With a honk and a burp

Posted 5/3/23

It is a good thing that I am not a world traveler because traditions in other countries are not the same as ours in the United States.  For instance, I love to joke around and joyfully laugh out …

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With a honk and a burp


It is a good thing that I am not a world traveler because traditions in other countries are not the same as ours in the United States.  For instance, I love to joke around and joyfully laugh out loud. I am a naturally jovial type of person, but laughing open-mouthed in Japan where my teeth could be seen would be considered very rude.  They equate it to a horse laugh and find it disgusting. I going to stay away from Japan because stifling my laughter would be impossible and they would surely find me offensive.

There are several other impolite gestures related to eating in other countries. In southern Europe, seasoning food or using condiments like ketchup is considered an insult to the chef, basically telling them they did not prepare the food properly.  Goodbye mayonnaise, ketchup, salt, and pepper. I would have to do without French fries because they would taste bland were it not for the salt and ketchup.  It is considered rude in China, Russia, and Thailand to eat all of the food on one’s plate which indicates hunger has not been abated.  Food remnants should remain on the plate to demonstrate that the amount of food was sufficient for a gastro fill-up and not another bite could be eaten. Burping after a meal is considered a compliment to the chef in China but considered a faux pas in Europe and North America, requiring a polite “excuse me”.  Tipping after a meal is customary in the United States, with a certain percentage recommended, 20%. However, in many countries, no matter how awesome the food or how impeccable the server was, it is seen as degrading.

Opening a gift in front of the gift-giver is seen as being greedy in Asian Countries, where one must first refuse the present several times before reluctantly accepting it. That would not work for me because I would excitedly rip off the paper as soon as it was put in my greedy little hands.

I generally sit with my legs crossed, a position not at all healthy. It makes it harder for the blood to circulate and can strain my circulatory system and damage my veins. However, I throw caution to the wind and cross my legs, bouncing one leg up and down.  Sitting this way in Asia and the Middle East is considered disrespectful, especially if the sole of my shoe in any way points at them, which is considered very rude.

Some hand gestures that are perfectly fine in the United States are not met with such acceptance in other countries.  For instance, the A-OK sign that signals everything is copacetic in Rhode Island is a crude and offensive gesture in other countries like Turkey. In the Middle East, Latin America and western Africa, giving a thumbs up is the equivalent of giving them the middle finger. When asked for directions, I will generally point in the right direction.  Pointing is considered rude in Tokyo, Shanghai and Hong Kong, and employees in their Disney parks must learn to use their thumb when giving directions.

Honking the horn is acceptable in many countries, but in Norway it is only used in emergencies.  Therefore, honking there panics other drivers who would look around for whatever catastrophe is happening.

In several countries, such as Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and the Netherlands, residents and visitors ride shotgun in a taxi.  To sit in the back seat is considered a matter of pure egalitarianism. In Sri Lanka that would be difficult because their cabs are run by locals in their auto rickshaws where there is no room in the front seat.

Some countries, such as South Korea, have beaches of fully clothed swimmers.  The reason for this is so they can keep their skin as light as possible.  Wearing long clothes keeps those UV rays from reaching the skin. White skin is popular because it symbolizes youth, beauty and wealth, whereas darker skin tones as seen as dirty and indicative of poverty. Conversely, nude sunbathing is perfectly allowable in many countries.

If I were to travel abroad, I would certainly offend someone with my horse laugh, thumbs up sign, crossed legs, use of ketchup and salt, empty plates, gift excitement, and sitting in the back seat of the taxi.  It is safer for me to vacation in the good old United States!


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