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Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Central America Vs South East Asia

Well, the dilemma for many of us people from North Europe with too much time on our hands is...where to spend Winter? For those on a budget (or just people who want good value for money) the obvious choices are either a. South East Asia or b. Central/South America.  Africas too scary (real wars and everything) Australias too boring and expensive, and not exotic enough, and the North...well the North is too cold.

Anywhere heres a step comparison from my 'in the field' observations....

1. Food
Central America - Chimichingas, Enchaladas, beans, rice, fried pretty much everything. Everyone here is fat, wonder why?

SE Asia - Lemongrass, tasty soups, spring rolls, lovely dishes wrapped in banana leaf....makes me hungry just thinking about it....

Result - SE Asia WIN

2. Culture
Central America - cockfighting, bull fighting, awful music and noise pollution everywhere you go. The most over excited and overexcitable people in the world. But on the plus side, a lot of passion and honesty. People aren't smiling to your face while robbing you here, they pull out a gun instead.

If you're looking to catch the Schubert recital tomorrow night, forget it. They have no idea who Schubert is. Or Beethoven for that matter. But if you hate peace and quiet and serenity, and love a constant chuchungachuchunga beat somewhere quite loudly in the background, police whistles and gunfire keeping you awake at night, this is the place for you. 'Change' zombies circle whenever you see Gringo. I've been standing waiting for the hotel guard to show up so long at times that every zombie from miles around has heard me shouting him and has limped (they tend to have bullet wounds of gammy legs from drugs) towards me babbling something connected to 'chaaaaange' in Spanish. I've been surrounded before, and the taxi has already sped on it's way, which ain't so good if you've had a good night at poker and are sitting with $2000 cash in your pocket

SE Asia - Ladyboys, buddhism, massages, genocide. I dont know, maybe its my age, but i do prefer peace and quiet, and not being a prisoner in my own hotel at night. I didn't experience any dangers at all in SE Asia beyond Ladyboys trying to chat me up. High culture, it must be a Europe/New York thing, it isn't here either, but cheap massages, cheap and tasty food, and the ability to walk around a little bit at night is a miracle.

Result - SE Asia WIN

3. Things to do
Central America - There are a lot of things to do here, truth be told. Ancient Civilisations abound, the best surfing in the world, amazing diving and snorkeling, and outside the big cities, life is (relatively) safer and a little more laid back. Here in Nicaragua you can do all sorts of things up Volcanoes, and there is even one city that is Liveable (Leon) The other great thing is that in many of the countries (due to the murder rate being the highest in the world) there are very few dickhead backpackers to ruin it all for you.

SE Asia - Yes, the beaches are here too, and the surfing, but i'd say on balance not quite as good. You can learn Muy Thai up in Chan Mai or explore Angor Watt in Cambodia, but it always seems to me that its all a 'backpackers' thing, i.e. there are too many 20yr old idiots from Surrey spending their Gap Yea finding themselves by 'getting wasted' and thinking they will be useful to society in some way at sometime (no, you won't, unless you get a Mcjob)

So, all in all, although there are plenty things to do, it's spoiled by there being too many European (and especially Aussie) arseholes in SE Asia. (except Emma and your lovely friend who returned my Charles Rennie Mackintosh book after 5 years, thanks!)

Result - Central America WIN

All in all, I can say SE Asia is a gentler, safer journey. The only thing breaking your serenity is the fake guffaws of Mr Coldplay as he laughs at some poor girls joke. The real Shangri-La is world without these people. And no I haven't and will never go to Ko-Sa-Mui, or to a full moon party. But there are great little spots in SE Asia (which i won't tell you about quite yet) to get away from these people. Head for the danger zones. These lonely planet junkies won't go near there.

As for Central America...well i've had some great nights here. If theres danger you can smell it (literally) a mile away. There seems (as i remember from one messed up Columbian guy the other night) to be an active drugs scene. My friend got some lovely baking powder from him for i'm not sure how much.

If you want to live long and prosper, SE Asia won't get you killed. Its the Coldplay of subcontinents. Safe, tastes pretty good but gets boring. If its more AC/DC you're looking for.......

6pm profoundness - On another point, people who take drugs. If you want to find the real answers, take Ayahuasca, stop pottering about with cowardly little baby steps like hash or cocaine. You take it perhaps because, deep down, like all of us, you're looking for something, but you won't find it there in the shallows....

1 comment:

  1. PS - and in Central America you also get to hear that guy saying 'Goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooaaal !!' every single day (its 6.40am and i just heard it)