Folks, I have a personal space bubble. Thats right. That means when you sit next to me on the bus, we don't touch legs and we don't share the armrest (My bus trip to the Red Sea). You don't fall asleep in your chair and use my shoulder as a pillow and drool on me (My subway rides in Tokyo). We don't watch tv in my living room and you use my lap as a headrest (My entire dormitory in Korea).
Almost on a daily basis, people do things to me that would otherwise be seen as an uncomfortable moment back home in the States. People always giggle when they saw George Bush holding hands with the Saudi King. That's kinda like my everyday here.
Its very easy to get into these uncomfortable situations because in the US, we just don't like physical contact with others and we don't like others touching us. Here, you just kinda need to go with the flow.
Its easy to run into problems when it comes to personal space, especially in countries where the men and women are seperated from eachother during their youth. They tend to develop habits that err, would raise eyebrows in different countries. This kind of leads to an interesting phenomenon... namely, very very homophobic people being very, very gay with eachother.
In Korea the the men and women are seperated too so its pretty much the same thing. I'm used to it, but I always revel in watching a newbie to Jordan get tortured when someone calls them 'habibi' (my love) or someone gives them the traditional three kisses on the cheek (which almost always results in a bad beard burn). Here its not as bad in Korea where part of the culture is to go to a traditional hot bath house and make a train and scrub eachothers backs while your all butt naked. However a good friend here wouldn't think twice about giving you a soothing back rub in front of your wife.
Really, its just people being friendly in the way that they grew up with and one of the things you have to cope with when living in a new country.
Just watch the master on how to adapt:
The other day I was at a traditional Bedouin restaurant in a large outdoor tent here in Amman. I was presented with beautifully prepared pulses of eggplant, hommous, and fhool, followed by steaming plates of barbecued lamb and salted yoghurts. The food was delicious, and when we polished off our plates a large egyptian man with a thick heavy mustache arrived with a tray full of deserts.
Now, I can choose most dishes off of a menu now, but these house special deserts were knew to me.
Me: Marhaba, can you tell me what desert this is?
Waiter: Yes sir, this is a cocounut pudding with bread.
Me: Is it any good?
Waiter: Of course! Try!!!
Before I could even blink, the waiter grabbed the bowl, took a spoonful, and in front of my guests tried to feed me like a BABY at the table.
When in ROME right??? MMMM. Yum Yum. I rubbed my tummy as my new Papa served me my baby food desert. Now THATS adaption.