Those of you who’ve travelled the world will have encountered strange and unfamiliar customs. Some are exotic and interesting while others are just plain weird. So, the next time you venture out of your comfort zone, take note of what’s acceptable behavior and where… and join in if your heart so desires or avoid the unintended consequences like the plague!
Here are 5 quirky customs emanating from planet Earth:
Beware the Ghost Wedding
In countries like China, Taiwan and Malaysia the strange ritual of marrying the deceased – after the event – has taken place for thousands of years. The idea behind a ghost wedding is to allow the ghost bride and her groom to live together forever in the afterlife. That’s all well and good but things get really odd when one member of the wedding party is still alive and kicking.
In Taiwan, the family of a dead unmarried woman will leave strategically placed red envelopes filled with cash on the streets and hide away nearby. Stuffed into one of the envelopes will be the woman’s fingernail or lock of hair.
The first man to pick up the envelopes will be co-coerced into becoming the deceased’s groom…whether he likes it or not! For the rest of his life, he’ll be expected to honour his ghost bride in all sorts of ritualistic ways!
Point, Pucker or Pout?
Determining how to get to where you want to go can be challenging in places. Folk in most countries simply use their index finger to point you in the right direction.
In South Korea, they’ll give you the middle finger… but not in a rude way. These practical people use the longest finger on the hand to do just about everything. Colombians and Filipinos, on the other hand, will pucker their lips and point to your destination with a wink and a pout!
Road Rules Far East
The one and only road rule in the Far East is to ignore all the road rules. Traffic lights, stop streets and any other road sign are completely redundant in cities like Beijing, Taipei, Delhi and Lahore.
The overriding premise is ‘go with the flow’ and drive with one hand on the hooter so that everyone everywhere knows you’re coming. Break the rules by following the rules and you’ll be at the centre of a multi-vehicle pile-up!
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Bodily Functions Fiesta
Most of us have been brought up to mind our manners. In countries like China, letting rip with a loud belch is considered perfectly good manners. Emitting toxic air from all the orifices of the body is accepted practice, so too is spitting and picking your nose… and you’re not expected to do it privately, behind closed doors.
The philosophy behind the public display of bodily functions is that it’s better to rid the body of evil spirits than to hold them all in, the western way! So the next time you dine in Shanghai or catch the train to Kaohsiung don’t be afraid to fart, burp and dig for diamonds to your heart’s content.
Brazil is really big on ablutions and we’re not referring to the Brazilian wax. No matter who you visit and how well you know them, you’ll always be invited to freshen up in the shower.
The invitation is immediate and takes precedence over everything else. Fortunately it’, not usually a sign from the host that you’ve got really bad body odour but rather a gracious invitation to wash away the hot steamy conditions common in that part of South America! Olá, welcome to Rio… do you want a shower?