Different touching habits around the world
Touching and greeting habits differ widely around the world. In some countries people greet each other by shaking hands, in others they kiss each other on the cheek (one, two, or three times, depending on the country).
Elsewhere people hug each other, or in others they put their hands together in front of their chest (Thailand), and in others they rub noses (Eskimos). This can lead to surprising encounters.
Once I was traveling in Mexico, and I met a woman from Spain. Like me, she was backpacking around the country. We spent a few days hiking and sightseeing together. Then we both continued on our separate ways.
When we said our good byes, she kissed me on the cheeks, and I hugged her. Both of us were a little surprised and uncomfortable.
In those days I did not know that kissing on the cheeks is a normal way of greeting in several European countries.
And she did not know that hugging is quite a normal exchange among friends in the US.
However in the US we do not kiss on the cheeks when we greet someone, and in Spain people apparently don’t hug casual friends. So I was a little surprised by her kiss and she was surprised by my hug – and we both felt a little uncomfortable.
Touching habits in Thailand
Later I moved to Thailand, and again I had to learn different touching habits. In Thailand, touching is an interesting subject.
Girls often walk around hand in hand, and men sometimes put their arm around the shoulder of an another man in a casual way. In social gatherings Thais often have body contact, but only in a casual way.