RightyO, I'm leaving to go to south east asia and australia. I'm a first time traveller and would love some adive on etiquette of the traveller.
need some help with what and not to take...and the rest of stuff.
www.loylee.co.uk (my travelblog)
Haven't been to S.E.A. or Australia, but here's some general stuff.
Don't overplan and keep yourself open to interesting experiences. Remember that you need days to just rest and do nothing. Be patient, because you're the foreigner and the locals are being patient with you. Enjoy as much of it as you can, and when it's not enjoyable remember to shake off the bad experiences.
I took a look at your website and I assume you're basically British (Welsh?), but does your Chinese origin give you a good feel for Asia generally? If so, you'll appreciate that most asian people are very polite - sometimes excessively so. Often, they don't like to say 'No', so 'Yes' can mean 'Maybe' or even 'Probably not'. Bear this in mind and be patient!
Also, it's a no-no to pat a child on the head in Thailand. Sounds daft, but easy mistake to make without thinking really.
Also, showing the soles of your feet is bad news too, so be careful where you put your feet up!
Australia is probably the most tolerant country in the world when it comes to travellers, and you'll meet lots of like-minded people.
'No worries' isn't just a phrase over there - it's a lifestyle.
Stuff to take
I suggest bringing more money, less clothes (and don't worry about electronic equipment - I read your weblog!!).
A pair of flipflops/thongs/jandals for showers in hostels are an essential
I also suggest getting a cotton sleeping bag liner - you're unlikely to need a sleeping bag in summer, but some hostels don't provide linen - and a sleeping bag liner is a great addition to your backpack.
With regard to backpacks - take the advice of the person in the shop, and have them fit it to your shape/body. That way you have the most comfortable bag possible. Buy padlocks for all the zips!
With regard to etiquette
The best advice is to be overly polite and tolerant and remember you are a visitor in the countries you are visiting! Australia is incredibly tolerant of visitors, and you won't have much opportunity to make any blunders, Australians are very easy-going.
The best piece of advice I can give is - don't be afraid to try all the new and different things in each country (make sure your travel insurance covers it all though) and above all - have a BLAST.
Hey - great site!
If you are heading to SEA before OZ then grab your sleeping bag liner in one of the markets there - tonnes cheaper than in the UK. In fact this goes for almost everything!! Try to resist buying stuff at home - you will get it so much cheaper in Thailand!
As far as etiquette goes - just do your best to consider others and try to learn a few of the quirks in each country along the way. For example - it is still considered rude in rural areas of asia to eat with your left hand (your 'toilet' hand). I recently had a few strange looks...however, as a left hander I get just as many looks when I try to eat with my right hand! ha ha!
If a local in a bar asks to meet you the next day and show you some sights - go along with it! It is a great oppertunity. Be wary as far as normal personal safety rules will allow - but generally people in this corner of the world are lovely. If you don't want to walk up that dark allyway then tell your host - if they are for real about being your friend they won't make you.
Bring along some quarter or full length cargo pants and one light weight shirt that covers your elbows...in asia you can enter most temples/pagodas with a singlet top but you will need to cover shoulders for places of great importance and sometimes it is better to cover your elbows (even when not required it is just polite). Covering knees can sometimes be the same. Do not point your finger in these places either - if you need to indicate to something, use your whole hand.
In asia the temps might get really uncomfortable. One of the things that many locals complain about is how stinky and sweaty the tourists get. Personal hygine goes a long way - people do judge you on it. Never being sweaty would require you to stand under a cold shower all day...it is unavoidable for those who aren't used to the climate. But try to make sure that when you meet someone for the first time (start of a tour, negotiating an extension on your visa, first day in a new city, meeting someone for drinks/dinner) that you are as presentable as possible.
Some people struggle with street sellers and how to tell them that you really don't want to buy anything. After watching and learning from locals I think it is best to give one friendly and firm 'no' (best said in the local language) and then not to speak to them again. Ignoring people without acknowledgement can be rude and if you keep talking people interpret that as an interest in barter/bargaining. Also, some will say "when I see you again you will buy?"....saying 'maybe' to be kind is in fact interpreted as a yes - if you really don't want to buy then say so the first time.
In Australia even if you do muck up what little etiquette we have we wont' hold it against you if you seem to be making an effort to be polite. Some of the things that are appreciated but not hard and fast: Drivers are encouraged to give 'thankyou waves' when people let them into a stream of traffic and pedestrians should do the same to drivers who let them cross on a pedestrian crossing (even though the pedestrian had right of way all the time). In bars, it is really common to buy in rounds - as is the custom in the UK - don't leave on the drink just before your shout! makes you look like a tight arse but even that, we will forgive....it is common to say cheers or thanks etc. in all sorts of public interactions (some of our customer service workers even smile! something you don't always see overseas!).
Anyway - that's what i've found!
Have a great time!