Leiho Leiho! This, is the Cantonese for Ni Hao, or hello. In Guangzhou people actually speak Cantonese (Guangdong hua, the language of Guangdong province), this is one of the particularities of Chinese culture. Each region has its own dialect: In Shanghai they speak Shanganese, in Taiwan Taiwanese, in Hunan (the food is so spicy there by the way) Hunanese, and I could keep going like this for a while. However, everybody under a certain age speaks and writes fluently Madarin (Putong Hua), which became the official language in China in 1956, as Chinese people couldn’t understand each other’s dialects, therefore it is taught in every school.
There is no official religion in China, there are all of them, although you can notice a growth of Christianity, but the most spread religion is Buddhism, you can visit so many temples, either in the centre of the Forbidden city in Beijing, or in the middle of the mountains in central China. If you ever go and visit one of these temples, keep in mind that it is a lack of respect to take pictures of Buddha’s statues.
China has been ruled by several dynasties, starting with the Xia dynasty in 2070 BC for 500 years, going through the Qin dynasty for only 15 years 221 BC, they still had the time to start the building of the Great Wall, to the Ming and the Qing, who were the last two ones. The rule of Qing was over in 1911, after a reign of 268 years.
A total of 26 dynasties has ruled China, of course the country’s history is much older than ours, yet it is still a big figure, and of course every time a dynasty came to an end, there was a blood shed, first of the soldiers fighting for each family, and then when one had won, they killed every single member of the other family.
It is “funny” to think about this, Chinese fighting each other, because when you see them, they are so peaceful, so pacific, I have never had any trouble here, neither any of my friends, whereas in France it happens so often to be annoyed by people in the street.
I have already told you about food, but only about the behaviour you need to have, never drinking alone etc… Since everyone has so many (wrong) expectations about Chinese food I will explain a little. Yes, they eat crazy things, insects that are not necessarily dead, reptiles, I have tried snake turtle and crocodile (Snake is quite alright, turtle not really, and crocodile really bad, it is so chewy!), some people eat dog, but I have never had a chance to try it, and that is pretty much it.
Here you can see crocodile meat.
The issue is how they present the food, they waste nothing, not a single piece of the animal, for example when they serve chicken, well first it not cut as we do it, every piece of meat comes with bones, because meat close to the bones is the most noble meat. You also have the head of the chicken, and of course the feet. And they eat everything. I remember once we had duck, and at the end the was only the butt left, and it turned out that it is the piece reserved for the guest of honour, guess who it was… The bone thing is quite annoying for us, because the usual way to sort them out, is to put all in your mouth and split them out, if you are in a classic restaurant it is ok, you have a plate just for this, however if you are in a street restaurant, you just spit on the table or on the floor, I let you imagine how clean you leave the table when you are done…
That is a classic dinner table in a restaurant.
I will finish this article with funnier stories. Except in big cities, Chinese people pretty much never see foreigners. So when I come to business trips with my boss, dinners are always special, people inviting us want to show me their culture. So first they want to show you how much they can drink (and remember here you never drink alone) and sometimes they want to show you their culture’s dance. So first you just watch, which is really nice, and the your boss look at you, smile at you, takes his cellphone out of his pocket and start the camera, and suggest them that it would be funny if I joined them. Well it was funny, but when I pictured a business trip with big, big customers, I did not quite expect this.
Talking about dancing, here they dance in the street. They put some music, and all together make the same choregraphy. In France that would never happen because we are too afraid of what people think of us, here people never judge each other.