We spent 2 months in southeast Asia and most of it was hot, most of the food was good, most of the traffic was crazy... but each country was definitely very different from the others.
It seemed we saw monkeys everywhere we went, and I loved just watching them! Sadly, we never got close up to an elephant because at every opportunity we found, it seemed they were being exploited and we didn't want to support their mistreatment. That experience will be a priority on a future trip to Sri Lanka or India!
We also had many massages, highly varied in their outcomes. In Indonesia we had a traditional western spa treatment. In Malaysia we got Chinese foot reflexology that was really painful but to some degree did seem to work. In Thailand we had brusk traditional Thai massages, one that was painful and effective and another that was gentle and not. We learned there to look for older masseuses who evidently are less afraid to hurt you than younger ones! In Cambodia we were "massaged" by fish. In Vietnam we had the most memorable experience... the blind massage.
Advertised as a way to support blind Vietnamese who otherwise would have trouble finding work, and possibly also to make body-conscious people more comfortable with a massage, the blind massage is a solid concept. On a stormy afternoon, we paid a seeing receptionist, received braille coupons and were sent into large gender-separated rooms with curtain dividers. The first thing I noticed was the noise. The masseuses carried on shouted conversations with each other and were often singing or humming to themselves. I can imagine how someone unable to see would love to be actively engaged with sound, but it made it very hard to relax-- it was very strange. Second, the person working with me decided to open the window next to the massage table, to let in both the cacophony of honking from the busy intersection outside and the gusting rain! Then was the massage itself, painful chopping and hitting, including on my neck and head. All said and done, we were glad to make it out alive, and having only paid $2.50 for the privilege we might have expected something unusual. After this session, Diego said no more massages!
In Asia, we really enjoyed being able to afford getting massages, eating out, and other such luxuries on a budget. We were surprised to find major differences between neighboring countries. We loved Bali and Thailand and hope to visit those places again. But, we got tired of places without infrastructure to deal with the garbage they generate, paying dearly for clean water, and being asked to buy things every time we went outside. Overall, it was a great part of our trip where we learned a lot about understanding different cultures and perspectives.
Now, we're on to visiting many places in Europe. Are you there? Let us know the place and dates and maybe we can meet up!