July 15, 2015
They say travelling broadens the mind and for most people it means making mistakes along lifes road, in this post we have tried to tap into this font of knowledge from those guests that have stayed with us, in the hope that others may learn from our blunders
The following are things which may well come as a surprise, on what you should not do on your travels.
Thailand – Feet
You can’t address Thai culture without talking about feet. The feet are considered dirty, profane. You absolutely must not point your feet at images of the Buddha, step over such images, use your feet to point at, or nudge people. If you accidentally touch someone with your feet, don’t panic, just apologise with sincerity.
Conversely the head is considered to be spiritually above everything else. It is considered very rude to touch someone on the head, where it is believed the soul resides. If you go to a Thai barber of hair dresser, the person touching your head may well apologise in advance.
Singapore – Clean
The Singaporeans are very proud of their country and you should never eat on public transport, you never feed birds and never, never throw garbage or spit on the street.
Honking your horn in New Zealand is more often used to point out the errors of other drivers and is seen as an insult. The same is true in Thailand but in the likes of Spain and Greece it is simply a warning of another vehicles approach.
India – Smooching
Kissing or holding hand in public is prohibited in India, as open signs of affection are considered as something highly inappropriate. While here in Thailand it is not frowned on due to religious beliefs but simply viewed as impolite.
Philippines – Come here.
Beckoning someone this way is seen as one of the rudest things you can do and is only used on dogs. The same gesture is also considered offensive in most SE Asia countries (including Thailand) along with Slovakia, in central Europe. Simply turn the hand palm down and you will be OK.
France – Show me the money
Never talk or ask about money. While asking about money is impolite in many countries it is especially true in France.
China – Bad luck
Never give a clock or an umbrella as a gift as both are believed to bring bad luck when given as presents. Here in Thailand we have our own good and bad luck colours and the same for days.
In Italy and some of its neighbouring countries this rock and roll ‘Hand-Horn’ is used to signify that your wife is sleeping with someone else. Whoops.
USA – Tipping
Over in the good old US of A, tipping is almost obligatory . While here in Thailand it is not customary but is becoming expected, thankfully it is still down to the individual and whether they can deal with being seen as a ‘khee niao’ (cheap charlie) see more on the Art of Tipping in Thailand. In Japan the Japanese people are proud to provide the best service as standard without waiting for the tips.
Mexico – A Sense of humour
Norway – Religion
Please don’t talk about religion in Norway as many people don’t go to church at all and such question would be seen as impolite.
In the UK (Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand) using a two finger gesture can be seen as very rude, while here in Asia you see it used every day in pictures of younger people who mistakenly use their palm facing inwards (rather than outwards) as a sign of peace.
Germany – Congratulations can kill
You should never congratulate a German on their birthday before the actual date as people believe that the person may not live to their birthday if congratulated in advance. Here in Thailand many people still wear their ‘birth colour’ on their birthday.
While this gesture is positive in huge parts of the world in Greece and the Middle East it basically means ‘Up Yours’ or ‘Sit on This.’
Spain – Let’s get closer
Conversations occur at a much closer physical distance than you might be accustomed to and it is considered rude to step back. Here in Asia it is the opposite and people cherish their ‘space.’
Vietnam – Crossed fingers
In Vietnam crossed fingers are said to resemble female genitalia and the gesture is considered very rude if directed at another person.
Hungary – Cheers
Never click your glasses during a toast. Although an old habit, some people still prefer to avoid clinking glasses especially when drinking beer.
Kuwait – It’s not OK
While this simple hand gesture is used by most as a simple affirmative in Kuwait and some of its neighbours it signifies the ‘Evil Eye.’ While in Turkey it is used as an insult to gay people and in Brazil, Spain and Greece it is used to call someone an ‘Arsehole’
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