East vs West
above-ground car park

Cultural Differences: Above Ground Versus Underground Car Parks

What Is Culture?

To me, a cultural difference is a decision over time practiced by a majority of people from one society, one not imposed by government laws or business, but rather, introduced by the population within that society.

A law that teaches people to drive on one side of the road as opposed to the other cannot be classified as culture derived from society.

Conversely, chopsticks as the dominant eating utensil in Eastern society compared to cutlery as the dominant eating utensils in Western society are indicators of culture.

Above Ground Versus Underground Carparks


In Australia, one novel cultural difference I noticed between China and Australia is that all the carparks in Australia are mostly outside.

In my hometown in NSW, there is a four-level story carpark next to a ground-level carpark at the back of Pizza Hut.  Then across the road are more outdoors car-parking spaces.  Connected to the mall, you have even more external car-parking spots.

In China, one major cultural difference I spotted was how all the mall car parking lots are underground.  You would never see a street-block car-parking lot next to a business.

In Australia, this sight of outdoors car-parks is very common.  Recently, in the last decade, underground car-parks have become more standard for malls, which still have above-ground carparks encircling the entire area around the mall.

Cultural Reasons Behind Carparks

In China, real estate is too expensive.  That above-ground space in China can and would be used to develop more businesses.

If you took an aerial view of a suburb in Australia, you will probably find that a large section of the business district is covered by outside car parking lots.  It is very rare to see a car parking lot in China that is above-ground, except in the rural areas of China.

China and Australia both have curb and roadside parking.  People will park curbside on main suburban roads in China, as they would do in Australia.

The only real difference is that Chinese drivers will mount the curb and park anywhere they please, because of the lack of law enforcement in China.  The footpath in China is fair game.

Carpark culture is a quite quaint cultural difference between Australian and Chinese driving cultures.  If you ever find yourself driving in China, and you come from a Western country, make sure to look long and hard for the underground parking signs.

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Author: 钨宝

The author of Diary Of A Mad Chaos from 1996 to 2018, The Lost Years book, Wubao In China (猎艳奇缘) book series, and Foreigner (华人) an exploration of race relations in Australia. Fluent in Chinese Mandarin, Macedonian, and English, the author currently resides in China, Guangzhou where he continues to make comparative analysis of the cultural differences between Eastern and Western societies.

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