Thai and Vietnamese – same, same?

For most people in Europe it is very difficult to discern a Chinese from a Korean, or a Vietnamese from a Thai and so on. Somehow they all seem to look the same. And, of course, people know even less about the “inner” differences between these Asians. This is, of course, completely normal. As European people all look the same for Asians 🙂

The more time you spend in Asia and the closer you get to the people there the more you understand their cultural and attitude differences and their obviously different looks 🙂

I find there is a huge difference between Thai and (especially Northern) Vietnamese people.

Over time Vietnamese have been described as the Prussians of Asia. Disciplined, hard-working people. Undemanding and tough. The family above all. And respect for the ancestors. I like them for that. The Vietnamese expression “tren chan, duoi nem” (a blanket on top, a mattress below) describes the feeling of prosperity and luck. When you consider what they have suffered from the Americans alone. More bombs have been dropped on Vietnam than have been used during the whole world war! There is still more than a million people, born handicapped in consequence of the “agent orange” bombs the Americans have been dropping to defoliate the jungles and the forests. And how they survived and even won that war! I am tempted to look at them as the toughest people on the planet.

The Thai on the other hand “are soft, superficial, mentally lazy, timid and gay.” That was an observation from Jean-Baptiste Pallegoix in his “Description du Royaume Thai” from 1854 when he was the main Christian missionary in Thailand (and a friend of the then king). They are indeed witty and intelligent and I have yet to meet a Thai who overworked himself 🙂

It’s a little bit like the Thais are in a constant holiday mood and the Vietnamese are the serious ones, most of the time worrying about something. I am not saying one or the other is better, just observing.

Fortunately, I feel well in both countries. Varietas delectat 🙂




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