Even as the western culture is very popular in China you'll still see a lot of old chinese tradtitions in China. Like the Tai-chi on this picture. Old traditions like massage is also very important here. I felt often, when talking to a woman, I had difficulties hearing what this woman said. Especially amongst older women and even when they talk english. The reason for that is that they do not talk with the stomach and that makes their voice much harder to hear. This should be, as I understand it, some way of making them look or sound inferior. This is very hard for us modern people from the west to understand. Another thing I think most of us from the western got problems understanding is when you praises the waiter in a restaurant for service, food or similar. They often answer something like "No, no....that was nothing..." in a way that we got problems understanding. Also strange for us is when you want to give tip to a waiter, taxidriver or staff another place is that the waiter or the staff then run after you and tells you that this is your money. The only thing you could give to a chinese, when we are talking old traditions, is a gift. But then you'll have to give it three times before the chinese accept the gift. This is a way of playing polite in old tradition. Then when you've given the chinese the gift the third time the Chinese person have to accept the present because four symbolise death and bad luck in old China.
You also need to have in mind what different types of presents means in Chinese. Do not give a clock or watch to someone. This is the same as "time runs away" or death. To give a sharp object to anyone like a knife or pair of scissors sees as "cutting of a relationship". If you are giving a handkerchief it seems like you are giving a "forever goodbye", the same for cut flowers. Especially if they are in yellow or white colour. You could surely give a fruit to someone as long as it is not a pear. Pear sounds like the chinese word for pear, Lísi, that sounds like "to leave". You'll see more of these strange rules on The telegraph and chinahiglights.
The culture is associated with the language and both are quite different from latin and english. In mandarine you do not got any plural. So if you say feets, eyes or hands you are just able to express foot, eye or hand in Mandarin. I think this gets complicated when you see or hear it first time. And that also give problems for people in China understanding and express themself in the english or any western language.
This is how it looks when you enter a big mall like the powerlong in the morning. Many of these supermarkets or malls got a lot of smaller shopinshops where different businesses rent a place in the building. Just like many of our big stores or malls. The difference is that these are standing in front of their stands and greet you good morning when you are passing by. When you are passing by the staff greet you welcome and invites you to take a look on their latest new items. Like latest socks, shoes or electronic. Sometimes they just invite you to get a chat or be able to invite you for a cup of tea, soda or coffee.
An usual morning outside a small preschool in Wuxi. Every kid is standing in a parade and are doing morning exercise before the lessons.
This is what it looked like in many schools during monday morning. To me it feels a bit old tradition but I am sure it could be a good habit to move your body before sitting in a school all day. I beleive a lot of this tradition is from the old revolutions or maybe qing dynasty.
One thing I learned during my last trip where an expression that nearly always gave me a smile. That was saying "Ni Hao" when you meet a new person. "Ni Hao" means something like "you are good" or "how are you?" in english. Hao means good and Ni means you. Then you often gets the phrase "Xie, xie, Ni Hao Ma" that means "thank you and how are you?". You could then answer "Wo Hen Hao, xie xie" which means "I am fine thank you...". I did not meet too many chinese speaking english down here. Many chinese who are trying can be difficult to understand. I discovered that many chinese wants to add an a between consonants. Like if they are saying "good morning" they often say "Good a morning" or if they say words like subway it often sounds "subaway", trainstation "trainastation" and so on. And this even gets worse if they are nervous because then they talk even faster. You'll then have to beg them "please talk slowly..." and mostly you'll get some meanings out of it. But you'll need to be aware of these added a:s in the words.
Another way of getting some contacts could be learning some chinese.
I've placed some useful links on language>>>
Shanghai at Your Door (Culture Shock! At Your Door: A Survival Guide to Customs & Etiquette) CULTURE SHOCK! AT YOUR DOOR guides include information on: * Spending extended time in a city * How to lease or rent apartments * Local food names and where to buy it * How to set up bank accounts and pay taxes * What laws may affect you and your long-term residency * The typical workplace, and the entertainment scene in your new city
Everywhere you'll find people that are trying to sell things. As everything from a guide to a biketour. Some of these sellers could be quite irritating others where more careful and polite. Like this old lady that where selling good smelling flowers called zhi zhi hua. A plant that smells nearly like jasmine and are used to cure nose-bleeding, caughing and flue. I also saw a lot of beggers outside tourist attractions. Here I am standing on the outside of chinese museum in Suzhou.
This is one of the beggars outside the same museum. This man had some markings that looked like he had been in the koreawar during the fifties.
The culture of food is also very different. I felt the breakfast where very different compared to our continental you'll see on most hotels in europe. I do not know if I got the proper impression of it but to me it looked like they served dinner or lunch for breakfast. In the hotels you are getting noodles, rice, stew, dumplings and a lot of other warm food in the morning. This is the breakfast on Jiangxi hotel in Nanchang. I did just see one hotel that where serving some kind of continental breakfast in the morning and that was motel 168 in Wuxi. With continental breakfast I mean toast, coffee, marmelade and most cold food. Motel 168 served continental together with traditional chinese food. I discovered on the hotels that served continental breakfast I also got english speaking staff. I had quite a good experience of hotel Jiangxi in Nanchang and motel 168 in Wuxi. I would recommend these two hotels because you've got staff that are speaking english in both of these hotels. I am describing some more about hotels with staff that speaks english on this page>>>. You actually see some bread also on the chinese breakfast table. However it could be difficult to find sometimes. By the way, breakfast is Zaocãn in chinese. You pronounce it like saotan. You remember it by the word good morning in chinese "Zão ãn". Just add a t between zão and ãn and you've got nearly the right pronounciation for breakfast. It depends on where you are at the moment. In Wuxi, as I told you earlier, the consonants often dissappear and , therefore, you pronounce it something like "sao an" and "sao tan" in Wuxi. The name for lunch is "Wùcãn" and you see similar differences between Nanchang and Wuxi here. In Wuxi you nearly do not hear the c between the vowels in the word. I give you some examples on chinese food in the food pages>>>.
Sesame bun. A white bun with some sesame oil and seed. Then I also saw some croissants and similar. Instead of yoghurt you got some warm soyamilk that tasted different. I did not find coffee on so many places other then a sweet kind of coffe latte. If you want good coffee in the morning my suggestion is that you visit one of the supermarkets with imported food like walmart or carrefour and buy some nestlé coffe to bring with you. I give you some examples of hotels they who say they serve continental breakfast here:
DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Wuxi - Lingshan, Jinjiang Inn Wuxi New District Meicun, Howard Johnson Garden Plaza Yixing, GreenTree Inn Wuxi New District Airport Hotel, Radisson Blu Resort Wetland Park Wuxi , Le Méridien Yixing, Kempinski Hotel Yixing, Sheraton Jiangyin Hotel, Crowne Plaza Wuxi Taihu, DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Wuxi Lingshan, Sheraton Wuxi Binhu Hotel, GreenTree Inn Changzhou Zhencheng Rd Xiaohu Market Exprees, Jinjiang Inn Central Wuxi Liangqing Road, Worldhotel Grand Juna Wuxi, Wuxi Jinling Hotel, Kempinski Hotel Wuxi, I have been spoken to some hotels in Wuxi regarding english speaking staff and also been able to check for it by a known person down here. I show you these hotels in Wuxi here>>>
On globaltimes china you'll se an interesting article about the differencies between China and Sweden. The sweidsh word "Lagom", that the suedes are shy, the cold climate and so on. Very interesting.