Here are some things I appreciated in Southeast Asia and Japan that I wish we had in Canada.
Umbrellas as sun protection
As an extremely sun-sensitive person, I have had to start carrying an umbrella all the time, especially on sunny days. People tend to look at me curiously. I overheard a child ask her mother if it was going to rain.
In Asia, this is a totally normal thing to do. And it makes sense. Umbrellas are better than hats, people! When it’s really hot out, a hat makes you feel even hotter and does nothing for your chest and arms, whereas umbrellas give you a personal patch of shade.
Lactose-free dairy products
We have some lactose-free options in Canada, but I liked how in most of Asia it was the default; you didn’t have to seek them out specially.
All prices include tax
It’s true that having taxes added at the end makes the cost of the tax more visible. However, I miss being able to easily add up the total price of my stuff. Here I’m always surprised at the cash register.
Exact sizes listed in cm (Japan)
For clothes, shoes, and even sanitary pads, you can read the dimensions on the label/box—none of this “small-medium-large” BS.
Insanely cheap cell data
Like, $20 for 20GB in Vietnam. In Canada it’s $50+ for a measly 4GB.
In a lot of bathrooms in Southeast Asia, there’s no separate shower/bathtub area. Instead, the entire bathroom has a drain on the floor. The shower faucet is in the corner.
This is super convenient for a messy person like me. You can brush your teeth and spit it out anywhere, and hose off the floor and walls with the showerhead later (or bum gun/bidet—another convenient item).
(Obviously, though, the ideal would be to have one Western-style dry bathroom and one wet room, so you can choose depending on your footwear situation.)
A major effort to eradicate single-use plastic (Luang Prabang and Bali)
If you’re going to Bali, pack some plastic bags, because you won’t be able to get any at stores or take-out places.
Buttons to get your server’s attention (Japan)
At a lot of casual dining places in Japan, there’s a button on the table.
You can take as long as you want to read the menu, without having to worry about catching the server while they’re between patrons; just push the button when you’re ready to order.
Plus, servers don’t have to hover around your table asking if you need anything; they know you don’t need anything, or you would have pushed the button!
- Reasonable portion sizes (as in, when you order fries on the side, they give you one or two potatoes’ worth of fries, not a 5 kg platter)
- Waterproof paper money, and no coins (Vietnam)
- No tipping, because it is expected that servers are paid a living wage by their employers (Japan)