Until now, I still find
I find it easier to travel across Eastern Europe than to travel in
In my opinion, the level of difficulty in travelling has nothing to do with the knowledge of the local language. I have the experience of “mooing” as a cow in order to buy a can of beef in a shop in Warsaw; I have tried using charade and objects to ask for the length of time to get to the bus station in Hutna Nora in Czech Republic; I have tried asking for direction in Vilnius by simply pointing to the name of the place which pronunciation failed me. A lot of the logistics work in the way that you would expect and most of the people that I met were patient and kind and all these help to make travelling so much easier.
A)The art of being rude
I used to find the list of followings to be very stressful or unacceptable:
- haggling for virtually anything;
- hygiene level (littering and spitting);
- mannerisms: people shouting at you; throwing your change onto the counter; no apologies when people bumped into you accidentally
- no queues or to cut queues;
- to be stared at explicitly from head to toe;
- there doesn’t seem to have any order at all for anything…..
But……the years of living in the
The thick line between rude and indifferent
I used to find mainland Chinese rude.
But I have learned it through the hard way that there is a distinctive difference between “being not outwardly polite” and “being deliberately rude”. In my opinion, rude is more of the attitude than the mannerism. It is the deliberate attempt to be nasty to someone which I find it to be rude. Courtesy is simply not about saying “thank you” or “sorry” or being addressed in the form of “my love” or giving the perfect smile or 90 degree bow.
I had the following encounters in the
To enter a local pub in
A cyclist and a pedestrian using the four letter F word on me for no apparent reason when they passed by me.
To be made faces at by a stranger on a pedestrian walkway.
To be scorned at by teenagers in public places or to be stoned at.
To be served by a cashier that chose his customers to demonstrate his courtesy to: I noticed he always, without fail, thanked his Caucasian customers for their patronage but when it came to me, he just returned the change to me without a word of “thank you” or even eye contact.
Now, looking in retrospect at the “rude” encounters years ago while travelling in
Some Chinese have the habit of shouting when they speak. Amusingly, that’s the way some of them speak—talking very loudly, in
The habit of talking loudly probably has something to do with the crowded living conditions in the Chinese cities where one has to raise his/her voice in order to be heard.
Sometimes, you will be spoken to by passers-by in a very direct manner without the use of appropriate address or even a hello to start off with. Then they will scurry to their business once they got the information that they want. It’s a point-and-shoot attitude with not an extra second to spare.
If their philosophy in life is fighting to get one’s chance, then queuing will lead you no where.
This is certainly getting better now than my first visit to
But now I see queues at ticket machines, cashiers and ATM machines. Still, there is always the tendency for some people trying to pounce on every opportunity to jump queue. I still get a bit agitated by people trying their luck on me.
To be honest, I am surprised I don’t get bumped into in
Pedestrians, cyclists and motorists sometimes share the same pedestrian walkway and no one follows any rules of any kind and yet, I don’t feel that kind of stress that I felt when shopping at ASDA where people just pushed you away with their bodies or with their shopping carts. That was rude.
To my shock, I have not even for once been touched by any cars, motorist, cyclists in
You get stared at very openly for being foreign-looking. I do get the stares as well if I were to travel away from the cities into the less “city” areas. They are not meant to be malicious. It is definitely the result of curiosity. You will certainly not get those disgusted expressions or swear words that I used to get in the
But if you are a scantily clothed female, that might be a different story altogether.
I can feel a very strong sense of survival over here.
Mr. T’s parents were borned in Mainland
The competitive trait in the average Chinese is strong. From getting a seat to making payment at the counter or achieving the best result in each field. Everyone seems to be fighting for their own survival right in their own way. If they don’t compete, they will be easily over taken by millions of others. I find this very tiring though.
Boarding a bus in the
Penalty for being foreign
If your foreign nationality is discovered, you will certainly be ripped off by hawkers. I used to HATE this mentality.
But after being legally and consistently ripped off by governments and big companies (utilities companies, petrol companies……) and international brands that “rip off” cheap labour markets so as to further consolidate their empire, what does the rip-off from these minors amount to? At least the money goes directly to these individuals and at least they are trying all kinds of means to improve their lives rather than sitting on their backsides waiting for social benefits (there isn’t any anyway). Finally, I succumbed to this idea of “penalty for foreigners”—rip-off.
Having said all of that, it does help to make your day a pleasant one to have someone saying “thank you” and “sorry” when you go about your daily chores. It will be most delightful if only everyone can follow the order and be less competitive. It will also be a blessing if some people can avoid spitting in public places.
B)The issue of cleanliness
We certainly have little or no regard to hygiene. Chinese dominated areas can never be clean. Our government spent 20 years educating us not to spit in public places and it was not until the penalty came into force that we saw any outcome of the “education”.
As for litter, it might come as a surprise if I were to say that I find