In our day-to-day lives, most of us live in one place, follow a specific daily routine, and talk to the same group of people. This is our version of normality, our comfort zone. But what is normal for us may not be considered as such in other places. For example, do you have curtains? If you lived in the Netherlands and used curtains, you’d be considered weird. But for anyone but the Dutch, the decision of having bare windows that let passers-by peek into your home is what’s odd, if not completely unacceptable.
This article is dedicated to 15 unusual traditions around the world foreigners find odd, but the locals consider to be completely ordinary.
1. In some countries, such as Costa Rica and parts of Japan, most streets don't have names. Addresses in Costa Rica, for example, are described by their proximity to local landmarks.
2. The Italian Police added a Lamborghini Huracan to the police vehicle fleet in 2017. Patrolling the streets must be a lot more fun for them now!
3. Writing someone's name in red is taboo in Japan and South Korea because it's considered to be a bad omen.
The origins of the taboo have an interesting history. In the past, Samurai would send letters challenging each other to battle. In these letters, the opponent's name was written in red ink. Hence, red ink is associated with animosity.
4. Tavuk gogsu is a Turkish dessert pudding made with chicken breast, milk, and sugar. The dish was once a delicacy reserved to the sultans of the Ottoman Empire.
5. If you are visiting Ecuador, you may mistake the garbage truck for an ice cream truck.
For some odd reason, the tune Ecuadorian garbage trucks make is identical to the tune used in American ice cream trucks.
6. The green light in Japanese traffic lights has a bluish tone.
Before World War II, the distinction between blue and green didn't exist in the Japanese language and the same word ao was used to describe both colors. To this day, the green color of the traffic light is called ao, which is why Japan uses a bluish shade of green on their traffic lights.
7. Milk sold in France is not refrigerated. This is because they pasteurize the milk at UHT (ultra-high temperatures), so it doesn't have to be stored in the cold.
8. When answering the phone in the Netherlands, you a hoi instead of hello.
Fun fact: 'hoi,' is an old-school shortening of the nautical term 'ahoy.'
9. Wooden bathtubs called ofuro are quite common in Japan. They are used for sitting and soaking in hot water.
10. The annual Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling is a competition in the UK where people roll 200 yards downhill after a giant cheese wheel.
11. Fried Mars bars are a common dessert at fish-and-chips shops in Scotland. It's battered and deep-fried.
12. This site in New Zealand has the longest place name in the world. It consists of 85 characters. Try to pronounce it.
13. The only modern country in the world that doesn't have a rectangular flag is Nepal.
In the past, the flags of almost all states in South Asia were triangular, but Nepal is the only country today that maintains this ancient tradition.
14. In Luxembourg, public transportation is free to both locals and visitors.
15. Parts of the federal highway system (the autobahn) in Germany have no hard speed limit. There's only a recommended speed, but drivers can choose to drive as fast as they want.
Share these travel encounters and traditions with others!