cream
  • Grilled octopus on a stick
  • Patongko (deep-fried dough) with custard
  • Satay
  • Rick crackers with custard sauce
  • Sesame seed coconut balls

Cultural Notes and Observations: Singapore

  • Fast paced
  • Metropolitan
  • Extremely clean and safe
  • The transit system is efficient and not overly expensive
  • Expensive for backpackers
  • Lots of rules. For example: no eating or drinking on public transit – $500 fine
  • The city is filled with nature (parks, trees, and gardens)
  • Chewing gum is outlawed
  • Hawker food is extremely cheap compared to restaurants
  • Wifi is hard to come by
  • Outlets are a little tricky to find to charge your electronic devices
  • AMAZINGLY fast internet
  • You can drink water from the tap!!! – The first time I had been able to do that in 3 months!
  • Great luxury shopping
  • Multicultural: Chinese, Indian, Malay, Euroasian, etc

Food I Tried:

  • Chicken rice
  • Traditional Singapore Laksa
  • “Refreshing White Fungus” drink – a sweet tea with white fungus. The tea was good but I wasn’t too fond of the fungus.
  • Beef and chicken satay with peanut sauce
  • Fried Kway Teow
  • Fried Hokkien Noodle

Cultural Notes and Observations: Indonesia

  • The most popular religion is different depending on which island in Indonesia you visit.
    • Bali – Hindu
      • Every morning locals put out offerings of flower petals and other items in banana leaves in temples, restaurants, everywhere
      • There are many small Hindu temples everywhere! There was even one in WaterBom – Bali’s water park.
    • Lombok – Muslim
      • Many schoolgirls and women wear hijabs
      • There are mosques everywhere and you can hear prayers several times a day
    • Flores – Christian
  • On each island there are also aboriginal peoples which have their own dialects. For example, the Sasak tribe on Lombok.
  • To enter holy places such as temples, one must wear a sarong
  • Motorbike is the most popular form of transportation
  • Uber and Grab are outlawed in some areas. As a result, taxi drivers are like the mafia and will harass you and your Uber driver if they see you trying to get in their car. Beware!
  • The language of Bahasa Indonesia shares some words Malaysian
  • In Kuta, Bali no street food was sold
  • The fast/ food of Indonesia is Bakso (a soup)
  • Prices of most items and services and are negotiable
  • Indonesian currency has a lot of zeros and is slightly confusing. It took me a while to get used to it. $1,000,000 is $100 CDN
  • Some of the food is similar to Malaysia, for example Nasi Goreing and Mie Goring
  • Seaweed is a popular snack
  • Indonesia concentrates on serving fresh fruit juices/shakes at restaurants. Most of them are watered down and do not have as much sugar in them as Malaysian drinks
  • Desert is a rarity
  • People often transport goods by balancing them on their heads
  • Driving on a scooter is fun, but watch out and drive on the left. Road rules are virtually non-existent. For example, even though traffic drives on the left, sometimes cars and scooters will go right around round-a-bouts

Food I’ve tried:

  • Cap Cay – Indonesian curry
  • Shrimp Chips
  • Lalapan
  • Gado-gado!
  • Amazing peanut butter!! It’s sweet and mixed with a soya sauce. It is popular to have on satay or barbequed meat
  • Ikan – Fish
  • Traditional “Tiapet” – rice balls with a peanut sauce and sprouts
  • Bintang Beer
  • Coto Makassar
  • Kari Sasak – A delicious style of curry from Lombok
  • Oxtail soup
  • Snake fruit
  • Ranbutan
  • Sirsak

Cultural Notes and Observations: East Malaysia (Borneo)

  • Steering wheel is on the right but you drive on the left side of the road
  • Kota Kinabalu – well off, bike lanes, adult playground equipment in parks, most people drive cars, safe
  • Muslim country
  • Most of the pastries are covered with sugar – even the cheese ones
  • Many more vegetables served in meals than the Philippines
  • Fancy drinks and desserts with corn, kidney beans, and multiple types and colours of jelly
  • Some toilets are western, some are Bidets, and some are squat. Chances are there are more than one style in a public washroom.
  • Durian is very popular – tastes tropical, with potato, with something slightly off
  • Uber and Grab are widely used in major cities
  • Beer and alcoholic beverages are expensive and not common in Sabah. However, they are sold in the streets in parts of Sarawak
  • Plastic obsessed! Everything is wrapped in plastic – even take away cups
  • Street food seems more trustworthy than in the Philippines
  • Different price for Malaysians vs No Malay for tourist attractions
  • Sometimes there are camera fees at tourist attractions
  • Have soccer fields! The Philippines only had basketball courts
  • Sabah’s highways are lined with Palm oil plantations. Sarawaks are lined with scrub brush and fields
  • Taxi drivers will not negotiate prices
  • Take you shoes off before entering some hostels, shops, etc
  • Buko Pandan – green drink that is delicious
  • ayam pansuh (Chicken cooked in bamboo)
  • KFC is very popular
  • Waiters and waitresses will seat you and then stay at the table until you place your order
  • All power outlets have an on/off switch
  • ABC Special
  • Roti!
  • Laksa
  • Teh C
  • Sabah tea
  • Nasi goring – rice stirfry
  • Mee goring – noodle stirfry
  • White Coffee
  • Red Tea

Cultural Notes and Observations: Brunei

  • Brunei feels extremely safe
  • The people are very friendly and always say “Hello!”
  • The men are very clean shaven
  • Many people offered to drive us places because the public transportation is so poor
  • The bus system is inefficient. Infrequent buses only cover a minimal number of routes. Designated stops and the ticket is only valid for 1 trip.
  • It is illegal to drink (unless you are a tourist and bring your own alcohol into the country)
  • In the downtown of Bandar Seri Begawan the streets are spotless, no music can be heard from the shops (because one must be able to hear a mosque from any point in the city), and the city streets are mostly void of people after 7:00pm
  • No building is permitted to be taller than a mosque
  • It seems like most socializing is done in people’s homes
  • There is absolutely no nightlife – the downtown core is deserted by 7:00pm
  • Beautiful mosques (although we did not have a chance to go inside because they are used so regularly for prayers)
  • Young girls, even 4 years old, wear hijabs
  • Even when swimming, one must wear conservative clothing. I witness a mother wearing a hijab in a pool.
  • The cuisine and beverages are largely the same as the rest of Malaysia
  • Some Arabic script on signs
  • Most people speak English

 

Cultural Notes and Observations: The Philippines

  • You can buy alcohol at grocery stores, 711, and more
  • Alcohol is very affordable. The Local Tanduary Rhum is only a $1.50 Canadian for 375 ml
  • You can buy cigarettes in nightclubs
  • Adapters were mostly not needed – North American sockets were widely used
  • Multiple modes of transportation: Scooter, Jeepney, Taxi, Van, Bus
  • Taxis are affordable and always available
  • Most popular local beers: Red Horse and San Miguel
  • No knives are provided at restaurants: only forks and spoons
  • On the island of Palawan – there was a security checkpoint asking if anyone had any mangoes. They were trying to mitigate the outbreak of diseased mangoes on the island
  • At several airport they asked us if we had the new Samsung Galaxy phone… because they explode
  • Food we tried:
    • Adobo
    • sizzling crocodile
    • Pinikpan
    • Ube
    • “Tamilok” a wood worm
    • Bbq chicken intestine
    • Deep fried banana
    • Pomelo
    • Turmeric tea
    • Chopsuey
    • Puto (rice muffins)
    • Halo-Halo (dessert)
    • Buko – young coconut
    • Biku – chocolate fried rice dessert
  • The tea selection is not the greatest
  • The majority of the population speaks English
  • Filipino people are friendly, especially in smaller towns
  • Stray dogs everywhere
  • Get woken up by dog fights and roosters daily
  • Security guards in many shops with large guns
  • Jeepneys on Bahol are like party buses, the drivers always play loud music
  • You can haggle prices of tours and items at markets
  • Lines on the roads are just a suggestion and drivers to not follow them
  • Bathrooms/washrooms are called “comfort room”
  • A lot of the time you put used toilet paper in a waist bin, and not the toilet
  • hand soap and toilet paper are a luxury: carry hand sanitizer and toilet paper with you at all times