Sunday, July 24, 2011

Same, same, but totally different - Thailand and Vietnam

Thailand and Vietnam have some things in common...they're both in Asia (obviously) and over time, have been home to some of the same ethnic tribes. And, each have given and taken from the Mon Khmer language in years gone by. But they are very different.

After having been in Thailand now for 9 months, I guess one tends to notice, well, odd, trivial or smaller differences when travelling to another country.

In Vietnam you might find....
'Men and Women's Shampoo' may not actually mean Men and Women's Shampoo - I wish I had a photo of the seven or so young beautiful women, all dressed in the same sexy outfits and all squished onto a 4 seater sofa in the shop front windows. 
Buddha's been replaced in many cases with Quan Âm, the Goddess of Mercy.

Thousands of ankle high plastic stools
A white line in the centre of the footpath - depending on which town/city you're in and if the sidewalk is wide enough, motorbikes get one side and pedestrians, the other. Otherwise it's open slather.
That you think you can pronounce the words
Some of the car horns sound a lot like the 6 Million Dollar Man in slow motion
It now costs around the same as Thailand

A lot more...

Bread - real bread and baguettes, without sugar! Yay.
Red meat - more meat period. Frog, beef, goat, name it
Long pointed fingernails - on the fellas. Too many theories to speculate about
Bare shoulders - contradictory to the extreme measures taken to stay out of the sun
Boobs - they're bigger, and a big thank you to Stray for noticing
Zeros - the Vietnamese Dong is incredibly over naughted (1 000 000 VND was worth approx. AU$50 or less)
Scooters and motorcycles - no precise figures but it's estimated that there is one bike per 4.5 people and growing. Population, pushing 90 million. Videos on Cooee.
Horn honking - it's the Vietnamese way of saying 'Excuse me, I'm coming through"
Ponytail helmets - not helmets with fake ponytails attached, but helmets with a hole for your own ponytail. And, darn it, I didn't get a photo, but our lovely friend Thanh emailed me this.

Shouting - not angry shouting, just people raising their voices naturally or calling out
People walking

A lot less...

7-11s - none that we saw, but they do have their own version, US based Circle K's popping up all over town. Nice to see they display the staff photos and rosters for your viewing pleasure. Stalking made easy! 
Monks And Temples

Squat Toilets - Joy!
Chilli And Sugar

Soi Dogs - hardly any. Double joy!
Spirit houses or hallowed taxi dashboards - but you will see shrines and ancestral alters inside homes and buildings
Smiles - no surprise there, after all, Thailand is the smiliest place in the world.
Bike mirrors - Most seem to be sold without them...I suppose they're likely to get knocked off anyway and makes it easier to ride through narrow spaces. And, lets face it, like in Thailand, if you're in front you don't have to look behind anyway.

That there aren't any...

Ladyboys - they're well and truly in the closet, wherever they are.

That you'll have the time of your life...
About to pig out, yet again.
Spectacular Ha long Bay
I must say it brought a grin to my face when we arrived back in Bangkok airport, to see a hefty young Thai guy dressed in snug fitting pencil jeans, virtually skipping, frantically across the floor, waving and yelling a dramatic (female's hello) "Sawadee khaaaaaa, sawadee khaaaaaa".

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai


Colin said... Best Blogger Tips

Great post of the differences you noticed, I've never been but your recent posts are making me really want to get there soon

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

Colin, I think Thailand makes a great base for visiting surrounding countries and Vietnam is somewhere you really do have to experience.

Catherine said... Best Blogger Tips

Did you find out why the Goddess of Mercy and not Buddha? Is it because their relationship to China? Or has Thailand made more of a concerted effort to be Buddhist?

There are a lot of Chinese Thais here - you can see the Goddess of Mercy in their temples as well as where Buddha is found. No surprise, there are many of gods represented in Thailand.

When I first saw the Goddess of Mercy, I thought she was the Virgin Mary.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Catherine I feel a little ashamed, at first I thought Buddha had had 'work' done. Even when I asked a local, is this a statue of Buddha? they answered yes...language barriers!!!!!

You'd be forgiven thinking that she is the Virgin Mary, because she's sometimes holding her adopted son and her pose can be very similar.

Quan Âm AKA Avalokitesvara, stems from Mahayana Buddhism, preceding the influences of Taoism and Confucianism, which is based on 'The Vehicle' unlike Thailand. She's a symbol of purity and the feminine incarnation of a highly regarded Bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism.

But that doesn't answer your question...I'll keep digging.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@Snap Catherine, FYI.

Avalokitasvara, the male version of Guanyin - "Some syncretic Buddhist and Christian observers have commented on the similarity between Guanyin and Mary of Christianity, the mother of Jesus Christ. This can be attributed to the representation of Guanyin holding a child in Chinese art and sculpture; it is believed that Guanyin is the patron saint of mothers and grants parents filial children.

According to Mahāyāna doctrine, Avalokiteśvara is the bodhisattva who has made a great vow to assist sentient beings in times of difficulty, and to postpone his own Buddhahood until he has assisted every being on Earth in achieving Nirvāṇa" - Wiki

No wonder he/she is so prevalent...OK, coffee time now ;)