Same, Same, but Different

How travel shows us the similarities in the world

There are thousands of quotes about why people travel.

This man is the village doctor in a small mountain village in Myanmar outside Kalaw. He proudly told us his village is large with over 150 households.

“Not all those who wander are lost” — JRR Tolkein

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” — Anonymous

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” — Anonymous

“Traveling — it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” — Ibn Battuta

However, my favorite quote I’ve heard while traveling is

“Same, same, but different.”

My lifestyle is different than many. I’m a consultant so I travel somewhere almost every single week. I love airplanes which also makes me strange to some and in most cases, unusual. I also travel for fun and have tried to go somewhere of my choice once a month for the past year and a half.

My most recent trip brought me to Myanmar. On a trek through the fields to Inle Lake, my tour guide was explaining some girls we saw had a “same, same but different” trek. I was thrown back to Thailand where I also heard this quote and couldn’t help but smile as he explained the meaning of the phrase. They would have similar stops, but a different path.

I have found that “same, same, but different” applies to the world. In Myanmar, the locals I came to know (on the surface) had similar thoughts to people anywhere. Sanjay, our guide was getting ready to go to college. He likes Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift and sang Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” while we climbed. He would like to one day climb Everest and is hoping to teach English. He is the youngest of 4. All of these things could put him in 1,000s of places in the world…

Sanjay and Mary walking through the fields of Myanmar outside of Kalaw.

Same, same, but different.

The other thing that stuck out to me was the excitement amongst the people for a new leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. After decades of house arrest, she is finally in a position to institute some change and hope for her people. I was reminded of Obama’s first campaign and the Hope that surrounded it. Unfortunately, Aung San Suu Kyi is facing similar challenges that Obama has faced. Hopefully the same scene but different results will come her way.

When my older brother — who has always been one to reconnoiter for the rest of us siblings and report back — got home from a semester abroad in Spain, he said one of the most important things he had learned was that people are largely the same everywhere. At the time I looked at him with wonder and felt like I understood, but until I traveled extensively myself, I have only recently learned how much we really are…

I’ve watched teenagers in Yangon and Oslo awkwardly explore romance in a park, eaten dinner with my guide in Tanzania and heard about his business plans and his family, and watched Latvian men show off by cutting wood all day for the biggest fire imaginable before sitting around a campfire singing songs and telling stories for Ligo. While the scene and geography may change, the people often prove to have similar cores.

“Same, same but different”

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.