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68

I live in a very corrupt country - Ukraine. Let me give you some advice. First, try to avoid looking like stranger. Try to look like the locals. That is often difficult, I know. It's the only advice about how to avoid corrupt police. They often search for strangers just to get some money from them, because strangers are easy meat. All the other advice is ...


50

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: ...


49

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 ...


45

Take name cards with two hands when given to you, give them with two hands. Look at the received card, put it in front of you on the table while you are talking to the person(s). You CAN punch with one chopstick into food and hold it with the other if it's something hard to eat (dumplings, potatoes etc). Don't stick both in however. Do not soak your sushi ...


39

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 ...


36

As a French native, I discovered this practice in North America. I never asked for a doggy bag in France, nor have I seen someone do it. So it is likely restaurants don't even have boxes. You can obviously take out food from fast-food restaurants but for regular restaurants I don't think it is correct behaviour. I usually finish my dishes, I only order what ...


33

I just found this gr8 (well, not very great) workaround. . Didn't try it yet, but looks like it may work.


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 ...


32

I had the same problem after arriving to the UK. There are two basic techniques: Plug the sink, pour the water and wash yourself in this water. I think this was how it was meant to be used when this system was first introduced years ago. You can mix it in any other container as well, depending on your needs. One potential downside to this method is that ...


29

First, in problematic places I would try to avoid interacting with the police as much as possible. Another strategy is patience. Usually, corrupt police are just trying to make quick money off an easy victim. Tourists are an obvious target because they tend to have more money and are more likely to be unfamiliar with the local language and customs. If you ...


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 ...


28

Cows are considered holy in Hindu religion, not India as a whole per se. North/East/West India are primarily Hindu-majority regions and thus you're highly unlikely to find any beef, except perhaps at dodgy places in Muslim-dominated parts of those towns. Dodgy places because in those three parts of India cow slaughter is frowned upon and you don't find ...


28

Funnily enough, I read an article on askmen.com about the top 10 Japanese etiquette mistakes. Boiled down to bullet points, we have: Blowing your nose in public Pointing with your forefinger Don't pour your own beer Wearing toilet slippers outside of toilet Giving gifts in multiples of four Failing to wash first before entering a public bath Passing food ...


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 ...


20

Mount Athos, in Greece, does not permit women to enter. Wikipedia explains the rationale behind this prohibition as Monks feel that the presence of women alters the social dynamics of the community and therefore slows their path towards spiritual enlightenment. However, you may want to refine your question. For example, most restrooms are divided on ...


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)


19

Wikivoyage tells you all you need to know -- and I'm going to quote most of it, since I originally wrote the entry! Don't panic — help is at hand. The first key to solving the puzzle is that the actual flush mechanism is usually not operated by the control panel: instead, there is a standard, familiar, Western-style lever, switch or knob somewhere ...


19

Not sure if this is quite the scenario you are outlining, but: If you're really really broke, chances are you won't be eating at restaurants or places that require tipping in the first place :) At least in the US, tipping is not the norm (or is completely optional - eg. tip jar might be present) at fast food (McD, Chipotle), sandwich shops (Subway) or other ...


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 ...


16

I just try to make a conscious effort to use only my right hand for most things when I'm in public places - paying for transportation fare or items in a market, eating in public restaurants, even pushing doors open. If you're mindful enough, you should be able to manage most of the time; if you forget once in a while, just correct yourself as soon as your ...


16

I can't say that I completely understand your situation (I am, after all, of European descent), but you should not be surprised to find out that Some people are stupid have prejudices I have indeed been treated sometimes differently for being Eastern European (and proud of it!), and the thing that I found works best is to just ignore them and pretend that ...


16

I'm Chinese so I can probably tell you this. As you're a foreigner they know already that you're not used to their culture. So, be yourself and you'll be fine. If anything, I guess it must be you to prepare for culture shock. As most of my foreigner friends complain about the spitting and toilets. So be prepared. Another thing is they smoke everywhere, if ...


16

I never used a bidet, but in my travels I always have a pack of wet tissues with me. There is a lot of choice around - from individually packed to large, 50+ pieces packs, antibacterial, scented, for make-up removal, etc. You can choose between hand wipes, facial wipes or even baby wipes. There are a couple of good things about them. First of all, they are ...


16

This is actually conditional. In your particular case it will not be strange or insulting though as MikkaRin pointed out they may think "What is this guy so happy about?". Reason that it won't be for you is that you are an obvious foreigner in that country and you will be looked on as such and there is certain leeway that is allowed. In Russia there is a ...


15

You have bumped into one of the Spanish habits. In Spain there are a lot of people that wake up early just to leave their things at the beach/pool and then go back to bed. It's like planting a flag saying "hey, this is my territory and you should keep away". I hate this behaviour of my fellow countrymen. What to do? At the beach, there is a recent law that ...


15

Mark's answer is excellent and covers all the big ones. From experience, just thought I'd add some other / my own social faux pas: Eating in public whilst walking Crossing your legs in front of your superiors (boss or manager, usually) Wiping your face with 'oshibori' (moist cloth given before a meal to clean your hands) Stabbing food with chopsticks ...


14

To avoid getting harassed? Avoid the police in places where they have a very bad reputation, like Mexico City. In my experience at least in Mexico City the corrupt ones always look evil. The ones that look nice actually are nice. Look in their eyes and you might be able to see it even from a distance. (I'm really not kidding) When you can't avoid the ...


14

It has an impact, but it isn't problematic. The Sabbath runs from Friday at sundown to Saturday at sundown, though in practice it could extend from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning. In planning your trip, it is much like planning in other countries where shops are closed on Sundays or museums are only open on certain days. The key thing is to plan your ...


14

Just ask them. If they switch to english, say: "S'il vous plaît, en français, j'essaie d'apprendre."



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