Strange things that tourists in different countries should know
Before you start a trip, it’s best to get more information about your destination. Otherwise, there may be a lot of different problems.
1. Pointing with lips in Nicaragua
Interpret this wrongly and you could end up very red-faced. Whilst here in the UK puckering up signals your intention to land a kiss, in Nicaragua this expression is often used for pointing to something nearby. You might notice someone indicating where the toilets are with a discreet scrunch of the lips or to indicate a person or subject of discussion nearby.
2. Watch your chopsticks in Japan
3. Spitting on the bride at weddings in Greece
This practice was popularized thanks to the 2002 film, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Spitting in Greek cultures is a kind of good luck charm that is supposed to help ward off the devil. Today, the custom typically doesn’t involve guests hocking loogies at the newlywed bride. Instead, it has evolved into a more symbolic act where guests mainly forcefully utter “ftou ftou ftou.” Greeks do this at other special occasions too, including baptisms in order to acknowledge the beauty and good health of the baby. Spitting can even be done as a superstitious measure to ward off evil during regular conversation.
4. Kissing in France
Pretty much every culture has specific rituals for greeting. Latin American cultures and the Romance cultures share the common custom of kissing both close loved ones and new acquaintances on the cheek as a form of salutation. Yet, the French seem to take this to a whole new level with the number of nuances involved in their kissing rituals. For one, the rules vary for men and women. Secondly, the number of kisses required to complete the greeting changes from region to region. What’s more is that French people are expected to greet each person at a party or gathering upon arrival whether they know the attendees or not. This is only a brief overview of the customary kissing practices in France.
5. Consider your gifts in China
You might believe offering gifts to your friendly Chinese host or tour guide is a charming token of gratitude, but there are one or two items you really ought to avoid. Clocks, handkerchiefs, shoes, yellow chrysanthemums and any white flowers have strong associations with funerals and death. Take the safe option and offer sweet treats instead.
6. Using the left hand for things
In some countries, using the left hand for eating or other activities is considered quite rude and insulting. Oftentimes, cultures in these countries use the left hand for cleaning themselves after using the toilet, and, therefore, it is considered dirty. This rule applies to several places around the world including much of the Middle East, Sri Lanka, India and parts of Africa. To be safe, always use your right hand for greeting, handling merchandise, exchanging money, and, of course, eating while spending time in any of these parts of the world.