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I hope I'm answering the right question, I'll admit I skimmed, it's hard to keep up with these boards lately...
I'm from near New York City, about 50 minutes away. I've been there plenty of times. Uh.... is it impossible to walk 10 ft without bumping into people? Did you say feet? Do you use feet where you're from or the metric system? Just curious.....
Anyway.... it's not that bad. Like anywhere, it depends on the day, and time of day, location, etc. If you want to walk in Manhattan (the part with all the tall buildings & companies ) at rush hour, when everyone is leaving work at the same time.... well good luck. Yes, it will be very crowded on the main streets with people trying to get cabs, wait for buses, walk to subways, walk home etc. I mostly would go on a weekend, to a museum or concert or things like that, and it's not bad at all. No big deal whatsoever. You will always see other people walking, even late at night, but it's not like you bump into people or anything. I think at rush hour it's like.... people are in a dze and just want to get directly to their destination, so some people get a little focused and just WALK and expect other people to move out of THEIR way. But I've heard Beijing is worse in that regard, that people will push & shove & squeeze in next to you, etc.
In the US, people don't want to touch each other as much. So as crowded as a subway car might be, everyone tries to give everyone else some elbow room. If there are 12 seats and 6 people, you will most likely see them sitting in every other seat. You wouldn't sit next to a person if there is a more spacious seat available, it is awkward to be close if it's not necessary. Of course when it's so crowded there's no choice, people will get squishier, and they will give off a vibe of, "yeah, I don't like it either, sorry to be touching you" rather than "get out of my way I'm taking this spot".
From what I hear, and from my BRIEF visit last year, the latter quote seems to be more like the attitude in some big Chinese cities.
It's odd... I hear Chinese people are less touchy as far as hugging, or men touching women if it's not their partner, etc.... yet they'll try to occupy the same space as you if they want to look inside the Temple of Heaven. Americans are more physical as far as touching and sex, but they will keep a certain amount of personal space on lines to get into a place or to use a bathroom, etc.
Sort of.... ironic? no... paradoxical?... not quite... but weird anyway.