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Local customs baffle some overseas visitors

MANY Shanghai people wouldn't give it a second thought but foreign tourists find strange some Shanghainese behavior, such as wearing pajamas on the street, drying blankets and quilts between trees, and spitting.

Wang Chen, who worked as a tour guide in the city for three years, said tourists were surprised to see so many quilts, blankets and light mattresses displayed in the streets when seasons change, some hanging between trees, some laying on lounging chairs.

"They found it very funny that women took the quilts and blankets of all kinds of patterns onto the streets in the morning, as if the street was a part of their home" she said. "Most foreign tourists would not do that in their own countries, nor wear pajamas in the street."

Wang said most families drying quilts outside lived in old residential areas, such as shikumen, which do not have balconies.

"I could understand that, maybe, if they didn't have other ways to air them, but to wear pajamas outside home was more unacceptable."

Wang said her tourists often saw women, and occasionally men, lining up to buy breakfast in pajamas," she said. "We would even come across such people in hypermarkets. They seemed never to be aware that they looked strange."

But what most tourists find disturbing is spitting on the street. Wang said she couldn't accept such behavior because it looked disgusting and could spread germs. She said tourists often asked why people spat in the street and she didn't know how to explain.

"Some tourists mocked spitters behavior and laughed," she said. "I felt it very funny, but was also ashamed."


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