Entries in asian culture (6)


Luck & Superstition in Different Countries

One interesting aspect of traveling is that there are so many facets of a new country or culture that you never really think about. The big things are easy to spot – language, dress, religion, government, currency – but there many little ones that go unnoticed. For instance, in English-speaking countries, a dog says woof woof! But in Thailand, a dog says hong hong! It’s the little things that are often the coolest.

Another cultural aspect with many differences is people’s perceptions of good and bad luck. Certain things, like black cats and lucky/unlucky numbers seem to be cross-cultural, but there are plenty of other elements that are unique to a certain culture or country.

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Working with Asians

work in asian company

Asians are collectivists by nature. The need to become part of a group, for many of us, is one of the many essentials that make life more ‘complete’.

Maybe this is why: a) establishing connections and b) networking play such important roles in determining the level of success and happiness in our lives.

And we are trained to do so from very young age…

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Cash gifting

asian likes cash gifting

Some people (Westerners especially) might say “giving money as gift is so tacky!” And that includes those who give out gift vouchers and such as presents. The general rendition for this type of gift giver is that they are totally inconsiderate and super-crude when comes to social etiquette.  But we Asians think that cash gifting is just plain brilliant!

Why suffer through the pain of having to act happy when opening one present after another (none of which you like) in front of people (whose attention is focused on whether your reaction is genuine), when you could be given envelope after envelope of cash AND the freedom to do whatever you please with it!

Yes, Asians are infamous for our practicality and the thrifty ways that we go about our lives. The stories about some Asian kid whose parents kept the plastic covers on their sofas or someone’s grandma who would wash and re-use disposable chopsticks from the restaurants? You better believe it.

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Haggling in markets

shopping in asian market

Haggling, or bargaining, is an art form that requires quite a bit of skill and a lot of street smarts. Asians take pride in their abilities to get the desired goods at the lowest possible price, whether it is fruits, household items, cars, etc. – without pissing off the salesperson in the process.

For us, there is no such thing as a “correct” or “right” price. As long as both parties are happy with the transaction, it is “fair” and that is the sole reason why we haggle.

So, when a tourist chooses to give up this right without even trying (common excuse: “Why even bother? Things are dirt cheap here”) please know that you are committing a crime against the local economy. Agreeing to pay a price that is often four to five times the original cost, while it may be temporarily great for the business owners, is in effect putting the locals in a difficult spot where they’re left to deal with the inflation rates long after you guys have left the country.

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When can I slurp?

When in a ramen shop…

A couple of weeks back, the boyfriend and I decided to swing by this ramen noodle shop that is often raved about by critics for its bona-fide ramen taste.  

At the table next to us was a young Japanese gentleman who was shamelessly devouring his noodles. With every bite of his steamy noodles, came a toilet-flushing like sound as oodles of noodles were slurped from the bowl up into his waiting mouth. He was clearly enjoying his bowl of ramen while fully oblivious to his surroundings, which just happened to be a number of (mostly Thai) people staring and even giggling at him. 

The two of us looked at each other and simultaneously turned to look at the young man, fascinated by the sound he was making. Now, mind you, we both knew that the young man was practicing Japanese etiquette, indicating with his noisy slurps the level of enjoyment he was getting from the noodles. This devoting of yourself to the bowl is widely practiced in Japan. The problem was we were not in Japan…

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Can i touch your head?

I still cringe whenever something triggers my recollection of the day I introduced my 6”5’ tall, California born-and-raised boyfriend to my grandparents in Thailand.

Imagine the shock and stunned-look on my face (as well as on other relatives’ faces), as Dayne (that’s his name) flung his huge arm across my 80 year-old, 4”2’ grandma’s frail shoulders in an attempted bear-hug, thinking that he was showing affection in the friendliest way.

You should have seen the look on my granny’s face… it was a combination of surprise, fear, and disbelief rolled into one, quite hilarious in my opinion.

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