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Northern Asia Topics specific to Russia, Central Asia (also known as "the 'stans"), Mongolia, Japan and Korea
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Old 6 Nov 2008
Chris D (Newcastle NSW)'s Avatar
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Gifts for a host in Northern Asia

When you are invited to someone's home are there traditional gifts that are appropriate for the host?

This question relates to Russia, Mongolia and Central Asian countries. I have heard that bread is one traditional gift in Russia when invited to a private home.

Thanks for any comments.
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Old 6 Nov 2008
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I heard that you can give them anything remotely practical. For example in Mongolia country side you never see fruit, therefore they love receiving fruit. In Russia, I gave out pencils, vodka. I have been given a number of things, which gives you an idea on what to give them - motorbike magazines, warm slippers (they thought I was cold) pull over's (again they thought I was cold in the Ural mountains!), motorbike tee-shirts ( I got two of these), vodka, food, a small book about Russia and some times money! (100 roubles).

Next time I set out, I am going to make sure I have plenty of photos or post cards of my family (my dad and brother) and of my countries scenery and animals. I will also have small world maps that I can hand out, showing where I am from.
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Old 7 Nov 2008
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+1, anything is ok. I bought a box of cigars with me. Always nice to be able to handout some cigars. Also some postcards from home were nice gifts. People understand that space is scarce. They always liked things from back home best.
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Old 7 Nov 2008
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any thing small and light if your packing it all the way with you. Its more of the idea that you humble yourself and think of them. I used cigars as well even if they dont smoke they thank you for the gift. post cards made up before you go is good idea. Little toys for the kids go over big.
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Old 7 Nov 2008
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I always carry balloons, they're small, light, inexpensive.
Gifts for the children always go well with the adults too. They are happy that you think of their kids. I once crashed a funeral in Cambodia, thinking it was a restaurant but after giving the children some ballooons, a guy thanked me very solemnly for giving the children gifts.

I even gave some balloons to a 27 year old woman, living with her parents on an atoll in Polynesia, as they had just given me their first homegrown tomato and the woman had her birthday next day. They were really happy with the gift.

You can also give them to streetkids/beggars, as they are allowed to keep them, as they don't present any value to the adults, controlling the kids. Its wonderfull to see the little tough beggars become children again, playing with their balloons.
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