Culture Lost, Western Pants Found.
What is culture?
“customs and beliefs, art, way of life and social organization of a particular country or group European/Islamic/African/American, etc. ” culture working-class culture Oxford Collocations Dictionary.
My not so great expectations
I think my expectations were a tad bit off when it came to Asia. I really thought people were dressed in traditional clothes, living in thatched houses, and working in rice fields behind oxen.
Yes, yes, yes I know, very stereotypical. In my defense, most of my knowledge and expectations came from Hollywood or reading about the ancient history of Asia.
I underlined ancient to emphasize my naiveness.
The truth of the matter
What I found was completely different and what I really should have expected. No worries, the reality slapped me upside the head and knocked out all my preconceived notions.
I laugh at myself writing this. Oxen! Really!
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They were most definitely not in Geisha’s dress. Unless you count the westerners in rented costumes or couples getting married.
What I did find was restrained, orderly, controlled and super clean beast. The subways smelled good! No odor of urine or grease. They could teach Mr. Clean a thing or two.
The older generation can make you feel very small with a sideways glance. No words needed, they reek of disapproval.
I learned quickly, tank tops and flip flops fly in Florida but not Japan.
Seoul, South Korea
My only real experience with Seoul was from the TV show MASH. I really wasn’t sure what I was going to see. I’d heard awful rumors about people eating dogs. I think I pictured some modern and ancient cultures mixed together.
Completely not the case!What I got was a well-ordered city, with really bad traffic jams, coffee shops, and restaurants abound and a super clean, easy subway system to use.
Did I mention they love high-end clothing and look like Fashion Plates off the runway? If anything, I was the bumbling, country bumpkin out of my element!
I saw no evidence of dog eating.
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I had no expectations about the Philippines. I really hadn’t heard or thought about it much. The few times I talked to my Philippine friends, they informed me I would love it. Their country was beautiful but to skip Manila.
I was terribly shocked at the poverty! People are living in ramshackle buildings. Sometimes wood and thatch roofing or leftover metal. In Coron, houses are built over the water on stilts. Trash and waste are dumped in the ocean.
Did I mention the mangy looking rats? The homeless dogs and cats are eye-opening. Many people don’t believe in fixing their animals. Coron just doesn’t have access to a vet.
Not everyone lives poorly. There are those with some money and the middle class. It’s very cheap to go there for western people. Probably why you see so many ex-pats.
I don’t think there’s a specific culture left in the Philippines. Does hospitality and amazing kindness count? The Philippines has had many influencers; Spanish, American, and British I believe.
The biggest draw is the people themselves. They are incredibly kind and thoughtful. A ready smile and willing to help any way they can.
Indonesia is simply huge!Each island has its own flavor and a different feel to it. Mostly, it’s Westernized. No one can escape the McDonald’s, KFC or Pizza Hut it seems.
I didn’t stay in Bali but I was told that it was very touristy. That the culture was for the tourists, as in traditional dress and music. I get the feeling it’s like Hawaii. Hula skirts and luau are for the foreigners.
Nusa Lembongan was different. Hindu religion was alive and well. I witnessed a play or performance of a dance between dragons. Probably the most interesting thing I’ve witnessed recently.
Borobudur, Java, was amazing but the Buddhists are long gone and the traditions went with them. The same goes for Prambanan and the Hindus.
It’s still beautiful and interesting to see.
The old man at Borobudur Indonesia
What I thought I would get
I learned a lot of things on this journey. The biggest thing that I learned; we might be different but we’re all the same. Our needs are all the same. We all want food, shelter, love, happiness and most of all acceptance.