Only in Asia – taking of your shoes inside the house

At the moment you set foot inside Asia you’ll notice something… It’s something we don’t really do back in Holland. I know some families do this back home, however as a child we always thought it was weird when it happened {and I think grown ups too 😉 }. What am I talking about? Taking off your shoes when entering a house, or plenty of other places for that matter…

124. Only in Asia – taking of your shoes inside the house

It depends a little bit on where you are, I have to say. In Singapore, we only took our shoes off in other peoples homes and temples. But here in Phuket, it’s not uncommon that you are asked to take off your shoes when entering a pharmacy or other small shop at the side of the road.

In the beginning, I thought it was super uncomfortable to take off my shoes. Would I have smelly feet? Did I still have proper nail polish on? And I picked out these shoes carefully before going out, why should I take them off?! Years down the line, and we now have our very own shoe rack at the entrance to our apartment.

We do it out of comfort – as it’s nice to kick off your shoes and walk around barefoot at home. However here in Asia, there are a lot of reasons why people take off their shoes. One of them is to keep the house clean. A study done by the University of Arizona, which investigated germs collected on footwear, found that a large number of bacteria are found on the bottom and inside of shoes. Averaging 421,000 types of bacteria! Well, I am sure to now always take my shoes off in the house from now on!

However, cleanliness is not the only reason. Asians believe it is good health to walk barefoot. Just think about the fact that they have been practising foot reflexology in China for thousand of years. Shoes will constrain your feet, and by walking around barefoot you give them a chance to breathe, stretch and feel more.

I know there are a couple of more reasons why people are taking off their shoes on this side of the world, however, I think the main reason to do it for me is to show a sign of respect to the person {or place} you’re visiting. By taking off your shoes you show that you honour the rules that a person has in their home.

What would you do when visiting Asia? Join the crowd? Or keep your shoes on?

xxx Frei

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