17 Reasons You Know You Love Southeast Asia

By Mark Wiens 6 Comments
Chili peppers

Migration Mark has been in South East Asia since March of 2009 and has grown to love a few serious things but mostly the extraordinarily quirky things.

1. Chili Peppers…Please!

I grew up eating food with spice and sometimes with chili.  Throughout SE Asia however, I have nurtured my ever craving lust for the succulent seeded heat of chili peppers.

I simply can’t taste food unless there is an abundance of hot chilies involved in the meal.  In my month in Indonesia, I was able to come up with 9 mandatory foods to eat in Indonesia and every single dish would not be the same without a massive dollop of sambal chili sauce.

2. No Toilet Paper for Me…

Before coming to SE Asia the thought of spraying after “making a release” really sounded quite dreadful.  Now, I really don’t feel clean if I have to use Toilet Paper.  I much prefer the spray and shake method.  As I like to say, “a powerful spray, goes a loooong way.”

3. Rice, Rice, and Rice

You don’t normally get Kenyan style nyama choma in Asia, but anything with rice is splendidly satisfying.  Though I am 1/2 Chinese and grew up eating rice on the daily, my habitual rice eating has been reinforced.  Just like the locals I hung out with in Batad of the Philippines rice terraces, If I don’t eat rice 2-3 times a day I’m just not fully satisfied in life.

durian in thailand
The king of fruits

4. King of Fruits…Bow Down

The notorious durian fruit, also known as the “king of fruits” smells pretty far from appetizing.  In Malaysia I was able to tackle the durian fruit in the form of buffet and now I actually crave it from time to time.  It’s actually and surprisingly  quite delicious.


5. Squatting Potting

My thighs have become absurdly strong, and it’s surely not from the gym, it’s from squatting at so many roadside  locations.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I find myself squatting on top of regular toilets from time to time without thinking about it…weird.

sitting on a scooter
Have you had scooter butt?

6. Scooter Butt

As a first timer on a horse may need to walk afterward with a wide stance, so sitting on the back of a scooter too long creates scooter butt (sitting on the back of a moped for a long period of time).  However, there is hope, my butt has now become accustomed to scooter butt.

fish spa massage
Fish massage

7.  Massage?

In the United States I never dreamed of having a massage.  Here in SE Asia I have become used to either paying a humble 200 baht ($5), having a cute fish massage, or if I am sitting randomly on the roadside an old man might possibly come to lightly rub my shoulders.  If you’ve been in SE Asia for a while you can bet on this.  Warning though, at first it’s a little awkward.

Food in Thailand
Food in Thailand

8. Food Expenditure

If I have to dish out more than a dollar for a single meal or go to an established “sit down” restaurant, I immediately feel rather uncomfortable, strange, and just plain incompetent.  It seems my entire personality has evolved to really only relate to street food or hole in the wall eateries where I can spend less that a dollar.

Beauty in the Philippines
Beauty in the Philippines

9. Environmental Spectacles

The environmental beauty of SE Asia is incredible.  Hiking deadly volcanoes, climbing rice terraces from Mayoao to Batad, and pretending to be a millionaire on pristine beaches.  I haven’t even itched the surface of possibilities.

10. Heat Streak

If the temperature drops below 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.6 Celsius) I start to get goosebumps and shivers.  It’s peculiar, but I’m starting to realize why people sell goose down parkas roadside.

cooking thai food
Food is the reason!

11. Food-Tastic

I have said this time and time again and I could go on and on; the food in SE Asia is just unparalleled.  Where else can you expect and demand to eat Manchester United Burgers, Nasi Campur mystery buffets, Bangkok Boat Noodles, feast on fetus of Balut, and then get ultimately dirty in Seafood Dampa?

12. Natural Shirt Vent

In SE Asia numerous youth and men alike walk around with shirts cinched up just below the breast.  I too cannot resist walking around all day with my shirt pulled up halfway over my stomach to increase the airflow.  Note: I especially and would recommend doing this after heavy meals


13. Karaoke Singing

Most embarrassingly on the list, I find myself thinking even sometimes dreaming about karaoke and secretly hoping for more.

14.  Need to be Sweating

After attempting to jog in Manila, an orangutan trek in Sumatra, my try at conquering hot yoga, and then paired with avoiding the usage of an air conditioner, I have simply come to the conclusion that sweating is natural and feels right to me.

jeep riding in manila
Riding in Manila

15.  Diving Off Roads

Driving in Indonesia taught me a lot about pedestrians walking on the side of any street.

With little more than a micro second notice, pedestrians are forced to casually dive off the sidewalk or side of the road into pools of water or muddy basins as motorcycles or overloaded trucks zoom past with an intimidating breeze.

After some time, a few near perishing occasions, and learning to open my eyes wider by paying attention, it is now easy and somewhat enjoyable for me to avoid oncoming or sometimes incoming traffic.

16.  Human Hordes

As with motorways, hordes of people will inevitably be “in your way” when walking anywhere.  Swag surfin, booty shaking, or simply patience, are invaluable when dealing with massive crowds.  Soon you become accustomed and enjoy the variety and mixture of random humanity.

school in rural philippines
Helping Others

17.  Opportunity to Help Others

From assisting in the charity projects of In Search of Sanuk, building houses with hope, being immersed in Payatas, and hanging out at the Bali house of life, there is not much better value than helping others with the secret recipe for 100% guaranteed happiness.  Spending time and hanging out with others will put a smile on everyone, inside and out.

I’ve learned quite a few things since taking up migrationology, some things can be a little awkward until you remember, Nothing Is Awkward in Southeast Asia, loosen up and enjoy.

Please suggest any other reasons of how you know you love Southeast Asia, or ask me any questions.