Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ethnocentrism, sadly it's everywhere

Dressed Up For the New Year

Just An Ordinary Tuesday Night

Masks and Scooter Traffic--'ya gotta take a look. It will be a long time before any city in Viet Nam earns the status of being a bike friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists. Not sure that this video is a direct link to ethnocentrism, but it is signature Viet Nam.

Next on the agenda would be a metric century from Nah Trang to Buon Ma Thout, about half-way to Da Lat. Our two days to Da Lat would take us into Central Highlands, home to most all of the 53 other minority ethnic groups or hill tribes. There are 54 ethnic groups in Viet Nam altogether; the majority one being the Viet people. Some of the larger groups include: the Ede, H'mong, and Jari. All the tribes know the Viet language, but each has its own dialect that's not understood by the other. Relationships and politics are not always smooth or accepting between the Viets and the 53 others.

Seems that the obsession with skin complexion is linked to ethnic relationships, too. Hill tribes can be darker skinned, maybe genes, maybe working out in the rice fields. The Viets, especially the females, seek a lighter complexion by covering up with masks and head gear seemingly as confining to us as Muslim burkas but purely voluntary in order to less likely be confused as being one of the minority tribes and/or a field worker/farmer.

We left Nah Trang at 7:00 a.m. and by 7:30 we were in a market throng of ducks strung up by their legs hanging off either side of a scooter quacking all the way; along side the road, waiting for sale were the most unhealthy looking chickens and ducks you could imagine having lost most of their feathers, their feet tied together so as not to escape sale and an earlier death; and of course fruits and vegetables, and coffee, coffee, coffee.

Vietnam is one of, if not the largest exporters of coffee in the world. Vietnamese love their coffee as much as Americans love their beer on Super Bowl Sunday.

Beware, though, Vietnamese drink their coffee without cream/milk, without sugar and as thick as room temperature molasses. It almost has a chocolate flavor, naturally though, no additive. Kinda reminds you of Turkish coffee.

While on the subject of vices and comforts, 80% of the Vietnamese men smoke, only 5% of the Vietnamese women smoke. Wrapping up our stay now in Cambodia we asked our guide if they, the Cambodians, smoke similarly to the Vietnamese. Interestingly, au contraire. Only about 30% of the Cambodians smoke, and even fewer women smoke than in Vietnam where the female percentage is only at about 5%. Seems that smoking in Cambodia is associated with gang affiliation, not a desirable affiliation for those so committed to advancing themselves personally, professionally, economically, and in all other ways since Pol Pot summarily annihilated virtually 20% of the Cambodian population in the late 70's early 80's.

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