Living In Asia Is Not All Roses

living in asia

Living in Asia is great.

No doubt about it.

The beaches of Thailand. The nightlife in Jakarta. The world heritage sites of Cambodia. And the world class food in Vietnam.

All that makes Asia a paradise. And it’s a paradise where you can get by on a relatively small budget.

But like they say, every rose has it thorns.

Here in the east, some things doesn’t work as well as back in the west. Some are due to cultural differences. Some are due to stupidity. And most of them will piss you off.

Next, let me talk about some of the issues I’ve encountered while living in Asia. These are issues that most people have to deal with, and at some points you just accept this fact and learn to live with them.

Why don’t we start with my favorite topic: traffic.


Can you imagine how traffic is like in a country where nobody gives a f*ck about traffic rules, and where you can get a drivers license by bribing a government official?

That’s how Vietnam is.

In fact there’s only one rule: yield to everything heavier. That means always stay clear of heavy trucks and buses. And if you happen to be a pedestrian, congratulations, you’re the lowest on the totem pole. Nobody will yield to you. Even when you have a green light.

And let’s not forget about the sidewalks. Sometimes I think they are actually not for walking. They may exist solely as an extra lane for selfish motorbike drivers. Especially during rush hour when the roads are congested, motorbike drivers take crazy short cuts on the sidewalks.

And don’t for a minute think they will yield to any lame pedestrians!

Customer Service

People in this part of the world are not interested in building long term business relationships. It’s all about short term thinking.

They rather try to squeeze you for an extra dollar or give a crappy service, than make you a happy returning customer.

Take my previous land lord as an example. I used to be a long term tenant who always paid the rent on time. In addition I kept referring friends that brought in more rent money. No doubt, the sort of tenant that every landlord would love to have.

But strangely enough there were always things they got hung up on. For example how many dishes the maid was allowed to wash. The worst was that twice they mixed up my arrival date and when I showed up the apartment I booked wasn’t available.

Eventually I got fed up. When my last lease ended I moved to another apartment. And I stopped referring friends.


People in developed countries are often able to think beyond themselves, and can see what actions are beneficial for the greater good of the community. This includes everything from throwing your garbage in trash cans, paying your fair share of the taxes and ensure the level of corruption is kept to a minimum.

Sadly, in many Asian countries that’s not the case. Here it’s all about me, me and me. That’s why you see garbage laying everywhere, people skipping lines and police officers requiring a “fee” to make sure the proper paper works are filed.

Personally I don’t see how this part of the world will catch up to the more developed countries until those issues are resolved. Especially corruption needs to be dealt with.

Final Thoughts

Despite it’s flaws, living in Asia is great. The advantages far outweighs the petty annoyances. And not a single place on earth is 100% perfect anyway.

In closing, you’ll need to be aware that losing face is one of the worst things that can happen for an Asian. If you become angry and confrontational, a situation can quickly go from bad to worse. I learnt that it’s very important to stay calm even in stressful situations.


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