Sometimes I’m reminded of how very far from home I am.
I found an ice cream and pie shop in the town I’m in, I was really excited to get a cold treat. Its been so hot and I don’t always do well in this kind of heat. A ice cream float sounded like just the kind of home comfort I needed but when it was placed on my table I realized they had really emphasized the Ice part of ice cream float. The glass had some soda, some ice cream but it was mostly ice. It really disappointed me at first and than it just made me realize that is part of being so far from what I’m used to.
They didn’t know that an ice cream float only has ice cream and soda or if they did they thought it was better with mostly ice cubes in it.
Asia has many perks but consistency and quality western food are not among them. Sometimes it just sounds so good to have a good western meal so I find a restaurant that touts having “western” food and order a sandwich. Sometimes its twice as expensive as the other menu items but the meal is little more than a snack, sometimes its actually pretty good in its own way. Whatever it is its not familiar.
I’ve eaten rice and noodles every day for months, in Cambodia saying you’re going to eat rice is the same as saying you’re going to eat a meal. It is a part of everything. Despite nearly every meal being mostly rice or noodles everyone is very fit.
Southeast Asia is a place of many contradictions. There are jewelry stores in fly infested meat markets. Sometimes I walk by a bakery and take a deep breath of the sweet air but two steps past the bakery the air turns putrid by an open sewage canal. I’ve paid a dollar for breakfast and a cup of coffee and I’ve paid 7 dollars for the same thing a few blocks away. Its not consistent, everything is what it can be. The price is what it can be based on supply and demand, the food is what it can be based on the availability of ingredients and the kindness of the local people depends on how many rude tourists come through per day.
I’m still not used to having to watch every interaction I have for scams and ripoffs. Pricing is vastly different based on who you are talking to and if I don’t know the details of what I’m asking for its easy to get a really bad price by SE Asia standards. I’ve paid $10 to go 12 hours on a bus and I’ve paid $7 to go two hours. Its kind of a wild world. It really helps to have your wits about you here.
I’ve had times where I start to feel at home, but usually its a mistake. It might seem familiar at times here, I might even kind of know what I’m doing occasionally but that doesn’t mean its like home. People come from another world of experience, it offers so much possibility for me to learn but I doubt that I will ever understand the roots.