Lebanon is a country of contrasts: street food joints can often be found adjacent to top-notch luxurious dining venues (case in point: Malek el Croissant is just a few steps away from La Table Fine in Souk Jounieh), beautiful new high-rises soar above century-old facades and a flimsy rule of law governs over general lawlessness and corrupt politics. Depending on how you look at it, this country can be either mind-bogglingly annoying or just delightfully different. I'll let you decide.

Here are seven things Lebanon does totally different:

1. Assigned Seating

(Photo via hdw.eweb4.com)

Long the epitome of chaos and poor organization, Lebanon is bizarrely the only country I know that requires seat assignments at the movie theater. The usher takes your ticket stub, ceremoniously rips it along the perforated mark, and leads you to your seat. In the Western world, it's simply first-come, first-serve.

2. The Pizza and the Pauper

(Photo via slice.seriouseats.com)

Elsewhere around the globe, Pizza Hut is the symbol of cardboard-box, fast food pizza. In Lebanon though, Pizza Hut has dine-in outlets where the waiter takes your order at the table and serves you one slice at a time to your porcelain plate. Don’t forget the fork and knife!

3. To Queue or Not to Queue, That is the Question

(Photo via dailymail.co.uk)

Most branches of Liban Post look like crowded third-world airport terminals, and yet Liban Post queues its customers using take-a-number ticket dispensers. Believe it or not, they're very obsessive about their system.

4. Discrimination on account of Swim Cap

(Photo via fancifulnumber2.blogspot.com)

Pool and beach don't necessarily add up to a carefree, relaxing séance in Lebanon. Don't get caught in the pool without your "bonnet de natation" or else the maître nageur might fish you out of the water. A head of hair must be neatly tucked inside the spandex hair cap because no one wants to swim in a sea of hairy debris.

5. Rx Overload

(Photo via dailystar.com.lb)

The world may have a shortage of health care staff, but not in Lebanon. Pharmacies are a dime a dozen, a mere 300 meters apart in some cities! Best part? Medicine is over-the-counter, and the pharmacist often plays doctor, recommending a drug or ointment based on your symptoms. Elsewhere in the world, a pharmacist's role is limited to filling a prescription.

6. Gas Station Royalty

(Photo via dailystar.com.lb)

Sometimes you feel like you're living among animals in Lebanon--even animals can be more civilized—particularly on the road where people chuck their manners out the window. But pull up to a gas station and you're suddenly royalty, as the attendant zips over to your car, pumps your gas, and even squeegees your windshields, all as you sit proudly on your throne. How's that for special treatment?

7. The Mystery of Getting Your Vehicle Inspected

(Photo via alshorfa.com)

The "mecanique" experience is often more ruthless than an equivalent smog check anywhere else in the world. The staff is uber fussy about visibly-painted plate numbers, head and rear lights working, and absolutely no smoke spewing out of the exhaust. It's amazing anyone passes, really. So how is it that our roads are congested with swarms of dilapidated, polluting, and plate-less junkyard cars?

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