Every trip is a chance not only to discover new, beautiful places, but also other, quite often different from our own, cultures. Therefore, we can learn a lot, but we can also … cause a slip-up.
Thailand – watch who you… stroke
For many young Thai people, a white tourist is a great attraction. So they want to accompany us in every step we take, trying to catch our attention and entertaining us. A natural gesture of many Europeans is the innocent gesture of stroking the child’s head. In Thailand, however, is a huge faux pas! For the Thai, the head is the sacred area where the soul is located. Touching it, especially by a stranger, is a serious offense. Therefore, this should be strictly observed. Also in bad judgement are jokes about the king and religion. In addition, although I do not suspect this from my readers, it is extremely irresponsible to experiment with drugs. This country has very strict laws in place when it comes to this – so it may turn out that some innocent fun at a party will end with a few good years behind bars.
Singapore – everything is clean
Everyone is annoyed by cigarette butts, scraps of paper or chewing gum scattered all over the sidewalks. In our country, however, we are still unable to figure out how to solve this problem. Singapore is a different story. This country is famous for its obsessive care for cleanliness in public places. Chewing gum and then spitting it out on the pavement in public is a guarantee for a hefty fine. You can also get such a fine for littering or smoking in a public place.
Indonesia and India – watch out for your left hand
Left-handed people who choose to travel to India or Indonesia may have a serious problem. In this area of the world, the left hand is considered impure. Its only role is hygienic practices (which in many parts of Indonesia are still done without toilet paper). Handing someone an object or eating with the left hand is therefore, seen as offensive by the people of these countries.
China – anything but a watch
In Europe, when we want to make a small but useful and elegant gift we often decide to buy a watch for someone. But this is not a solution that will work everywhere else in the world. One of the countries where a watch should not be given is China. Why? According to the Chinese superstition, a watch is a gift that counts down until the time of death of the person it is being gifted to. Moreover, in Chinese, the phrase “give a watch to” is the same as “go to a funeral”. Let’s think of a more appropriate gift.
Japan – problematic shoes
If you are going to be traveling to Japan, you have to remember to take off your shoes before entering anyone’s home. This is a custom that the Japanese really observe and they pay particular attention to the behavior of foreigners. Stepping onto the tatami, or the mat that covers the floor, while still wearing your shoes is a serious offense to the homeowner.
In Indonesia, however, think about how you sit down. It is very improper to show the soles of your feet or shoes. That too should be remembered.
Watch out for these gestures
Every country, even in Europe, has its own set of gestures and their meanings. Some of them are the same all over the world. Others can mean something completely different and make your conversation partner feel either angry or really offended. Here are some gestures to avoid:
- victoria gesture in Great Britain – for us a sign of victory. However, if we show this (or two connected fingers), we will send a very offensive message. This is due to the history of this country. With this gesture the archers communicated to others the desire to deprive them of their lives. While the victoria gesture is not often used by us, it is important to think twice before you reach out your hand to call the waiter.
- a circle made with your thumb and pointer finger – in our country it is a sign that something has gone well, it is great, excellent quality. However, I do not recommend using this gesture in South America, Asia, Australia, Indonesia – it is a vulgar, even erotic message. In Japan, in turn, it announces your desire to … accept a bribe.
- thumbs up – in Anglo-Saxon countries, its meaning is very similar to ours, so “all right”, “OK”. But it is not like that everywhere. Please note that the thumbs up in southern Europe and in the Middle East is an extremely vulgar and insulting gesture (which has a lot to do with anal sex …)
- the popular “horns” liked by fans of heavy metal music – in the south of Europe means “cornuto”, so basically a cuckold. For an Italian, the suggestion that his wife is betraying his is, gently speaking, not tactful.