The ugly

I have to admit that there are two aspects to the Chinese culture which do not sit well with me. The first is the unbending attitude to rules against common sense.

The best example I can give of this is the insistence at the hotel pool that I had to purchase a bathing cap, to use the swimming pool. Now anyone who has met me, would be aware that I of all people don’t need a bathing cap. In NZ they would laugh and ignore the rule, but here the rules are unbending, and staff are not trained to use judgement.

A related example was when we needed to have a meeting and one staff member gave us a room to use. Around an hour later a more senior staffer discovered us in there and said it was not meant to be used and insisted we leave immediately, even though no-one else needed it. Would not even let us finish the meeting which had only five minutes to go.

Don’t get me wrong. On an individual level many Chinese have been extremely helpful and friendly. But the culture is very different to NZ where we take rule bending almost to the other extreme.

The other negative aspect has been the near extortion on one of the tours. Sure you expect the bus to stop as a couple of tourists traps (we were taken to a jade factory etc – work was superb but prices obscene) but we nearly rebelled when we were taken to an alternative health centre, forced to have a traditional medicine doctor take our pulses and then have him prescribe 3000 yuan (NZ $500) worth of alternative medicine. I refused.

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