Recent Articles

Risk, innovation and U.S. culture

The United States is renowned for having a culture that rewards risk-taking and innovation. This is so ingrained into the culture that it’s easy to forget it’s actually a somewhat unique trait that is not always so easily replicated elsewhere. Here’s a reminder of that, buried in a NY Times profile of scientist-businessman John Kao. Before long he had written […]

The character of cities

I’ve always been intrigued by the character of different cities. Every urban environment, it seems, has a different vibe, a unique feel. The coffeehouses of Seattle, the universities of Boston, the Latin beat of Miami. Each place has such unique traits that it’s not possible to mistake one for another, and individuals who love one […]

Biking Vietnam

It’s not a vacation for the faint of heart, given the chaotic vagaries of Vietnamese traffic, but Margo Pfeiff had an exhilarating time during a biking tour of Vietnam. She wrote about her experiences for the San Francisco Chronicle. Sucking in a deep breath, I launch myself into one of the most exhilarating and terrifying adrenaline […]

Cultural insights from Egypt

I came across some interesting cultural insights in a recent article about Egypt in the International Herald Tribune. Although the story, on its surface, is about Egyptian perceptions of the U.S., just begin reading and you’ll discover some anecdotes that shed light into Egyptian and Arab culture. My favorite, at the start of the article, describes the local […]

Improve your health, take a vacation

Americans work more hours and take fewer vacation days than pretty much anyone else in the industrialized world. Now, though, comes evidence that vacations are more than a fun perk – they may actually help you stay healthy and live longer. Here are the vacation stats: A global study by found that about a […]

Riel World photo – Nile River, Egypt


Nile River, Egypt Sunset over the Nile River near Luxor, Egypt.

Disappearing destinations

The website New West has an interview online with Heather Hansen, co-author of the new book, Disappearing Destinations, which looks at the environmental challenges that are plaguing popular tourist destinations worldwide. An excerpt from the interview: How did you come up with the idea for Disappearing Destinations? Kim and I were at a conference in […]

The world’s fascination with the U.S. election

I hadn’t planned on following up yesterday’s post with another one connected to politics, but I think it’s important to take a moment to reflect on how the U.S. presidential election is being viewed around the world, especially in light of the history that was made yesterday when Barack Obama became the presumptive presidential nominee […]

How multicultural Hawaii shaped Obama

U.S. News and World Report has a story this week that explores how the multicultural nature and “aloha spirit” of Hawaii helped shape the beliefs of Barack Obama as a young man. It’s a glimpse into the culture of one of the most famous but perhaps least understood states in the U.S. An excerpt from […]

Riel World photo – Prague, Czech Republic


Prague, Czech Republic The architecture and flowers of Old Town Square in Prague.

Saudi gender relations: the female view

Yesterday, I had a post about gender relations in Saudi Arabia and the remarkable lengths that the society goes to in order to maintain separation between males and females of different families. I linked to a story in the International Herald Tribune in which young men were interviewed about their interactions with women. Today, we cover […]

Saudi gender relations: the male view

It’s easy in the West for us to express shock or dismay at the state of gender relations in some Arab countries (the veiling of women, the separation of the sexes, etc.), and particularly in a very conservative culture such as Saudi Arabia’s. However, it’s also easy for us to forget that many people in those […]

    Meet Bob Riel

    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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