Culture Shock! Welcome to the new series that basically named itself! We’ve just landed in a new continent that is about to challenge us in completely new ways. Some will undoubtedly be intriguing and funny little things we’ll have to adjust to. Others will surely be frustrating or beyond comprehension. Finally, there will be cringe-worthy moments certain to have us questioning why we ever left the comforts of home in the first place.
Each article in the series is intended to be an opportunity to learn, grow and share. It is our collection of observations and information from the different cultures we visit from our subjective anthropological perspective. We never intend to shame or shed negativity on anyone else’s way of life. Wherever we can, we will do our best to understand and explain how to respect and behave in a given place. Though sometimes, we may only be able to share on what NOT to do, as we figure out life as a local through our embarrassing mistakes and faux paus moments.
Culture Shock and the Chinese Driver
China seems to encourage their citizens to drive scooters, or electric bikes as they call them here, by having designated lanes and even putting up these little shade huts so that drivers don’t have to endure the sun while waiting for the traffic light to change. (Neither one of these things is respected much but it’s nice to see the effort ) Guilin, Guanxi, China – Karina Noriega
There was only a single moment where the words got caught in my throat.
“Let me out! Right effing now!”
April and I are on our way to the Longji rice terraces of northern Guanxi province in China. It’s the rainy season, hot and humid since arrival, but so far we’ve been spared any downpours on our first week in this country. That hasn’t been the case in the mountains. The potholed, winding road, barely a lane and a half wide curls between rocky cliffs and a raging river below. The pretty waterfalls all us passengers admired as our minivan first started climbing away from the highway have now turned into raging drenchers flying out of the vertical walls above us and straight onto the road. Ahead of us, a landslide caused a massive portion of the road to collapse into the river. From my back row point of view, it is clear that the remaining asphalt has no solid mountain beneath it. It is only a matter of time before it gives way completely, and we are about to drive over it. Continue reading
The Devil’s Golf Course is a huge salt pan on the floor of Death Valley, located in the Mojave Desert. The area was once covered by Lake Manly and when the water evaporated all that remained behind was salt chalked full of minerals. Because the area now remains dry, the salt flat is subject to weathering and erosion processes which sculpt the salt into magnificent formations. Quite the sight to behold. Death Valley, California, USA — Karina Noriega
We arrived in California’s Death Valley National Park just in time to watch the blazing sun fade away behind the mounds of rock and sand. We opted to sleep in the car rather than pay for accommodations as we had done without issue for most of our five month road-trip across the USA. Our extensive experience traveling through deserts in Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado, had proven to us that the oppressive heat produced by the desert sun is always replaced by cool, comfortable air following dusk. We had yet to experience a desert which continues to roast its inhabitants the whole night through. The inferno formed in California’s infamous Death Valley produces record temperatures so high that it would leave Lucifer himself climbing the walls in search of an escape. It is located in Mohave Desert where the rain shadow produced by the Sierra Nevada mountains blocks all wind and weather systems from reaching the valley. This land is renowned for being the hottest place in the entire world and the driest in all of North America.
We didn’t want to overheat our engine so we only ran the air-conditioning intermittently. Basically we endured the heat until one of us begged the other to be released from the torture chamber. Death Valley, California, USA — Karina Noriega
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