Very,  at least that is what i believe.

How far up should your hand be on the chopsticks that you are eating with? In Vietnam (my destination on the 14th of April) it is the rule-of-thumb that the further up the chopsticks your hand is placed, the more experienced you are. It is extremely rude to take an item of food from the sharing plate, in the middle of the table, and put it straight in your mouth. You must first place the item of food on your personal plate and then into your mouth. From your plate, the piece of food that you have chosen can not touch your lips, teeth or tongue as you place it into your mouth. When locals see that you can expertly place a peace of chicken or even more impressive balance rice on your chop sticks and then place it into your mouth without touching your teeth, they will see and appreciate the fact  that you have taken the time to actually learn that this is the way it should be done, the way that the locals do it. They will see you as less of a tourist and more of well seasoned traveler, one that is open to trying new things and willing to immerse yourself in the local customs and culture. Wether that is the case or not, just bowing your head  and not shaking hands to say hello shows that you are respectful of their culture and they in turn will treat you with respect. Knowledge of customs and culture is the key to having the most amazing experiences during your travels.

It is the one thing that you can not forget to leave at home.


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