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Okay, this is a real-life experience! It will definitely help you to dive into the sea of Celestial oddness and come off clear.
China. What pops up in your head when you hear about this country? Some will recall the majestic scent of Peking duck, some will imagine a group of loud and noisy tourists taking photos in front of every sight they can spot. Some will even speak about communism legacy.
There are lots of opinions, but those who have been to China have one in common: you will never forget what you see in the streets of this unbelievable country, whether in a small village or a worldwide-known city.
So, the dish called China is really complicated. The question is, how do you eat it?
Okay, let's begin. You just got off your plane, everything is fine, people just follow you with interested looks or sometimes call you a "老外" – "laowai" (a word often used as a depreciating definition of foreigners with European looks).
But if you follow the instincts of a well-behaving tourist and try to approach one of the local sights (especially if you're traveling in a company) you are about to see another group of Chinese with cameras. It's only that this time they are eager to take a shot not of the sight, but you. They'll ask you for a joint photo. There's a possibility it will later be stored in someone's family archive. Anyway, you're going to attract lots of attention, which is a boost to self-esteem.
Why is that so?
Eastern people don't see a truly European face every day. So the photo with a westerner can make them really proud!
What to do?
Don't resist to their attempts of getting a photo with you. They have solely peaceful intentions! Just try to make your best smile, because this photo will be someone's wall's decoration, be sure of that. You should also remember that refusing to talk with a Chinese person is bad form, and you risk not only to offend him but also get a pretty aggressive response. No need to be afraid of attention. Be ready to be stared at, and also Chinese will try to touch you (no harm intended, of course). The thing is, in China there is a widely spread mania for Europeans, Chinese people aim for the looks and habits of them.
Be aware that around 1 P.M. China turns into a "sleepy kingdom". For about half an hour you can see peacefully napping citizens even in fast-food restaurants! Even staff does that!
The magic is, local people respect this siesta really much. Even schools and universities provide students with sleep breaks. Celestial citizens love to sleep, actually, not only in the afternoon, and they do it everywhere: in malls, in parks, in crowded streets during the working hours.
What to do?
Obviously for the Western person this kind of situation is exotic. However you should understand it, you can even get benefits from that! If you want a bargain, a compromise, you should get to it before clock strikes 1 P.M. Thus you'll have more chances for success!
3. Shopping for dear life
If you don't want to listen to the complaints of your unsatisfied relatives, you won't be able to leave China without a case, one or two, full of souvenirs and silk (or almost silk) shawls. Don't even get me started on tea that has healing powers starting from "cold healing" to "forever young". This means that if you don't want to leave all your money in the shop of a friendly Xiao Zhang you'll have to learn a few tricks.
To begin with, you need to know that Chinese people overprice their products 3, 5 or more times. So in order to achieve justice you'll need to fetch down the prices as much as you can, giving the reasons such as you are a poor student and have only 20 yuan left. Anyway, stand on your ground till the end, strike off their excuses with your "Too expensive! The painting on silk set is cheaper around the corner!" (why would you need that, actually?) The final smash that leaves no one indifferent is "Okay, I'm leaving".
However you need to remember that don't begin this fight if you're not sure you want to buy the thing. When everything is triggered, you can't stop it so everyone is happy. As soon as you turn you back with the sincere intention to leave, you and all westerners will get a squall of anger. Be ready that this disappointed seller will never sell anything to you.
Why is that so?
Europeans have been a golden mine for Eastern sellers for centuries, so it's now a tradition to sell overpriced things. Keep in mind, even if you get it for half a price, you still lose.
What to do?
Bargain with them! You just must not buy things for the original prices.
It's highly recommended you don't go away or refuse to buy a product. The start of the bargaining is regarded as a 100% purchase by the seller. To win you'll have to be witty and pushy.
4. Grab a chicken paw
Everyone's heard about Chinese traditional cuisine. Worldwide-known Peking duck, fish in sour-sweet sauce and dumplings are still popular with both Chinese people and foreigners. However prepare for some "special things" about Celestial gastronomy.
In Chinese shops you're not going to find milk and chocolate, but you will find crisps with berry and fruit tastes, cucumber-tasted gum (tourists love that so much), and if you look for snacks you'll stumble upon a package full of chicken paws. If you are fond of some "alternative" cuisine, you'll easily find a place where you can grab some bugs for a bite (you'll be offered some larvae, most likely). We do not recommend to become obsessed with that, this is not common for China, it's more like an attraction for foreigners!
5. Culture Shock
Here are a few more facts about what or who you can meet in China.
You may have heard about the features of "seasonal fashion" in China meaning that when hot days arrive a lot of male citizens start actively showing off their bellies. Chinese people simply lift or roll up their shirts, leaving their bellies to the pleasure of sun rays. You don't have to feel confused as it doesn't confuse those guys.
Despite the fact that Chinese women imitate European beauty standards, nail fashion is still not popular there, which cannot be said about male half of the population. You can often meet young and aged men with long nails, especially on little fingers.
Of course, it looks quite unusual. Generally speaking this tradition is not about aesthetics. In the Celestial country a man whose little finger is as long as a middle phalanx of the third finger is considered to be lucky. With the assistance of an unusual manicure Chinese try to fix this "natural defect". A lengthened nail helps to create a visual illusion thus leading to success!
No doubt, China is a country full of contrasts, a lot of them scare you, astonish, but if you are ready to meet this great culture, then you have to become friends with culture bearers. You should never forget that East is really tricky and that you have to react appropriately to the oddities of our Chinese comrades.