Culture Shock :: Laos

27 02 2009

Laos is the most laid back, easy going culture that we’ve been to yet. The people are typically very friendly and the pace of life, even in the capital city, Vientiane, is almost sluggish. This has been a great country in which to wind down after the chaos of Vietnam. The culture here, although not very shocking or in you face, is probably the most different from our Western way of life. The difference is difficult to explain. It’s actually easier to explain relative to Laos’ neighbors. Thailand is shocking, but rather western because of their own efforts to modernize. Cambodia has a country wide case of amnesia (for good reason) and it appeared to us that their main goal is to act as western as they can. In Vietnam they have so much western influence from being colonized by the French that some parts of it almost seemed European. Laos had the French influence as well, but didn’t get the money that came with it. They retained much of their Buddhist culture and peaceful way of life. Though the country wasn’t as shocking as it was a pleasant surprise, there are a few things we thought were worth mentioning. Read the rest of this entry »


Culture Shock :: Vietnam

29 01 2009

After traveling in the ultra-culture-shock land of Cambodia, Vietnam has been relatively normal by comparison. Or at least a bit more normal for a western traveler. The Vietnamese culture, food, and architecture seem to have been pretty heavily influenced by the French colonization and even their “Communism” is close to invisible to the tourist. Generally, visiting Vietnam feels like being in a strange post-Communist, European-Asian fusion country with a massive population and millions of motos zooming around the streets.

As normal as it may seem though, there are at least a few cultural shockers that are worth noting… Read the rest of this entry »

Culture Shock :: Cambodia

2 01 2009

Remember when I said that in Thailand everything was different? Well scratch that. I was wrong. We’ve now been to Cambodia. During our month here I’ve come up with many metaphors and stories that could help you understand what it’s like in this country, but in the end I don’t feel right using any of them, because the more I learn about Cambodia, the more I realize I’ll never understand it. Thailand is as familiar as Europe compared to the land of the Khmer people.

Below are some of the quirky things we’ve noticed. If you want to get a deeper knowledge of Cambodia, you’ll have to read some books and visit the country, because they’re still figuring it out themselves. Read the rest of this entry »

Culture Shock :: Thailand :: Part 3

5 12 2008

Some more fun observations from our travels in the land of smiles… Read the rest of this entry »

Culture Shock :: Thailand

17 10 2008

So we’ve finally arrived in the country that inspired our grand adventure, and yes, it is all that we hoped for. When we left the comforts of our home we went out searching for something different, something shocking. Starting in Eastern Europe was like dipping our toes into the pool of culture shock, and once we felt how pleasant the water was, we decided to jump in and get our hair wet. We’re quite thankful for the slow initiation into this completely different way of life. For now we can no longer blend in with the locals, we can’t squint at our surroundings and imagine we’re still at home, but now, finally, we no longer feel the need to do so. A different way of life is all around us and not only are we not scared, but we’re dunking each other in the water and splashing about like children playing in a Holiday Inn swimming pool. We’re finally ready for something this dramatic. The culture shock is everywhere, it’s everything, and we can only hope to skim the surface with the following obsevations.

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Culture Shock :: Brussels

28 09 2008

Having spent only seven days in a city that definitely deserves more attention, we can’t say that we really got to know the city. In fact, we barely even brushed the surface because two or three days of our time in Belgium were spent on day trips to other cities. However, there were at least two cultural differences that didn’t need a lot of time to rise to the surface, and we would like to share those with you now.

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Culture Shock :: Poland

28 08 2008

The Polish culture hasn’t really been all that difficult to get used to. Which may be why we’ve stayed here for almost two months now. However, there are always going to be some things that stand out at as a little different. Maybe not better, maybe not worse… just different. Here are a few: Read the rest of this entry »