Cultural discussions often center around the differences, but, of course, there are similarities as well. After all, Thai people don’t say “Same, same, but different” for nothing.
This post by fellow blogger Russell Ward got me thinking about the similarities between Thai and American culture. Interesting, the ones that immediately came to mind seem to resonate with the theme of “vices.” Go figure.
- Shopping. Americans and Thais love to shop til they drop. The evidence? Gigantic malls designed to feel like you’re someplace else, like Terminal 21 in Bangkok (Istanbul, Paris, Rome anyone?), or this mall in Ohio, built to resemble a quaint New England town.
- Snacking. Thais have their street food, from fish balls, noodles and sausages on a stick to tropical fruit and coconut ice cream topped with sweet corn, served in a bun. Americans have their potato chips and dip, their nachos and chicken wings, their hot dogs and . . . the list goes on and on.
- Red Bull. Many don’t know that Red Bull had it origins in Thailand. This syrupy jolt of sugar and caffeine started out in Thailand as Krating Daeng, a drink that helped farmers and the laboring class work past their fatigue (hence the bull icon, which appealed to farm laborers). A Thai businessman, seeing the opportunity to go “inter,” teamed up with a Bangkok-based Austrian, and launched the brand that Americans later adopted as their go-to drink for non-stop raves, clubbing and parties.
- Gambling. Vegas anyone? Americans have their outposts in Nevada and Atlantic City, Thais have . . . Macau? Considering this island is a four-hour flight from Bangkok, I’m sure plenty of Thais are vacationing there, though I don’t have official numbers. Hopping a flight from Bangkok to Macau is akin to a Midwesterner jetting to Vegas. But for the most part, gambling in Thailand takes place on street corners, in bars and in living rooms across the country—and in various forms, from football bets (that’s soccer to you Americans) to informal dice games. The fact that the state lottery and betting on horse racing and muay thai are the only legal forms of gambling doesn’t deter millions of Thais from a little well-deserved sanuk.
Have you noticed any similarities across cultures?