10 Ways to Tell Your Child Has Been in Asia A Long Time

1 Aug

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1: A desire for previously unknown accessories in routine consumables.
Eg? “I want that toothbrush, mum, definitely that one.” “Why?” “It has a built-in tongue scraper.”

2: A pathological suspicion of drivers of vehicles for hire, in all their forms.
Eg: “Mum! He hasn’t put the meter on!” “I know. We haven’t finished getting in his taxi yet.” “It better not be fast again.”

3: A tendency to haggle over anything and everything. With anyone and everyone.
“I only have 50 baht. Can you make me special price?…” Or: “So, if I am super-, super-, super-good on this overnight journey on what is DEFINITELY not a VIP bus, can we convert that pocket money advance into a bonus?”

Sign on wall reading: "Toilet (Bucket system). Widely used in England in the 1930s."
4: Fuss-free toileting, no matter (almost) what.
Asian lavatories can be a scary prospect to the uninitiated. By the time a child can use a hose to clean the parts which dead trees used to clean, in a squatting position rather than atop a throne, with nary a complaint or an unsightly damp patch, he or she has pretty much gone native.

5: A confidence in approaching random adults, and a firm belief they will give you what you want.
Eg: “Excuse me! Excuse me!!! Can I help you popping those balloons?”… “Now, if you’ll just pass me the scissors, and hold the string steady…”

6: Prehensile toes.
After months largely unconfined by leather or trainers, feet go back to nature. Toes splay. Arches widen. Joints extend and tendons lengthen. Walking over rock-filled streams, feet are used to their full extent. And shoe sizes are not what they were.

Sign on Malaysian taxi door, reading "This is metered taxi. Haggling is prohibited. Request for your receipt."

7: Road-safety skills that would put most Western adults to shame.
After negotiating the roads in Hanoi and Saigon (a process best done diagonally, in gradual increments of a quarter of a lane or thereabouts), the most apparently alarming streams of traffic become, well, a walk in the park.

8: A practised and bad-tempered line in explaining, “I am NOT a baby.”
In many parts of South-East Asia, the term “baby” is used interchangeably with “child”. Fair enough for the parent. Less appealing, perhaps, for the child.

9: A manly way with bugs of all kinds.
“What are you doing under the bed, darling? And why do you need the torch?” “I’m on a ROACH HUNT, Mum!” (Roaches in South-East Asia come with wings, and range in size from three to five inches. Bumping against lights, they sound more like semi-automatic weapons than insects.)

10: Feeling the cold.
In London, temperatures of 26 degrees see the parks full of office workers stripped down to their bras. One evening in Vietnam, a rainstorm brought the temperature down to, ooh, roughly that. The jacket was firmly on.

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16 Responses to “10 Ways to Tell Your Child Has Been in Asia A Long Time”

  1. jessiev August 1, 2010 at 9:11 pm #

    omg, t, i can’t stop laughing. WHAT A LIFE!! i love it.

    • MummyT August 4, 2010 at 10:22 pm #

      It’s all true, I swear…

  2. Helen August 2, 2010 at 3:17 pm #

    What an education! Beats the life cycle of the cockle.

    • MummyT August 4, 2010 at 10:24 pm #

      We did cave ecosystems this morning! A lot of it, you will be enthralled to hear, based around bat guano. And a fungus that grows on it… Hope all is well in Norfolk.

  3. mrigank August 2, 2010 at 9:55 pm #

    awesome post! you have a wonderful sense of humour.

  4. Dina August 3, 2010 at 9:11 am #

    I just found your blog today, and I love this article!! So funny! Like the roach hunt.

    • MummyT August 4, 2010 at 10:28 pm #

      Mrigank and Dina: thank you both…

  5. Tracy Burns August 4, 2010 at 2:56 pm #

    LOL I definitely agree. Noah and Hayley have mastered most of those. At 5 Noah already has an innate suspicion of taxi drivers. Its taken Hayley 6 months to get used to being called a baby. A very serious issue when your a big girl of 3! She used to melt down, now she just laughs, says “I’m a big girl thank you” and keeps walking.

    I’d like to add:

    11) when your child tells bedtime stories about a big bad wolf that got its leg blown off in a land mine in Cambodia when he was out searching for rice for his hungry family.

    • MummyT August 4, 2010 at 10:33 pm #

      That’s a great story! You should get him (?) to write it down! I do find it amazing how much stuff they internalise, and how effortlessly they do so.

      Zac still doesn’t have a sense of humour about being called a baby… He’s getting better, though…

      • Tracy Burns August 5, 2010 at 6:53 am #

        Getting called a baby at 9 is a much harder thing to deal with I’m sure!

        It’s my 3 year old daughter Hayley that comes up with the funny landmine stories. I’ve lost track of the number of times she’s hidden one of the legs of her dolls pretending its been blown off. But the big bad wolf ones are the funniest. The poor big bad wolf has been run over by tuk tuks and stepped on landmines. Not sure he deserves such a fate. She’s got such a wicked sense of humour.

        How much longer are you in Borneo?

      • MummyT August 5, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

        About ten days, I think. Finding Sabah quite expensive and very organised. As in, you need to do tours to a lot of places, the real exciting stuff (diving Sipadan/Turtle Island) gets booked up MONTHS in advance. Culturally, I think I preferred Sarawak. Not sure why… Kuching much, much more characterful than KK.

        I am not sure right now whether we are going to go back to the mainland. Have a real yen for Indonesia, wilderness, etc, and it looks easy enough to cross to Kalimantan then ferry across. Plus Indonesia is cheap as chips. Not that Malaysia’s expensive. But Sabah seems to be (we’ve dropped Singapore for the moment as it just doesn’t seem a place you can really appreciate on a budget, plus Oz will not be cheap).

        Where are you off to next?

  6. patissonne August 4, 2010 at 4:06 pm #

    Haha! Very funny!! 🙂

  7. Tracy Burns August 5, 2010 at 4:36 pm #

    Couldn’t reply to your last post for some reason. We’re in Penang till the end of the year except for a few weekends away – probably over to Sumatra/Java since its cheap to catch a flight/ferry from here and up to Bangkok or Chang Mai. After Christmas we’ll start travelling again – South Korea, northern Thailand and who knows where!!!

    Feel free to visit us in Penang for as long as you like – pretty sure Colin’s already extended the invite to you over twitter! We have plenty of space, a waterslide and pool and free accommodation on offer for anyone that will provide us with adult conversation and someone to have a beer with! As I said, flights/ferry’s from Penang to Indonesia are cheap.

    • MummyT August 7, 2010 at 4:41 pm #

      This sounds great. I will try and take you up on your invitation. Still trying to plot out what we do in Indonesia. Which is a country one could spend six months in, very easily, without even scratching the surface.

      • Tracy Burns August 8, 2010 at 5:40 pm #

        I agree. Would love to travel from one end to the other over 6 months. All the different islands, cultures and religions would just be wonderful to explore. If you decide to head back to Penang just send Colin a message on twitter.

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