Dinner etiquette: I learnt some of the basics to eating etiquette at dinner tonight. The waitress always stands at the table even when you first sit down and will wait for however long it takes for you to order your drinks and food – whether it be two minutes or twenty minutes – she will always standby in silence and wait. Also, when the waitress is not there, people also often yell out ‘Fuwyuan’ to call the waitress and this is not considered rude. Next, the most prestigious person always sits the furthest away from the door and they are usually the first to propose a toast to the group by saying, ‘Gambei!’ After the toast has been made, the person to the left of them begins to eat first and it continues clockwise from there. Also, when toasting someone with a higher status than you, people always try to ‘clink’ their glasses lower than the other person. So for example, when an employee is toasting his boss, he will always try to ‘clink’ his glass lower than the glass of his boss – just out of respect for his status. Meals are always ordered as shared dishes – so for example, there are eight people and you order eight dishes which are all shared. They put the dishes on a rotating glass table in the centre and people just spin it around or reach for food on a desired plate. With all of these rules to eating though, very few of them are often followed and instead – food ends up everywhere on the table and everyone is making funny noises shovelling food into their mouths. The food here is delicious though! (you just have to make sure to ask WHAT is on your plate after your meal – not before…hehe).
Dogs: Everyone here seems to own a dog! We were joking that people own dogs so that they can have a family of four (mother, father, child, dog) because families are still only allowed to have one child. But, amazingly enough, people have to pay taxes on their dogs – 2000 kuai ($350/year). Also, within the fourth ring-road of Beijing, only small dogs are allowed. Outside of the fourth ring-road people are allowed to own medium and large sized dogs. The funniest part though is that they are all shitzou’s! You see people walking their dogs down the streets (and carrying them across the crosswalks – not to risk having them run over!) I’m curious though because people don’t walk around and pick up their dogs ‘droppings’, but there never seem to be any on the streets. Hmmm…where do all the droppings go??? Hehe.
Excersize for the Elderly: The elderly Chinese people do not go to the gym or work out and instead they do tai chi in the morning and social dance in the evenings. This last weekend we passed by a large group of elderly women dancing with fans to the music of some elderly men banging on drums. Also, in our living complex on Friday nights – there are elderly couples out in the main square dancing to music with other couples. I think that they enjoy the social aspect of the exercise and do it solely for enjoyment.
The People: They are loyal, genuine, trustworthy and kind. There has not been a person I have met yet that has shown disrespect or raised their voice to anyone. Everyone so far that I have met have just been such considerate people.