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WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 33778 [post_author] => 4 [post_date] => 2014-12-31 22:38:30 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-12-31 22:38:30 [post_content] => CULTURAL practices across the Asia-Pacific vary from place to place. Generally locals are very forgiving of visitors who don't know the ins and outs of cultural protocols, but there are certainly a few things to keep in mind in order to avoid giving offence. Here's a look at just some of these basic practices that you may or may not be familiar with. Misusing images of Buddha Last month a New Zealand barman and two Burmese nationals were prosecuted for using a picture of Buddha in headphones against a psychedelic backdrop for a flyer advertising their bar in Yangon. The sentence could be as much as four years. While this level of punishment may seem extreme to a lot of westerners, Buddhism is the main religion in Burma and all practices of Buddhism are widely revered as they are in other countries such as Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. Another thing to note is that statues of the Buddha are never touched on the head and you shouldn't lean or sit on one either. [caption id="attachment_33781" align="alignnone" width="448" caption="Buddhism is revered in parts of Asia. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com"][/caption] Kicking or touching someone with your foot If you find someone suddenly grabbing your hand in Mongolia, you may find it's because they accidentally just kicked or nudged you with their foot. Of course this is not just a Mongolian tradition but stems from a common belief across Asia that all beings are sacred and treading or kicking them is inauspicious. On an aside note, some foreigners who have spent some time in Mongolia have found the custom hard to break when they go home - a Scottish man who lived in Ulaanbaater for 10-15 years reported that he once shook a man's hand in the post office in Edinburgh; something that was met with very strange looks. In India, instead of a hand shake you may find people tap you somewhere, such as on the shoulder, and then their own forehead as a silent form of apology. [caption id="attachment_33782" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="In Mongolia you should shake someone's hand if you accidentally touch their feet. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com"][/caption] Dirty feet Feet are considered dirty in most parts of Asia and it is generally considered rude to point with them or to show the soles of your feet, or even raise them, such as by placing them on a table or desk. Shoes should always be removed before entering people's homes and holy places such as temples or mosques. However while Asian people will remove their shoes inside, this is generally not practiced outside.   Not only are a lot of streets and outdoor areas quite dirty but it's not polite to bring any of that back inside on your dirty feet. It's not particularly offensive to walk around barefoot but it will draw attention. Wearing shoes all the time, such as too and from the beach or around a hotel can be hard for some travellers, such as Australians, who are used to walking around barefoot. [caption id="attachment_33780" align="alignnone" width="585" caption="Don't show your soles in Asia. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com"][/caption] Using your left hand Pay attention to exchanges of money, service in restaurants or simply the passing of items in Asia and you'll notice that this is mostly done with the right hand, because the left hand is considered dirty because ... ahem... it is commonly used for toileting. In some cultures, such as amongst Tibetan communities, exchanges are even done with two hands or with the right hand supported by the left at the elbow as a show oof respect. Most people won't be offended if you get it wrong but it's just one way of being more culturally attuned to their practices. Eating is also done with the right hand. [caption id="attachment_33783" align="alignnone" width="381" caption="It's best to avoid using the left hand in Asia. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com"][/caption] Greetings The Western custom of shaking a person's hand upon meeting is widely accepted around Asia but there are times when it would be more appropriate to nod or bow. For example Muslim women would not shake hands with a Westerner, nor would most Indian women; in these cases the nod of a head will suffice. Countries like China and Japan do not have a touching society and often a nod or bow is a better option. In some cultures it may be customary to be greeted with food or beverages. In India or Pakistan it may be something innocuous as tea, whereas in Mongolia it could be vodka or arak - fermented mare's milk. It is best to accept these offerings and taste, or  pretend to taste the product at least. [caption id="attachment_33786" align="alignnone" width="654" caption="It is best not to shake hands with women in India. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com"][/caption] Leave food on your plate In some cultures it is considered polite to leave a bit of food on your plate to signify to your host that you have eaten enough and that they have satisified you. This is certainly the case in countries like the Philippines and Indonesia. In other cultures it is considered more wasteful, say in places like Australia and New Zealand where leaving food on the plate  may tell your host you didn't like the food! [caption id="attachment_33784" align="alignnone" width="654" caption="Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com"][/caption] Respect for the elderly In most of Asia older people are respected and you may see people give up their seats for older people on public transport, rise to greet them should they enter a room, or hold doors open for them. In Thailand and Japan people bow slightly to elderly people. In Taiwan people cover their left fist with their right hand and raise it to their heart when they greet an older person. [caption id="attachment_33785" align="alignnone" width="290" caption="Respect is given to elderly people across Asia. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com"][/caption]   [post_title] => Cultural gaffes to avoid in the Asia-Pacific region [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => cultural-gaffes-to-avoid-in-the-asia-pacific-region [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-12-31 22:38:31 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-12-31 22:38:31 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.travelwireasia.com/?p=33778 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )

Cultural gaffes to avoid in the Asia-Pacific region

Cultural gaffes to avoid in the Asia-Pacific region
December 31, 2014 - 0 Comments - Jo Lane

CULTURAL practices across the Asia-Pacific vary from place to place. Generally locals are very forgiving of visitors who don’t know the ins and outs of cultural protocols, but there are certainly a few things to keep in mind in order to avoid giving offence. Here’s a look at just some of these basic practices that…>

There’s a storm out there: Avoiding inclement weather during your travels

There’s a storm out there: Avoiding inclement weather during your travels
December 13, 2014 - 0 Comments - Jo Lane

“I advise you go to Halong Bay now before the next typhoon. There was one last week and there may be another again soon.” This isn’t the kind of travel advice you expect in a travel agency in Hanoi when all you really know about beautiful Ha Long Bay on Vietnam’s north east coast are the idyllic blue skies and limestone islets featured in magazine pictures. But this part of Vietnam can experience several typhoons a year – time it wrong and you may find your holiday blown away in water and wind.

Four easy ways to lose all your money in Southeast Asia

Four easy ways to lose all your money in Southeast Asia
October 23, 2014 - 0 Comments - Ben Cowles

I took off on a three month trip around Southeast Asia, and while a good time was had, I fell for some of the most common scams out there. Therefore, I’ve decided to write up a bit of a guide for other travellers to Southeast Asia intent on squandering more money than they can afford. Here’s four easy ways to get scammed in Southeast Asia.

Visa enforcement tightens for tourists and expats in Thailand

Visa enforcement tightens for tourists and expats in Thailand
July 21, 2014 - 0 Comments - Casey Hynes

THE days of ‘border runs’ in Thailand are coming to a swift end. Immigration is putting a stop to these brief overland trips in and out of neighboring countries, popular among long-stay travelers and tourists who want to extend their time in the country. Even those on valid tourist visas may be denied entry if immigration officials suspect feel they are spending too long in the country or working illegally.

India to introduce new visa-on-arrival scheme

India to introduce new visa-on-arrival scheme
July 20, 2014 - 0 Comments - Cormac Quinn

THE Indian visa office in Kathmandu’s Thamel district has long held an allure for spur-of-the-moment travellers. Located on a cramped street flanked by open sewers and loitering rickshaw peddlers, it is one of Asia’s few Indian visa offices that issue all foreigners tourist visas on short notice.

Getting around for cheap with the Japan Rail Pass

Getting around for cheap with the Japan Rail Pass
June 23, 2014 - 0 Comments - Cormac Quinn

PASSPORT: Check! Wallet: Check! It is a familiar routine when traveling and often has us patting our pockets every time we leave a hotel room or shuffle out of a cramped airplane. However, when you travel in Japan another vital item is added to the checklist; a Japan Rail Pass.

Thailand coup: What does it mean for tourists?

Thailand coup: What does it mean for tourists?
May 24, 2014 - 0 Comments - Travel Wire Asia

NOW that Thailand’s martial law has turned into a full-blown coup, there has been much discussion about what the political situation means for tourists, both those entering the country and those already here.

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  • avatarAmrita Yoga { Yoga retreats offer such a nice opportunity to unplug from our daily lives and the opportunity to tune within to our true natures. Thanks~ amritayoga.com } – Jan 20, 5:59 AM
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