Cultural Differences with your host, David “qwei lo” Kleeman

1. Smoking in the elevator. Smoking is rampant in China, sure. But smoking in the elevator?! In this tiny box, with all of these other people, you bring fire and smoke?! Seriously?

2. Napkins, napkins everywhere. Somewhat akin to the Do Not Disturb sign which the Chinese don’t quite have a handle on yet, is the whole concept of the napkin. In China, it is customary to have a packet or box of what are effectively tissues floating around the table. As needed, you grab a tissue, wipe up whatever it is that’s bothering you, and then place it next to or under the rim of your plate. Easy, to the point, and efficient.

Someone, however, went to the US once after winning a game show, and saw that Americans put huge cloth napkins in their laps. So they have that here now, too (in some of the better restaurants). The thing is, they don’t really know what they’re for because the tissue box is still there. And these napkins? These ain’t no normal cloth napkins. These mother f’ers are silk… thick, beautiful silk that I would no less wipe my mouth with than I would floss with pearls. They can’t possibly really expect me to wipe up brown sauce with these things, it would be a sin.

3. Light switches. OK, this is minor but confusing. The light switches (in my hotel, at least) are set-up to be up is OFF and down is ON. I think they did that one on purpose.

Cultural Differences is brought to you by Durex brand condoms. ‘Cause besides the water and tea laid out as ammenities for you in Chinese hotels, condoms are on hand as well. Durex, the brand Communist China trusts most.

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