Same Same But Different


From Urban Dictionary, “same same but different” is a phrase used a lot in Thailand, like in an attempt to sell something but it can mean just about anything depending on what the user is trying to achieve. Example:

Q: “Is this a real rolex?”
A: ” Yes Sir, same same but different.

His point? It seems similar but different in some ways. I’ve heard this expression in Thailand, which stretched ’til Cambodia and Vietnam where we saw this shirt.
I just can’t get over these playful words. I know in some ways, after our whole trip, I’m same same but different. I came back still the same person but somehow now having different perspectives, thoughts and behavior.
I’m still the same traveler who loves to go to a lot of places and take numerous photos but I’m now the type who would like to immerse further in the environment I’m in. Our 14 days definitely was not enough for immersion. People said that 14 days for 4 countries IS a crazy idea (unless we liked sitting on buses and trains), but I say, hey, no regrets! Our strategy then was to take in as many places as possible and enjoy each place while we can given our tight schedule. Next time I travel, I just don’t want bragging rights on Facebook with my travel photos, I’d like to know and tell MORE fascinating stories about the local people, the places, and the culture. I want to be absorbed by staying longer in one place, immersing, having meaningful conversations, deep thoughts (and perhaps by doing solo travel… but that one, I haven’t gathered enough courage–yet!). So yeah, I guess I’m same same but different.
I’m still the same finicky person that you know, but my tolerance and patience really grew stronger after our trip. As a business traveler in my line of work (I train people in different parts of the country), I tend to be picky about the places I’m staying in. But outside work travel, I’m the tried and tested cowboy. I love sleeping in business class hotels but I can also sleep in shabby guesthouses. From bathing in infinity pools and clean bathrooms, I can take a shower in train stations. From dining in savory restaurants, I can gobble in hawker stalls. Yeah, I’m same same but different.
Normally in the Philippines, I don’t strike up a conversation with just anyone (unless really needed with a stranger). We tend to stick to our own cliques. But having experienced the backpacker lifestyle, I got to tear down those walls and just opened up and let loose. Everyone is friendly with everyone. If I used to shut myself off from the world during bus rides, I’m glad during our trip that we easily carried conversations with our seatmates, locals and backpackers alike. Same same but different.
I have a little separation anxiety with my BlackBerry, laptop, internet and admittedly I realized, TV. I’m not a flashpacker (one who travels with these gadgets) so I had to leave them behind. But after the trip, I realized that being away from it all can be liberating. I like the experience of the freedom from the daily routine, the freedom of not knowing the time or the day, forgetting your to-do lists and how my work desk looks like. It is disorienting. Yet it is liberating.
So how did our backpacking trip change me? I’m still same same but different.

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