The scale of things – asking for directions

When asking for directions it is important to understand cultural differences. A typical conversation asking for directions in China will go as follows:

“Excuse me, how can I get to Guomao Subway Station?”
“Go straight, cross three intersections, turn right, walk 500 meters, then turn left and go straight.”
“Is it far?”
“Very close…”

It is never very close. An hour and a half later I may (or may not) arrive at my destination.
In South Korea the same situation will unfold very differently:

“Excuse me, how do I get to the Gangnam Subway station?”
“There is a taxi!”
“Can I walk?”
“Too far, taxi!”

I will then get in the taxi which will travel 100 meters down the road and charge me 4000 won ($5) for the privilege.
The reasons for this are understandable, China is such a vast country compared to Korea. In China it is expected that everything is far away so their view on what is close and far are different to South Korea where things are more compact.

by Simon Appleton