Saturday, June 10, 2006

489: Cross-Cultural Cross-Section

I thought it might be useful to post about elements of culture that Thailand and America share but on which have radically different takes. They range from the absurd to the absurdly tragic, but are definitely interesting, and definitely accurate. I'm not making this up.

In both nations, auto manufactors like Ford, Toyota, and others are popular, but instead of the Explorer or Tundra, Thais drive the Everest and the Hilux. Also, the driver sits on the right of the car, as one drives on the left side of the road.

In both nations, tatoos are extremely popular. In America, this is done for several reasons, such as fashion or rebellion, but in Thailand, this is done for magical protection against spirits.

In Amercia, when one sees an ornate, multi-colored box on a piece of property, one assumes that it is a birdhouse, and that the owner is fond of the great outdoors. In Thailand, one can be certain that the box is a spirit house and that the owner is a typical Thai that blends animism with his Buddhism. At these spirit houses, daily offereings are made to the spirit of the property. These may come in the form of flowers, incense, food, drink (usually red Fanta), and figurines (servants and guards for the spirit).

In America, if one sees stone decorations in a neighbor's yard or at their gate/door, one simply assumes that their neighbor is fond of kithcy decorations. In Thailand, one can safely assume that the stone statues are spirit guardians for protection.

In Thailand, if you order buy Pepsi in a glass bottle and want to take it to go, it will be first poured into a plastic bag, since the bottles are recycled whole, and some of the ones I've seen apparantly have been in use for a decade.

Thai culture looks fairly similar but is radically different in its worldview. The people here live in binding fear of spirits and worries about life. Pray that Holy Spirit would work in their hearts.


At 1:52 PM , Blogger Em said...

Keep up the blogging, we enjoy it so much! Scott and I are praying for you daily.

At 6:08 PM , Blogger James said...

Hey man! Hows Thailand? I hope your having a great time and I am praying for ya!

At 6:10 PM , Blogger James said...

Hey man! Hows Thailand? I hope your having a great time! I am praying for ya!


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