Why make things complicated?

Travellers, even to neighbouring countries, are usually exposed to at least a few major cultural differences. The bigger the distance, the more of a difference.

Now, put yourself 8000 kilometers away from your hometown, to a different continent. Get the idea?

It is a different world.

The differences are many, but let's narrow it all down to one:

Things are done easily in Asia

I don't mean it is easy to do what you planned, or easy to live here. What I mean is that people worry much less, they don't plan 50 years ahead, they just do what they know and make a living. Even if life in most cases is poorer than in the Western world, locals are happier, more relaxed and looking forward to the future.

I have been thinking of the possible reasons.

Apparently, Buddhism is an important factor, but not only. After our extensive travel in Vietnam I came up with one conclusion, which is best ilustrated by the following example.

While in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), we decided to visit Cu Chi tunnels. It is a terrible place in general, but what attracted my attention was the shooting range that they have down there. It is an fenced area with targets in one end and guns in another. Now, I am not a gun expert, but most of them looked big and serious, with real bullets loaded. According to the descriptions, they had AK-47 Kalashnikov, M1 Garand rifle, M60 Machine gun, a few shotguns and carbines.


M60 machinegun in Cu Chi tunnels shooting range, Vietnam

M60 machinegun in Cu Chi tunnels shooting range, Vietnam


The shooting range was 10 meters away from the main souvenir shop, with children, women and men passing by.

(I am using it as an example, so I won't be discussing the ethical part of this activity)

Just looking at the fact, I am sure that in Europe this type of "entertainment" would require huge piles of papers, projects of "safety and security", signatures of participants, kevlar vests, operational licences, daily inspectors' visits, limitation of access to the area to those that are not shooting and some 50 other issues.

But there, in that shooting range, you just come, pay for the bullets, take the gun in your hands and shoot. And nothing else. No "I will comply to the rules and release the owners from any kind of responsibility" signatures.


Machinegun shooter in Cu Chi tunnels shooting range, Vietnam

Machinegun shooter in Cu Chi tunnels shooting range, Vietnam


This is an extreme example, I know. But that's why it perfectly illustrates the idea behind:

if Asians want to start doing something, they just start. Without thinking long hours about the marketing plans and applying for 200 different "required" permissions from the government and local authorities.

Want to open up a shop? Just bring out the table into the street and put your wares on display.

Willing to have an internet cafe? Why not borrow two computers, put them in a hut and hang a sign "Internet and email".

Having worked some years in international business one tends to learn and understand a few things. Success does not really come from education, perfect planning, or acting by the book all the time. I believe what matters is personal relations, coincidences and simple things. Simple things.

We, Westerners, take everything too complicated with our "developed" rules and societies. But now it is too much. We have to go back a little. Could start by learning from Asia.


AK-47 "Kalashnikov" rifle guarded by the employee of the Cu Chi tunnels shooting range in Vietnam

AK-47 "Kalashnikov" rifle guarded by the employee of the Cu Chi tunnels shooting range in Vietnam


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This is so True!


Both me & my partner went to Vietnam only a Month ago & also went to to the Cu Chi tunnels. Marius your comments are so true, we both came back from our trip thinking how much simpler life was over there, No Structures, no rules or regulations, driving on the right side of the road! they just drive anywhere! 

You would cross a road and have 50 scoters coming towards you & they just drive around you, you see a scooter with 5 people on it's normal! Risk assessments & regulations what's that . You speak to lthe ocal people they crave what us westerners have, you think to yourself 'If only you knew' , tax for this & tax for that you will have to pay to walk on the road soon.

As soon as we were home we knew it, back to structured old Britain!

We came back really feeling that we had got so much from this trip, & feel enlightened by our experience, ASIA as a whole a fantastic place on earth & we both felt very fortunate to have gone there and to have had the experiences we did.

Another thing, I really thought there are alot of dam selfish devils in the western world!



Marius's picture

structured vs. organic

Yes, seeing a culture so different, teaches a little bit more of tolerance, makes you value what you have (safe driving, huh?), but also shows that things can be done in a quite different way, and not necessarily less effective, or less right.

Would be great to have a place on Earth with the best from both worlds.

Marius's picture


I agree on a general level, but there are so many "parameters", "options" and variations of each cultural aspect, that the differences are still plenty

So let us assume, that more

So let us assume, that more you travel from home, more is the cultural divergence. Though if technological and economical level of two societies is similar, the divergence is not so strong.