Everything I ever heard about Chinese guests in the kitchen turned out to be true!!
I have two long term Chinese guests. I love them and have really enjoyed having them, but…
The cooking problem!! I t’s REAL!!!
She is literally in the kitchen all day hanging out and cooking. Very high temperature frying which puts grease particle in the house and HVAC, grease spots all over the floor. She even oiled the BOTTOM of the pans, then put them back in the cupboard making a mess of things. The smells are really strong, and not always very pleasant. Although I do like occasional Chinese food.
This cooking thing has really become a problem and I'm dreading the next two weeks. I usually spend my off time in the kitchen, but have had to take up elsewhere.
However, I must point out that they are really polite, and otherwise lovely guests and they take suggestions well, but here’s couple of cautions for those welcoming first time Chinese guests:
In fairness, I'm sure there are many things Americans do when traveling that we are ignorant about, but in the 13 countries I have visited I ALWAYS studied local culture and rules to make sure I fit in comfortably. Look up staying in Arabic speaking countries for example. Things we take for granted are not accepted there.
Uh uh... It seems it would be wise to block a few days after them so you have time to clean the kitchen , I already feel sorry for you
We often host Chinese guests but the average stay is just a few nights. After one group we couldn't get rid of the cooking smell for the entire week .... and next 2 groups of guests.
But the worst cooking smell was left by our Jewish guests from Israel. How can anyone eat something smelling so terribly bad? :((( We couldn't get rid of it for more then a week
Oooh nooo! LOL.
The fact is that the Son, Gengshui, who has stayed here many times as he is in a nearby college is a lovely kid. I've kind of adopted him actually. He asked if his Mom could come and stay for a month. After thinking about it, because it was Gengshui, I said yes. I think he was actually trying to set us up! Hahahahaha.
His Mom is a lovely, polite woman, clearly a caregiver, and she fusses over me to eat 8 times a day! But... I was so surprised to see all of the things I had ever read about ChineseGuests turned out to be true. So.... Imma just be a great Host, grin and bear it, and try to set gentle boundaries.
I did install a very powerful HVAC system, with a total of 3 HEPA filters and 3 ventilation fans in the kitchen anticipating this. And I keep a very clean house.
I guess I just need to talk about it as you are the only folks that would understand.
@Tim191, unfortunately, I have had to stop access to my stove and oven for this very reason. I couldn't stand it any more and couldn't even get into the kitchen to cook my own dinner, night after night, because it had been taken over. Not just the smell and the grease spattered everywhere, it was the burned pots, the clogged drains (from said grease), the burn marks on my wooden benchtops, the massive amounts of rubbish that weren't put in the right bins, the use of my condiments and people constantly eating (very loudly) in my space. Since I stopped the use of the stove and oven (they can still use the kettle, toaster and microwave), this has significantly improved the problem and I don't feel so invaded every night.
Re the toilet, I have a sticker above it asking guests not to use it as a rubbish bin and a stool to prompt guests NOT to squat on the toilet seat. You could also try putting a sign in your toilet such as:
Re the sheets, I now fold the top sheet OVER the quilt (and tuck it all in on the sides) to encourage them to sleep UNDER the top sheet rather than on top of the sheet and directly under the quilt. It doesn't always work but it does 9 times out of 10. You could also look at removable/washable duvet covers, which is what we normally use here so that you can wash them between guests.
Hope that helps!
Thank you so much for your good advice Kath. I am definitely going to print out that sign in Chinese!!
As well as some others, like "Lock the Front Door."
And my duvet coverse are washable cottons too. I'm considering adding an extra fee for cooking privileges, beyond storing a bit of food in the fridge and on a shelf. But this has been a major exercise in patience. The worst is the grease and high temperature frying getting everywhere. Smells I can deall with.
@Tim191 The American custom of sleeping with a flat sheet between your body and an infrequently-washed quilt is actually very unusual, globally speaking. I haven't encountered it anywhere that I've been in Latin America, Africa, Europe, or Asia; I don't know if there's anywhere outside of North America where it's common, so Chinese guests are by no means outliers.
There is a thing I call "guest-proofing" a property, that accounts for differences in cultural customs, body odors, and behavioral quirks. I'd guest-proof my bed by having a durable, washable, waterproof mattress cover, a darkly colored fitted sheet, and a washable duvet with a cover that is always washed between guests. I'd leave a heavier quilt folded in the wardrobe in case a guest needs it, but it's seldom used. In my opinion, everything that makes contact with a human body should be fully sanitized between guests anyway (including all the bedclothes), so you might as well choose the ones that are easiest to keep clean. The European style is more effective here, and can be purchased cheaply at Ikea. (You can also add a flat sheet into the mix for American guests).
What I don't recommend is telling people how they're supposed to sleep in the bed that they're paying for. It's more comfortable for people to be able to sleep in the way they're used to.
On the toilet issue: when you've been relieving yourself in one position for your whole life, it can actually be difficult for your body to adapt to a different kind of toilet. It's not simply a matter of following instructions (though I have seen @Kath9's sign a lot in the Middle East); you might find that in a different potty position you just can't get the job done. For people accustomed to squat toilets, there is a solution:
A "squatty potty," really just a footstool with a space cut out aroudn the toilet base, can be placed in the bathroom when hosting guests from countries where squatting is customary; they may prefer Western toilets anyway, but it adds another option without the risk of awkwardness. Also, you might be surprised at how popular they are with Americans too, since many doctors advise this position as better for your lower GI health.
The kitchen issue is a trickier one. I'd personally be overjoyed if someone else was making Chinese food at home every day, but it's also out of my comfort zone to share the kitchen for the whole day. My main solution to that is to stick to only short stays under 1 week (guests who are just on vacation and prefer to eat out), don't offer Kitchen as a listed amenity, and limit its guest usage to storing things in the fridge and preparing breakfast and hot drinks in the morning. In your case, the guest is more like a distant relative than a typical Airbnb guest, so a different type of etiquette applies. Hopefully, with the gentle boundaries you describe, you can find a common ground and enjoy having an extra cook in the house.
Loved your lengthy comment. But you're talking to someone who has lived in or visited 26 countries. I would have to disagree with you about the sleep bedding, at least in Europe, Scandinavia and North Africa.
My policy is to ALWAYS learn about where I am visiting and if they have different toilet facilities, it's up to me to learn them.
Yes, they are paying for the room. But it is not in their country, but a foreign country. I don't ask my hosts to make me pizza, or buy me a toilet just because I'm a foreigner. I'm in their country, their home. I'm a guest.
@Tim191 I don't mean to suggest that you're not a worldly guy by any means, and I apologize if it came off that way. Even so, it is true that after living in Europe for 12 years, I have literally never encountered a flat sheet in any country here outside of a chain hotel. They don't even sell them in the typical housewares shops here.
I do agree that it behooves all travelers to make a genuine effort with the local customs and language, and I certainly don't believe hosts are obliged to cater to particular foreign customs that don't fit their household. But my guests come from all over the world, mostly not from my home country (the US) or my place of residence (Germany). So I find that keeping guests' private spaces as adaptable as possible to their various cultural quirks is a benefit to both parties: the guest feels more at home, and I don't have to deal with weird laundry situations or bathroom disasters.
Generally, I host short stays in a gritty inner-city hood, so my guests tend to be pretty experienced, cosmopolitan travelers. So whether they're from Beijing or Boston or Bangkok, nothing here is far out of their norms. But I think there would be more culture-shock moments if I were hosting family visits rather than tourists. I once had a guest who sent her elderly mom from a conservative German village not far from here to stay with us, and while she was a lovely and charming person, it was clear that she wasn't prepared for crashing with a gay couple in a mostly-Muslim apartment building on a noisy street guarded by African refugees selling weed. It took a lot more effort to help her feel comfortable here than with the usual guests.
@Andrew0 While the majority of my guests have been American and Canadian, I've also had guests from New Zealand, France, the Phillipines, Czech, and Mexico. The one and only guest who was confused about the bedding- bottom sheet,top sheet and blanket- was my guest from Prague. And she actually came to tell me on her first afternoon here that she was confused as to what she was meant to sleep on top of and under, and could I please explain. Had I not read about different bedding configurations on this forum, I'd have been taken aback, but as it was, I found it quite sweet that she asked.
I have to agree with Tim that when someone is travelling, they can't just expect for things to be the same as where they came from, and really, unadaptable people should maybe stick to all-inclusive resorts or book with a host from their same culture.
If a guest comes from a culture where meals are eaten sitting on the floor at a low table, does that mean a host has to go out and buy an appropriate table for that?
Of course I have no issue with explaining how things are done to guests, but that's not just a cultural issue- everyone does things differently in their homes even in the same culture. I wash dishes by waiting until there's a sinkful, filling up the sink with hot water and soap, putting the dishes in to soak for a bit, then washing them all at once. Some people wash dishes individually the moment they are done eating. When I go to Canada every summer, and stay with various friends, they all do things a bit differently in their homes, even though they are all Canadian and I try to do things the way they like them done.
I love your story about the elderly German woman. It's proven that the brain never stops creating new synapses and that new experiences help to fend off dementia. She may have felt out-of-her-element, but she'll likely remember her stay with fondness and it may have changed some pre-conceived notions.
@Sarah977 my "guest-proofing" concept isn't really about setting things up the way they are in the country guests come from; it's really just about choosing features in private areas (bedroom, bathroom) that can accommodate different types of uses whenever possible.
I find that Western travelers often take for granted how much hospitality providers in other countries modify their features for our expectations. For example, one thing that's considered "essential" in Airbnb properties worldwide is toilet paper, even though about a third of the world's population lives in places where water systems can't process it, and the standard hygenic practice is to use a water bucket or spray hose. I doubt any host out there has acquired multiple toilets or tables, but thousands of them have supplied toilet paper for foreign guests and emptied wastebaskets filled with unspeakable things. That's just one of many ways they guest-proof their bathrooms.
@Andrew0 Yes, I get the basket/toilet paper thing- here in Mexico usually only more modern new-builds have the capacity to handle toilet paper and more often than not you'll find a basket by the toilet where you are expected to throw all the toilet paper. I'm on a private septic system and built it so it can handle TP but I also don't want to overload it (haven't had to get it pumped out in the 11 years since it was built) so I also ask guests to put all toilet paper except that with the "unspeakable" on it in the basket. It won't destroy my system if they forget and flush it all, but it's better if the nose-blowing, women's pee paper goes in the basket. The foreign guests are good about it, the Mexican nationals are so used to putting it all in the basket that they sometimes forget to flush the gross TP.
We do dishes your way but many of our guests have only experienced dishwashers so when they arrive I ask and if necessary explain: plug to conserve water, hot water & detergent for hygiene, soak, wash with brush, rinse, drip dry on the rack, store when dry. I even have an illustrated handout if they do not seem to get it. However, I also check crockery and cutlery when they leave.
Not quite correct. In New Zealand we put a sheet between the person and the duvet cover and we use waterproof mattress covers and provide extra warmth and wash all of it between guests and anyone else who might stay!
And no, I will not be providing a squatty potty.
I too have lived in several countries where customs are different and took the approach that 'when in Rome...'. squat toilets(in Europe) included, which I loathed. Basic respect for your host and host country.