Socially aware of not so subtle differences

During my recent trip to Vietnam I was warned that pickpockets and thieves abound and that care needed to be taken with valuables when walking around the city. Evidentially, scooter mounted thieves can lift your bag as quick as look at you and take off into the middle distance before you have time to blink.

I didn?t have any bad experiences with thieves (I do believe it was because I was careful), but I did notice something else while I was there. I did not see one piece of graffiti in any of the places that I visited. Additionally, many of the places had the most beautiful park areas with brilliant bonsai?s and topiaries planted in pots as well as directly into the soil. Not once did I see evidence of any damage being done to these plants, nor did I hear of any being stolen.

Given the amount of graffiti that I have noticed since returning to Australia, and having witnessed almost every tree planted by council in a local street being snapped in half or dragged out by the roots and thrown across the road, I am wondering about the difference in social attitudes between young people in the two countries.

Is the threat of a severe punishment the deterrent against vandalism in Vietnam, or is a different type of social awareness? There are many poor people in Vietnam who evidentially make a good living stealing from tourists, why don?t they steal the plants left in the parks and sell them? Is there no market for such things or once again, is the threat of punishment a good deterrent?