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A Different World

People living in the United States of America (including myself) often do not appreciate the great things that this great country offers them, the freedom that they enjoy, and the many things that make their lives easier and safer. To appreciate all of this, you will have to live a few days without them, without what you’re used to on a daily basis; you will have to experience living in a totally different culture, a totally different country. That’s what happened to me during my trip to Shanghai, China. Here are a few customs and behaviors that seemed weird to me, even though I’m sure that they are totally normal for the Chinese people living in China:

  • Burping. But you may say, I burp too. Yes, but imagine you were talking to someone (your boss, your coworker, a beautiful girl, an ugly girl…) and suddenly this sound interrupted the conversation. Then the conversation continues as if nothing happens. It’s normal in China. That, for sure, will turn me off immediately.

  • Honking the horn. If you drive a car in China, you have to keep your hand on the horn, 50% of the time. I am not very surprised because roads are full of bicycles and motorcycles intermingling with cars and vans and buses… It’s just like a zoo. I could not drive in China.

  • Smoking. Everywhere you go, people smoke cigarettes. Very few public places are smoke free.

  • Spitting. You have to watch out when you walk on the street, a wandering spit may land on you without any prior notice.

  • Staring. Because I was a foreigner and I looked different, people were starring at me as if I was an alien from outer space.

  • Shouting. The baseline for “quiet” in China is a lot higher than what I’m used to back home.

  • No tipping. Here in the U.S., when you eat in a restaurant and give a 10% tip, you’re considered a “low” tipper. Tipping is like an integral part of your restaurant check. Not the case in China. No one tips in restaurants.

  • Eating. Chinese restaurants have very interesting menu items.

  • Buying medicine. My wife got sick. She needed antibiotic. No problem. A simple trip to the pharmacy, she bought what she wanted. No prescription needed.

  • Internet blocking. There is no online freedom. Many internet sites are blocked throughout China.

Finally, there is at least one thing in common between China and USA, you cannot escape traffic jam.

Here is my advice to you, travelling outside of your own cocoon will definitely give you a different perspective about your life and the lives of other people living on this planet of ours called earth.

If you care to see, here is a link to the photos I recently took in China.

Eddie in China

Filed in Personal on 27 Sep 05 | Tags:

Reader's Comments

  1. |

    Thanks for sharing some very interesting facts about China. I didnot know these things before. But they all sound very familiar to me because some of them are exactly same back in India.

  2. |

    🙂 people not living in the usa often appreciate the freedom to have a beer in the morning, to drink wine at lunch time, to smoke a havana cigare after dinner…

    just a different world !

    I have just asked during my last trip in SF why there were no wine at lunch time. I got the -imho- extremly funny answer : because the russians drink wodka at lunch and after they do not go to work in the afternoon!

    cheers! laurent

  3. |

    That’s part of the problem today where the US do not seems to understand. Take Canada, closest neighbour with the longest unprotected border, as an example.

    I still get questions from folks down in the States as to where Canada is and do we still live in igloos. The world is a lot bigger than the US eventhough everything seems to be US-based 😀

    Nice pics. Seems like you were adventurous enough to try the various exotic dishes

  4. |

    a beer in the morning, to drink wine at lunch time, to smoke a havana cigare after dinner

    That sounds like heaven Laurent! I wish I had that freedom.

    do we still live in igloos

    Peter, sometimes when I tell someone that I am originally from Lebanon, they ask: do you still ride camels?

    you were adventurous enough to try the various exotic dishes

    I was adventurous enough to snap a few pictures, that’s all. No way I could try to eat a turtle, or a crocodile, no matter how much exotic they are. I must admit though that I had tried snakes and frogs before, but only once. They tasted good.

  5. |

    One of my friends recently returned from Korea, where he was visiting his wife’s parents. He brought back some dog meat as a present for his brother. Sounds nasty to UK ears, but it’s normal in Korea. Apparently it tasted real good. I’m a vegetarian so I guess I’ll pass 🙂

    The story goes that when Britney Spears first came to the UK she couldn’t believe we had our own currency and didn’t use US dollars. If that’s true…



  6. |

    Interesting post. Recently i was thinking about starting a blog about the things you mentioned. That would talk about the lifestyle here in Turkey, the differences from the other countries, things you can only find here and nowhere else,etc…I will do it as soon as i find time. May be interesting read for those who would like to know how the other countries are living. We have some many things unique to here.

  7. |

    some dog meat…it tasted real good

    It tastes like Chicken, based on what I heard.

    I’m a vegetarian so I guess I’ll pass

    I’m not a vegetarian, but I’ll pass as well, unless I am tricked into eating it, like what happened to me when I ate snakes, I was told it was fish.

    We have some many things unique to here.

    yas, would you care to share a few here? blogging about the different and unique traditions and customs is not a bad idea. On the other hand, most of the American customs and traditions are exported abroad through the media, and especially through Hollywood movies.

  8. |

    would you care to share a few here?

    For example one is about the public transportation. We use a vehicle called dolmus, also called minibus. It means “filled up” in English. Mostly crazy drivers use these without any attention to traffic rules. Here are a few of them waiting for passengers. They have stops of their own (where you can get in or out) but the drivers do not care about stops, they can stop anywhere they want. Mostly you cannot find a seat and you travel on foot in them. They take so many passengers that it looks like an overloaded luggage. Sometimes they race with each other to collect passengers.

    most of the American customs and traditions are exported abroad through the media

    That is definitely true. Our country is called little-America here.

  9. |

    In Switzerland, the bus will never turn on his motor before driving, it is not allowed to let the motor runs with noone is in the car. In one village called Zermatt (quite well known), only electrical engines are admitted!

    If you have to stop on red light for a fairly long time (more than 2 minutes), you should turn off your engine.

    Their is a joke about swiss people: – it is 17:04. The 17:02 train has not arrived yet. What is the problem? 1) it is not a swiss train 2) it is not a swiss watch

  10. |

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