Friday, 17 April 2009

East VS West - Cultural Differences

I've been raving about how much I like Hong Kong in recent posts but I thought it would be good to document some of my observations on the cultural differences between East and West.

In western culture it seems the norm for old folks to be banded together in bingo halls or homes for the aged where they are left to their own devices and seem for the most part bored shitless. I think the elderly here are given more respect and are definitely more active in society. Every morning they gather in throngs in the parks where they practice Tai Chi which is a form of 'blue rinse' martial arts (slow but graceful). I've seen 80+ year olds that put me to shame with the level of flexibility, dexterity and coordination they possess.

Middle aged/old ladies are extremely aggressive at barging and elbowing their way past you while queuing at bus stops, trams and trains. I've been knocked aside on several occasions.

Americans have a stereotype for being loud, but sit in a locals restaurant with a bunch of old Chinese men at the next table and you better bring ear plugs. They practically scream at each other in ordinary conversation.

Clearing the throat / spitting is more common on mainland China but also prevalent here especially the 'flem tonsil tango' - not too pleasant on the ears.
I've already blogged about how great the food is here but they do eat some strange stuff like boiled or deep fried chickens head (an acquired taste!)

Public Toilets can be a bit daunting at times with the squat toilet apparatus but you do get more thrust using this position.

We had our first cinema experience last night where the crescendo of burps and belches was 'almost' comical. It seems quite acceptable here to let rip, at least from one orifice.

Gambling is absolutely huge here but I've seen many people trying to 'pick a winner' of a different sort.

So if you want to blend here you should ignore western social etiquette and eat whatever you want, spit, burp and pick your nose in public. Maybe Homer Simpson was born here?

Tags: .Cultural differences Hong Kong China Asia spit burp flem pick nose. spitting.

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nick April 18, 2009 4:01 am  

The way elderly people are treated in the UK is disgraceful. As you say, they're just expected to fossilize, either in their own home or in some lifeless oldies' home. Doing tai chi every day and keeping fit sounds great.

How the hell do people with dodgy knees use those squat toilets? And the woman shamelessly picking her nose is priceless. I can't believe that's totally normal.

VE April 18, 2009 11:44 am  

Good observations all of them. You also learn not to be by the doors of public transportation during rush hour should you not want a particular exit because you will quite possibly be forced off in a mass wave of people...

Stevo April 18, 2009 1:10 pm  

You are only seeing the tip of the ice berg. Come to the mainland, me auld son...

iWalk April 19, 2009 8:20 am  

Spitting is really a bad habit, I can't understand why they have to do this?

TCL April 19, 2009 4:33 pm  

The burbing and the squatter I still can't get used to. Gotta pick your location and do the biz strategically.

Holler about when you're going to Taiwan and what you're looking to see. It's getting into May now and the south may be warm enough for beach weather. There are some lovely spots to visit and 3,000 meter mountains are literally right by the beach, making it possible to trek one day and sit on the beach with a cold beer by night time.

Baino April 19, 2009 4:55 pm  

I live in a suburb with a huge Chinese population. The upside is great restaurants, groceries and butchers but some seem to forget they're not in Hong Kong anymore. I've seen footprints on the work toilets, spitting isn't so popular here but I totally understand the loudness and the barging! Although I do fancy taking up Tai chi, looks very relaxing.

Quickroute April 19, 2009 11:30 pm  

@ Nick: Yeah - I can visualise people getting stuck in squat position and having to call 999

@ VE: Too late - happened to me yesterday!

@ Stevo: I heard it's full on in mainland China - I am afraid!

@ iWalk: pretty gross - I agree

@ TCL: I need quiet and comfort too - Will be in touch regarding Taiwan - thnx

@ Baino: "footprints on the work toilets!" - hilarious - I'm thinking of doing a bit of Tai Chi too

Broke But Still Drinking April 20, 2009 12:09 pm  

It sounds like paradise. I'm looking for an apartment.

wandermom April 21, 2009 1:15 am  

RT'd this. May need to hide from my kids. Have a feeling they'd start challenging my requests for "polite behaviour" with "this is OK in Hong Kong Mom"

Anonymous,  April 21, 2009 2:43 am  

really great hearing all this - incidentally the Dutch are gerat nose pickers

Quickroute April 21, 2009 9:01 am  

@ Broke: Come on over my friend

@ Wandermom: goes against the grain for how we were reared for sure!

@ Conortje: I had no idea the "Flem"-ish were Mucous extractors ;-)

Jonah K. Haslap April 21, 2009 12:47 pm  

I think I saw that toilet on Battlestar Galactica. It tried to eat humanity.

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