Recent Articles

Exploring Vietnam

Hope everyone enjoyed a nice holiday weekend.  Now that it’s a new year, it’s time for some people to consider new travel destinations. How about Vietnam?  David Abel wrote for the Boston Globe about his recent trip to Hanoi. There, he and his girlfriend explored the city… Merchants pack narrow sidewalks, hawking everything from socks and roses to […]

Tracing the steps of Abraham

The three major monotheistic religions that sprang from the Middle East – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – have been at the source of much division and conflict in the world.  What is sometimes forgotten, unfortunately, are the common roots of these three religions, such as their shared ancestry dating back to Abraham. The author Bruce […]

Thoughts on travel from Pico Iyer

There was a wonderful in-depth interview recently on World Hum with the travel writer Pico Iyer.  He is the author of Video Night in Kathmandu, Falling Off the Map, and a number of other titles.  Some excerts from the interview: How do you think travel writing has evolved over the past 20 or 30 years? I […]

Words that shock in different cultures

We all know, of course, that people in various cultures can have vastly different ways of communicating.  But different ways of swearing?  Well, as this recent article from the Washington Post points out, when French-speaking Canadians get angry, they tend to spew religious words that could have been taken straight out of Catholic Church service. “Oh, tabernacle!” […]

Japanese culture and U.S. baseball madness

Well, I wrote about a Japanese topic yesterday, but it’s hard not to post about the surge of interest in Daisuke Matsuzaka.  In case you haven’t heard, this Japanese baseball star agreed to a contract yesterday with the Boston Red Sox and a recent search at Google News turned up nearly 2,000 media articles about the signing.  This […]

Confucius versus modernity in Chinese schools

As China’s economy globalizes and its educational system tries to prepare students for a more interconnected world, there is a simultaneous push in Chinese schools to introduce young people to the country’s ancient culture, including the teachings of Confucius.  There is an interesting story in the Christian Science Monitor about these sometimes conflicting goals. On […]

Borat and the real Kazakhstan

The movie Borat, about a fictionalized journalist from Kazakhstan on a journey through America, has been the source of much laughter in movie theaters in recent weeks.  That is, when the same movie wasn’t causing horrified jaws to drop.  It has also caused a surge in interest in the actual country of Kazakhstan. USA Today recently ran a story […]

Buddhist tourism

Interested in knowing how a Buddhist monk lives?  Some Buddhist temples in South Korea are now allowing visitors to sample the lifestyle of an ordained monk through a program called Templestay Korea.  Catherine Price recently spent two days living the life of a monk and wrote about her experience for the NY Times. Meditation and […]

Standing at the edge of the world

Ushuaia, Argentina, bills itself as the southernmost city in the world.  It is virtually an island within an island, as it sits at the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego, trapped between the Andes Mountains and the sea.  The Pan-American highway ends (or begins) here, at the edge of the South American continent, just 600-700 miles […]

Journeying through Patagonia

I’ve been doing a bit of my own traveling the past couple of weeks.  Lisa and I have been meaning to explore more of South America and so we decided to take a bit of time to see part of Argentina.  It’s too big of a country to explore in one trip and so our […]

The 17,000 foot train ride

What’s it like to ride the world’s highest railway?  John Flinn of the San Francisco Chronicle recently reported on his experience aboard the Lhasa Express to Tibet.  He returned with some interesting stories. Strange things are starting to happen as the Lhasa Express chuffs across the rooftop of the world. Outside the double-glazed, UV-blocking windows, I […]

The coca leaf in South America

When I was in Peru a few years ago, a common drink served at every restaurant and small hotel at high altitude was coca tea.  It has a mild stimulant affect, very much like the caffeine in coffee or black tea, and is said to be especially helpful for dealing with the physical effects of altitude.  […]

    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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