Pretty much any old fool would think he could survive back in his own country after a spell in the Orient. However, there are a few details to being a returning expat in Brisbane.
1. Remember traffic lights are there for a reason in this country. Crossing the road and weaving through traffic doesn’t work back here. And you know you’ve been living in Asia too long when you look both ways before crossing a one-way street!
2. Remember while the OBE (old brown envelope) is practically a written guarantee in Asia, it doesn’t work back home. Likely the friendly token of your generosity to the authority figure will just make things worse. Let the guy be a pain for a while until he clicks empty. Then he’ll usually let it go.
3. Remember MSG isn’t the bad food fad here – that’s gluten!
4. Driving your vehicle onto the sidewalk to skip a jam is out of the question in this country. Just honk the horn to make yourself feel better and display your proud overseas influence!
5. Hotel mini-bars aren’t quite the live-in torture chamber they are abroad, and the prices for the Heines and bags containing mostly thin air and only a few nuts are usually more reasonable. Don’t bother replacing the ones you take with much-cheaper ones from down the street; spoilsports have rigged electronic scanners inside the fridge.
6. If you miss your bus, that’s it, you’re finished! Don’t bother waving your arms and shouting loudly because no motorbike rider is going to offer you a run ahead to the next stop for a couple of dollars. Catch a train instead.
7. Watch your unintelligibility. If you start turning purple in the face and shouting loudly in the office in a ridiculously slow Chinglish or Vietglish tirade you used to scream down the locals abroad, then you may be reassigned to a position where your garbling is quite common. And few of those carry any weight in hard economic times!
8. If your girlfriend takes you shopping in Brisbane, there’s (usually) no need to make that pre-mall phone call to mortgage the house!
9. If you ever walk past a local school, close your eyes until you’re away. Aussie school uniforms are an even bigger eyesore (and there’s no young lovelies in long dress, sarong, or kimono on the first day of term to make it better).
10. Remember, stopping to watch the scene of a traffic accident or a public brawl is considered rude. Rubbernecking doesn’t make up the local gossip. Just walk on and duck into an alley.
11. If the Brisbane cop laughs at you, that doesn’t mean you’re starting to see eye-to-eye; it means you’re in trouble!
12. A slip on the newsprint is the end. If you print, “PM struggles with diarrhea outbreak” in the Aussie media, Mr. Khai isn’t going to hand it to his experts and then start laughing!