I’ve decided to post a quick look at differences between my familiar culture in the US and the culture here in China. Tips for people traveling to China: Get used to not having much personal space. People will bump into you, push you, and bustle past you without apologizing because I mean, face it. There are 1.4 billion Chinese people in the world, if they stopped to apologize to everyone they bumped into they’d never get to their destination. Also, carry a bottle water with you if you are a person who likes to stay hydrated. You will notice immediately that people here drink out of the tiniest glasses, and it’s usually Coca-Cola, soy bean milk, or wine and not often water. Get used to sharing your food – there is hardly a situation where you have your own dish (besides your rice bowl). Everywhere you eat, there is a community of dishes and you share with everyone. Learn to eat slowly. Just when you think dinner’s over, five more dishes will appear. Always carry tissue with you wherever you go, you will use them as: napkins, toilet paper, hand towels, and more. If you are a “germ-aphobe”, here’s some terrible news – there is NEVER soap in restrooms (unless you’re at a hotel or a house… sometimes) so carry cleansing towelettes or hand sanitizer with you. Also, don’t be surprised if you see boys holding hands, hugging, with their arms around each other, etc. – they are straight. This is just what friends do (girls do it also.) Guys wear lots of pink, carry what look like purses, and sometimes have the most…interesting hairdos. This also ties in with, Chinese people are logical. They don’t care about things the same way we do in the US. For example, three guys smooshed together on a small bicycle is not uncommon. In fact, it’s very convenient and therefore nobody looks twice. I’ve ridden on the back of a scooter (with FOUR people) and also a bike and let me tell you, Chinese people are very talented traffic weavers! I was scared the entire time that a car or bike would hit me, but my driver was a pro. If you don’t look Chinese, people will stare at you. Staring is not rude in China, people stare at each other all the time. It’s a little uncomfortable at first but you get used to it. Also, eating loudly (slurping your soup, clinking your dishes) is totally acceptable and, from what I gather, encouraged.
Well, that’s enough culture lesson for one post! Today and yesterday were very fun, I’ll give you a quick synopsis: Yesterday I visited a legitimate Buddhist temple and park (legitimate as in, it was isolated in a forest on an island. I did not know this, but that is where the “real” Buddhist monks reside.) As for today, I had KFC for lunch with Tony and some friends (um, WAY better than in the US!) and we saw a new Chinese movie that came out today called 画壁 (Mural) which was very awesome and subtitled in English and Chinese, which helped me a lot! I highly recommend everyone to watch at least one Chinese movie in their lifetime, you can feel the cultural differences with every scene. It was a romance/comedy/action/magic movie. Then, we headed off the roller skating rink and skated for almost three hours! It was a lot of fun. Tomorrow I will visit a bamboo garden in Yangzhou, which I haven’t seen since I was 16. Let the reminiscence begin! (If I can remember anything from that far back…)