This has been floating around the internet for the past couple of days, so I figured I would share it here for those who hadn’t seen it:
One of the things I love about traveling around the Pacific, and in particular what struck me when I was in Bali two months ago, is how different (Southeast) Asian cultures can be from that of the U.S. Like paying attention to detail for details own sake. Like treating everyone — including strangers — like family.
This latter point was particularly significant to me in Bali because I realized how much repressed cynicism I have (from living in the U.S.). There’s something about a collectivist culture that weeds out that cynicism. If people genuinely care about the collective (i.e. the society as a being in aggregate rather than a heterogenous sum of individuals), then their interests are much more aligned with yours and as a result, they are less likely to take advantage of you.
Of course, the opposite extreme of total cynicism — total naïveté — is equally impractical, but maybe in traveling I can find a better middle ground.