10 "silly" questions often asked by Chinese traveling abroad

08:28, January 13, 2010      

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Over the past decade, a growing number of Chinese citizens have visited developed countries for leisure or business. It is understandable that Chinese citizens have some questions when they stay in foreign countries.

However, a question that seems casual may reveal a "cultural difference." Although there are a lot of different questions, they may simply be summarized as following 10 questions.

1: Is there boiled water? (The most asked question)

Having checked into a hotel, a Chinese citizen tends to first ask whether there is a kettle in the guest room. However, the fact is that kettles are seldom available in foreign hotels other than one or two large international hotel chains. Westerners love drinking cool water except for coffee and even like to drink iced mineral water that is also served at breakfast.

2: Are there non-China made products?

Chinese people usually buy something for relatives and friends when they go abroad. Unfortunately, China-made products excluding foods such as meat, eggs and milk are seen here and there in foreign countries, and even famous-brand products are marked with "Made in China." It seems shameful to buy Chinese made products from abroad. This neglects two points. Firstly, the quality of brand products is the same wherever they are made. Secondly, what is wrong with "made in China?" Even if foreigners look down upon China-made products, they are still consuming them, right? Why do Chinese people look down upon themselves? When the "made-in-China" brand becomes popular, it would be unnecessary for Chinese people to buy products abroad.

3: "Why is the hotel so shabby?" (This can be easily misunderstood)

In fact, this is a big misunderstanding. In developed countries, a big gap exists between ordinary and luxury hotels and luxurious 5-star hotels are rare and expensive. For the average wage earner, a clean and comfortable hotel is ok, and that’s all. Furthermore, the majority of hotels in developed countries were built in line with very low standards before the Second World War (except in Germany). On the other hand however, most hotels in China are constructed in accordance with the latest international standards during the past 20 to 30 years. Therefore, 4-star hotels in foreign countries are not as good as China’s 3-star hotels and 3-star hotels in foreign countries are not as good as China's hostels.

4: "Will we be discriminated against?"(This will not happen)

When clients are required to have breakfast in different zones, hotels provide different foods to different clients, and unfair arrangement for seats in trains and airplanes exist, clients intend to raise such doubts.

We cannot say that there is no discrimination in developed countries. However, it is very difficult to spot any discrimination. You are lucky if you have been discriminated against in a foreign country because you can file and win a lawsuit and get compensation if you have irrefutable evidence. Some hotels provide different breakfasts to individual clients and group clients just because of the different breakfast fee standards, and you do not need to make a fuss about it. When buying a train ticket or getting a boarding pass, you can directly request what seats you are interested in. Generally speaking, your demands can be satisfied (if you are fluent in foreign languages). On the contrary, if you judge everything from an angle of "class struggle" and make a fuss about it, you will make a foolish mistake. A tourist group once complained to a Chinese embassy that all of them were arranged to sit together with blacks in a train, dumbfounding relevant diplomats.

5: "Is this genuine or fake?" (The biggest doubt when shopping)

Such a question may seem common in China, but there is no need to propose it in developed countries. There are fake goods in Europe and the U.S., but they are mainly sold in street stalls. Most often, fake products are usually sold by illegal immigrants and are mainly made in China. The western police seem not as capable as Chinese urban management officers. When they show up "slowly," vendors selling fake goods have already run away “unhurriedly,” resulting in endless fake goods. It is impossible to find fake goods in stores selling brand products.
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