Watch the video here:

I stumbled across this video and was floored!  Over 19 million views of this guy who traveled around the world and at each place he visited, he dances with THOUSANDS of random strangers!

And the thing is, I really admire this guy because this is what traveling is all about.  To connect with random people and to share joy and fun with them.  This is the human spirit and I truly believe we need more of these people in this world we live in.  It takes a lot of balls to get thousands of random strangers to dance and be on video with you.

I did more research and realized that this guy is Matt Harding.    No wonder he looked familiar!  He is the same guy who did some Visa commercial years back, and apparently he has done other awesome dancing videos around the world in the past.  In fact it was these dancing videos that made him famous.

Each time he made a new dancing video, it becomes more and more elaborate!

You can watch his Visa commercial here:

Anyways back to what inspired me the most.

The connection with people around the world is key to bridging the cultural gaps.  And this is so true for Asia itself.  When I travel around Asia, I always make it a habit to smile and try to make a connection with someone each day, whether its the local stall owner, the taxi driver, or the university students waiting for the bus to school.

And if I don’t know the language, I try even harder just to make the other person smile!  Maybe its a silly face from my part, or just trying to make a joke through my hand gestures or body language, trust me on this, a smile goes a long long way.

It’s just like how when I bring my 3 year old son out and he randomly smiles at strangers, and they just can’t help smiling back at him!  How can you resist not smiling at a smiley little kid?   At that’s how you should approach things in a new cultural environment.  Just be a kid again, have fun, and don’t care what other people think of you.

And honestly that is my secret trick to bridging the cultural gaps with people in Asia.  You just need to get to the same level of understanding with them, and the way to do that is to just find some common ground with them.

People in Asia are just human beings just like you and me.  And just like how we like the feeling when someone brightens our day with a smile, its the same old thing with Asians.

So what are some of the things that you can use to find common ground with people?

Usually when I meet let’s say a guy, maybe he’s a taxi driver, I will try to find some common interest.  A very common one I found is either soccer (football) or beer.  You can’t go wrong with beer in Asia!

Another example…maybe I noticed someone was reading a novel or studying economics or something.  I would point to the book and ask a very polite question…interesting subject?  or it that book good?

These are small things that you can do as ice breakers, which will go a long long way.

Just don’t try to over complicate things!

Some people just over complicate things sometimes.  For example, like how those “experts” think that to make a connection with Chinese folks you need to go through all these “technicalities” and “formalities”such as the way you bow, that you need to be introduced first by someone else before you introduce yourself or how you sit during dinner may indicate a bad omen, blah blah blah…..this just makes me laugh.

Key first is to find that common ground.  In the end they will appreciate that more because they will also understand where you are coming from as well as you understanding where they are coming from.

So just keep it simple, be yourself, be polite and respectful and make someone smile, and that’s the trick really to navigating your way through Asia more enlightened and more delighted.

 

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Alec Chan

Alec Chan is an intrepid traveler, travel writer, author, speaker, serial entrepreneur and self professed Asia travel ambassador. Traveling all around Asia since 2003, and still traveling, Alec is an accomplished and passionate traveler seeking to bridge the cultural gaps in Asia. Through his unique perspective as a Canadian born Chinese, Alec shares his special insights on Asia to help others around the world to have a better understanding on Asian culture so that they can have a more meaningful, fun, and stress free trip to Asia. Alec has written numerous travel guides on several destinations in Asia and is the editor in chief of AlecTravelGuide.com

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