10 Things I Did In Southeast Asia That I Can’t Get Away With in America

You can get away with a lot in Southeast Asia

Chillin’ in the middle of the road

When I returned from Southeast Asia to the States I had a bit of reverse culture shock. There were certain things that I was no longer going to be able or need to do. While there are plenty of differences between Southeast Asia and America these were a few of the things that added to my experience of traveling there. What if I tried doing those things in America? What would be the results? I’ll have to find out, but these were some things that I did in Asia, that wouldn’t receive positive results in America:

  1. Bargaining with a taxi driver– If you didn’t like their starting price, you’d tell them what you’re willing to pay. You never ended with the starting price. Don’t think that will fly far with the taxi drivers here.  
  2. Crossing the street anywhere in busy traffic— Especially in Vietnam, if you don’t start walking across the street even while traffic is moving, you’ll never cross the street. I tried this once in my hometown and I almost got hit by a car.
  3. Driving without a license– Technically you could get stopped by the police, but it’s nothing that a few bucks can’t fix. Try bribing your local highway patrolman in the States and you might be looking at jail time…  
  4. Taking pictures of children that aren’t yours– Pretty sure the parents in the US would report me if I was trying to take pictures of their children playing.

    You can get away with a lot in Southeast Asia

    Children playing on a boat

  5. Not tipping– Yet another reason why Southeast Asia is so cheap-cheap.
  6. Throwing food, beer cans, or napkins on the floor beneath the table– This is mostly a Vietnamese practice. Chicken bones, beer cans, limes, napkins… if you didn’t need it anymore it was tossed to the floor.
  7. Yelling for your server– In each country there is a term used to get your server’s attention and they respond right away. Manners (for the most part) is a Western practice.
  8. Piling multiple people into a tuk tuk or taxi– The driver is not going to give up a sale just because his vehicle doesn’t fit your party. They will make it happen. The taxi drivers in the States aren’t quite as lenient.
  9. Sleeping with strangers on a bus– A popular form of transportation in SE Asia is the sleeper bus (a bus that has beds you sleep on…) If you’re traveling alone you’ll often be paired up with someone you’ve never met before, or who doesn’t even speak English so suck it up, Buttercup.  
  10. Helping staff with their jobs– I took control of the music on a boat tour, helped lower bags from the roof of a car, handed tools to my mechanic, assisted in docking a boat, helped pull a boat to shore, helped push a boat to sea, bartended… the locals don’t care if you help and actually appreciate it. In the States the business could get in trouble for letting you assist.

    You can get away with a lot when you are in Southeast Asia

    Helping out the mechanic

Who knows, maybe you can get away with some of these things. I haven’t tried! Have you done any of these whether in the United States or SE Asia? Comment below!


My name is Tuliyani, traveler, adventurer, dreamer, and bartender. I’m slightly obsessed with finding cheap flights to anywhere and doodling. 


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