February 19th, 2007 – by: hyo
From the sweet Thai pop rock to the bitter sweet Chinese love ballads it all blasts continuously from the speakers wherever and whenever you go. The locals will reassure that each song you’ll hear is a different one, but how can you tell if it all sounds so similar. You can do as the locals do and sing along with it or you get to appreciate the local beers such as Tsing Tao in China, Tiger Beer in Vietnam, Angkor Beer in Cambodia, Beerlao in Laos and Singha Beer in Thailand. While you sip from your beer you think it’s the same local pop music, different beer to make it almost bearable.
Asia is home to some of the world’s finest cuisines such as the sumptuous Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. From the mouthwatering Chinese specialties as the tantalizing Beijing duck to the famed Pad Thai you can get it in every restaurant, from the food stall just around the corner to the high society restaurants. If you have to believe the menu’s in all of these restaurants you must think that the Banana pancake is the specialty in Asia as it is on all menu’s: same food, different restaurant.
I admit I have my photo’s of monks at the Jokhur temple (Tibet), monks at Angkor Wat (Cambodia), monks at one of the many temples in Luang Prabang (Laos) and even monks at the temples in Chiang Mai (Thailand). Most temples are still inhabited by monks in either dark red, bright orange, dull gray or nature brown robes. The monks have different names for the temples, in Cambodia they’re not temples but Wat’s in Laos and Thailand they’re not temples but Vat’s and in China and Vietnam temples are just temples. How they’ll call a temple doesn’t matter as once you’ll seen a few you’ll most likely have seen them all, unless you have a temple fetish. Me, I think it’s the same temple, different monks.
They are sold throughout Asia and pretty much the rest of the world; Chinese pirated items and mass produced souvenir items. The latest bootleg DVD movies, fake Northface backpacks, the Rolex watches, silk pashimas and the t-shirts with the funny prints on it. Go to the food section and you can buy pet animals you can eat, insects and other out of this world things you can eat but most likely won’t. Whether you go to one of the famed local nightmarkets, weekend markets or open every day 24hrs markets you’ll soon realize it’s the same stuff, different market.
In China they use to say: “I lose money”, the Thai always mention “Up to you”, the Laos they don’t say too much as this will tire them and the Vietnamese like to say “Same same” when they don’t have the item you want but want you to sell another item that isn’t remotely the same. However when you give 10.000 Vietnamese Dong (VND) in stead of 50.000 VND and explain money is money so it’s the same, they get upset and the saying “Same same” doesn’t apply anymore. Yup it’s the same hard bargaining, different key phrases.
And then there’re always the ever present hot sellers. You don’t have to look for them as they will easily find you. No matter where you are, they are always relentless and never ever tire of trying to sell you something. Most of the time you’ll shrug and continue what you were doing but there are some times when it gets to you. The built up irritation of all the times when things weren’t going exactly your way is all unleashed on a single poor little Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Loas or Thai girl. And while you’ll lose face and walk alway you shout to everyone who wants to hear: ”Same shit, different country”