Ordinary is one of those things that creeps up on you unawares. Before you know it you’ve been brushing your teeth with the same brand toothpaste you were three years ago. You recognise every step of the commute to work, and at the café around the corner they simply ask you for ‘Same old same old’. Days start to blend into one another like porridge, and before you know it you’re bogged down in the ordinary. Even the word sounds heavy and repetitive, with cousins like bored-inary and snore-dinary slotting in just a little too easily.
But we at Intrepid are here to help, with eight handy ways you can swap the ordinary for the extraordinary, the usual for the unusual, the same-old-same-old for the…different-new-different-new. And what better place to do it all than Asia – the exotic and chaotic continent of cool? We racked our brains and couldn’t come up with a destination less deserving of the ‘ordinary’ label. Prepare to kiss mind-numbing routine goodbye!
Swap your Cappuccino for a Vietnamese drip-filtered coffee
Coffee is the juice that ordinary runs on. It’s our life-blood, our caffeine-pumping, creativity-generating stimulant of choice. But there’s a big wide world of it out there, and most people only wind up drinking the same cup over and over. Vietnamese coffee is drip-filtered slowly onto a soft bed of creamy sweetened condensed milk. Trust us, after one sip you’ll think regular cows need to really lift their game. Best enjoyed on a busy Hanoi street corner as the afternoon sun starts to dip behind the rooftops.
Swap your train commute for a Thai tuk tuk ride
Public transport in Asia varies in quality from place to place, but many (many) locals choose to make their daily journeys via moped. Whole families often pillion on one bike, stacked smallest to tallest with not a helmet in sight. Mopeds are cheap, fast and – surrounded by hundreds of other motorists – thrilling. But don’t worry, you don’t have to brave peak hour in Bangkok to experience this slice of Thai life. Head to Koh Samui or Chiang Mai in the north, hail down a tuk tuk and start exploring. Catching the tube in to work will never have felt so dull.
Swap a visit to the cinema for a Bollywood extravaganza
There is a magical land out there, a land where moustached men and belly dancing women live happily ever after, where groups of strangers break into song, and where everyone is followed around by their own personal wind machine. That land is Bollywood. A trip to a Mumbai multiplex is nothing like your standard cinema: Bollywood here is more of a religion than a diversion, and you’ll be expected the cheer the hero (and whistle during the dance numbers) along with everyone else.
Swap football on the tellie for ringside Sumo tickets in Japan
There’s nothing wrong with an afternoon watching your football side on TV. But for something a little more extraordinary, nothing compares to ringside seats at one of Tokyo’s sumo bouts. Part religious ritual, part spectacle, and part two giant guys in towels pushing each other around a small circle, this is one of sport’s great contests. If that didn’t wrestle ordinary into submission, we’ll take you behind the scenes at a genuine sumo stable – just don’t get between them and their dinner.
Swap a night in bed for a night under the stars in India
We spend nearly 300,000 hours in bed during our lifetimes – that’s a lot of time dedicated to ordinary. Sleep is so repetitive we’ve sort of become numb to it. Each night follows the same old pattern. So why not swap that ceiling with the weird patch where the roof leaked for an open sky and a galaxy full of stars on the sands of Osiyan? Feel the Indian desert winds around you, stay up late and listen to the thundering silence. Who said bedtime had to be boring
Swap wildlife for a wild life
Most of us come into contact with wildlife every day. But no matter how much dignity and grandeur truly exists in the average street-side pigeon, rat or seagull, not many people would label them extraordinary. Moths and beetles also tend to rank pretty low on the ‘Spectacular Scale’. Enter Asia. Swap those everyday critters for egg-laying Giant Sea Turtles, friendly orang-utans and over 4,500 species of plant and animal life in Borneo’s Sabah region.
Swap your cereal and toast for a bowl of Vietnamese pho
It’s meant to be the most important meal of the day, but most of us tend to waste breakfast on buttered toast (usually burned on one side), soggy cereal and perhaps an apple. Not a menu to inspire. But swap these cereal offenders for a steaming fresh bowl of Vietnamese pho, and you’ll wake up a different person. A clear noodle broth, flavoured with aromatic star anise, cinnamon, cloves and ginger, it’s Vietnam’s traditional wakeup call. Pull over at one of the busy streetside stalls in Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi, order a big bowl and watch the world go by.
Swap a walk in the park for a walk through the Himalayas
It’s a proud weekend tradition: the walk in the park. Dogs running through the trees, old men playing chess, kids crying over spilt ice-creams. There’s nothing like it. But perhaps it’s time to mix things up: swap that stroll along the bike track for a stroll through the snow-capped peaks of the world most famous mountain range: the Himalayas. Trek through flame-red rhododendron forests, visit alpine hot springs, sip local brews in ancient cliff-side Tea Houses and fill your lungs with the glorious scent of fresh mountain air.
Do you want to avoid the ordinary? Check out our Intrepid itineraries to Asia and you’ll be half way there.