Sunday, June 11, 2017

Positive Impact Journey: Cultural Significance of Removing Your Shoes in Asia

Positive Impact Journey: Cultural Significance of Removing Your Shoes in Asia



by Alexandra Black Paulick


"I made a major cultural mistake early on in my Asia adventure. It was in Thailand and I started blazing across the foyer to the reception desk in our small off the beaten path lodging. It had been a long day and I was more than ready to claim my room and curl up for a long night sleep. A bustling grandmother behind the counter quickly came running to block my path, utterly in shock at my onset.

You see I still had my sandals on. I had crossed the barrier of the lobby still wearing my chacos.

Much to my surprise, the older host of the house requested that our shoes be removed outside. It suddenly dawned on me that in my haste, I had passed a small group of shoes outside on the steps leading into the hotel. Slowly a memory of someone commenting about shoes and customs in Asia came to the forefront.

I went to slide my sandals off, still holding them in my hand but proceeding barefoot. Strike two. While our host was friendly and accommodating, she was committed that my shoes remain outside."

8 comments:

Paul said...

Kind of gross. Probably a lot of fungi is spread this way.

Mark said...

We were taking shoes off at the door in the UK 50 years ago. It had nothing to do with eastern cultures then and still hasn't.now.

Matthew Celestine said...

That's great, but my experience as a kid in the 80s and early 90s was that adults rarely removed their shoes in other peoples homes.

Paul said...

How much did it change since then?

On the other hand, the word is that back then it was more common for shop window dressers to take shoes off, and this custom is almost nonexistent now.

Sandro said...

The shop-window custom has been away in ex-USSR as well. The reason IMHO is that fabric or other vulnerable materials are no more used for shop-window coverings.

Paul said...

I am not sure the shop-window custom ever existed in ex-USSR to begin with. Maybe in some non-Russian republics?

Matthew Celestine said...

Oh Paul, you're not going to try to argue that you know more about former Soviet life than Sandro again?

Mark said...

I was brought up in the North Of England many many years ago. I don't remember anyone wearing shoes in the house and taking off shoes when visiting happened frequently.
Maybe us Northerners are a more civilised lot. Not everyone I knew wore clogs, raised whippets and raced pigeons!!