Reverse Culture Shock – The Difference between Singapore and China

So, all right. You have finally booked your ticket for a trip from Singapore to China. That is going to be a really memorable experience. But the moment you get off your flight, you may feel the sudden sense of déjà vu. You find China so much like Singapore and still not like Singapore. That is because Singapore is much more an amalgamation of ethnic cultures and multiplicities than China could ever be at this moment. So for all those people out there, strolling down the streets of Peking, here are some things that you have to know about China. Some are other amusing and some are downright practical, but that is what makes China so unique.

singapore china shopping


Yup, do not cringe if you hear somebody behind you suddenly hear his throat and let go of an unsightly blob on the pavement. You could not dare do that in Singapore, because the cleanliness police would get you for juvenile delinquency. :-) Unfortunately, spitting on the roads is an oriental tendency, commonly found in India and China, because the ancient belief is to get rid of all that phlegm as soon as possible. You may soon find yourself getting used to this, but I doubt it :-) and do remember to look around, whenever you hear that throat clearing sound, and jump out of the path of any misguided missile.

No Smoking? I beg your pardon?

If you enjoy puffing away like a chimney, China is the best place to be because all your friends are going to offer you a coffin nail in the smoke drenched atmosphere. This means “hey buddy, I am sharing my coffin nail with you, we are pals.” If you are a non-smoker, remember to put on your most apologetic visage and plead religious reasons. :-). But do remember to thank them for the offer.

Sartorial perfection

“Hey, I am on holiday, and I have been waiting all this time to dress up in the clothes the cat brought in.” This attitude does not go down very well in China, because it shows that you are so badly off, that you cannot afford soap or detergent to do the laundry or needle and thread to mend them, tsk tsk poor gaijin. How can he afford to pay this expensive hotel’s bill. So, the moment you find yourself getting pitying looks, just because your supposedly stylish ripped Bermudas did not make the sartorial perfection grade, read the writing on the wall and change into clean clothes in one piece.

Looking a gift horse …

That is definitely the best way to show that you appreciate the trouble taken by your host to entertain you. The only point is that you should not mind if they do not open the gift before you. It is just a matter of common politeness. That is because they are saving your face. For example, you went to see the Chun Woos along with the Smiths and the Jones. And you took your hosts a porcelain vase, while the Smiths and the Jones decided to go all out and splurged on extremely expensive gifts. Comparison is odious, get the point?

Bargains are forever

Here I come to what is dear to every shopaholics (male or female) heart. The Chinese love to bargain, and you can just see the glint of anticipation in their eyes, when they know that they have a tough bargainer on their hands. Try it out, you are going to enjoy it. Reduce the asked price by a quarter and then start haggling to your hearts delight!
And for God’s sake, never ever stand those chopsticks upright in your rice because that signifies death. And do not use them for pointing either! Lay them on your plate, facing left when you have done with them.

So enjoy your visit to China with these easy to use tips!


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