Working my way through the alphabet to explain China. After A and B, we arrived at C and nothing fits better than :
China is cryptic!
cryptic = having a secret or hidden meaning
What do I mean with this? Well…Chinese are real champions in saying things, they do not necessarily mean or that are not actual facts, to save face.
This may sound harsh, but one has to listen carefully to the tone and words they use. Not many will openly say “No”. One of my Chinese Teachers in Shanghai always said “Maybe” when she meant “No”. And when I say always, I really mean always. She even explained it to us.
The same goes with directions, instead of simply telling you “I do not know the way”, many will simply point you into a random direction. So always double-check your directions with at least 2-3 people.
When they do not agree with something, some will simply pretend they didn’t hear it, others will come up with a different solution. Better listen to that different solution, because in short it kinda means they really do not want to do whatever you suggested.
It’s all about saving face!
All about not insulting the other person nor themselves. All about finding the middle way. The way of less confrontation is based on Confucius teachings and a huge part of their history and education.
So no matter what a local tells you, promises or suggests, pay attention to the tone, the facial expression and if they look comfortable or not.
Chinese Culture is very different to what Westerners are used to. Some things just don’t make sense to us.
Let’s but it into simple words, they just have a different mindset.
What else is cryptic?
Often if people behave odd it’s for good luck or to ward of bad spirits. For example why somebody was hanging a Fish and a Chicken onto a bike for new years, I do not know. Either they didn’t have a fridge in the house or there was some strange meaning.
During certain days you dress red, never give anything with the Number 4, certain number combinations mean “I love you – Wo ai ni” -520…now isn’t that romantic xD
They seem to love symbols and hidden meanings and you will stumble over a lot of them.
Some will tell you not to eat ice, because a woman has to eat warm things. The reason is found in the Theory of Yin and Yang, with Yin being the female and already cold.
Besides cryptic behaviour don’t even get me started on the chinese characters, which are little Puzzles each by its own.
China is cryptic. It is full of riddles and traditions!
When coming here it is your job to discover and solve them.
I guess that’s why I love China and it’s culture so much, I never could stay away from a good crossword puzzle 😉
What is the do you find cryptic about China? Please share your experiences with us =)