Archive for the ‘Cultural Insights’ Category

Understanding the whirling dervishes

Whirling dervishes. The term is a familiar one to many people, but what exactly is a whirling dervish? That is, beyond some exotic Middle Eastern man who twirls round and round while dressed in a white robe and tall hat? Not many people know that the dance of a whirling dervish is actually a spiritual […]

Food that is quintessentially American

Tomorrow is the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, and families from Maine to California will be sitting down for a traditional family meal of turkey, potatoes, stuffing, corn, cranberries, and other such food staples of this holiday. But this is an interesting time to take a look at other quintessentially American foods that have […]

Running cultures

There are so many interesting cultures around the world, with their own traditions and ways of life, but never before have I come across an article on running cultures. Yes, a culture in which long distance running is a way of life, as much a part of the people’s heritage as their food and their […]

Differences between the U.S. and Chinese educational systems

There are obviously many cultural differences between the United States and China, which stem largely from the fundamental fact that one country has an individualistic view of the world and the other is a more group-oriented society. In the U.S., individual rights and self-realization are highly valued, while in China considerable importance is placed on hierarchy and respect for societal […]

Tea cultures of the world

There are many ways to differentiate between cultures. I have to admit, though, that one way I hadn’t thought of was in the different ways that cultures prepare and enjoy their cups of tea. But Allen Burt recently wrote an intriguing article for Matador Travel that did just that, reviewing six tea cultures around the […]

Surviving a Cairo taxi ride

As someone who has survived taxi rides in Cairo, I found this recent Matador Travel article by Nick Rowlands to be hilariously accurate. Taking a taxi in Cairo is the Egyptian equivalent of Russian Roulette. You’re going to need nerves of steel, plus a little bit of luck, if you want to arrive at your destination […]

Unique world religions

Sure, you know about Christianity, Islam and Buddhism. But what do you know about Zoroastrianism or Yoruba? A number of readers may be familiar with the Baha’i faith, but have you actually heard of the African Mami Wata religion? Chris Wary published a unique and interesting article recently on Matador Travel, profiling six unique religions that he suggests are […]

Communicating with Muslims

People in various cultures perceive the world differently. This is one of the main causes of communication miscues between individuals from diverse regions of the world. If you want to see an excellent example of how the meaning of simple words can vary from one person to the next, check out this article in the Christian Science Monitor […]

More great cafe cities

If you recall, I recently wrote about some of my favorite cafe cities around the world. Well, now World Hum has come out with the very same story. Hmmm, maybe I should have submitted my idea there first? In any case, they have an intriguing list that includes some overlap with my choices (Rome, Vienna and Buenos […]

Stop crying, you’re British

You’ve heard about the British penchant for the stiff upper lip and their disdain for unseemly displays of emotion. But you wonder how true it really is. After all, we live in an age of emotion. People bare their souls on reality television shows and Facebook pages every day. Old habits, though, die hard. The […]

Varieties of hot chocolate in Latin America

This is the time of year that people’s thoughts turn to steaming mugs of hot chocolate during chilly evenings at home. So I was pleased to stumble across this story about the history of hot chocolate in Latin America. This region is arguably the home of hot chocolate, which was once sipped in a more bitter […]

“We don’t follow time”

So says a nomadic guide to Joe Ray, who wrote a nice article for the Boston Globe about his experience trekking the Sahara in southern Algeria. The piece captures the harsh beauty of the desert as well as the unique culture of the Touareg nomads who live in the region. The author on the desert: Desert […]

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    Bob Riel is a writer and a traveler. Go here to read more about Bob, his work and the Travels in the Riel World blog.


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