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118

In Bulgaria, Russia, former USSR countries and others, it's considered offensive not to drink when you've been invited to, and you might need a good solid excuse if you decide not to drink at all. Expect to be on the receiving end of some good-natured banter if you decide to abstain completely. Medical reasons are a possibility, although it will be ...


71

It's not "Indians" that are pushy. Not "Indians". That makes it sound like everybody. It's "rickshaw drivers, taxi drivers, and some street vendors in India." I never found pushiness from regular people other than when queueing up to buy tickets at the train station. Just from people in certain professions, and mostly in touristy areas. So it's not really ...


56

I have haggled over the scarfs on the Jemaa el-Fnaa square in Marrakesh. The starting price was usually around 200DH and I was able to buy for 65DH. I was totally unexperienced back then but I made some observations: Wait to be invited by the shopkeeper. Pretend you are just passing by and stopping for a moment to look at the wares. Do not express interest ...


51

Yes, it's true. In general, Russians never smile without a reason. No, you will not insult anybody in Russia if you smile. But, in some cases it can be assessed as rude or strange. For example, if you smile at a stranger he or she might think "Why is this guy looking at me and smiling? Do I look stupid?" Smiling when you say "Hello" is OK. In addition: ...


50

In defense of @MikkaRin's answer, I offer a contrast of cultural norms regarding emotional expression in Russia versus USA. This may not clearly represent differences between Russian and global norms (to whatever extent these exist), but hopefully it'll help. In psychological literature concerning culture and affect, opposite norms have been described: to ...


40

Yes, TRUE. A good Canadian friend of mine had a Chicago cubs (u.s. baseball team) tattoo on his right arm. Kind of silly, but apparently any tattoo has yakuza (Japanese mafia) undertones, which makes many Japanese, especially older people, uncomfortable. Attitudes seem to be changing and I even knew a few younger Japanese with tattoos, but the perception ...


39

I was in the unfortunate position of being insistingly encouraged to drink 3 years ago on the Trans-Siberian. I was much worse for wear after that experience, and sought out suggestions (in fact I really shouldn't have had that much considering my meds). Anyway, this year I returned. And indeed, the best way if you can't just refuse outright, is simply to ...


33

Tattoos or Irezumi as they are called in Japanese were criminalized in the beginning of the Meiji period (some time after 1868) as a way to make a good impression on the west. (A bit ironic in this case...) It was legalized again after the war in 1948 but still retains its image of criminality. For many years, traditional Japanese tattoos were ...


33

While saying "No" in Asia is generally different from other countries in western Europe, I made the experience that - depending on how well you know people and in which environment you are - it is much more difficult to find out what the actual situation is in Japan than let's say in China, Singapore etc. I experienced the biggest differences to the Japanese ...


33

If he/she is coming from behind, it means normally: You are slow, drive faster or change the lane ! The frequency of the light blinking indicate the urgency, a short one after a while means "Please ?" a whole flurry of it means "GET OUT OF THE F****** LANE, YOU STUPID SNEAKER !!". And no, it is not an exaggeration, Germans can be very offensive behind a ...


31

I lived in London for four years. Perhaps I just didn't appreciate it, but I can't say I really was that aware of the class system on a day-to-day basis. Sure, you were aware that in Peckham in South London there tended to be a lower socio-economic 'category' of people than say, Kensington. And yes in Mayfair there were the private members' clubs and ...


31

It usually means get your slow ass out of the way. The main Autobahns have three lanes: Outer, for trucks. Nominal speed 100km/h. Middle, for normal driving. Nominal speed 160-180km/h. Inner lane, passing. Nominal speed: faster than you. If you are driving in the inner lane and someone flashes their headlights at you, it means move over to the middle ...


30

US "pants" = UK "trousers". UK "pants" = US "underpants" or for some people "shorts".


30

Avoid the use of the word "fanny", as it is slang for, ah, a woman's front bits. Be very careful when referring to your fanny pack! Also, if an attractive member of the opposite sex asks you if you have a "rubber", double-check to make sure there aren't any chalkboards around because you're probably being asked for an eraser.


28

As a Russian and non-drinker, I want to add some info about the culture of drinking in Russia. First of all: You don't have to drink vodka, even if your partners are. It is ok if you just say: I can't drink alcohol as strong as vodka, I need wine (or cocktails, or whatever you need). Ask women about this - they're more reliable in such situations. But if ...


28

As an Iranian I can tell you that breast-feeding in public is NOT a crime (at least in Iran) and you don't need to expect any severe consequences for this. Mothers do feed their children here whenever/wherever needed and it's none of anybody's business to question them why they are feeding their children. It's however usually a good practice for breasts to ...


25

You can probably use Wikipedia to determine the exact implications of the gesture. From the information: In Afghanistan, Iran and parts of Italy, the gesture is regarded as an obscene insult equivalent to what the middle finger signifies in most of Europe, especially when combined with a sweep of the arms. In these places, it roughly means "Sit on my ...


24

I'm a Russian who doesn't drink vodka. If your goal is not to drink at all - just say so and be done with that. If you like to drink a little but just don't want to kill your liver - tell them that you prefer cognac or whiskey (whichever you like the best). Wine will also work but probably raise a couple of "be a man" things. The goal is to have a drink ...


24

While this phenomenon exists, it's not as big a problem as you think, and it affects primarily relationships with people you already know. If you ask a complete stranger for directions, they will say "no" or direct you somewhere else if they can't help you, and if they go out of their way to help you they're doing it entirely voluntarily. Sure, you might ...


23

People who are obviously foreigners get a lot of attention, but so do people who are obviously well-off Indians. The main difference is in how we react. A local would never turn to a tout or a rickshaw driver and say no: that's almost like starting a negotiation! The key is to ignore them completely. Don't even make eye contact. Pretend that they don't even ...


22

(Full resolution) Traditional Islamic law is known as Sharia. By and large, countries following it or having a dual system of civil law as well as Sharia is depicted in this map. As a traveller, this is something you need to watch out for as a country you're visiting may have laws not commonly found in civil law found in most other countries. What makes ...


21

Driving a car is the best excuse. The best solution is not hanging out with alcoholics who don't respect non-drinkers :-)


21

The only real way to be successful at this is to start knowing the value you place on the item and never pay more than this. Start your haggling below this price - a good rule of thumb is for your starting price to be around the same amount below your final as the asking price is above. Some countries like to bargain harder, but at the end of the day, you ...


19

The most common rules (may vary of course): you have to remove your shoes. men: trousers, not shorts women: long skirt (or trousers) women: shoulder and arms cannot be exposed women: scarf (sometimes)


18

It's a common problem I had in South America - I really wanted to improve my Spanish while travelling as it gives you a much better insight into your travels, and can talk to locals more. But so often they'd just switch to English because they welcomed a chance to learn English themselves. You can either do the obvious (ask them to speak French so you can ...


18

In Japan, tattoos are not a fashion statement, they are a visual mark of being a member of the yakuza and thus a social outcast. So "No tattooed people allowed" really means "we don't want the mafia on our premises". Most Japanese are probably aware that tattoos nowadays have rather different connotations in western countries, but they're not going to make ...


18

I heard an "Irish Car Bomb" and "Black and Tan" are types of cocktails/drinks. These are not terms that would be understood in Ireland, nor terms that are particularly nice. The Irish Car Bomb one is obvious. "Black and Tans" were a group of British merceneries sent over in the Irish War of Independence in 1920s which were not exactly very honourable ...


18

This is like asking if all Americans are as annoying as used car salesmen and the car dealership folks! I am an Indian, grew up in India and I can assure you that the auto rickshaws bother us just as much but we've had the training to deal with it very much like most Americans can deal with telemarketers (calling us at home for even a survey is ...


17

You need to have a real understanding of what the local currency is worth in your home currency. It's very easy to get blinded by large numbers. I was in Indonesia, haggling over a set of wicker place mats. The exchange was about 9000 Rupiah to the USD. Starting price was 250,000 Rupiah for a set, about $27.00. We ended up paying 100,000, The price ...


17

First of all, Saudi is a normal working environment. You can say it is different but surely it is normal :) Do not believe CNN or any western media regarding Saudi. They simply exaggerate things to the maximum which will give a bad first impression that will be stuck for a long time. People are touchy. Saudi men do shake hands all the time and it is ...



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