Thailand’s Tiger Temple raided


MATADOR PROUDLY PUBLISHED an eye-opening article by Turner Barr on his experiences volunteering at Tiger Temple, and it has since helped raise awareness for what goes on at this popular attraction in Thailand. We are happy to learn that forest authorities and policemen in the Kanchanaburi province have raided Wat Pa Luang Ta Bua, sending over 35 exotic birds to a nearby wildlife rehabilitation facilty, and are looking in to the safety and well being of over 100 tigers on the property. Hopefully this is one step closer to getting these endangered animals the care they deserve, and educating travelers on the benefits of responsible tourism .

You can read more about the raid from these sources: Bangkok Post, Thai PBS, The Sun Daily.

8 things we can learn from Indians


Photo: John Hoey

1. How to recycle absolutely anything

Indians are the masters of reusing and recycling all forms of paper products, metals, and plastics. As an American living in India, I threw out soda bottles, empty paper towel rolls, used plastic bags, and a plethora of other articles that would promptly be plucked from my garbage bags and sold in the streets.

It is said that there are four or five layers of recycling in India. Someone would go through my trash and read my old newspapers, take my empty bottles, and whatever else they found to be of value. Then three or four other people would follow them, doing precisely the same thing.

Plastic bags and bottles became containers for screws, while nails and fabrics were made into decorative ribbons for auto rickshaws.

2. How to street eat

India has some of the best street food in the world, from vegetarian chickpea dishes to tandoori shish kabobs to pani puri — one of the most famous street meals, made up of a small wheat shell filled with a mixture of potato, peas, and spices. The shell is then dipped in spicy water and eaten 8 to 15 at a time. For breakfast or an afternoon snack, jalebi is fried to the point of looking like an American funnel cake.

3. How to wear the same outfit in both 120-degree and 40-degree weather

North India is mostly desert, so the temperatures range drastically from hot to cold. Women wear saris throughout the warm months of March to October, while men wear light clothing and turban-like headwear. Saris look deceiving — three layers of clothing and a head wrap — but they are the coolest thing you could wear because of all the air flow you get. Winter calls for heavy blankets and scarves made from pashmina.

4. How to celebrate a holiday every day of the year

India celebrates multiple holidays throughout the year and each one is celebrated profusely. Throwing colors and drinking bhang (a drink made from milk, marijuana, and Indian spices) goes with Holi. Lighting up the cities goes with Diwali. And sweets like barfi (made from sugar and milk) are always given on birthdays.

Because Hindus worship gods of fertility, wealth, heroism and seasons, there are literally holidays almost every day of the year. The people take these times to visit their neighbors, make food, and enjoy life together.

5. How to turn pretty much anything into juice

There are men on every street corner in India with carts brimming over with fresh pomegranates, oranges, bananas, and pineapples. They use little blenders for juicing the fruit and serve it in flimsy plastic cups. When in season, fruit can be bought by the kilo for under the equivalent of one US dollar. Stopping by for a mango smoothie or some pomegranate juice is an everyday occurrence for many. Lassi stands are also prevalent, serving up a delicious drink of blended yogurt and spices in clay cups.

6. How to build with so much color

From the Taj Mahal to the many forts and palaces of cities like Jaipur, India is well known for its architectural masterpieces. Marble is used in many buildings, adding an air of dignity even to regular homes. Brilliant blue and green colors are abundant and different cities are known by names such as the Pink City (Jaipur) or the Blue City (Jodhpur).

7. How to respect family and elders, and work to make them proud

Family and elders are the most important people in India. Once educated and married, the children will start taking care of their parents. The oldest son will marry and move his new family into his parents’ home in order to take care of the entire family. Family pride is so important that the children will study as hard as possible in order to make their parents happy. In India, family relationships are the only relationships that will last a lifetime.

8. How to roast meat in a clay oven

Indians are famous for many dishes: tikka masala with a tomato sauce base, madras curry with chili powder, biryani with rice, meats, and vegetables, and of course tandoori. One of the few foods not eaten in a broth or sauce base, tandoori chicken, goat, and lamb gets roasted in a large clay oven that gives the food an unforgettable Indian flavor. India is famous for these beautiful ovens, and rarely are they seen anywhere else in the world.

Raising kids around the world

SOME global parenting styles might make American parents cringe, but others could definitely use a close study. Read on for a sampling of parenting lessons from around the world.

1. In Norway, kids nap outside even in sub-zero temperatures.


Photo: cglosli

In Norway, childhood is very institutionalized. When a kid turns 1 year old, he or she starts going to Barnehage (Norwegian for “children’s garden”), which is basically state-subsidized daycare. Parents pay a few hundred dollars a month and their kids are taken care of from 8 am to 5 pm. Toddlers spend a ton of time outside at Barnehage, even in extremely cold temperatures. It’s not uncommon to see kids bundled up outside during a Scandinavian winter, taking a nap in their strollers.

Even with the obvious benefits provided by the government in Norway, some parents complain about the lack of creativity in people’s approaches to parenting. One American mother adjusting to raising kids in Norway wrote, “There’s a sense that there’s just one right way to do things. And everyone does it that way. In America there are different parenting styles — co-sleeping, attachment parenting, etc. Here there is just one way, more or less: all kids go to bed at 7, all attend the same style of preschool, all wear boots, all eat the same lunch…that’s the Norwegian way.”

2. Vietnamese parents potty train their babies by 9 months.

Photo: <a href="; Jon Fravel</a>

Photo: ePi.Longo

Here’s a good one. In Vietnam, mom and dads teach their babies to pee at the sound of a whistle. Kind of like Pavlov with his salivating dogs. Except this is moms and dads with peeing babies. The Chinese do it too apparently. Parents start by noticing when their baby starts peeing and making a little whistle sound. Soon enough, the baby starts to associate the whistle with peeing and voila!

Think this sounds a little odd? Or a little like someone is conflating a kid with a pet Schnauzer? Well, researchers say Vietnamese babies are usually out of diapers by nine months. What do you think now?

3. Traditionally, Kisii people in Kenya avoid looking their babies in the eye.

Hat tip to Cracked for finding this one: Kisii, or Gussii, moms in Kenya carry their babies everywhere, but they don’t indulge a baby’s cooing. Rather when their babies start babbling, moms <a href="

id=hmjO2VqMNIMC&pg=PA221&dq=%22tend+to+avert+their+gaze%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=v3oBUos7wouQBeXDgRg&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=%22tend%20to%20avert%20their%20gaze%22&f=false”>avert their eyes. It’s likely to sound harsh to a Western sensibility, but within the context of Kisii culture, it makes more sense. Eye contact is an act bestowed with a lot of power. It’s like saying, “you’re in charge,” which isn’t the message parents want to send their kids. Researchers say Kisii kids are less attention-seeking as a result, so that’s something.

4. Danish parents leave their kids on the curb while they go shopping.

In Denmark, writes Mei-Ling Hopgood in How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm, “children are frequently left outside to get frisk luft, or fresh air — something parents think is essential for health and hearty development — while caregivers dine and shop.”

As you might imagine, this idea sends shivers down the spines of many parents in the United States. In New York, a couple (one of whom was Danish) was arrested for leaving their child outside a BBQ restaurant while they went inside to eat. ”I was just in Denmark and that’s exactly what they do,” Mariom Adler, a New Yorker out walking with her 2 1/2-year-old son, told the New York Times. ”We would see babies all over unattended. We were stunned, frankly. But Denmark also struck us as exceptionally civilized.”

5. In the Polynesian Islands, children take care of children.


Photo: amhuxham

We’re not talking any old big brother babysitting little sister here. We’re talking organized kid collective.

Hopgood writes in her book that adults take the lead on caring for babies in Polynesia, but as soon as a child can walk, he or she is turned over to the care of other children. “Preschool-aged children learned to calm babies,” she wrote, “and toddlers became self-reliant because they were taught that that was the only way they could hang out with the big kids.”

Jane and James Ritchie, a husband and wife anthropology team, observed a similar phenomenon over decades in New Zealand and the Polynesian Islands. But they don’t think it would fly in the United States. “Indeed in Western societies, the degree of child caretaking that seems to apply in most of Polynesia would probably be regarded as child neglect and viewed with some horror,” they wrote in Growing Up in Polynesia.

6. Japanese parents let their kids go out by themselves.

Parents in Japan allow their kids a lot of independence after a certain age. It isn’t uncommon for 7-year-olds and even 4-year-olds to ride the subway by themselves.

Christine Gross-Loh, author of Parenting Without Borders, lives in Japan for part of each year, and when she’s there she lets her kids run errands without her, taking the subway and wandering around town as they may. But she wouldn’t dare do the same back in the United States. “If I let them out on their own like that in the US, I wouldn’t just get strange looks,” she told TED. “Somebody would call Child Protective Services.”

7. Spanish kids stay up la-ate!


Photo: Loli Jackson

Spanish families are focused on the social and interpersonal aspects of child development, according to Sara Harkness, a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Connecticut.

The idea of a child going to bed at 6:30 pm is totally alien to Spanish parents, Harkness told TED. “They were horrified at the concept,” she said. “Their kids were going to bed at 10 pm.” so they could participate in family life in the evenings. The same is true in Argentina, according to Hopgood.

8. Aka pygmy fathers win the award.

For the Aka people in central Africa, the male and female roles are virtually interchangeable. While the women hunt, the men mind the children. And vice versa.

Therein lies the rub, according to Professor Barry Hewlett, an American anthropologist. “There’s a level of flexibility that’s virtually unknown in our society,” Hewlett told The Guardian. “Aka fathers will slip into roles usually occupied by mothers without a second thought and without, more importantly, any loss of status — there’s no stigma involved in the different jobs.”

This flexibility, apparently, extends to men suckling their children. Ever wonder why men have nipples? That’s why.

9. French kids eat everything.

Set mealtimes; no snacking whatsoever; the expectation that if you try something enough times, you’ll like it. These are among the “food rules” in France that are taken as given. The result is French kids who eat what adults eat, from foie gras to stinky cheese. Tell that to my nephew.

By: Emily Lodish, GlobalPost

This article is syndicated from GlobalPost.

What teaching in Finland taught me


Photo: Lotus Carroll

THESE DAYS, people often ask if I’m experiencing culture shock. It’s a legitimate question. Just a few months ago, my family and I moved from Boston to Helsinki, Finland. To be honest, the culture shock isn’t so dramatic — especially since my wife is a Finn.

But I’m definitely experiencing classroom shock — a shifting of my pedagogical mindset — as I settle into my new job as a 5th grade teacher at a Finnish public school.

My family and I plan on living in Finland permanently, but I can’t help but think about what I’d do differently if I returned to an American classroom. Talk about reverse-classroom shock! I’ve already identified three big shifts I’d make right away.

Schedule more breaks

Finnish schools often schedule lessons into hour-long blocks: 45 minutes of instruction, 15 minutes of break. Students rarely have back-to-back lessons without breaks — and at the elementary level, it’s expected that children will spend their breaks playing outside, rain or shine.

During the first week of school, I didn’t get it. I designed back-to-back lessons so my students could have fewer but longer breaks. In the midst of a double lesson, one of my students confessed, “I think I’m going to explode. When are we going to get a break?”

This was a turning point for me. I shifted my approach, and began to notice that the students were more refreshed when they returned to the classroom after frequent but short breaks. The breaks helped children pace themselves.

Back in the States, I remember days when I pushed young students to produce work even when they were clearly dragging their feet. The idea of allowing a break away from the classroom didn’t cross my mind. Now I’m convinced that regular breaks help students to stay balanced and sharp throughout the day.

Back in an American classroom, I would plan brain and body breaks for my students as part of our classroom rhythm. If possible, I would find a way to get the children outside during these breaks.

Get refreshed

At first, I was reluctant to make my way to the teachers’ lounge during breaks. I saw these 15-minute chunks as “bonus prep time” and would stay inside my classroom, fretting about the next lesson. Totally normal behavior in an American school, right? But a few of my Finnish colleagues noticed this habit and worried that I might burn out. They challenged me to spend more time in the lounge, drinking coffee and catching up with colleagues. I took their advice and found that, lo and behold, breaks not only refreshed my students but also invigorated me.

Of course, most American teaching schedules don’t allow 15-minute breaks throughout the day. I’m not recommending that teachers demand these breaks from their administrators. I’m suggesting that they adopt a different mindset.

Finnish colleagues have taught me that breaks help me to be a more effective teacher. They’ve shown me that teaching is more like a marathon than a sprint. It’s important to slow down often so that one can successfully complete the race of each school year.

Back in an American classroom, I would set aside time to decompress every day. Rather than working through lunch or trying to be productive with every spare moment as I have in the past, I would put down the to-do list and focus on the simple task of getting refreshed. Perhaps I’d join colleagues for lunch? Maybe I’d eat alone in the classroom while listening to music? Or maybe I’d go for a walk, enjoying fresh air and sunlight?

In short, I’d take advantage of any opportunities I might have—however meager they might be—to refresh myself. Regularly pulling away from work has helped me to be a better teacher in Finland.

Give students more independence

In the past, my start-of-the-year philosophy as an elementary teacher has been this: take kids by the hand and don’t let them go until they show that they’re ready to be independent. I typically have begun each year by teaching students a long list of routines and procedures.

This year, things didn’t go as planned. For example, I intended to teach my Finnish 5th graders how to walk in a straight, quiet line. But what I learned during the first week of school is that my students have been moving independently from class to class since first grade. Furthermore, most children in my Finnish public school (grades 1-9) commute to school on their own. Teaching them how to walk in a straight, quiet line would have been unnecessary and even a bit insulting.

Although Finnish children appear to be much more independent than American children, they don’t have an “independence gene,” of course. But they do have (at school and at home) many opportunities to do things on their own without handholding.

My Finnish 5th graders wanted to arrange a school-wide bake sale this year as a fundraiser. Honestly, I wasn’t crazy about the idea at first. It sounded like another thing that I’d need to manage. I made a decision to release my grip on the bake sale and they blew me away! They designed advertisements, created a class sign-up sheet, and brought in heaps of baked goods. All of these things were done without my direction. I supervised, but I didn’t handhold.

If I ever returned to the States, I think I could provide my American students with more opportunities to work without scaffolds. Don’t get me wrong. Some students need structure — especially given America’s cultural differences — but they all could benefit from low-stakes chances to dive in.

Teaching in Finland has helped me to identify hidden American principles that have guided my thinking about teaching. For example, I used to think that students and teachers need to be productive at all times. (False. We can be more productive when we set aside time to recharge.)

We have a lot to learn when our long-held beliefs are confronted by different ones. Critically evaluating my teaching mindset and making changes has made me a stronger teacher.

This piece was originally posted on Education Week Teacher and Taught by Finland, and has been re-published here with permission.

You learned drink in Charleston, SC

charleston learn to drink

Photo: Jon Fravel

1. You can open a beer bottle with an oyster shell.

2. You’ve run into Byron The Bum on your way to Burris Liquor store, and traded him a mini bottle for a neck massage.

3. When partying out of town, you’re disappointed when the bartender refuses to split one shot three ways.

4. Despite living in “The Holy City,” your Sunday mornings are spent getting wasted at Mad River.

5. You only know what month it is by the beer special at AC’s.

6. After one too many shots of Grandma at Big John’s Tavern, you’ve been issued a drunk-in-public ticket by a police officer on a horse.

7. You’ve gotten hammered while shucking oysters on a 300-year old plantation at the Lowcountry Oyster Festival.

8. You know someone who got a DUI on a bicycle.

9. You’ve smoked a cigarette inside The Griffon while being served a bourbon and coke out of a mini-bottle.

10. After several hours of boating, you’ve drunk enough liquid courage to climb the 30-ft. ladder and jump into the water from the Ben Sawyer Bridge.

11. You’ve popped bottles of champagne and watched fireworks on the WWII Battleship, USS Yorktown, on NYE.

12. You’ve grubbed down on Dave’s Seafood or Gilroys Pizza at 4am.

13. You’ve bought 40s with a fake ID at the T n L corner store on Spring Street.

14. You know that the best way to cut the salty taste of the ocean is Firefly Sweet Tea vodka, mixed with water and lemonade.

15. While drinking on Folly, you’ve had to return to Bert’s multiple times in one day for more beer.

16. You can ride out a wave, jump in a creek, or fall off a boat, without spilling your beer.

17. You know that the weekend starts on Thursday, with $1 beers at the River Dog’s game, before heading to James Island County Park to dance to live reggae music.

18. Despite having no memory of the previous night, judging by the sand in your bed, a palmetto rose on your dresser, and a serious case of “Charleston Black Foot,” you know that you must have gone barhopping downtown after leaving Folly.

19. You’ve gotten funny looks from Sunday morning churchgoers, as you rock the haggard stagger down King Street during your walk of shame.

20. While partyhopping, you’ve stopped at the fire station on Coming Street and slid down the pole.

21. You’ve partied in Gnarnia.

22. You’ve sipped on Bloody Marys while cruising along the Charleston Harbor with dozens of boats all decked out in Xmas decorations.

23. You know Labradors who are trained to open up a cooler, and retrieve beers.

24. After turning the wrong way down a one way street and nearly hitting a horse and carriage full of tourists, you realize that bar crawling on a bicycles is not such a good idea.

25. You’ve been to a bikini contest at the Wind Jammer in Isle of Palms.

26. You’ve watched world records being set while getting drunk at a Ski and Wakeboarding Competition at Trophy Lakes.

27. You’ve spotted Bill Murray across the bar, and possibly even taken a shot with him.

28. You’ve gotten so wasted at Shem Creek Bar and Grill after taking way too many oyster shooters from Big Al that you run aground as you try to boat away.

29. You carry a large purse with you when partying to hold keg cups for house parties, and a pair of sandals you can change into when you’re too drunk to walk in heels.

30. When partying out of town, you’re pleasantly surprised to learn that the liquor stores stay open past 7, and that you can buy liquor on Sundays.

31. You’ve swung into the Wando River on the secret rope swing right after slapping a bag of Franzia.

32. You’ve kicked it with Tin Tin, heard him rap, and paid him $5 to clean up your yard after a house party.

33. You’ve returned keg shells on a bicycle.

34. You know that the best happy hour is always on a boat.

35. Booty Shaking Competition. 4th of July.

36. You’ve buried kegs in the sand and gotten blackout-drunk at The Washout while doing keg stands in your bathing suit.

37. You own an absurd amount of costumes because you know that in Charleston, Halloween is “Hallo-week.” You’ve been to the epic Skin-ful Halloween parties.

38. You’ve been on several art walks, not because you like art, but for the free wine at each gallery.

39. You know that the best cure for a hangover is the beach.

Harrowing vid of Taiwan plane crash

It’s never easy watching a plane go down. This is raw footage from a TransAsia Airways flight that crashed yesterday shortly after takeoff in Taipei, Taiwan. Here’s the latest from the BBC:

The plane, carrying 58 people, has broken up and the fuselage is lying half-submerged in the Keelung River. Rescue efforts are ongoing. At least 15 people have been pulled out alive, with 20 still missing…
Emergency teams have cut the plane open to gain access, attempting to reach the remaining passengers trapped in the front section of the fuselage.
“At the moment, things don’t look too optimistic,” Wu Jun-hong, a Taipei fire department official coordinating the rescue effort, told reporters.

The dead and missing passengers and their loved ones are in our thoughts today.

9 drunkest countries in the world

Here are the nine drinkiest countries, by annual liters of alcohol consumption per capita.

9. Czech Republic, 13 liters per person per year

People in the Czech republic seem to exist in a sort of boozy middle ground — only 2.6 percent are alcohol dependent, but only 2.6 percent have never had a drink. They just drink steadily, and sometimes they drink a lot — 38.9 percent of the population had binged in the last 30 days, including more than half of men. This might be because the Czech Republic has some of the cheapest beer in the world — the equivalent of 70 cents for half a liter. (Not surprisingly, more than half the alcohol consumed in the Czech Republic comes in beer form.)

8. Slovakia, 13 liters per person per year

Slovakia is relatively tame as these things go — a full 16.3 percent of the population are lifelong teetotallers. Only 5.5 percent are alcohol-dependent, and 28.6 percent binge drink. Slovakia makes a lot of fruit liquors — pear, plum, apple, cherry, apricot — and maybe those just aren’t enough to tempt people to drink. Or rather, they’re not enough to tempt people to drink more than the top seven boozy nations.

7. Hungary, 13.3 liters per person per year

About a quarter of Hungarians had binged in the last 30 days, and 9.4 percent are alcohol dependent. And if you get tired of drinking, it’s also one of the cheapest countries to get MDMA!

6. Andorra, 13.8 liters per person per year

This Catalan principality is doing its co-prince, the president of France, proud — it outstripped both France and Spain, which Andorra also borders, despite both countries’ reputations for good-time booziness. The 42.1 grams of alcohol that Andorrans consume each day doesn’t even count drinking from the principality’s tourist industry.

5. Ukraine, 13.9 liters per person per year

It’s possible that after the year Ukraine has had, we’ll soon start to see numbers higher than 2.2 percent alcoholic and 22.6 percent binge drinkers. Either way, Ukraine is one of the cheapest places to get beer or wine — $4.50 for a bottle of mid-range wine, 67 cents for a half-liter of beer — but one of the most expensive countries to buy cocaine. So, keep drinking, I guess, guys.

4. Russian Federation, 15.1 liters per person per year

The Russian Federation is trying to get its drinking under control — a 2011 federal amendment restricted the availability and marketing of alcohol, strengthened penalties for providing alcohol to minors, cracked down on illegal alcohol production and trafficking, and established some consumer restrictions. They’re still plugging away at the booze, though — only 19.1 percent binge, but 9.3 percent are alcoholic, and drinkers put away 48.3 grams of pure alcohol per day.

3. Lithuania, 15.4 liters per person per year

A full 16.8 percent of Lithuanians are lifelong abstainers, but those who drink account for 51 grams of alcohol a day on average. The legal blood alcohol limit for driving is an unusually high 0.04 percent, which may be why nearly 50 percent of road accident deaths are due to booze. MDMA is way cheap there, too — $4.60 per tablet, versus $35 in the United States.

2. Moldova, 16.8 liters per person per year

Almost half of Moldovan men reported an episode of binge drinking in the previous 30 days — 32.2 percent of the population as a whole were bingers. All the high-alcohol-use countries are big into liquor, rather than wine and beer, but especially Moldova; 65 percent of the alcohol Moldovans drank took this form. Only 3.3 percent of the population is alcohol dependent, but that might depend how you define “alcohol dependent”; Moldova is also supposed to be the least happy country in the world, and residents may need their 55.1 grams of alcohol just to get through the day. Luckily, you can get mid-range wine for the equivalent of just $2.97, though it’s one of the most expensive places to buy cocaine.

1. Belarus, 17.5 liters per person per year

Imagine nine two-liter bottles of soda. Each person in Belarus drinks nearly that much pure alcohol every year — which is serious business, since even strong liquor is usually no more than 50 percent alcohol. Eleven percent of Belarusians, and almost 20 percent of the men there, have an alcohol dependency, and nearly 50 percent of men report binge drinking. And more than half of deaths from road accidents are attributable to alcohol.

By Jess Zimmerman, GlobalPost
This article is syndicated from GlobalPost.

UK habits I lost moving to Argentina

1. Beer drinking

Ah, glorious beer. That special, urine-colored sap that has put many a dent on a British liver, and many an affair in a British marriage. There are a number of reasons for our obsession with beer, but one is that it presents itself as a cheap way of getting loose on a Saturday night, in the face of many expensive alcoholic alternatives.

It’s true that I haven’t gone completely cold turkey on beer since arriving, but the wine here is just as cheap as the beer, and a million times better. Malbec is a revelation. Predominantly made in Argentina’s sun-drenched Mendoza region, the wine comes out singing of the sunny climate in which it was brewed. On the flip side of this, it’s tricky to get any decent beer in Argentina. The local Quilmes is far from the finished article and even the imported stuff tastes a bit different. And to stray you even further away from the beer that you once loved, there is our black, syrupy friend that keeps us warm in the dead of the night: Fernet.

2. Getting uptight about punctuality

Punctuality and efficiency are the keys to the whirlwind life of a Londoner. Whether it’s rushing to get to work on the tube, eating a quick lunch at Pret a Manger, or starting Friday night at 5pm, nobody wastes a moment in London. But this breeds impatience, which is something that you better leave behind if you want to keep your sanity in Argentina.

In Argentina, people like to run on their own clock, which is one that has usually been set a couple of hours late. Buses, for example, wind an extravagant web across each corner of every city, but never to a predictable or consistent schedule. Or sample the famous Argentine asado. On one hand, it is a dish of pure carnivore delight, but on the other a test of endurance and discipline, as you sit drooling for literally hours while the meat cooks at a tortoise-like pace. Even meeting friends for a drink can test the most sturdy of patience, as you will inevitably be required to navigate through the boredom of that first hour or two of obscurity between meeting time and the time when anyone else might actually arrive.

3. Acting like a cyborg in public

Some people would say that us Brits are polite, some would say that we’re cold and rude, I would say we’re a bit of them all, with a slice of confusion chucked in there as well. We tend to be brought up with an admiration for politeness and ‘proper’ conduct, whilst coming from a historical appreciation of a ‘stiff upper lip.’ This attitude has made us semi-robotic cyborgs out in public.

Happy to let it all hang-loose on any given street, the Argentines have no problem whatsoever in expressing themselves in public. They sing, they shout, they dance, and they argue in front of anyone and everyone, and they don’t give two shits who’s watching. This was tricky to understand when I first arrived, as I shied away from those spontaneous conversations that would spring up in the street.

4. Banking, legitimately

In Argentina, the economic situation is rather temperamental and has been ever since the crisis in 2001. This has, due to a variety of factors, resulted in two different currencies: the official currency and the ‘blue’ currency. The official rate, as peddled by the government, basically overvalues the Argentine Peso as the government refuses to accept the true rate of inflation in the country, while the blue rate tries to create a currency exchange rate that is more representative of the peso’s actual value. For example, today if you exchange US dollars on the official market you will get 8.6 pesos per dollar, but if you exchange them on the blue market you’ll get 13.5 per dollar.

The government has labeled the blue rate illegal — although the entire country uses it — so the banks use the official rate. Needless to say, I don’t fancy having 30% of my paycheck stolen by the government after it’s already been taxed, so I’ve left banks behind. Now, rather than the convenience of using one of the city’s many ATMs for cash, I have the pleasure of using one of city’s numerous, yet sometimes shady, intermediaries to serve up my dolar blue.

5. Watching TV

With little to do during cold British nights, you can often find solace in a mildly entertaining TV show. Usually lacking in the mental-exertion department, the shows require very few brain cells to enjoy, but they offer just about enough entertainment to deter you from pursuing any genuinely rewarding hobbies. In Argentina this is not a problem.

Television in Argentina seems to bounce between highly biased news coverage, incomprehensible entertainment shows with colorful flashing lights, 1990s movie repeats, and football from every corner of the globe — usually of a fairly low transmission quality. So TV gets scrapped, which is sensationally liberating — more time to pursue that hobby or drink your nights away. Malbec and fernet, remember?

Signs you’ve been in Korea too long


Photo: matt_e

1. You have mastered the wipe and toss.

Not in your own bathroom of course, you’re not an animal. In public toilets, you always remember to take the toilet paper in with you before you go in, and you always remember to toss it into a garbage can afterwards. You don’t want to be that Westerner that clogged the toilet.

2. You’re not embarrassed to take a selfie anytime, anywhere.

Koreans are the kings and queens of selfies. They take out their phones on subways, in restaurants, city streets, and snap away happily. You don’t think twice about looking like a tourist or weirdo doing the same.

3. You use Internet Explorer.

You love to hate it, but you still have to use it. You sometimes forget and when you get to the payment part of your order on Gmarket or some other Korean website, you curse yourself and start the process again in IE.

4. You sit down for a meal at convenience stores.

On more than one occasion you have grabbed your pot ramen, a few pieces of lukewarm chicken and some beers and taken a seat at one of the plastic tables setup inside a convenience store.

5. You don’t even feel people staring at you any more.

At first it was annoying, then it was kind of flattering, now you don’t even notice.

6. You’ve forgotten that Cass and Hite are actually not good.

When you first got to Korea you couldn’t stand the taste of these watered down Budweisers, but now you don’t even care, you probably even prefer one over the other, as if there’s a difference.

7. Self-serve bars seem totally normal to you.

A bar full of fridges, prices labeled on the outside — why haven’t other people thought of this? It doesn’t even feel strange that you have to take your bottles up to the front to pay at the end of the night, it’s just logical.

8. You now consider toothpicks to be a utensil.

Hot rice cakes, french fries, pickles — it doesn’t much matter what you’re eating, but you’re happy to do it that toothpick they gave you.

9. You know how to brace yourself on a bus.

You’re not even surprised when it starts moving before you’ve gotten all the way off. You actually get annoyed when you get onto a bus where the driver stops fully at each stop and doesn’t run red lights.

10. Kimchi tastes heavenly.

Like, really good. The smell invokes some sort of weird hungry feeling instead of a desire to wretch.

11. You call the body of water between Japan and Korea the East Sea.

You don’t even mean to. What does everyone else call it again?

12. You order food at a bar even though you just ate.

You can no longer go into a bar and just order beer, it’s ingrained in you now. You’re not even hungry, but you’ll have a few so-maeks and the sausage platter, please.

13. You wear your coat inside.

You’ve stopped trying to explain to people that it defeats the purpose of wearing a coat or arguing that now you don’t have another layer to put on once you get outside. You just want to be warm.

8 key historical sites in New Mexico

1. Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Photo: John Fowler

Perhaps the best place to start learning about New Mexico’s history is at Chaco Culture National Historical Park in the northwestern part of the state. This windswept landscape is home to the massive ruins of what was likely the seat of an incipient empire.

Although the area has seen human activity dating back perhaps 15,000 years, it wasn’t until about 900 AD that Chaco Canyon became the center of a powerful cultural and economic system that spread throughout the Four Corners region, into the Great Plains, and even to Mexico. But after just 300 years something went very wrong, and the infant state fell into a bloody chaos of torture, cannibalism, and eventual abandonment. Archaeologists increasingly view Chaco as less a collection of multiple villages, and more as a single teeming city that filled the whole canyon.

Find it: Chaco Culture National Historical Park lies in remote northwestern New Mexico, between the towns of Cuba and Bloomfield off US 550. Once off the highway, you’ll travel on a series of well-maintained dirt roads. Some maps and GPS give incorrect directions — check the site for the recommended route.

2. Bandelier National Monument

Evidence of human habitation in the canyons of Bandelier National Monument date back many millennia. It was the Ancestral Puebloan people, occupying the canyons in the late 12th century AD, who built the monumental structures and small towns still in evidence today. Tucked into the volcanic mesas of the Pajarito Plateau, the canyon walls are packed with sophisticated cave dwellings, as well as two large villages known as Tyuonyi and Tsankawi. The rock is also covered in tens of thousands of petroglyphs and pictographs, most dating from the period of Puebloan occupation.

Puebloan peoples moved into the Bandelier area around the same time as the collapse of the Chacoan political system and the general abandonment of the Four Corners region. The canyons and mesas of Bandelier were themselves abandoned in the mid-1500s with people moving south and east to villages along the Rio Grande, such as Cochiti and San Ildefonso, both of which are still inhabited.

Find it: You can reach Bandelier National Monument from Santa Fe by taking US 84/285 north toward the city of Los Alamos. Merge right onto NM 502 at Pojoaque and exit towards the town of White Rock. The entrance to the monument is about 12 miles beyond White Rock.

3. Zuni Pueblo

Zuni Festival

Photo courtesy of the New Mexico Tourism Department

Spanish troublemaker Francisco Vásquez de Coronado had dreams of gold. In 1540, he traveled north from Mexico with what can only be described as a circus-like medieval horde of raiders, cannons, and a few priests. When he arrived at Zuni — 40 miles south of the modern city of Gallup — he found a powerful and widespread culture that had been around for 4,000 years.

The Zuni weren’t terribly interested in meeting demands for gold and women — especially from a band of rude, hairy foreigners. Coronado attacked; the Zuni were able to hold him off for a while, then pull the Spanish into a low-level on-and-off guerrilla war that lasted until nearly 1700. This marked the violent European entrance into the American Southwest.

Find it: The Pueblo of Zuni is located in the mesa lands of western New Mexico, south of Gallup and near the Arizona border. Take I-40 west from Albuquerque and look for the well-signed roads to the pueblo. Entrance is free. Please respect the culture and religious traditions of the pueblo during your visit. Be sure to visit Zuni Tourism for the latest events, as well as closure notifications.

4. Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument

Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument

Photo: aaron wolpert

When the Spanish first arrived in the American Southwest, perhaps no place was more populated and wealthier than the Tiwa- and Tewa-speaking towns of the Salinas Valley, about 60 miles southeast of modern-day Albuquerque.

Seeing the opportunity to both exploit the wealth of the Salinas inhabitants and convert souls for the church, Franciscan missionaries constructed several massive mission complexes in or near the existing Native American towns. This created a thriving colonial economy and the ecclesiastical headquarters of the Spanish Inquisition in the American Southwest. But a combination of severe drought, resentment among the local people, and an increasing number of Apache raids took their toll, leaving the area abandoned by the 1670s.

Find it: The national monument comprises three separate sections: Abó, Gran Quivira, and Quarai. Take I-25 south from Albuquerque to the town of Belen, NM 47 diagonally to US 60, and then 60 east for 21 miles to Mountainair, where you’ll find the park headquarters. Check out the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument website for more information.

5. Taos Plaza

Taos was founded as a Spanish outpost in 1540 near the site of Taos Pueblo, one of the oldest continually inhabited communities in all of North America. An important trading post, the little town sitting at the base of the towering Sangre de Cristo Mountains became significant along the Santa Fe Trail, when American trade flourished between the Great Plains.

While interested in the goods and ideas of the young American republic, the people of Taos weren’t so interested in being dominated by the new power. A revolt began in the winter of 1847, and the dark events that transpired still influence the community today. Taos Plaza was the scene of much of the fighting; today it’s a peaceful, shaded spot right in the heart of this art colony town of 6,000.

Find it: Taos Plaza is open year round and is surrounded by excellent restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. A number of top-notch museums exploring the history of Taos are within walking distance. You can reach the town from Santa Fe by driving north on US 84/285 and hopping on NM 68 in Española.

6. St. James Hotel

St. James Hotel

Photo courtesy of the New Mexico Tourism Department

Perhaps the most important building in Cimarron, New Mexico, is the St. James Hotel. Back in the day, the St. James was the center of action for northeastern New Mexico — and a troubled one at that. Owned by Henri Lambert, President Lincoln’s former chef, the hotel was well known for its violent brawls. The saying around town was, “Who was killed at Lambert’s last night?”

Wyatt and Morgan Earp, Buffalo Bill Cody, Clay Allison, Black Jack Ketchum, and Annie Oakley were all frequent visitors to the St. James, and Jesse James regularly stayed in room 14. Over 20 bullet holes can still be seen in the dining room ceiling. Today the hotel is known both for its fun bar and frequent ghost sightings. Regular tours and weekly historic lectures are run out of the hotel. Be sure to spend a night in the old section.

Find it: Cimarron is located in Colfax County. From Santa Fe, take I-25 north about 135 miles to NM 58 and turn west. The trip takes about 2 hours. Visit the city’s website for more details.

7. Lincoln Historic Site

Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett

Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett. Images via Wikimedia Commons

While the little southeastern New Mexico town of Lincoln isn’t quite a household name, it played an integral part in the story of Billy the Kid and Sheriff Pat Garrett. In 1880, President Rutherford B. Hayes named Lincoln’s main street “the most dangerous street in America.” That was at the height of the Lincoln County War, made famous in the 1988 movie Young Guns.

The historic site manages nearly 20 buildings in the town, and because of the well-preserved nature of these Territorial Style adobe structures, Lincoln is one of the most visited sites in the state. Travelers can see the old-courthouse-turned-museum, the incredibly well-preserved Tunstall Store, the jail, and the Anderson-Freeman Museum.

Find it: The Lincoln Historic Site is open 7 days a week, with hours that vary by season. Note that the Tunstall Store and Dr. Woods House are closed during winter. Tickets to all the museums run just $5, and Sundays are free for New Mexico residents. Ranger talks take place all summer.

8. Los Alamos Historical Museum

Los Alamos, NM

Photo: Ron Cogswell

At the height of World War II, the US government sought a secret location to begin development of the atomic bomb; they settled on the forested volcanic plateaus of central New Mexico. Los Alamos was established in 1942 as one of the focal points of the Manhattan Project. Unfortunately, the local Native Americans, as well as Anglo and Hispanic settlers already living there, were pushed out to make room for the secret town and the new research facilities. At the time, the people of Santa Fe knew something was happening up on “the Hill,” but it wasn’t until the end of the war that the existence of Los Alamos was made public.

Today, the town of 12,000 is home to Los Alamos National Laboratory, as well as one of the highest concentrations of PhDs in the country. The Los Alamos Historical Museum is dedicated to the protection and promotion of the area’s history. Once the residence of General Leslie R. Groves, the exhibits in the award-winning museum range from the story of the Manhattan Project to local geology and anthropology. It’s located just a few blocks from the larger Bradbury Science Museum.

Find it: The Los Alamos Historical Museum is open 7 days a week. Docent-guided tours of the historic district are available Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 11am for $10 for ages 18 and up, $5 ages 13-17, and free for children under 12.

New Mexico TrueThis post is proudly produced in partnership with the New Mexico Tourism Department. Visit their site to learn more about the millennia-worth of New Mexico stories.