Thursday, April 18, 2013

China tourism surge: Your reactions

 We knew even while researching Tuesday's feature on the global impact of Chinese tourism that the story was likely to generate strong reactions among readers.

After all, in a matter of just a decade or so, Chinese tourists have gone from being relatively rare outside of Asia to becoming the most important market in global touris surpassing American and German travelers in 2012 as the world's top international spenders, with a record $102 billion shelled out on the road.

Chinese travelers the world's biggest spenders

But even we were taken aback by the intensity of the emotions -- often thoughtful, sometimes ugly, always illuminating -- the story elicited among our global readership. (Per CNN policy, we've been monitoring and removing the explicitly hateful and threatening comments from the site.)

Many readers focused on the individual habits of Chinese tourists, positive and negative.

All comments are at the bottom of this: Chinese tourism: The good, the bad and the backlash

Hoteliers cater for Chinese tourism

Politician throws computers at airport

Luxury shops cater to Chinese tourists

Ed Connolly summed up the feelings of the more outraged commenters: "Basically get ready for loud conversations, small tips, deceptive behavior and cutting in line. For anyone who has traveled to Asia, China in particular, you know all too well what I'm talking about. Chinese are rude and inconsiderate. Think I'm too opinionated? Spend a week in China and get back to me."

Weighing in from Thailand, Katy Khan voiced a similar sentiment: "Here in Thailand it's a big deal. They can't stand Chinese tourists and are complaining to the government about it. It's pretty bad. Chinese people are quite rude compared to any other culture I've ever experienced."

Readers such as Mi Jo, however, reported markedly different experiences with Chinese travelers: "I deal with lot of Chinese tourist every summer and I have to say that they are very kind. They leave impression of shyness. I do not know if they don't talk much anywhere or they are just shocked by cultural differences but they are very very [quiet], and most of them don't speak at all (even though they know English language)."

Added tigerlee: "Not only you guys but people in China feel uncomfortable with this group of people [rude travelers]. But most of Chinese are friendly and good mannered."

A number of readers compared the reputation of modern Chinese travelers with another frequently bashed group.

Wrote William Trudeau: "Anyone remember 'The Ugly American' and similar discussions about U.S. travelers not all that long ago?"

Apparently, not all of those conversations are from so long ago.

The article hits all the key notes and as other comments have noted, Americans had the same stigma/problems about 1-2 decades ago. The key issues are education and awareness of foreign cultures.

Said britishpal: "I worked in hotels for a number of years, and time after time the thing that got staff all panicked and on edge were when American tourists were expected. Most of the rude behaviors described in this article could just as easily be attributed to American tourists; demanding services that aren't offered, expecting meal times to be extended far beyond reasonable hours, the expectation that their cash-flashing would give them extra entitlements, etc. And to be fair, I've heard British tourists are just as bad in European countries, even outside of World Cup events."

Wrote fattsmann: "I'm Chinese-American and I agree that mainland Chinese are horrible tourists based on my trips to Europe and the Middle East. The article hits all the key notes and as other comments have noted, Americans had the same stigma/problems about 1-2 decades ago. The key issues are education and awareness of foreign cultures (including learning the basics of a foreign language before travel), respect for foreign cultures and customs, and patience (including waiting in line, not making snap defensive judgments, etc.). Years ago, it was Americans that were rude and culturally insensitive tourists. Now it's the Chinese. Then it will be another group of people with money to travel."

Like fattsmann, a number of mainland Chinese and Chinese citizens of other countries were anxious to join the conversation.

Wrote ptran281: "As a Canadian born to Chinese parents.... I can say I can't stand Chinese tourists! There is such a thing called lining up and waiting your turn. I was called a fake Chinese when I reminded them we don't behave like this in Canada."

iamjustin provided an explanation for the perception of poor behavior abroad: "I am a Chinese in the mainland; as for the rudeness of Chinese visitors which raised a fire in the comments section, I have something to clarify... The reason why so many Chinese nowadays are so rude and impolite is originated from abolishing of Confucius philosophy and the wild interpersonal abuse in the notorious Cultural Revolution launched by Mao Zedong! ... So the conclusion is that Chinese people in the mainland are the victims of tradition loss, communist political chaos, and the rudeness and lack of self-cultivation are the consequences of the above."

CNN International's Facebook page garnered some even more passionate responses. Edith Duarte points out that Chinese have been global tourists for centuries: "Guys, thousands of years ago the Chinese have marveled the world. They are in seven continents all over the globe, Chinatowns are all over the U.S."

Meanwhile, Nicolas Serge suggests people on both sides of the tourism equation benefit from Chinese travel. "The U.S. is encouraging people at home to learn and speak Chinese. Furthermore, Many U.S. students are studying in China. Tourism is helping chinese to learn more about other cultures. We remain certain about an effective partnership U.S. and China could build in the future to face global challenges."

In the end, of course, the Chinese travel boom -- and perhaps some of the resentment of it -- is driven by the almighty dollar. Or, in a potential shift that seems to both worry and excite the world, the almighty yuan.

Summing up the "just because you've got money doesn't mean I have to respect you" contingent, THEGenuineOLiTWiST wrote: "In general, most mainland Chinese who are 40 or over are suffering from this money= respect syndrome. The younger ones are much better at 'fitting in' with their travel destination's social and cultural norms."

Perhaps in the end, JohnkinsBob makes the best argument by taking the pragmatic approach to the issue: "The article makes Chinese tourism sound like the yellow peril. If these people have the cash, bring em on! The U.S. is getting back at least part of the dollars that are being sent over there."

It's a fascinating and important discussion that will surely continue to engage us all in the years ahead.

If you've had experiences as a Chinese traveler or with Chinese travelers, feel free to add to the discussion in the comments section below.

Minor edits have been made to some of the comments above strictly in the interest of clarity.

Chinese tourism: Good, bad, backlash

 It might be the biggest phenomenon to hit the global travel industry since the invention of commercial flight -- Chinese tourism.

The figures are incredible.

By 2015, 100 million Chinese will pack their bags to travel abroad, according to a rert from the UN World Tourism Organization.

In 2012, Chinese overtook Americans and Germans as the world's top international tourism spenders, with 83 million people spending a record US$102 billion on international tourism.

Chinese travelers the world's biggest spenders

Pretty much any country with "Approved Destination Status" -- a bilateral tourism arrangement with China -- has remarkable numbers to throw out on Chinese tourism growth, from the United States to France.

The figures are even more dramatic closer to home. South Korea recently reported that in February, for the first time ever, Chinese tourists overtook Japanese tourists in terms of arrival numbers.

Hong Kong and Thailand cite similar growth.

Great, they're coming! (Now what do we do?)

In response to the boom, global travel operators have been frantically adapting their offerings -- hotels in particular.

Politician throws computers at airport

Hoteliers cater to Chinese tourists

Luxury shops cater to Chinese tourists

Mei Zhang, founder and CEO of Beijing-based travel company WildChina, deals with both inbound and outbound tourists. She says though there are still teething problems, the world's luxury travel industry is taking positive steps toward making Chinese tourists feel at home.

"The Ritz Paris (currently under renovation) has a Chinese concierge," says Zhang. "Shangri-La and the Peninsula -- both considered by Chinese to be somewhat Asian brands -- have restaurants serving Chinese breakfast. They've adjusted their menus.

"In New York, at the Waldorf Astoria, if they know it's a Chinese person arriving they'll give them a tea kettle and a pair of slippers.

"The luxury stores in Paris have equipped themselves with Chinese-speaking staff. Similarly in Asia-Pacific, I was recently at the Four Seasons in Indonesia and they have Chinese menus, guides and guest ambassadors."

It's still not enough, says Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt, director of the privately run China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI), which has offices in Beijing and Heide, Germany.

He says the global travel industry needs to stop relying on old stereotypes about the Chinese and actually listen to what they want.

"If you look at surveys and forums in China, the majority of Chinese people are not satisfied with the service they get when they travel -- especially outside East and Southeast Asia, in areas where there are not as many Chinese, like in Europe or North America," he says.

The solution: Social media

Chinese tourists often say they feel treated like second class people, even when they spend a lot of money.
Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt, China Outbound Tourism Research Institute

The problem, he adds, is that even when management understands that Chinese outbound tourism is the largest and potentially most important market in the world, this awareness isn't manifesting itself on the front line with service staff who are actually in touch with customers.

"Chinese tourists often say they feel treated like second class people, even when they spend a lot of money," says Arlt.

"When I go to a hotel and have to wait five minutes before I get my key, I never think, 'Oh, they're doing this to me because I'm German.' I think, 'Maybe they need more staff.'

"But Chinese view it as, 'Aha! I knew it, they're making me wait because I'm Chinese and they think they don't need to treat me the same way as the Westerners.'"

This means service providers face the challenge of making Chinese guests feel welcome and comfortable, he says.

Simply adding congee to the breakfast table isn't going to cut it.

The solution, he says, lies in social media.

"There are millions of Chinese everyday writing about their travel experiences and things they don't like," says Arlt.

"They're keen on discussing and sharing their experiences online. It's all there. You just need to have someone Chinese do the data mining."

'New Chinese tourist'

The industry is adapting, acknowledges Arlt, but many big players have yet to recognize that the demographics are quickly shifting.

"The problem is the international tourism industry is slowly catching up with the idea that the Chinese traveler is coming, but in fact the Chinese traveler is already here and they're segmenting," says Arlt.

"You have two kinds of tourists. Package tourists, who are usually first time travelers. They do the eight European countries in 10 days, ticking off the sites. For them the most important thing is to get that shot in front of the Eiffel Tower."

This type of tourist appreciates the congee and hot water kettle, he says.

"But you have a growing number of what we call the 'new Chinese tourist.' People who are better educated, with more travel experience -- most have been students abroad so they know their way around. Self-organized."

It's these tourists who are looking to try the local cuisine and want new experiences, he says, and resent being stereotyped as an ignorant traveler from the countryside who can't live without his instant noodles.

"I think we're maturing in all kinds of areas very fast, be it taste of destination or taste of foreign cuisine," agrees WildChina's Zhang.

"But the majority of [Chinese] tourists still need to develop. One problem area is advance planning. We have few clients who plan six months ahead. So they end up giving last minute requests for Michelin-starred dinners and they just can't get in.

"Then they become unhappy because they think money can get anything. The game in the international market is slightly different. So advance planning is something they're learning."

Tourists behaving badly

No discussion of Chinese tourism would be complete without addressing the backlash now making the rounds in some sectors of the travel industry.

This is the fun for them. You toss some coins and Western people dance for you.
Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt, China Outbound Tourism Research Institute

To put this into context, Zhang describes a popular urban legend about a wealthy Chinese tourist who entered a famous luxury boutique in Milan with a lit cigarette.

When asked to put out the cigarette, the woman replied that she'd buy 20 purses if she was allowed to smoke in the shop.

Next thing you know, the woman is handed an ashtray, and the boutique did indeed earn a nice profit that day.

Zhang says allowing that behavior is a double-edged sword.

"Rich Chinese tourists are pushing the boundaries and unfortunately some of these places are bending to their will," she says.

"Particularly the newly rich, who think, 'If I'm paying money then I'm God.'"

Arlt says Chinese are often proud of the fact that they're at the top of the wealth chain, given that the Cultural Revolution is still fresh the minds of people over 40.

"This has happened all in one generation," he says. "Many [Chinese tourists] have parents who didn't have shoes. All this growth happened so fast it's still in living memory.

"Now they're showing the world and themselves: 'I'm strong, I can go spend US$5,000 for nothing, just for my pleasure.'"

And they're more than happy to rub it in the West's face, he adds.

"The Chinese have the idea that since the Opium Wars they've been oppressed and looked down on, so now they're coming back rich," Arlt says.

"This is the fun for them. You toss some coins and Western people dance for you."

Anti-tourist sentiment

The scene is even more charged with emotion in Hong Kong, where mainland Chinese tourists face harsh resentment for a number of issues. Clashes between locals and tourists on public transportation and in restaurants have been caught on video, rapidly gone viral on the Internet and are regular press fodder.

Hong Kong Airlines has even taught its cabin crew kung fu to deal with drunken passengers flying to and from the mainland in light of what it says are continuous issues.

Dr. Yong Chen of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, who specializes in Chinese outbound tourism, says all the bad press needs to be taken in context, given how many mainlanders are heading south of the border.

"There were 48 million tourists who came to Hong Kong last year and more than 70 percent of them were Chinese tourists," he says.

"There's no other country with such a high market share in the world."

When posted on the Internet, small, individual problems, like shouting matches on subway trains, have a way of transcending borders.

"Travel is a way of communication between cultures," he says. "Tourism will help people to get better and learn. It's a new experience for them."

Liu Zhen-xiu, a mother from Tianjin visiting Hong Kong with her young daughter, says she notices the resentment.

"We usually stay in five-star hotels, so people in the service industry of course have to be polite and friendly to us," she says.

"I haven't gotten into a situation where I was treated differently or rudely, but I can feel that local people do not welcome mainland tourists."

Learning global cultures

Fauna (who didn't want her last name published) is the founder of popular English-language blog ChinaSMACK, which analyzes and translates online reaction to popular news stories in China.

If a non-Chinese points fingers at this kind of behavior, almost all Chinese feel very defensive. They will say, 'That's racist against Chinese.
Mei Zhang, WildChina

Responses to stories of Chinese behaving badly while traveling are mixed among China's online community, she says.

"If the focus is on the behavior of the mainland tourist, usually the reaction from mainland Chinese netizens is embarrassment," she says.

"If the focus is on criticisms of mainland Chinese by Hong Kong people or foreigners, then often there is defensiveness -- but also a lot of embarrassment -- and counter-criticism."

Zhang has a similar view, noting that the younger generation and wealthier Chinese are usually unhappy with those who damage the image of Chinese travelers worldwide.

"On the other hand, there is this strong sense of patriotism and a bit of insecurity about our national identity," she says.

"If a non-Chinese points fingers at this kind of behavior, almost all Chinese feel very defensive. They will say, 'That's racist against Chinese.'

"There's the idea that, 'It's my dirty laundry, I know it's smelly and it's OK for me to criticize it, but it's not OK for you to say anything.'"

Zhang says it will take time for attitudes to change, as more Chinese grow accustomed to global cultures.

Naicy Zhang, a Chinese tourist visiting Hong Kong from Dongguan, agrees.

"People are generally helpful, but I know there are differences in cultures between Chinese tourists and others," she says.

"The people here in Hong Kong, for example, are more polite and self-disciplined, they queue up for everything. But in China, no one will ever queue up and they will fight for things. If you wait, you will be left with nothing.

"It's true that Chinese tourists may not understand the local rules and customs in the beginning and make mistakes. But we will learn."

Arlt says too many locals are seeing only the negative side of Chinese tourism.

"The busloads of Chinese people running around and taking a lot of photos and making noise and behaving a bit stupid because this is the first time they're traveling -- these are the more visible tourists," says Arlt.

"The people who have been traveling 10 to 15 years or studied abroad and speak perfect English -- they blend in, so we don't even identify them as Chinese. For the tourism industry, these are the interesting customers."

CNN's Hiufu Wong contributed to this report

Chinese tourists splash the most cash

Chinese travelers are now the top source of tourism cash in the world, according to a new report by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Boosted by a rising Chinese currency, Chinese travelers spent a record US$102 billion on international tourism in 2012, a 40 percent rise from US$73 billion in 2011.

a href=''>Chinese tourism: The good, the bad, the backlash

The results fall right in line with China's outbound tourism growth over the last 10 years.

The UNWTO says the volume of international trips by Chinese travelers grew from 10 million in 2000 to 83 million in 2012, making it the world's fastest-growing market.

So what's behind the increase?

The UNWTO credits rapid urbanization, rising disposable incomes and the relaxation of government restrictions on foreign travel.

"In 2005 China ranked seventh in international tourism expenditure, and has since successively overtaken Italy, Japan, France and the United Kingdom," says the report.

"With the 2012 surge, China leaped to first place, surpassing both top spender Germany and second largest spender United States (both close to US$84 billion in 2012)."

Though the report did not break down spending per trip amongst international travelers, calculating total spend by number of trips suggests Chinese travelers averaged a spend of $1,230 per trip.

By 2015, 100 million Chinese will travel abroad, a benchmark originally forecast for 2020, according to the UNWTO.

And now that China's State Council has crafted a landmark plan to kick start Chinese outbound tourism even further, expect more phenomenal growth figures.

It is dubbed the "Outline for National Tourism and Leisure (2013-2020)" and is a roadmap for restructuring the current paid leave system across China with an aim to encourage governmental agencies, social organizations, enterprises and public institutions to promote the use of leave days. Importantly, it also gives Chinese workers more freedom and flexibility of where and when to travel.

It's all about shopping

And what do Chinese travelers prefer to do on their trips?

According to Dr. Yong Chen of Hong Kong Polytechnic University who specializes in Chinese outbound tourism, unlike other global travelers, Chinese tourists focus mainly on shopping.

"It is the most prominent difference and more evidential in recent years," says Chen.

"If you look at Chinese tourists 10 years ago, they will mainly buy souvenirs. Nowadays, they want to buy luxury products in Italy or Paris like handbags and watches."

Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt, director of the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI), agrees, saying shopping is one of the main drivers for Chinese tourists.

"Luxury goods are 20-30% cheaper in other global cities. If you plan to spend US$10,000 on shopping and only spend US$1,000 on airfare, it's much cheaper for Chinese tourists to fly abroad to shop."

Traveling is also a form of soft power, he adds, so it's only natural for the Chinese government to support its citizens to head abroad.

"For Chinese people the United States is the only competitor left," he says.

"They have an interest in the model for capitalistic development and want to see what they can learn so they can overtake and become number one."

Chinese are very proud of the fact that they are traveling, he adds, given the Cultural Revolution is still fresh the minds of people over 40.

"This happened all in one generation," he says. "Many have parents who didn't have shoes. All this growth happened so fast it's still in living memory.

"Now they're showing the world and themselves: 'I'm strong, I can go spend US$5,000 for nothing, just my pleasure.'"

Other hot markets

Other emerging markets to increase tourism spending abroad over the past decade include Russia, which saw an increase of 32 percent in 2012 to US$43 billion, bringing it from seventh to fifth place in the international tourism spending rankings.

"Emerging economies continue to lead growth in tourism demand," said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai in a statement.

"The impressive growth of tourism expenditure from China and Russia reflects the entry into the tourism market of a growing middle class from these countries, which will surely continue to change the map of world tourism."

Meanwhile, traditionally hot outbound tourism markets, usually growing at a slower pace, also posted positive results, says the report.

Spending on travel abroad from Germany and the United States grew by 6% each.

Spending from the UK grew by 4% and the country retained its fourth place spot in the list of major source markets. Expenditure by Canada grew by 7%, while both Australia and Japan grew by 3%.

The only markets in the top 10 to record a decline in international tourism spending were France (down 6%) and Italy (minus 1%.)

Top international tourism spenders in 2012

1. China -- US$102 billion

2. Germany -- US$83.8 billion

3. United States -- US$83.7 billion

4. United Kingdom -- US$52.3 billion

5. Russian Federation -- US$42.8 billion

6. France -- US$38.1 billion

7. Canada -- US$35.2 billion

8. Japan -- US$28.1 billion

9. Australia -- US$27.6 billion

10. Italy -- US$26.2 billion

11. Singapore -- US$22.4 billion

12. Brazil -- US$22.2 billion

13. Belgium -- US$21.7

14. Hong Kong (China) -- US$20.5 billion

15. Netherlands -- US$20.2 billion

-- source: UNWTO.

CNN's Hiufu Wong contributed to this story

Family's acrobatic boat show

Editor's note: MainSail is CNN's monthly sailing show, exploring the sport of sailing, luxury travel and the latest in design and technology.

(CNN) -- From the top of a 14-meter mast, Delphine Lechifflart expertly rolls down a length of white ribbon, her taut body pirouetting mid-air, before easing into the arms of her lover.

The two French acrobats continue to twirl and swoop, their flying silhouettes growing darker as the sun lowers in the sky behind them.

It's a sumptuous image that hushes the crowd who stand gathered, not under a circus big top, but on the banks of a jetty.

This, of course is no ordinary acrobatic show, but one performed entirely on a lurching 12-meter yacht in harbors across the world.

Breaking sailing boundaries in Namibia

Controlling a sailing beast

Watch speeding boat fly, crash!

"They use the whole boat like it's one big gymnastics apparatus," said Dwight Jones, manager at Seattle's Elliott Bay Marina, which recently hosted the enchanting La Loupiote show.

"You couldn't ask for a more dramatic stage -- people can watch from the shore or take their own dinghy and see it from the water."

Read: Graffiti artists turned abandoned luxury liner into giant, psychedelic canvas

A family affair

For acrobat couple Lechifflart, 42, and Franck Rabilier, 44, their distinctive yellow yacht is not simply a stage -- it's also the floating home they share with two daughters; Loeva, 13, and Ondja, five.

"The eldest has done some shows with us, playing a puppet, but the youngest is still too small," said Rabilier.

"We're home-schooling them and at the beginning of each year they go back to France to do their exams."

Read: Hollywood ships and silver submarines -- The World's top five boatels

Since setting sail from Brittany in north west France in 2004, the free-spirited family has traveled from port to port across the globe, performing their remarkable show and surviving on donations alone.

"They just pass a hat around at the end," Jones explained. "People can't believe they're seeing this fantastic performance for free -- it really generates a sense of generosity."

Show time

They use the whole boat like it's one big gymnastics apparatus
Dwight Jones, manager at Elliott Bay Marina in Seattle

From rolling down the top of the mast, to balancing on the boom, and tiptoeing along the railing, the agile acrobats leap across every inch of the boat in two very different 20-minute routines.

The first is a slapstick Laurel and Hardy-style comedy, featuring two bumbling sailors racing around the yacht to a lolloping piano soundtrack.

As the sun sets, the couple perform their second, more romantic show, in which two lovers tenderly cavort mid-air to rousing classical music.

Read: Love boats and sexy submarines -- 7 riverside retreats

"In the romantic show, there's an orange-pinkish light behind them while they're doing this beautiful ballet in the rigging," Jones said.

"They perform the whole thing without a safety net. It's like nothing you've ever seen before -- people were coming back day-after-day to see them."

Setting sail

The daring duo began taking circus lessons while university students in Paris, and in 1999 set up their own acrobatic company called La Loupiote -- meaning "small light" in old French.

They performed in theaters and on the streets, but had dreams of taking the show on the road -- or more accurately, the high seas.

"We both sailed with our parents when we were young," Lechifflart explained. "That was our dream -- to travel the world by boat."

Read: Dangling on the edge -- Life of daredevil photographer

In 2000 they bought a half-built yacht and spent the next four years getting it into seaworthy shape.

Once on the water, the pair spent a year experimenting and refining their unique aquatic-based act.

"The first time we tried it, I had a lot of bruises," Lechifflart said. "It's so much more complicated than working on land."

You have to work with the weather, the wind, the waves -- the boat is constantly moving
Delphine Lechifflart

"You have to work with the weather, the wind, the waves -- the boat is constantly moving."


The family's nomadic lifestyle has taken them across Europe, America, and now New Zealand, where they'll be performing over the next month.

And after that, who knows? The carefree couple tend to sail the high-seas in whichever direction they wish, surviving on around $800 a month.

"They're not living high on the hog, as they say, but they're loving what they're doing," Jones said.

"Their perspective on life is different from people working nine to five -- they don't know where they're going the next day and you've got to respect that."

And so, like the circus wagons of old, the family of acrobats will point their "small light" towards the horizon in search of the next high-flying adventure.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How to fake it as a New York local

New York: It's the city that gave the world Martin Scorsese, the Ramones and proper bagels (thanks, local tap water).

While most visitors will never experience all its boroughs -- indeed, they'll likely fail to go south of Houston Street -- there are certain characteristics that will land you in good stead from Chelsea to Coney Island, or at least stop New Yorkers from urging you to get on your tractor and ride backo Iowa.

Memorize them and begin your deception.

1. A New Yorker doesn't necessarily come from Manhattan

Thanks to Woody Allen, the world sees all New Yorkers as apartment-dwelling self-obsessives who are unable to operate automobiles.


While the Woodman offers eerily accurate portraits of Manhattan -- and certain chunks of Brooklyn -- the other boroughs have their own unique character, including neighborhoods full of single family homes with yards and readily available free parking.

That said, since as a tourist you won't come anywhere near these areas unless you fall asleep on the subway ...

2. For your purposes, a New Yorker is from Manhattan

It's a world of skyscrapers and parking garages that cost as much as an Ivy League education, with the result that while automobiles are virtual necessities in the rest of the United States, a New Yorker casually revealing that he owns two cars is a display of wealth akin to taking a Faberge egg from your pocket and making it into an omelet.

Returning to the skyscrapers ...

3. A New Yorker never looks up

"King Kong" is highly unrealistic. Not because of the ape climbing the Empire State Building, but the fact that New Yorkers noticed.


"You guys from Iowa or Idaho?"

New Yorkers do not look up. Ever.

Most of us are deeply proud of our skyline, but haven't actually looked at it since a second grade class trip to the Statue of Liberty.

Why don't New Yorkers look up? Because ...

4. A New Yorker never stops moving forward

Tourists find New York a place of endless wonder (Times Square in particular seems to enchant them), to the point that sometimes they're walking along and they just need to freeze right in the middle of the sidewalk and take a photo of Guy Fieri's restaurant.

Worse, they're strolling through Grand Central Station and notice that the ceiling has stars painted on it!

This makes actual New Yorkers apoplectic, for...

5. A New Yorker is always rushing to catch a subway or a bus or a train

The vast majority of New Yorkers rely on the vagaries of public transportation and they know when the subway doors close just as you arrive it may mean you get the next one in two minutes or that you never see home again.

This is worst-case scenario, but with track construction and train re-routings and the dreaded "Police are investigating a crime at the 59th and Lexington Station" announcement, best not to risk it.

Because if there's a subway standstill and you're not near a bus route, you have to take a cab and ...

Many New Yorkers have refined needs.

Many New Yorkers have refined needs.

6. A New Yorker doesn't take cabs

Exceptions to this rule: someone's had so much to drink they can't remember their subway line or you live in Queens and need to get to LaGuardia Airport.

Even expense accounts or unspeakable personal riches don't justify cabs, as by then you should have graduated to a town car. Which brings us back to the subway ...

7. A New Yorker knows subway etiquette

If you see someone having trouble standing because of age, injury or an infant, give them your seat.

That said, if the 64-year-old woman who still trains for marathons every weekend feels like being on her feet, do not think chivalry compels you to forcibly bench her.

Also, if a subway car pulls up and you notice two-thirds of it is packed and the last third is empty, everyone's not too stupid to walk to the end: they just smell something you don't yet. If you're not prepared to brave the stench, save yourself the embarrassment and stay with the crowd.

Since you're already saving by taking the subway ...

Someone hand this man a giant beverage.

Someone hand this man a giant beverage.

8. A New Yorker sees no shame in 99-cent pizza

While every New Yorker has their favorite pizza place -- often, they have a favorite for each borough, such as Grimaldi's in Brooklyn or Sac's in Queens -- it's also accepted that city life is both costly and rushed. As a result, grabbing a slice from 2 Bros or one of NYC's other dollar vendors is perfectly acceptable.

Unless it's Papa John's (the line has to be drawn somewhere). One final financial tip ...

9. A New Yorker knows not to rent a car in New York

Things in New York tend to be pricey, so you'll feel ripped off, then you're smacked with the state's brutal 19.875% special sales tax rate on rental cars.

Yes, New York actually sort of justifies the gouge by implying, "Hey, actual New Yorkers aren't stupid enough to pay this."

The result is finding yourself stuck in rush hour wondering if it would have been cheaper just to buy a vehicle.

More reasonable rentals can be had by taking Metro-North to Connecticut or NJ Transit to New Jersey. New Jersey is, of course, the home to New York's two confusingly named NFL teams, which leads us to ...

10. A New Yorker understands the implications of rooting for the Giants/Yankees versus the Jets/Mets

In the last 25 years, the Giants have won three Super Bowls and the Yankees five World Series. The Jets and Mets combined for zero titles, with most seasons more grim than glorious.

To compensate, the Jets/Mets have done their best to provide off-field entertainment, like Jet Coach Rex Ryan making foot-fetish videos with his wife and then-Met outfielder Vince Coleman lobbing firecrackers at fans.

Ask yourself: "Would I rather gloat or complain?" then pick your teams accordingly.

And should you happen to meet Jet QB/butt-fumbler extraordinaire Mark Sanchez ...

Give him a hug, he won\'t mind.

Give him a hug, he won't mind.

11. A New Yorker views celebrities as regular folk, only worse

Whereas in other cities commoners fawn over the beautiful people, New Yorkers show their respect by going out of their way to let them know that they may have put out some OK songs with Led Zeppelin, but that doesn't give them the right to take two seats at the bar, Robert Plant.

So, if you see someone you recognize from TV, don't be intimidated: just march right up and demand to know what possessed them to make "The Love Guru."

Unless the celeb is Woody Allen, in which case give him a hug and a wet kiss. (Don't worry, he loves it.)

Follow these tips and you'll be passing yourself off as a local in no time.

And even if you fail, remember: A tourist in New York is still better than a local in Boston.

Older Post ►

Copyright 2011 Adventure Guide is proudly powered by | Design by BLog Bamz Published by Template Blogger