I’ve just returned from a few weeks sojourn to South East Asia and I have to say the experience has completely defrosted me. Maybe it’s the area I now live in Sydney where a smile is much too difficult a task but I found the warmth, gentleness and friendliness of the local people of the countries I visited genuine and heart felt. And no, no tips nor service based relationship was required. I am different there too but the reactions of the local people just seem so opposite to Australians- difference is welcomed with a natural curiosity of where you’re from, polite conversation and yes a smile- a smile people! Not a fear based anxiety, folded arms, turned backs and/or frown. I came back to Sydney airport to be greeted with a grumpy customs guy who had the politeness of a tack. Feigned indifference from the taxi driver and the cold stares of my fellow citizens. I couldn’t live in SE Asia for a number of reasons, one being language, but I do appreciate being able to hop on a flight and defrost whenever Australia(ns) harden(s) me to an icy core. And with Australia Day coming up next weekend, this trip only served to highlight what I already know of my place, position and perceptions of what and who is Australian.