The best things in life are free. — A simple and quite philosophical saying, or just something a cheapskate says. Either way, who doesn’t like free stuff right? From free mineral water to unlimited condiments at the local food joint, here are some of the free stuff that’s unique to each country that any budding backpacking globetrotter should be aware of.
Northern India and Pakistan
Being locally abundant and common ingredients in curries and chutneys, most grocery shop in this part of the world offers a free and generous side of fresh coriander and green chilies.
“In most of northern India… dhaniya-mirch (coriander and chilies) is synonymous with groceries,” said Khusrau Gurganvi from Varanasi. So much so that he explained that “Kal dhaniya-mirch lana hai” translates into “I need to buy groceries tomorrow.”
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The same echoes true for Pakistan with one local commenter saying “Whenever you go to buy vegetables, the shopkeeper will give you a handful of free coriander and green chili,” the person said. “If they don’t, then all you have to do is ask.”
Another thing unique to India and might seem odd to some is free unlimited advice.
“In other countries, there are wedding planners. Here, we have aunts, uncles, uncle’s uncles to give us advice for free,” said Mehul Manot from Calcutta. “In other countries, there are counsellors. Here, we have the ever-poking neighbours: ‘You shouldn’t take up Arts, it’s for girls. Do engineering, you’ll earn lakhs per month.'”
He added that travel agents are replaced by jet-setting cousins, and trendy friends step in for fashion consultants.
Advice doesn’t always have to come from just friends and family, either.
“In other countries, you need to pay for consultations, but in India you can get it free of cost at tea stalls, [during] marriages or family functions, [on] trains, buses by almost anyone,” said Kanchan Saxena, who currently lives in the United States. “We love giving advice.”
The birthplace of fast food. While the concept of fast food has been adopted globally to great effect, there is still something in the States that other countries doesn’t do, yet. Free unlimited condiments.
American Jon Baldwin experienced this first hand when visiting a McDonald’s drive-through in the United Kingdom and noticed his bag of food was conspicuously missing the typical sauce packets.
“Excuse me, you forgot the ketchup,” he told the server. “Instead of reaching for ketchup packets, she starts typing away on the cash register: 50p.”
To make matters worse, the 50p went toward just a single ketchup packet. “In the US, not only do they not charge for ketchup, they hand you like 10 packets when you ask. Literally a fist full of ketchup.
Dave Holmes-Kinsella vouched for the fact that his American wife “was driven into fits of rage by the capricious condiment tax” in his native New Zealand, especially since salt and sugar sides come free.
This is one example of food being a reflection of a country’s tastes and food culture. This humble nation who likes their food on the fiery side, offers unlimited chilli sauce in almost all food establishment.
“We have unlimited, free access to chilli sauce in any fast food restaurant and any food court,” said native Joseph Lee. “We literally eat anything and everything with chilli sauce, from the iconic chicken rice to McDonald’s hamburgers.”
In fact, McDonald’s even makes a “garlic chilli sauce” that’s exclusive to the heat-loving Singapore market.
From down under, Australia enjoys a rich outdoor experience and the country offers unique amenities to take advantage of this.
“Many public parks and national parks have free barbeque hot plates,” said Christopher Mardell from Adelaide. “You bring meat and whatever else you want to cook, push a button to start it up and away you go. After 20 minutes or so, they turn off automatically, so you push the button again.” All visitors have to do is keep it clean, and Mardell said most people follow this etiquette.
In the Northern Territory, residents can enjoy a unique respite from the heat.
“As the waters are croc infested, residents can cool down by using free water slides,” said Jane M, originally from England. Leanyer Recreation Park in Darwin is just one example, with three large water slides (including a 124m-long raft ride) and a water playground and pool – all completely free.
Having an abundance of mineral springs, Slovakia offers something that most countries require reparation for, mineral water.
“Every region has a number of mineral water sources that are open to the public and free to drink,” said Juraj Spisak, who currently lives in Brussels. “Mineral springs in Slovakia each have a particular taste. Some are more sulphuric, others are rich in manganese or iron.”
While it’s still possible to buy water in shops, it’s common for residents to refill their own bottles at the local springs.
In this Scandinavian country is strict with its conservation of its natural habitat with very specific laws keep nature – and the enjoyment of it – free for all.
“We have a set of laws known as the ‘Freedom to roam’, or actually in a more literal translation as ‘Everyman’s right’,” said Eivind Kjørstad.
These allow residents to have free movement on roads, rivers and lakes; to forage for berries, mushrooms and wildflowers; and to camp overnight – as long as its 150m from the nearest building.
“We divide land into ‘innmark’ and ‘utmark’, which literally translates to ‘infield’ and ‘outfield’,” explained Kjørstad. “The distinction is that ‘innmark’ is cultivated and actively used land such as gardens, fields, parks and roads. ‘Utmark’ is everything else; mountains, forests, moorland, tundra, swamps, beaches, lakes and rivers.”
The nature laws apply to anyone anywhere in the utmark, even if the land is privately owned.
This feature’s source came from BBC.