A Travellerspoint blog

The Chinese Staring Competition

Adapting our natural instincts to fit in with locals

Adapting our natural instincts to fit in with locals

In China, there are many customs that are completely different to those that we were brought up with. None of them are right or wrong, we were just amazed at how opposite they were… here are a few examples:
• We have tanning lotion to appear darker, they have whitening lotion to appear lighter
• We are supposed to eat with our mouths closed and keep the food on our plate, they smack their lips and intentionally spit bones directly on the floor
• We don’t touch other people; their concept of personal space is nonexistent.
• We form lines at the bank or at the register, they frantically push and jump queue.
• Our toddlers wear diapers, theirs have a simple slit in the rear of their pants

Perhaps it is because we were not in major cities, because of our height, or because of our amazing good looks, but whatever it is, we get blatant stares all the time. Our favorite is when a kid walking by will look over, jump back a little bit as his jaw drops open and his eyes widen (think deer in headlights) then forgetting that he is walking will trip and fall over. Since we were initially taken back by this, we’ve tried a few different ways to approach ‘the starer.’

We first took the challenge and stared back! Sometimes we would even win the starring competition all together. Every bus ride was another chance for us to try something new. We tried frantically waving, we tried saying hello and offering a smile, we tried striking up a conversation (in English), we tried pointing at ourselves with the ‘who me’ look, we would walk over and stand next to them, etc… this was probably more for our amusement, but none the less we had mixed results. It turns out that the best strategy was to just ‘let go’ and ignore it…

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 08:32 Archived in China

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I am impressed with all your efforts, it is amazing you got to meet all the locals too, you're right the big city wouldn't have quite the same effect. Enjoy!

by megandibiase

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