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Thai, Myanma, Cambodia & Laos Difference


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#1 世中豪杰

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 04:46 AM

Thailand, Myanma, Cambodia & Laos in terms of culture, customs, believes, spoken Language , written words, & traditional costumes seems to be so similiar to me. it is like almost the same to me. I cannot see the difference. Even for their People in terms of pure physical appearearence & feature is also about the same to me.


What is the difference exactly among these nations?
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#2 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 05:06 AM

They were of different ethnicities and languages. Even in Myanmar, there were hundreds of different tribe/races.
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#3 WangGeon

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 07:18 PM

Thailand, Myanma, Cambodia & Laos in terms of culture, customs, believes, spoken Language , written words, & traditional costumes seems to be so similiar to me. it is like almost the same to me. I cannot see the difference. Even for their People in terms of pure physical appearearence & feature is also about the same to me.


What is the difference exactly among these nations?


Likewise, we East Asians look "all the same" to many Europeans.

Myanmar / Burma emerged from the unification of the various peoples local to that region. One of the most notable civilizations emerging from this was Bagan. Bagan culture was heavily Theravada and had a very large "slave" (kywan) population, who were more or less indentured servants to nobility or large monasteries. There was an interesting suggestion by a scholar that the kywan "slaves" were possibly not really "slaves" in the way that we think of them, but that a number of them "voluntarily" became kywan to avoid taxation, debt, or conscription.

"Thailand" emerged from the Tai peoples who migrated from the southernmost regions of present-day China. I think the Lanxang kingdom of Laos was also Tai... The Tai kingdoms were strong adherents of Theravada Buddhism. Thailand didn't really exist as a real unified entity until the domination of the region by the Ayutthaya kingdom and its successor. One of the most remarkable things about Ayutthaya up to modern Thailand is the relative cosmopolitanism; during the Ayutthaya era, there were Chinese physicians, Portuguese mercenaries (Portuguese influence is also visible in some Ayutthaya-era battle armor), Dutch merchants, Malay navigators, and Japanese sailors.

Cambodia was the ancient Kambujadesa, the Khmer empire. Khmer are a distinctly different people from Burmese and Tai. Historically, Khmer culture was heavily influenced by Brahmanic culture from India. It was later in Khmer history that Theravada Buddhism became the official state religion, but it was still the case even then that Khmer rulers held Sivaite Hindu rituals while officially backing Buddhism. This accounts for the noticeable Hindu features of Khmer architecture.

#4 世中豪杰

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 11:36 PM

actually speaking about Buddhism,

their version of Buddhism seems also very much different from other countries.
China has 2 Buddhism version one is the Shaolin version & the other is the Tibet version

then Buddhism in Korea , Japan, Vietnam, & Thai etc... all are also different with one another
even the Buddhism version also don't seem to be the same with the India Buddhism version.

there are much difference actually but just that i am not so in dept to it & don't really know of the difference in details.

Oh yah, back to main topic
i have a link here.
http://www.arunsawat...c=4520.msg34493

it is about the difference in their wording of Laotian & Thai which i still don't see any difference at all
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#5 Chanpuru

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 04:44 AM

I guess a better question would be, the amount of significant time spent observing these countries, cultures, people, etc.

its one thing to see pictures on the internet and occasionally see one or two, another thing to actually be immersed by it and come into frequent interaction.

its similar to how many non-Asians think all Asians look alike and are similar, yet Asians being able to pick apart each other
how Asians think all Europeans are similar, despite the French being able to discern another French from say a Russian.
or even within the Asia-Pacific, many East Asians unfamiliar with their southern neighbors, unable to tell the difference between say Melanesians, Micronesians, and Polynesians.

To answer your questions, linguistically Thai and Lao may be in the same family (and very similar to each other), but they are very different from Cambodian, and to some extent Myanmar. Myanmar is home to so many ethnicity that its hard to categorize it entirely as one group (same could be said about others, but Myanmar most of all is quite diverse out of the countries you listed). The large Shan minority in Myanmar speak a language close to Thai, but many other ethnic groups in Myanmar speak a language that's actually in the Sino-Tibetan family. Khmer, the main language spoken in Cambodia, is neither in the same family as Thai/Lao or the dominant language in Myanmar.

Looks can be tricky, not because they all look alike, but because I find many mainland SE Asians to be so diverse looking. Sometimes people unfamiliar with SEAsia, mistakenly assume that all SEAsians are dark skinned with big eyes, and that all light skinned wide eyed peoples are of Chinese descent, but this can often be not the case.
A Thai friend of mines, has almond eyes and very fair skin and straight black hair, she could probably pass as Chinese to some. She says she is 100% Thai. yet her brother looks totally opposite, large eyes, very dark skin. And yes they are the same family. Another contrasting example, I met these two Vietnamese brothers, one looked very Filipino with dark skin, wide nose and thick lips, and the other looked very Japanese with very wide slanted eyes, very white skin, and thin lips, and they shared the same parents.

Lately, I live in a dorm where there's several Cambodian doctorate students. there's these three students both of whom have distant Chinese descent maybe 3-4 generations down. One looks like a fair skinned Vietnamese, maybe even Hong Kong. The other looks what I would stereotypically assume is a typical Cambodian look.

Culture wise, I think theres a stronger overlap here. I am not sure but I've heard that Thais and Laos were strongly influenced by Khmer culture which may explain some of their influence. I don't know their scripts but I noticed Thai script looks narrower and lengthier than Lao or Cambodian script which seem to be shorter and space consuming.

#6 WangGeon

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 09:22 AM

China doesn't have 2 Buddhisms; it has A LOT. Historically, there were a great variety: Yogacara, Huayan, Tiantai, Chan, etc. Popular forms include Pure Land.

SE Asian Buddhism except for Vietnam's case is overwhelmingly Theravada. This is also the Buddhism of Sri Lanka. SE Asia was in more contact with the Indian subcontinent so this is unsurprising. At the local level, Buddhism in each region is markedly different because of adaptation to local folk religions. If you've read the Camadevivamsa, you'd immedeiately see aspects of folk religion and folk magic beliefs native to Lannathai/Chiang Mai.

Shaolin is not a religion; it's a monastery. Shaolin tmple was a major center of Chinese Chan (Zen) Buddhism.

As I said, Thailand as a unified entity was more rooted in the Ayutthaya period. Before the rise of Tai kingdoms, the Khmer Empire, Mon states, and Burmese had their hand in the region.

Edited by WangGeon, 27 May 2009 - 09:52 AM.


#7 One time poster

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 11:03 AM

"Thailand" emerged from the Tai peoples who migrated from the southernmost regions of present-day China. I think the Lanxang kingdom of Laos was also Tai... The Tai kingdoms were strong adherents of Theravada Buddhism. Thailand didn't really exist as a real unified entity until the domination of the region by the Ayutthaya kingdom and its successor. One of the most remarkable things about Ayutthaya up to modern Thailand is the relative cosmopolitanism; during the Ayutthaya era, there were Chinese physicians, Portuguese mercenaries (Portuguese influence is also visible in some Ayutthaya-era battle armor), Dutch merchants, Malay navigators, and Japanese sailors.


You forget the Japanese Samurai mercenaries and Greek politician among other exotic characters in the Thai court hehehe.

If you've read the Camadevivamsa, you'd immedeiately see aspects of folk religion and folk magic beliefs native to Lannathai/Chiang Mai.


That is true about almost all of the Tai related peoples. Go to Thailand and in many places you'll see a tiny little house built on a stand. It's a common sight in the region and it's for worshipping spirits.

#8 ~Hsin_Hpyu_Shin~

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Posted 03 June 2009 - 06:43 AM

Like CJK we have more similarities than differences but ( probably biased I know ) I think Myanmar is significantly different from the others culturally to stand on it's own : this is probably as a result of all three modern nations of laos , cambodia , thailand being the descendents culturally of Angkor which Myanmar isn't .


Anyone care to try this guessing game there is one Myanmar , Lao , Thai , Cambodian picture in the pics below :


Posted Image

Similar cloth / similar styles but which is which ?




Posted Image

Dances : which is which ?

#9 Juchechosunmanse

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Posted 03 June 2009 - 05:31 PM

Gosh I want the answers! Now!
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#10 sg_han

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Posted 03 June 2009 - 08:25 PM

Like CJK we have more similarities than differences but ( probably biased I know ) I think Myanmar is significantly different from the others culturally to stand on it's own : this is probably as a result of all three modern nations of laos , cambodia , thailand being the descendents culturally of Angkor which Myanmar isn't .


Anyone care to try this guessing game there is one Myanmar , Lao , Thai , Cambodian picture in the pics below :


Posted Image

Similar cloth / similar styles but which is which ?




Posted Image

Dances : which is which ?





A Cambodian
B Myanmar
C Thai
D Laos ...if it is not laos it has got to be cambodian



M Laotian
N Mynamar
O Thai
P Cambodia



Now give me the answer now!
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#11 lifezard

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Posted 03 June 2009 - 09:51 PM

my guess

A: burmese
B: cambodian

C and D should be either Thai or Lao (no doubt was influenced by the dress)


can't tell the dances thou
plain amateur, here to make mistakes, make a fool of ownself, and hopefully learn something in the process

#12 ~Hsin_Hpyu_Shin~

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Posted 04 June 2009 - 04:42 AM

Gosh I want the answers! Now!


you didn't even try to guess .. we must all look the same to you :)


A Cambodian
B Myanmar
C Thai
D Laos ...if it is not laos it has got to be cambodian


M Laotian
N Mynamar
O Thai
P Cambodia


Now give me the answer now!


Very good


my guess

A: burmese
B: cambodian

C and D should be either Thai or Lao (no doubt was influenced by the dress)


can't tell the dances thou



ANSWERS are


A Thai
B Myanmar
C Cambodian
D Lao


M Lao
N Myanmar
O Thai
P cambodian


( hint Myanmar usually wear longer robes eg long sleeves , shoulders covered , longer sarongs - I've noted from thai,lao and cambodians that it's more the detailing that sets them apart )


Try these wedding couples ; 2 of each

Posted Image

#13 sg_han

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Posted 04 June 2009 - 09:56 AM

Try these wedding couples ; 2 of each

Posted Image


E Cambodia
F Thai
G Cambodia
H guaranteed to be from Myanmar
I Laos
J Laos
K Thai
L Myanmar


This one is harder
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#14 galvatron prime

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Posted 04 June 2009 - 07:23 PM

you didn't even try to guess .. we must all look the same to you :)




Very good





ANSWERS are


A Thai
B Myanmar
C Cambodian
D Lao


M Lao
N Myanmar
O Thai
P cambodian


( hint Myanmar usually wear longer robes eg long sleeves , shoulders covered , longer sarongs - I've noted from thai,lao and cambodians that it's more the detailing that sets them apart )


Try these wedding couples ; 2 of each

Posted Image


G more like Malay or Khmer man marry Chinese girl.
Is K a Thai Chinese couples ?

#15 nee

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Posted 14 June 2009 - 12:04 AM

I guess a better question would be, the amount of significant time spent observing these countries, cultures, people, etc.

precisely; once you learn more and more about a certain people, you'll start to realize some of their more unique qualities. In my own experience, Koreans during my fith grade seemed no different than other Asians, but by now I can point out what are distinctively Korean features and what is not- experience enables you to know.

its similar to how many non-Asians think all Asians look alike and are similar, yet Asians being able to pick apart each other
how Asians think all Europeans are similar, despite the French being able to discern another French from say a Russian..

Ah, I remember in one of my classes my professor was discussing a term called "narccicism of small differences" which basically occurs when two seeminlgy similar groups of people are easily misindentifiable as each other, yet these two groups have considerably uniue features that they consider very unique if not exclusive.

As an example that my professor used, her British clasmates ocne remarked that Canadians seem to be little more than Americans that live up north, and as far as they're concerned can't ne distinguished from those living in the United States; my professor responded by sayng that Canadians are DEFINITELY not like AMericans, as we have the Queen and Prime Minister Parliament, Maple Syrup, "eh", etc. She then remarked to her friends that she can't tell a Welshman from a Scot, whereas her friends isntantly agasped and said "No way, there are a BILLION things to tell Welsh people from Scots!" That's essentially "narccicism of small differences".

To give a more Asian example, A Chinese person may consider Korean or Japanese languages to be as equally strange and cannot figure out whether one person is speaking Korean or Japanese, ditto to the other person. The Koreans would respond with "Oh dear no, Korean uses an alphabet writing system, certian ways of speech are not found at all in Japanese" and the Japanese would remark "Indeed, and Japanese have THREE writing forms!" In short, Narcissism of smal differences" is when two or more groups of people seem almsot te same to outsiders, yet to them, certain cultural artifiacts (language, mannerisms, clothing, etc.) are very unique and found nowhere else, and thus almost obvious differences. It's not obvious to us, but it's definitely obvious between them.

Taking a quick refresh at teh wikipedia article (which is woefully insufficient!) basically , "there can be a need to find, and even exaggerate, differences in order to preserve a feeling of separateness and self."




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