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Cultural Differences 2

Once upon a time my buddy Steve gave me an idea for a blog post. I called it cultural differences. Here's my second attempt to highlight some differences between Chinese and American culture. After posting my first attempt I decided to start a second one that I could add to when an idea struck me. This is the culmination of that second attempt.

Lucky numbers. Here in China the number 6 is by far the most popular lucky number. Actually, I've heard the phrase "Leo Leo Leo" many times. It means 6-6-6. I kid you not. 8 is also considered lucky. No idea why, but they are. That said, I do know why 4 is considered unlucky. There are hotels and buildings that don't have a 4th or 14th floor. In Mandarin the sound of 4 is to say "sih", but it's the fourth tone. That means the sound of the word goes down. If you say "sih" with the second tone the word isn't 4 anymore. It means death. The second tone goes up. The best comparison for up is the way we ask questions in English with our voice lifting at the end. I don't quite grasp it though. Here's a hotel I stayed in recently. There is a fourth floor, but no 13, 14, or 24. Hmmm.

Hongbao. We never never never tip in China. It's insulting to wait staff. However, they do have a thing called the Hongbao. It's also called the Red Envelope. It's a gift of money that you deliver in a red envelope. Hongbao are given on special occasions and holidays. I was told that I would be expected to give a Hongbao to my ayi (maid) during Chinese New Year. Further, I was told that I should give a gift that has 6s or 8s in it, no 4s. I've noticed that the concept is even built into the WeChat app. You can give a Hongbao to a person or even a large group of people that will be evenly distributed. Here's a conversation with Igor. I met him last week at the driving range. Notice the lower left corner.

Hotels. The amenities you see in a hotel in China are a bit cooler than the states. There are several items that are expected to be complimentary in a hotel here that we don't see at home. I've stayed in three different hotels, all at varying price ranges. Each has had a full sized toothbrush and mini toothpaste. Each has had razors and shaving cream. Comb. Cotton swabs. Condoms (yeah, not kidding). All the toiletries are supplied. In the states it's stuff you would expect to have to bring with you. Here? Not so much. And it's not like the places are super expensive. Actually, they're considerably less expensive than the states.

And here's another thing you see in a Chinese hotel room...

That's three types of underwear (cool that the XL pair are seXy) and some dress socks. And for a kicker? Gas masks. None of these items are complimentary, well, I'm guessing the gas masks are if you really need one. All theee rooms I've stayed in have had the gas masks in case of fire.

Parking. The driving culture is certainly different here. I've written about a few things. Taxi drivers are aggressive and a bit nuts. Turn signals and staying in a lane are not something that anyone seems to care about.

To her credit, Ye drives fairly slow and always uses a turn signal. Also, she never hits her horn like the majority of the drivers. So, parking? Yes, Chinese drivers ALWAYS back into a parking space. Always. I noticed it right away a couple of months ago and I get the idea now. It makes sense when you consider that you're very unlikely to have someone allow you to back out slowly. I read about it ahead of time, but Chinese folk don't wait in line. If you read anything about the "que" of people waiting to see the queen after she passed recently, know that it isn't happening here. Even in the lobby today I watched a dude completely ignore Ye and start to talk to a receptionist in the hotel lobby. Ye was already speaking to the receptionist. I don't know what the guy said, but I wasn't having any of it and stepped towards the guy. He understood immediate and backed away. No words needed to be said. I asked Ye about this after she returned to pick me up. She didn't even notice the guy and didn't have an opinion. Just a cut in line thing? Bit of misogyny? Not sure.

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Mike Durkee
Mike Durkee
12 oct 2022

Hey, I would back off too! Unless playing hoops then I'd take that charge like a boss :D

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