Asia is very different from North America, and I'm certain that even that is an understatement. There are many levels of these differences, and having been here only two weeks, I am only able to describe some of the surface level differences.
In America, we have many traffic regulations, signs, and stoplights. Most people abide by these regulations, and the consequences are serious if you do not. If there is a lot of traffic, it moves much slower. We must wear seat belts, and stay in our lanes. cutting people off can be very offensive, and start screaming matches. There is a lot of "road rage" because people take things personally when they are driving. Honking generally means you are angry.
In Southeast Asia, traffic works differently. There are lanes and a few traffic lights, but they are more of suggestions. Even when there are large amounts of traffic, it can flow pretty quickly. People in the back seats especially don't have to wear seat belts. People weave in and out quite frequently, and cutting others off is just how you make sure you get where you need to go. Honking is common, and lets others know you are there, and are not stopping for them, but most times it is not a result of anger.
In the States, my life can get pretty hectic. I find myself going from one thing to the next, rushing to make it on time. I worry about being late, because I might miss part of the event, or upset someone.
Here, time is so much more relaxed. If something is supposed to start on the hour, it may start 20 or 30 minutes after the hour, and no one is upset. The other day I had a funny clash with this aspect of the culture. During my break for lunch, a friend took me to run an errand. My next session was scheduled for 130 and my friend assured me we'd be back in time. We got a taxi there, but on the way back, had to hop in a "pedicab" (like a trike, but instead of a motorcycle, it is powered by peddling a bicycle). It was traveling quite slow, and the two of us realized we would not make it back in time. The only thing we could do was laugh and joke about slowing it down because we're too heavy! So I'm learning that I just need to let go enjoy the culture.
I could talk forever about this. I love the food here. It is very different, but most everything I've had is delicious. One of the first things I learned about meals here is that it is not one unless there is rice. Also, they eat with a spoon in their right hand and a fork in their left. The fork is used to push food onto the spoon. Knives are not needed, because everything is prepared in small pieces or is easy enough to pull apart.
I could say much more on this subject, but I'm sure I'll have more stories to tell in the future.
I was going to also put up a video of me eating my first balut, or at least some pictures, but unfortunately they will not currently upload. Hopefully I can get them up soon!
Until next time,