Eating Out Travels

Culture. Eating Chinese Style

Some of the family from Malaysia is visiting the UK for the first time.

It was the first time they had experienced the pomp of the British culture, the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, and many more sights and sounds. (see previous entry for pictures, click here).

It was the first time they had experienced real cold when outside walking, “0” degrees Centigrade, as one said, smoke came out of the mouth. The poor things were wrapped-up so much, they could hardly move. Malaysia is permanently hot in the “30”‘s, and is very very humid.

We went for a meal in London’s China Town. Why after traveling all this way were they taken for a Chinese meal, and not for a typical British meal?

typical Chinese family meal

A typical Chinese meal table layout with all the food in the centre.

That got me thinking. What is a typical British meal. Where could I take them for such a meal, and I struggled to find an answer. There are Chinese, Italian, French, Indian, Bangladesh, Japanese, Turkish Kebab, Greek, American style steak houses, hamburger restaurants. But what about British, English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish?

OK we have Fish n Chips, but where are the restaurants? They are far and few between. I could only think of a few, and some of these are perhaps not the standard I would take people to for a special meal.

Where are the roast beef and Yorkshire Pud restaurants?

As I have described in previous blogs, and talked about in my trainings, food in a typical Chinese restaurant is served in the center of the table, and diners will help themselves one mouthfull at a time from the serving tray.


Eating Chinese Style
Eating Chinese Style

A typical Chinese meal table layout with all the food in the centre.

In a few days I will be off to Malaysia, swopping places with the family visiting the UK. There I[will be eating only Malaysian food, as there are no British restaurants for me to visit. Oh Poo Poo. I better find one here in Kingston upon Thames for them to try and me to enjoy before I leave.

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Culture NLP Travels

Culture. It changes.

On occasions in my training courses I am told, “this is *?&$£: culture, and it will not change”.

What is culture? I think it is beliefs, the way we are raised as children, and the influences of our parents, peers, the media, religion and the governments, but on a grand scale, that is as a country, a city, a town, a street, a family, where those beliefs and way of life are shared and lived.

I was born into a proud family, both on my father’s and mother’s side, not a rich family, but one that worked and saved hard for the future. We had high morals, respecting our elders and those less off than us. My family wanted the best they could afford, without begging, borrowing, or taking credit from banks.

Travel was a major adventure, even to go 15 miles would be planned for days. We stayed in our local community, it was the culture of our family and locality.

It was after I started college education and my computing career that I started to travel further and further from the nest, and experienced different communities, working practices and ways of living and working. My cultural behaviours and beliefs were changing.

Phillip Holt wearing thobebiggest difference in beliefs and culture happened when I went to work in the Islamic country of Saudi Arabia, where a woman had no rights, could not drive, could not be with man unless they were married or family. There were no clubs, pubs, theaters or cinemas, no entertainment. Religion was restricted to Islam and no other. Their dress was completely different than that of the British, with their headdress and white thobe. It was their culture that I had to fit into, and I did for nearly six years, although I did not wear their dress style.

My travel for work and holidays to different countries continued to the far corners of the world, China to Peru. Cultures and beliefs being completely different, country to country, and region to region within those countries. My biggest cultural exposure was marrying Mee Len, a Chinese Malaysian.

The more I travel the more I see cultures beginning to change and to merge, where beliefs are beginning to become similar, but not the same.

Simple things like food. Every country or region has its’ specialties. But food is food, it is the way we prepare it, cook it, the ingredients combined to make it, the presentation and the way we eat it. Lamb is lamb, chicken is chicken, beef is beef and rice is rice.

The emergence of outlets such as Starbucks, Gloria Jeans, MacDonnell’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, kebabs, Indian and Chinese restaurants, in virtually every town in the world is changing the way we eat, for good or bad. These food outlets would not exist if the local people did not want them or eat in them.

The culture of preparing and eating at home, going for convenience food, is changing the culture of communities.

Television, radio, newsprint and the internet is introducing culture and beliefs of one community to another, and the young of the community want what they see, they want the food, they want the fashion.

Retail outlets like Zara, M&S, Carafour, Tesco, Walmart, sell the same products in their shops in London, Singapore, Ankara New York or Madrid, and the purchasing public buy it, changing the dress culture.

We are becoming one in the affluent and younger people, it is the older of us that hold on to the old dress, styles or culture.

The culture of travel is changing as we become more affluent, we buy more cars, we use public transport rather than walking, we tend to travel further from our homes to work, and take convenience food for lunch and snacks.

As we travel further to work and to study, the family structure changes. The family culture is breaking down. This is happening not only in 1st world counties but in 3rd world too, as people seeks work to support their family and changing life styles.

We are loosing cultural differences, and it is happening more quickly day by day. I am sorry to say nothing will stop it, culture has never been static, like language, it is always modifying to the influences of the environment, the community, and our knowledge as they change.

For those who do not like this change or loosing their culture, they can become entrenched in their beliefs of the old ways, and can become very aggressive in their views, often going to extremes to display the culture they believe in, with their dress and behaviour.

We should celebrate our cultural differences and keep them, but we should respect other peoples and communities beliefs and cultures.

We will never stop cultural change.

Click to read next blog about culture.

NLP Travels


My travels take me to many places around the world, and these places and people have many customs and beliefs. These customs and beliefs will range from behaviours, dress, food, and politics to religion. The latter two I keep away from.

My problem is that as I visit and give more trainings in these far places (click to see countries I visit), I am introduced to even more culture, and as I forget what country or region I am in, I can make big mistakes.

Simple things like hand movements, simple words, touching, looking, how I eat food, drink, or blow my nose, can cause offense. And, I do not intentionally.

OK, there are times when I intentionally shock my participants with what I do. It is done for a purpose, but that is another matter.

Simple things like blowing my nose. In Turkey it should never be done whilst eating at the dining table. The trouble is I did not know this until recent times. How often have I eaten a spicy meal, hot chillies, that make my nose run, it is not that I have a cold, but my nose really runs, and how often have I blown my nose? I cannot have it dripping can I?

Sorry people who have taken me for a meal and I did wrong.

In China or Malaysia, South East Asia, they eat noodles, which can be called spaghetti in Italy and the rest of the world, as far as I am concerned they are one of the same. In China, they scoop the noodles into the mouth, and the excess is bitten off and is allowed to fall to back onto the plate. In Italy it should all be placed into the mouth whole, none should be dropped back onto the plate.

Sorry Donatella, when I ate like a Chinaman at your friend’s restaurant in upmarket Rome.

In some countries it is rude to show the souls of the feet, that is one reason when people sit on the floor they place their feet beneath them like in a yoga position. My knees do not bend that way or that much. I have tried, but it seems I am not built to do that.

Sorry, I suppose I should have some replacement knees.

The classic sign to indicate to stop is to place the flat of the hand towards the person you wish to stop. Most police forces use it to stop traffic. But then it can be a rude sign to some cultures. Another sign to say stop is to run an outstretched hand across the neck, to cut or finish. In Italy this is a bad sign used by the Mafia.

Sorry people in Italy.

I Muslim counties, cultures or beliefs, it is sometimes not done for a man to touch or shake a womans hand, one of the most natural ways of meeting someone, thus we have the NLP Handshake Interrupt exercise. (click to see).

In some cultures, it is not the done thing to show any form of affection or gratitude, for example the kissing of cheeks we see in Mainland Europe or the Middle East. It is certainly not done by the British, but I have gotten used to it.

Sorry those of you in the Chinese community, especially the family in Malaysia and Bing, my brother-in-law.

Perhaps the answer could be that we all wear a big sign around our necks, which states and says what is acceptable to us and what is not. It would then be easy for me not to cause offense to others by my words and action, and for others not to upset me, like jumping the queue. (click to read).

But then, people who have been on my courses can cope with culture differences, they may not like the differences, but now they can accept them and smile.

To the rest of you. Sorry in advance.

Can you let me know of differences in culture and beliefs you know of, by posting a comment below so I can be prepared?

English Courses Memory Mind Maps NLP Travels

Just another day

Tuesday started off with half my computer keyboard not working, having had the tea spilt over it the previous night.

I could not let this incident distract my trainings, but why not “reframe” it, and use it as a metaphor in the English class. As an international trainer of NLP, I can use my experience to teach a concept via a story to feed the inner mind, the unconscious mind, what you need to know, now, after all the years of experience I find is easy.

I talk about sick dear, and how just one word can affect the way we are, our state, how at a conference, a person stood in for someone who was ill, and how knives, fire and steam came from the participants, but they learnt how to keep state.

I was asked to visit a company in Sisli, on the Western side of the Bosphorus, a computer company which is very proactive on training their staff in communication skills, dealing with clients and staff. The meeting went on longer than we had planned, which meant we missed the ferry back to Kadikoy to conduct the afternoon trance.  Upon arrival, I was immediately driven away to another client, one hours drive across Istanbul, in heavy traffic, which seems to be ever presenting traffic jams, a journey taking two hours.

On arrival, it was a joy to meet so many of my previous students, with big smiles on their faces as they greeted me. So many people who know me. Wow.

I know I can do more work with them to help reach the goals, the outcomes they gave me.

The journey back to do the late English class was very tiring, as the countryside drifted past, I am amazed at the amount of new roads new infrastructure there is. New high rise accommodation, flats, apartments, are springing up.

The class starts one hour late, but I am in a good state, so I deliver so much to the participants.

I tell them about the beautiful “female” I saw in Singapore, and the first time my mother met Mee Len, mother never meeting a Chinese person before nor eaten a Chinese meal.

I know that during this session they tried many things, and perhaps liked them.

I added so much to the evening session I was late leaving the office/school, so much so that I missed the last train on the Tunel train, which runs from 7am till 9pm.

I was too tired to think, I needed sleep, rest, but I had to prepare for the next day, iron my shirt and suit, prepare my props to teach Mind Maps and Memory Skills to a major Turkish telecommunication company, and eat a meal.

I hope those who know me realise I am not the Wizard of Oz. I need rest today.