Saturday, May 26, 2012

Observations from the other side

I felt like the mere act of crossing a street in Asian deserved it's own blog post.  Because it's really, by far, the most dangerous thing you can do here.

For instance:

Taiwan:   Pedestrians Have Right of  Way.  The first thing you notice in Taiwan are people on scooters.  And, very quickly you learn that they go first, then the pedestrians go at their own risk.  This is not a point up for debate.   So when I saw the sign to right, I thought, "Is this some kind of a joke?"  Now I know that I am usually the last person people call to watch their kids but even I wouldn't attempt to try and take the right of way with a young child (as shown) through the streets of Taiwan.

Hong Kong:  Although everything I did in Hong Kong scared the shit out of me, I think that Hong Kong is a highly advanced city and therefore all forms of transportation are fairly safe.  With that said, driving on the left side of the road, where on one side you are avoiding traffic and on the other side, there is a shear cliff is inappropraite (see scary clift shot from said bus window).  Also double decker buses should not be moving at 60 kpm.  But, I guess even "SLOW" in two languages is relative in Hong Kong.

Vietnam:  Ummm...I am not sure to go with this one.  See below.  There are at least seven motobikes and a car or two in the cross walk.  And, for some reason, the Vietnamese decided stop lights were a bad investment, so the crosswalks in Saigon always like this.  Now at some point, you have to cross a street to get to where you want to go.

So this is what you do:

1. You man up.  This is actually very difficult to do but it's the first step to success.
2. You only look ahead.  Looking both ways will only freak you out because there is always oncoming traffic.
3. You move at one speed.  Never speed up or slow down.  It will only confuse oncoming traffic.
4. Once you make it to the other side mentally prepare to cross the next street.

Same Same but Different

Same, same but different is a phrase often used in Thailand, Vietnam and other parts of Southern Asian.  It is used when either you or a local are trying to explain what something is by comparing it to something similar and familiar to you--so your point of reference is essentially same same but different.

For instance, as taken from the Urban Dictionary:

Q "Is this a real rolex?" 
A " Yes Sir, same same but different"

Meaning you are comparing two watches (both the same type of thing) but a real Rolex and a knockoff are obviously very different.

In my case, I took the bus/ferry both to the island and from the island of Phu Quoc.  Both were the same trip, but also very different.

It all started when a van taking me, two guys from Russia, and a couple from France to the ferry terminal on the other side of the island ran into a little snag.  As we started our journey across the island, this guy on a little motorcycle rides up along our van and yells at the driver to stop.  Apparently, the two Russian guys had rented this guy's bike the day before an had brought it back damaged.  So the van stops, the Russian fight with the guy over the damage to his bike and as time is ticking away, one of the guys manning the van says, "We have motorcycle take you to terminal," obviously while they sort this out.  And, that is where I start to give them the crazy lady deal.  I was like, "No.  I paid for a van.  I am not getting out and riding a motorcycle across the island.  Take me to my ferry."  This goes on for about five minutes and the guys manning the van finally concede and start the van up.  

The ferry that took me back to the mainland wasn't nearly as fancy as the one that brought me there, and it smelled like fish, but I did get to catch the Jackie Chan/Jet Li movie, Forbidden Kingdom.  Much of me wished that the movie had been in Chinese instead of English and that the Vietnamese release was Chinese dubbed in Vietnamese so that it looked like Chan and Li have a good case of Tourettes.