One of the best bits about travelling is uncovering the ins and outs of various ethnic groups, the things that set them apart, bring them together – and all the little oddities inbetween. The things that most immediately identify people from different countries or cultures are probably their food and fashion. On our trip across Asia we’ve gone from crispy duck and Western clothing in Beijing, to deep fried buffalo momos and Indigenous costume in the highlands of Tibet and Nepal, through vibrant spices and saris in India, indigo dyed hemp and pyjamas in Vietnam, to increasing quantities of coconut and chilli along with a slightly more liberal approach to dress as we’ve travelled through South East Asia.
However the real fun is definitely in the little peculiarities that we’ve discovered along the way, such as the propensity for male friends to walk down the street hand in hand (certainly not a problem, just something you wouldn’t see back home), dogs wearing waistcoats and shirt collars, people hawking and spitting loudly in the street, bare bottomed babies, men with their bellies out, jeans worn in the stifling heat, megaphones on loop in markets shouting out special offers, “cheese” and bread where the “cheese” has never even sniffed the real thing, vacuum packed chickens’ feet, face whitening cream (I’m white enough in England, I came here for the sun!) and my personal all time favourite: chilli tights.
It’s these little insights into daily life that have really made my time in Asia, but chilli tights? Really?! The mind boggles, and surely the legs burn…?