Internet cafe. Hue, Vietnam. 2007

A comment left on the previous post, by William from the blog cafe selavy got me thinking how the world is becoming more homogenised and less diverse.  

Internet cafe in Hue, Vietnam

I basically agree with what William had to say and that’s one of the reasons why I went to Vietnam last year.  A few of my friends had been there and said that I should go very soon, because it was changing so quickly.  When I did visit Vietnam, I certainly felt that it was a society in transition, as it hurtled forward into the future as its economy grows.

One of the main reasons why I’ve travelled is because I’ve wanted to see different ways of being. After years and years of travelling, I’ve come to the conclusion that although most of the world can look a bit different, it is all basically the same.  Everywhere I have been, I have found that most people have a very similar moral code to myself.  Incest is taboo everywhere.  No one anywhere likes a thief or a liar.  Most people just about anywhere in the world will also do the right thing if given the choice, and they do not have some desperate need.

Years ago I was talking to a wise, old friend of mine Ed Arteaga, about travel.  I was telling Ed that I thought that he should travel some more, because I thought it was good for one’s intellectual growth (not that he really needed it as he is far smarter and wiser than me).  Ed just countered my suggestion by saying, “travelling is just changing the scenery”.  I can remember at the time when he said that, thinking to myself, that’s quite heretical!  Now that I am older, and I’d like to think wiser, I feel I understand what he was trying to say.  The mental architecture that we carry around in our heads, informs the way how we decode the world around us.  Basically, we project our own world view onto the world itself.

Recently I heard that up in Queensland, some primary schools have started to teach philosophy to young children.  Just think what a better world it would be if people were taught how to think.  Every now and again, the country I live in surprises me with how forward-thinking it can be.

8 thoughts on “Internet cafe. Hue, Vietnam. 2007”

  1. I haven’t travelled nearly enough.

    When I went to Iceland on my honeymoon, I turned to my wife and said “I’ve wasted my life”.

    I have alot of catchup to do.

  2. Iceland is a place I’ve always wanted to go to ever since I got into reading the Icelandic sagas in a big way.

    I’ve heard that it’s a ruggedly beautiful place.

  3. In some ways, I’m with your friend who says traveling is changing scenery (I’ll leave the “just” part out). If there were no people in the places I went, I would still go just (oops) to change scenery. I get feelings from places. The High Sierras thrill me. The Spine of the Andes. The coastline of Maine. There are different shapes and smells and sounds and I am too much of a sensualist and a romantic not to be effected by them. Add people to the mix. If the shapes and colors and smells of the way they live are different than mine, again, I’m too much of a sensualist and romantic. . . . The way cultures adapted and evolved in isolation or with minimum contact with other areas evidences the richness of human spirit. Someone said, “First we make the environment, then the environment makes us.” Almost everywhere is becoming like somewhere else. It is natural, I assume, as travel and communications fuse cultures.

    Razz, have you been to New Guinea, back into the mountains? I haven’t, but I hear even that most isolated place “Under the Mountain Wall” is being inundated. I am trying to live in the world rather than holding onto the past, but bringing the past into the present doesn’t seem so bad. I hate nostalgia but I love anthropology. You seem to do a pretty good job of staying away from the maudlin.

    I am going to NYC this afternoon. Tomorrow, I want to go to Coney Island. All of that will be gone at the end of the summer.

  4. I haven’t been to PNG and one of the reasons is because its so expensive to go there. Although PNG is close to Australia, it costs as much to fly there as it does to Europe. Another reason why I haven’t gone is because I’m married now and I wouldn’t want to expose my wife to the lawlessness that is going on in PNG at the moment.

    I’ve met a few people who have either been born in or lived most of their lives in PNG and talking to them is like talking to South Africans. They all have very full on horror stories about what goes on up there. A guy I met (ethic Chinese but born in PNG) said that everyone he knows carries a gun for protection. He also said that he’d shot and wounded a mugger once and his wife has shot dead two robbers on two different occaisions when her hairdressing salon was stuck-up. His wife is Thai and there is a moral there: “Don’t fuck with the Thais!”

    When I was younger and way stupider, I might’ve found such things attractive. I’ve already put myself in danger before (a few times) and nearly been killed (see the story about when I went to the battle front in Cambodia).

    http://blog.allthedumbthings.com/2008/04/09/teenage-tourist-in-a-war-zone-part-3-at-the-battlefront-near-phnom-penh-cambodia-1975/

    I think that any more of that sort risk taking will be seen as hubris in the eyes of the fates and that’ll be the end of me.

    Have fun at Coney Island.

  5. From what little I know for sure, PNG has always had inter-tribal warfare and a system of “pay-back” that still continues today. PNG is like a lot of post colonial countries in that it is an artificial construct that brings many previously waring groups together. I don’t think there is a real sense of belonging to anything up there other than one’s own tribe and this leads to a break down of law and order.

    Port Moresby attracts a lot of people looking for work that doesn’t exist and that of course also leads to crime. There are gangs of young men called “Raskols” that go around causing their own kind of mayhem of violence, rape and theft.

    There have been some great documentaries made about PNG and one of my favourites in “Black Harvest”.

    NZ is a totally different case. Culturally it’s quite similar to here in Australia. Just don’t tell that to a Kiwi and whatever you do, don’t bring up “the under-arm bowling” incident.

  6. I’ll definitely check out the doc.

    I love sport. I’ve tried my hand at many, and spend time watching many more. And cricket just baffles me. I’ll admit, I’ve never watched it with someone who could explain it properly, which may be leading to more confusion, but I just don’t get it. Looks like fun though.

  7. “And cricket just baffles me”

    And it bores the crap out of me.

    The Kiwis are sports mad and many of the men over there talk about nothing else.

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