Things are different here!

We’ve spent quite a bit of time in Asia over the past few years. As a result, we haven’t really experienced culture shock since arriving in China but there have definitely been some surprises. In no particular order, here are a few random differences that we’ve noticed so far.

  • Waking up in the middle of a densely populated city and hearing a rooster crow! We haven’t figured out where the rooster resides but we did see a chicken wandering beside the street one day. I wonder if it ended up in someone’s cooking pot?
  • Two or more girls walking arm in arm or holding hands. This is extremely common amongst women of all ages and is nothing more than a sign of friendship. I quite like it.
  • Spitting! Everywhere. All the time. That I don’t like! The spitting itself is bad enough but it’s the loud hawking up of phlegm that precedes the shot that really gets me. I have to constantly remind myself that these people (men and women) aren’t being intentionally rude or gross. This is simply an accepted practice in their culture. I must admit to giving the man who nearly hit my shoe at the street market on Sunday morning a very dirty look though!
  • Using paste to attach a stamp to an envelope. I still chuckle when I think of the expression on the face of the post office clerk when I licked the back of a stamp the first time we mailed something! He hastily pointed to the pot of paste and the worn out brush that I was supposed to use to apply it to my stamps. I’ve been careful to do it the right way ever since even though it doesn’t work half as well as licking the stamp!
  • Toilet paper without a cardboard core. You can buy it with the core but it isn’t as common and since we have nothing to hang the roll on, it isn’t needed. Also, when the roll gets small it fits easily into a coat pocket or purse which is very handy considering the fact that toilet paper isn’t provided in public bathrooms including the ones at the school.
  • People burning stuff whenever and wherever they choose. I was about to hang some towels out to dry one morning last week when I noticed a group of men burning a large pile of trash directly below our window. The fire smouldered all day while the towels dried indoors!
  • I’m not sure what the law says but in practice, pedestrians DO NOT have the right away in Dalian and since parking on the sidewalks is commonplace, one needs to be constantly vigilant while walking. We take our life in our hands each time we cross a street!
  • The city employs an army of street sweepers. Dressed in green and yellow, they use straw brooms to sweep the gutters and gather up the ever present garbage. Their efforts seem somewhat futile as people think nothing of throwing more trash on the ground.
  • In an environment where cleanliness doesn’t seem to be a priority, who would have expected to find scented kleenex? I’m not sure if all the tissues here are perfumed but the ones we bought have a lovely lavender scent! Richard doesn’t particularly care for them but I think they’re great. He may suggest that we look for unscented ones next time but since we can’t read the labels, he could be out of luck!
  • Many of the vehicles on the road are made by North American, European or Japanese manufacturers and look just like the ones we’d see at home but some are also manufactured by Chinese companies. It’s the three wheeled ones that make me giggle every time I see one! They look like Mr. Bean should be behind the wheel!



9 thoughts on “Things are different here!

  1. Sounds a lot like Vietnam. All points except the last 2 are relevant there as well, with the exception of the one about the stamps. I never mailed anything from VN because of the post being notoriously bad and parcels simply disappearing, so I have no idea if they have “lickable” stamps or not! Sounds like you’re coping well!

    • It’s not quite as third world as Vietnam appeared to be but definitely much less developed than Japan which is about what we expected. In spite of the differences and the inconveniences, we’re enjoying the experience so far.

    • I enjoy being able to share it with you. Knowing that I’m going to be blogging about our experiences helps me to live with my eyes wide open, paying close attention to everything that’s going on around me.

    • I guess there are probably pleasant and unpleasant things about every culture. In spite of the spitting and a few other frustrations, we’re thoroughly enjoying being here and I’m glad I can share it with you.

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