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.
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.
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.