advertisement

The Right Hand -- While in Singapore, try to use only your right hand in social interaction. Why? Because in Indian and Muslim society, the left hand is used only for bathroom chores. Not only should you eat with your right hand and give and receive all gifts with your right hand, but you should make all gestures, especially pointing (and especially in temples and mosques), with your right hand. By the way, you should also try to point with your knuckle rather than your finger, to be more polite.

How to Handle Your Asian Meal

You'll notice that not all Asians use chopsticks. The Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and Vietnamese use them, while the Thais, Malays, and Indians do not (except for some noodle dishes). How can you tell who uses what? If your rice is served in a bowl, use chopsticks. If it's served on a flat plate, use a combination fork and spoon (the spoon is the actual eating utensil, the fork used only to push the food around). Southern Indians and Malays also eat with their hands. If you choose to try this traditional style of eating, make sure to wash your hands before and after your meal, and use only your right hand for the task.

How to Use Chopsticks -- Don't stick them upright in any dish, don't gesture with them, and don't suck on them. Dropped chopsticks are also considered bad luck.

One from Column A, One from Column B . . . -- Western cuisine serves each diner a plate with a complete meal for one. Not so with the Asians, where, even in the finest restaurants, Chinese, Indian, and every other kind of Asian fare is served "family style." To fully appreciate the experience, order a meat dish, a seafood dish, and a vegetable dish to share between two or three people. With your rice bowl in front of you, take only small servings of each dish at a time. For a larger party, add on a soup dish, plus other meat, seafood, and veggie selections for a variety of tastes to go around.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.