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Southeast Asia forum

Travelling in Southeast Asia during Ramadan

Posted by sambrown on 12/7/2013 at 04:32 TF writer

From our Malaysia wire:

"Ramadan can be a mystery for many travellers passing through predominantly Muslim terrain. Messages of 'everything will be closed' are often passed along the backpacking word-of-mouth trail, but rest assured, besides a few inconveniences of finding some businesses closed or perhaps a ferry schedule changed, it's not too big a deal. The cultural experience alone is worth the extra effort of working your schedule around any inconveniences."

Read the full post or post your thoughts below.

#1 sambrown has been a member since 12/7/2013. Posts: 9
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Posted by exacto on 12/7/2013 at 14:10

Nice one. I remember Ramadan as being a very special time as well during the years I lived in Turkey. I think it is worth repeating that travellers are not expected to fast, and in my experience neither are non-Muslims, so you can always find something to eat and drink - just be discreet about it. I also remember my Turkish friends being a bit rough around the edges at times - particularly the smokers, who were going without cigarettes all day - so definitely cut them a little extra slack just like the article says.

Of course, if you find yourself in a predominately Muslim area during Ramadan, you can always jump in with both feet and observe the fast too. It isn't necessarily fun but it can be a special experience. Regards.

#2 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,759
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Posted by imasmiley88 on 15/7/2013 at 07:03

There are also Muslims here in our country and Ramadan is also observed in many places here. I so no problem with it because there are also Christians here so there are still lots of establishments that are open. :)
My advice for travelers is just to be discreet and not eat so much food in front of those who fast as a sign of respect.
Overall, I find Ramadan a happy festival 'cause there are lots of food at night.

#3 imasmiley88 has been a member since 19/5/2012. Posts: 17

Posted by SBE on 15/7/2013 at 13:11

I find the main problem with Ramadan in Indonesia is Idul Fitri. Airfares triple, loads of ferries get cancelled and if you happen to be in a not very touristy part of the country the friendly locals will probably invite you into every single house in the village and you'll be made to eat enormous quantities of cake and drink gallons of red fanta. I can't stand red fanta but you can't refuse because it seems to be the Indonesian equivalent of Veuve Clicquot champagne.

Beware of ferry cancellations etc at Idul Adha too. It's around October 15th this year.

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Posted by sayadian on 15/7/2013 at 23:43

Malaysia is not a problem during Ramadan as there are so many Chinese restaurants. If you are travelling, for example on a bus or train you are exempt from the fast anyway so don't be troubled about eating and drinking.

It's not true that you can'refuse without offending. Just explain it is not your custom to drink red fizzy gunk. They usually understand the importance of custom.
The idea that I have to eat eyeballs or spiders or any other of the revolting 'snacks' on offer in Asia because not doing so might offend is frankly offensive to me. I'd put Fanta at the top of my list of revolting too. ;-)

I can't see anything particularly interesting about Ramadan. Rumbling stomachs, constant hawking and spitting and most people half asleep because they've been gourging themselves all night, falling asleep at the wheel leading to more smashes. None of this really appeals.

Wait for Ied at the end of Ramadan. Now that's worth experiencing.

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