Twelve Signs it’s Time to Leave Southeast Asia

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I left home and everything I have ever known around two and a half years ago. A lot of that time has been spent in Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia and the Philippines. Thailand makes the best base out of them all for a combination of work and play and I have made positive-minded, thoughtful and supportive friends here. Some would say I’m spoilt here (and it’s hard to argue against that case) – but I need to get out. Being the man that I am – I’m always seeking more.

Change is needed and change is refreshing. Friends are giving me the; “you’ll be back” and; “I give you a week” treatment, but we’ll see about that! My flights are booked and I leave on the 1st May for pastures new. Here are twelve pedantic red flags that your time in Southeast Asia might be numbered…

You’re Sick of Happy People

Cambodian Smiles
Cambodian smiles.

Smiley, smiley people. Everywhere. A joy epidemic. Just who do they think they are? Don’t they know there’s a kid in outer London who didn’t get the right coloured Xbox for Christmas? Have they no shame?!

You’ve Forgotten How a Disappointing Meal Tastes

Your palette has been absolutely spoiled to the point that you can’t remember the last time you had a bad meal. Your culinary standards have skyrocketed so much that you just fully expect every meal to be a party in your mouth. Hash tag foodgasm makes no sense to you. Because every day’s a #foodgasm in Thailand.

You Have Too Much Vitamin D in Your Body 

Every day the ‘sunshine vitamin’ invades your body, protecting you against osteoporosis and depression. You long for the good old days when you could look out your window with a cup of tea, shake your gloomy head and tut at the substandard weather.

Your ‘Game’ Has Gotten Lazy

Beautiful, jet-black haired (with amazing posture) ladies everywhere. And not just that – they’re reasonably approachable, warm and friendly too. You secretly have a nostalgic longing for the western world where girls dress like Goddesses, and gather together on weekends with the sole purpose of shooting you down and making you feel shit about yourself.

girl rips heart

The sadist in you secretly longs for cold-hearted, brutal rejection. A girl hasn’t decimated your soul and identity in one sentence for as long as you can remember. And that just doesn’t feel right.


You’re Scared You’ll Turn into an Annoying Fake Hippy

Oh, do tell me about that time you ‘found yourself’ while listening to Bob Marley in a guesthouse in Pai. You must be so ‘spiritual.’ Is that a Che Guevara t-shirt that you’re wearing?

Real hippies practice what they preach – love, peace and tolerance. Fake hippies of SEA are insufferable champagne idealists. Their four-cars-on-the-drive family usually paid for their trip – but they conveniently think that “money is evil” and that everything that you do is beneath them.

There was a time when you realised that they are a lot like politicians; they said all the right stuff, but you never felt their sincerity and never saw them put their words into practice. But now the fake hippy is just an every day SEA occurrence and you’re even considering changing your name from Dave to; “Buttercake Skywalker.” Maybe it’s time to get out while you can.

You Haven’t Had a Good Cup of Tea in Ages

Also known as a ‘life crisis’ back in the UK. South East Asia has the worst tea etiquette you’ve ever had the misfortune to witness. From crimes against tea of putting the milk in first, to bringing you lukewarm water with the teabag on the side. ON THE SIDE.

You’re Sick and Tired of Defending SEA Stereotypes

You constantly commit fantasy murders in your head every time you hear a passive-aggressive, xenophobic comment about Thai women being either hookers, or poor rice farm girls using you for your money. You’re sick of having to explain that Ladyboys don’t ‘try and trick you’ into sleeping with them (see; every American movie ever made about Thailand) because Thai culture is all about saving face and that Thai people do their best to not embarrass or ridicule anybody.

You’re tired of biting your lip every time you hear a snidey comment about a country that you have a lot of love for, by people who have never ventured out of their own back garden.

You Have Murderous Thoughts about Taxi Drivers

And on the Sabbath day – Lucifer created Bangkok, Vietnamese and Manilla taxi drivers. Worst. People. Ever.

You Want Your Personal Space Back


You never quite got used to the fact that the shop assistant is pretty much dry-humping you while you innocently window shop for clothes. You’re still not comfortable with the fact you never have a chance to read the food menu, because the waiter/waitress is pretty much nose to nose, until you’ve made a split second decision.

Getting out of a lift shouldn’t ever be this hard and you miss the days of your body feeling free.

The Spoon and Fork Combination Just Seems Right

At first you found it endearing. Substituting a knife for a spoon while you ate was awkward – but now it makes perfect sense. You see people eat their dinner with a knife and fork on TV and it makes you antsy. They’re doing it wrong!

Crossing The Road Shouldn’t Be This Hard

Adrenaline junkies need to just come over here and do one thing to get their rocks off – cross the road anywhere in Southeast Asia. Crossing the road in Vietnam is a near-death experience and you don’t know why they even bother having zebra crossings in Thailand.

Although you’ve mastered the ‘just fu***ng walk and hope for the best’ spirit, but you long for a road that you can cross without thinking you’re going to get mowed down.

You Need a New Challenge

Sometimes it’s not a personal, or sinister reason. Often we just need a change of scenery and a new challenge. I feel like I’ve learnt a lot here, but I need to get to another part of the world before I get too comfortable and stagnate. On Thursday I fly to Istanbul for a week or so, before flying to Israel. After a little European jaunt (maybe Eastern Europe) I’ll fly to Brazil for the football World Cup, before hanging my hat in Medellin, Colombia to learn Spanish and work on (hopefully) getting in some kind of not so grotesque shape.

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  1. @TravelEater Reply

    Cute article, and oh so true. I just got back to Canada after 6 months in SEA, and the first thing i noticed is how weird (but wonderful) it is to walk down the street and not have people demanding that I buy something from them. The second thing is how much I miss my regular pad ka prao and Mrs Pa smoothie.
    I’m curious about your tea comment though … I always like it when the bag is served on the side because otherwise I have no idea how long the tea has steeped for. Why do you not like it this way?
    Thanks and happy travels to Istanbul – Turkey is my fave country.

  2. Victoria Reply

    Haha this was great. Can relate to all of those, particularly the tea bag on the side part! What is wrong with these people? 😉 Loving the redesign by the way.

  3. Katharine Lynn Horgan Reply

    Istanbul is amazing, had a fantastic week there last summer! Wish I'd had longer. Enjoy it 🙂

  4. Daniel Braha Reply

    Lovely. I’m heading to Lima next week.

  5. Ian Ord - Where Sidewalks End Reply

    You’ll be back after a week 😉 Mate, it’s been an incredible 2.5 years getting to know the man who has a thing against clocks! Your presence will be missed here, but it just means I have to get off this rock as well to skip over the pond for a visit! Wishing you the happiest of travels, brother.

  6. ajay Reply

    the reason you gave is just brilliant, sometimes i’ll also be thinking the same, but it will be paining later if we leave