Chinese traditions are so peculiar and different from the western ones, that they tend to be hard to forget about. The cultural shock you will experience living in such a singular country is something you definitely have to think about before you even consider traveling.
Do you think that our behavior and traditions are equally bizarre to them?, I do.
It all comes down to respect and adapt ourselves the best we can to those cultures different from ours. Remember it is you entering their environment.
- Driving politely is a skill they actually don’t have.
Be carefull when getting into a cab in China. Chinese drivers love to speed and they don’t really use their common sense whilst doing it. If their final destination is on the opposite side of the highway, they won’t think twice before making a U turn to get there faster.
The only explanation I could find for this behavior is that, due to the communism which ruled China until not so long time ago, people rode only bicycles.
Ringing the bell was and still is their way to warn other drivers when someone is going behind or overtaking them. This bizarre “technique” transfered to cars as well, so drivers are continuously honking. If you don’t get used to it, it could be a bit annoying.
- When couples walk down the street, the woman walks behind the man.
This happens more frequently in elderly couples. It seems to be that the subordination of women in China is also reflected when walking down the street. In fact, men rarely give up their seats to women in transport or public places.
- Exotic animals for sale in supermarkets.
It’s so common to see alive or frozen animals in fish tanks and supermarket display cases that you will easily stop being surprised. Frogs, eels, ducks, crocodiles, sharks, jellyfish, turtles and some others I honestly don’t even know, all waiting to be bought and cooked by chinese house wives.
- Buildings and elevators don’t have numbers 4 nor 14
These numbers are consided to be evil or unlucky, so the elevators go from the 1st to the 3rd floor and from the 5th to the 13th, 15th, 16th, 17th and so on.
This is merely superstition.
- Capital punishment is China
It’s well known that the death penalty is legal in this country, but did you know that China ranks first worldwide in executions per year?l
Drug crimes are one of the main reasons for being punished to death. The two most commonly used methods for execution are a shot in the head or lethal injection.
China ranks first in production and consumption of tobacco in the world. The absence of specific legislation obstructs the effective implementation of restrictions on smoking in public places, so the vast majority of these laws are not respected.
Whether you are eating, resting, studing or working out, there will always be people smoking around you.
- Wedding pictures
It’s extremely popular spending a fortune on a wedding photoshoot in China. There are a large amount of photo studios where newlyweds attend to take their first pictures as a married couple.
These are not the tipical romantic photos everyone would expect, but the most eccentric and odd pictures I have ever seen. Costumes and out of context sceneries are used by these young couples to make their wedding day more memorable.
- Getting stared
This is something every foreigner experiences in China.
Being pointed and meticulously observed by chinese is part of the daily life. Sometimes people will ask you to take pictures with them and some other times, they will take them even before you realize they did.
Consider that for most of these people, you are a great point of interest and possibly the first western they have been close to. Please be tolerant and polite.
- The weirdest flavors
Lay’s, an american brand, distributes in China a wide variety of chips with the most unusual flavores I’ve tasted.
Flavors like “Pepsi and chicken”, “Hot pot”, “Wasabi and shrimp”, “Chicken and pizza”, “Chowder”, etc., are the most common. Unfortunately for foreigners, the “normal” potato chips are not that easy to find.
- Eating cats and dogs
The chinese tradition of eating dog’s and cat’s meat dates back to 500 b.C., because of its medicinal properties and ability to maintain the body warm during the winter. Nowadays is a practice commonly performed but severely criticized.
Eating dogs in China is more frequent to witness in rural areas and small cities because there is also an increasingly westernized opinion about dogs and cats being pets.
There are numerous animal protection groups trying to eliminate the consumption of these animals in China. Sadly, in most of the cases, people inflict a painful death to them with the only purpose of “enhance the flavors”.
Eating on the streets of this country is very cheap, but is also a guarantee of consuming meat of dubious origin. I’m sure I did it at some point.