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Tipping in China


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I am starting to understand how those cantonese speakers feel about my posts.....

Whether Lowfan or Gweilo, I don't think you should take it too offensively. Though "Gwei" (ghost) originally had a negative connotation, it is used in common place these days that it's comparable to "Yanks" for the Americans and "Brits" for the Britishs and "Aussies" for the Australians.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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I am starting to understand how those cantonese speakers feel about my posts.....so, lowfan is just cantonese for laowai, yes?

Yes. Laowai isn't used in Cantonese, although if you wrote the characters down, Cantonese would understand what you meant.

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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Yes.  Laowai isn't used in Cantonese, although if you wrote the characters down,  Cantonese would understand what you meant.

Actually, "lao wai" isn't used in Shanghainese, either, though most would immediately understand it

The Shanghainese term would be (phonetically) "na gu ning" which is simply local pronunciation of the characters for "waiguoren." (Go figure.)

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The Shanghainese term would be (phonetically) "na gu ning" which is simply local pronunciation of the characters for "waiguoren." (Go figure.)

The Shanghainese pronounciation sounds so, arrr, foreign. :smile: So different from Cantonese and Mandarin.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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The Shanghainese pronounciation sounds so, arrr, foreign.  :smile:  So different from Cantonese and Mandarin.

When I speak Shanghainese around people who've never heard it before, they sometimes think I'm speaking in Japanese! It's a lot less sing song than Cantonese or Mandarin and it's spoken faster than those two. It kind of makes sense that the pronounciations have influenced or been influenced by Japanese as it's the closest part of the mainland to Japan.

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Folks, this dialect discussion is interesting, but the topic has drifted way off anything to do with food. That's what we're here to discuss. Thanks.

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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I'll bring it back to my 1999 experience in China, since a number of you seem to know the specific places. The Shangahai restuarant where the server told us to tip was Meilongzhen, on Nanjing Xi Road. My food diary tells me we had a fabulously good meal there (hairy crab, long beans and fried fish) and that most of the clientel there was Asian.

It would make sense that we might have been treated differently because we were obviously tourists - except that we had been told that the reason for the "no tipping" rule is that communists consider tipping to be bourgeoisie. So, if the tourists are being treated differently these days, it would seem that money has to some extent trumped ideology!

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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It would make sense that we might have been treated differently because we were obviously tourists - except that we had been told that the reason for the "no tipping" rule is that communists consider tipping to be bourgeoisie.  So, if the tourists are being treated differently these days, it would seem that money has to some extent trumped ideology!

In the old days that was the reason...Now its just that because of those old days, they have yet to pick up this habit of tipping...However if they can make money by treating foreigners differently, they will...To some extent money has trumped ideology? There are businessmen and entreprenuers allowed into the Communist Party....

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  • 1 year later...

The only times I encountered a service charge during my month-long stay in China was 15% at CourtYard, a Western restaurant in Beijing, and 10% once at a large Korean restaurant in Shanghai when he had a party of more than ten.

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what about hong kong? is the tipping practice different there versus the mainland?

Back in the 60's and 70's, tipping in Hong Kong restaurants was not a common practice from what I observed. Perhaps wesza can educate us more. I first observed 10% service charge in "western" restaurants in Hong Kong (those that serve steaks and spaghetti, coffee/tea, etc.). But nowadays 10% service charge is a common place in traditional Chinese restaurants as well. It depends on the restaurant types. The neighborhood, mom-and-pop restaurants probably won't charge 10%. But anywhere that offers "decent" service would pretty much stipulate a 10% charge.

As for customers, they usually leave a dollar or two (note: local currency) after the 10% and that's about it. Rarely would you find someone leaving 15% or 20% (total) tips.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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what about hong kong? is the tipping practice different there versus the mainland?

Back in the 60's and 70's, tipping in Hong Kong restaurants was not a common practice from what I observed. Perhaps wesza can educate us more. I first observed 10% service charge in "western" restaurants in Hong Kong (those that serve steaks and spaghetti, coffee/tea, etc.). But nowadays 10% service charge is a common place in traditional Chinese restaurants as well. It depends on the restaurant types. The neighborhood, mom-and-pop restaurants probably won't charge 10%. But anywhere that offers "decent" service would pretty much stipulate a 10% charge.

As for customers, they usually leave a dollar or two (note: local currency) after the 10% and that's about it. Rarely would you find someone leaving 15% or 20% (total) tips.

I agree with all of the first paragraph.

With regards to the second paragraph, that's roughly correct. I just remember thinking of it like leaving whatever spare change (coins, not bills) was brought back after the bill was paid. That would usually be at most $5 HK, about $.65.

The coin amounts were $5, $2, $1, $.50, $.20, and $.10. There might have been $.05 and $.01 as well, I can't recall.

Last year I noticed there's a $10 coin now.

Edited by herbacidal (log)

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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The coin amounts were $5, $2, $1, $.50, $.20, and $.10.  There might have been $.05 and $.01 as well, I can't recall.

Last year I noticed there's a $10 coin now.

Yeah, they have HK$10 in coins (more in coins than in bills now). So if you follow the "rule" to leave "coins" in the change tray, you might have "overtipped" (HK$25 tip for a HK$75 (10% already included) meal if you pay with a HK$100 bill for example)

There is a HK$0.05 coin. Remember the term "Dou Ning"? :laugh: Yes HK$0.01 does exist - yes I have seen it long time ago - but it is in paper bills. Very small ones. Very different from HK$20/$100/$500 bills.

To refresh our memories, here is a picture of the Hong Kong currencies in coins and bills:

(Click on the Google search page)

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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