All posts by Kristjan H Kristjansson

Charly’s Bakery

Cape Town – South Africa

District Six

District Six is the name of a former inner-city residential area in Cape Town and is best known for the forced removal of over 60,000 of its inhabitants to townships during the 1970s by the apartheid regime. The inhabitants included a substantial number of colored Muslims, called Cape Malays, and also black Xhosa residents, whites, and Indians. Concerning culture the district was famous for the South African jazz but there have also been written novels, songs, poems, theatre productions and musicals about the district. On 11 February 1966, the government declared District Six a whites-only area under the Group Areas Act, with removals starting in 1968. The old buildings were bulldozed except places of worship including a Jewish religious bookstore. In 1994 the District Six Museum (districtsix.co.za) was established and serves as a remembrance to the events of the apartheid era as well as the culture and history of the area before the removals. Continue reading Charly’s Bakery

Ivanhoe Farming Company

South Africa

My Danish grandfather’s brother, Alfred Sorensen-Vedel, went to South Africa at the beginning of the 20th century, so I have relatives there. After I received an invitation from my cousin, Morag Atherstone, I went to visit them and received great hospitality. Mark Atherstone, Morag’s husband, is a director of Ivanhoe Farming Company. I was very impressed by the company and Mark gave me permission to make a video about it and interview him. I also interviewed Albert Theron, who is a seed potato inspector at the Potato Certification Service. Continue reading Ivanhoe Farming Company

They froze my white blood cells!

When I was driving up the coast of California in 2007 for sightseeing, I stopped over at a hotel in Carmel. There I read an interview with Dina Eastwood in the Carmel Magazine. I was interested in this interview because she came to Iceland with her husband, Clint Eastwood, when he shot the film: “Flags of Our Fathers” there. I became curious when I read that she was going to work nonprofit for a company named BioBancUSATM that stores white blood cells. I therefore phoned the company and accepted an invitation by Lindsay Patel, Director of Laboratory Operations, to see what they were doing.

BioBancUSA
Roberta K. Carlson, Manager of Customer Service, and myself next to the BioArchive® nitrogen storage unit

Continue reading They froze my white blood cells!

Literature

Before purchasing a book I suggest that you visit the publisher’s website to find the latest edition of that book. But often it’s best to purchase books from Amazon.com, e.g. because some of these websites can’t accept foreign credit cards.

Traveling

Magazines
Elite
Elite Traveler. The Private Jet Lifestyle Magazine. Web: elitetraveler.com – Donald J. Trump recommends this magazine in his book: Trump: Think Like a Billionaire. Information about the greatest luxury in traveling, e.g. private jets, yachts and hotel suites. The magazine can be read on-line for free or by paid subscription for the print edition. The magazine also provides free on-line guides e.g. on luxury traveling and products.
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Condé Nast Traveller. Web: cntraveller.com – Provides miscellaneous information about traveling. I recommend the annual Readers’ Travel Awards on the best in traveling for different category e.g. countries, cruise lines, hotels, tour operators and villa-rental company. The magazine has also Hot lists and Gold lists, which are very useful.
Books
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The Insight Guides. Published by the Langenscheidt Publishing Group. Web: insightguides.com – Provides information about countries in short but informative text, good color photographs and maps. This makes choosing of destinations and planning traveling easier. The books start with background information about the countries including history, religion, culture and politics. Also recommendations and warnings. At the end of the books are information about accommodations, restaurants, etc.
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National Geographic Traveler book series. Web: nationalgeographic.com – Provides information about countries in short but informative text, detailed maps and good color photographs. Organized by cities and areas, the book covers the best sites and attractions throughout a country.
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The World’s Best: The Ultimate Book For The International Traveler. Published by International Living, 2005. Web: ilbookstore.com – Over 200 seasoned travelers and expatriates write about 5,102 fascinating places in 46 countries, e.g. hidden mountain monasteries in Bulgaria and exotic markets in China.
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China Business Handbook. Publisher: ACA Publishing Limited. – This is the only book about China, I have found, that provide good information about all the provinces. Concise, clear and well organized. Though it is written for those doing business in China, it is also very helpful for tourists. In-depth Industry overviews written by experts covering every key sector of the economy with the most up-to-date statistics and charts. Useful information, interesting places, maps, economics statistics, industrial parks, major hotels, websites, restaurants, bar, hospitals.

Cross-cultural understanding

Books
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Cross-Cultural Business Behavior: Negotiating, Selling, Sourcing and Managing Across Cultures by Richard R. Gesteland. Publisher: Copenhagen Business School Press; 4th edition, 2005. ISBN-10: 8763001497 and ISBN-13: 978-8763001496. – This book is a practical guide for negotiating with customers and suppliers around the world. Professor Gesteland draws upon his own vast experience in cross-cultural negotiating and managing in 30 years for several large American companies. He uses both a systematic, thoughtful approach to understanding the differences between national cultures and stories. The book explains e.g. patterns of cross-cultural business behavior, formal vs. informal business cultures, time and scheduling, nonverbal business behavior global business protocol etiquette, and how to deal with corruption and bribery.

Bok

Cultural Impact on Service Quality, Hospitality Tips for Effective Communication with Tourists by Margrét Reynisdóttir, 2019. ISBN 978-9935-9459-0-7. The author is Icelandic and the aim of this book is to help professionals working with foreign tourists effectively meet diverse cultural expectations by providing detailed hospitality tips based mainly on hundreds of stories from professionals working in the travel service and foreigners living in Iceland. The book is about Icelanders, Swedes, Danes, Norwegians, British, Germans, Dutch, French, Spanish, Italians, Spanish, Italians, Russians, Israelis, Americans, Canadians, Chinese and Japanese tourists. I think the book is also useful for tourists from these countries so they know how other nationalities view them. What is polite in one country can be rude in another. How to behave and understand different cultures and religion should be part of compulsory education in Iceland. When I was a bit younger the schools were called Gagnfræðaskólar which emphasized on useful knowledge like the name implied. At that time the fishing industry was most important for the economy so I learned many practical things   which I enjoyed very much like how to make nets, navigation, cooking and carpentry beside the usual stuff we learned like languages and mathematics. Today such schools are called Grunnskóli which means basic school and I don´t know if something useful is taught there. Tourism is now very important for the economy so I think practical advice about how to behave towards people of different cultures and religions should be taught. There are some multicultural themes days but I am thinking about more important knowledge like in this book. – The book can be ordered from the author by her e-mail: margret@gerumbetur.is. She also have this web: http://www.gerumbetur.is/

 

 

 

One World

One World:      Bridging the Communication by Zhao Qizheng. Publisher:    China Intercontinental Press 2008. ISBN: 978-7-5085-1406-2. – The author’s thoughtful and humorous explanations uncover the ordinary motivations behind what often seems like bizarre behavior on both sides of the cultural gulf. He graduated in nuclear physics from the University of Science and Technology of China, worked in nuclear research and became a professor. He was Vice Mayor of Shanghai and Director of the Shanghai Pudong New  Area  Administration. Director of the State Council Information Office of China. Chairman of the CPPCC  Foreign Affairs  Committee. Dean  of   the  China People´s University School of Journalism and Ph.D. supervisor at two universities. – Contents includes e.g.: A Smile – The Language That Needs No Translation, Don’t All Chinese Know Kung Fu?, Patience Is Another Form of Respect, It Is Impolite Not to Return Thanks for Help Received, An Apple Tastes Better Than Vitamin C, When You Speak to a Reporter, You Are Speaking to the Public, A Chinese Romeo and Juliet, Friendship First and Competition Second, Getting Revenge and Wiping out the Troops, From Eyeglasses to Nuclear Bombs, Unforgettable Tour Guides, Taxi Drivers – Spokespeople for a City, Mind Your Own Business, Why Doesn’t He Look at Me, Sorry: Not an Easy Word, Asians Are Loud When They Call? and The Art of Cheering.

Bok

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s All Chinese to Me:   An Overview of Culture & Etiquette in China  by   Pierre Ostrowski  and Gwen Penner. Publisher:  Tuttle Publishing  2009. ISBN-13: 978-0-8048-4079-8. – Introduction to basic Chinese culture and rules for politeness are shown with funny cartoons.The book is about major influences and historical events that guide Chinese behavior, key concepts crucial to interacting with Chinese people, culture shock and peculiarities of Chinese business culture. The advice ranges from common faux pas to avoid like never give clocks or cut flowers as a gift because they symbolize death, importance of allowing others to “save face” and how one should behave when invited to a home.
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Understand Western Culture, by Pam Wadeson, Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, China, 2001. – Both written in English and Chinese. The book is for Chinese students studying in western countries, helping them to understand the culture there.

North Korea

Understanding Korea 7 Folklore. Publisher:  Foreign Languages Publishing House, Pyongyang, Korea Juche 106 (2017). – I bought it in North Korea but you can also get it for free here as a pdf-file. The book provide information e.g. about clothes, food, drinks, table manners, family life, marriage, birthday, memorial services, folk games, physical training games, dance, etiquette of salutation, dance and music. Pdf file:   North Korean folklore  

Korea Unmasked

Korea Unmasked: In Search of the Country, the Society and the People  by  Won-bok Rhie. Publisher: Gimm-Young International 2005. ISBN-13: 978-89-349-1771-7. – This book helped me to understand Koreans after I was in North and South Korea. It  is an illustrated book that presents a hilarious and often unflattering look at Korean society and its people. It brings the reader a fascinating exploration of the Korean mindset and weaves together history, sociology and cultural anthropology. The book introduces an insight in subjects like; Korean history, traditions, culture, food, life, economy, tension between South and N. Korea. Also differences and similarities with China and Japan.  After achieved , Won-bok Rhie has a bachelor’s degree in architecture at Seoul National University, studied graphic design in Germany and obtained a degree of Dipl. Designer. He is the author of numerous comic books e.g.  about about several European countries, Korea and Japan. He is a professor of graphic design in University in Seoul and served as the president of the Korean Society of Cartoon and Animation Studies.

 

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Don’t They Know It’s Friday? Cross-Cultural Considerations for Business and Life in the Gulf by Jeremy Williams. Publisher: Motivate Publishing, 1998. ISBN-13: 978-1860630743. – Jeremy Williams, OBE, has more than 20 years´ experience of the Gulf region as former British Defense-Attaché to the UAE and Bahrain. His company, Handshaikh Ltd, conducts seminars, briefing programmes and negotiation training for organisations with Gulf business connections. This handbook is an essential guide for anyone wishing to do business in the Gulf, but also helpful for travelers. It not only focuses on Gulf business practices, Arab culture and behavior patterns, but also prepares the reader for the many life-style changes which may be experienced. It includes a comprehensive section of Islam and discusses its effect on daily life in the Gulf, thus dispelling many of the myths associated with the region. The book is recommended by Dr Obaid Ali Bin Butti, Director Gulf Section, Juma al Majid Centre for Culture and Heritage in Dubai, and Abdullah bin Eisa al Serkal, Director, The Shaikh Mohammad Centre of Cultural Understanding, Dubai.

Safety and security

Books
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Take Care!: Poisonous Australian Animals by Struan Sutherland and Susie Kennewell. Publisher: Hyland House Publishing, 2005. ISBN-10: 1864470682 and ISBN-13: 978-1864470680 – Information about poisonous animals, prevention and first aid. Very well organized with many illustrations. Struan Sutherland (1936–2002) was the ultimate authority on the medical management of envenomated victims in Australia for almost 3 decades. He invented the pressure-immobilisation first-aid technique for snakebites and helped develop the snake venom detection kit. He founded the Australian Venom Research Unit at The University of Melbourne.
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How to Treat Bites and Stings by Gerry and Marlene Swan. Published by New Holland Publishers, 2006. Web: newholland.com.au. ISBN: 9781877069369. – Australia is full of creatures that bite or sting – even some plants sting or are poisonous. A list of creatures and plants alphabetically, from Ants to Wasps, color photographs to help identify the culprit, symptoms of the bite or sting and how to treat it and star ratings of how dangerous the creature or plant is. Also maps that shows the locations in Australia of the creatures and plants.

Montevideo in Uruguay

N95_7_Uruguay_PappiogdottirN95_11_Uruguay_KarnivalbidCarnival in Montevideo, Uruguay. According to a tourist brochure, Montevideo celebrates the world’s longest carnival. This festival has its root in different immigrant’s culture, mainly Spanish and Africans.WP_9_Uruguay_Matte

Yerba mate is a very popular drink in many South American countries. It is drunk through a drinking tube, with a filter attached to the lower end to prevent consumption of the leaf fragments. The straw is traditionally made of silver, because it transfer less heat.

It was first consumed by the indigenous Guaraní and spread by the Tupí people that lived in Southern Brazil that was Paraguayan territory before the war of the Triple Alliance. Therefore, the scientific name of the yerba mate is Ilex paraguariensis. The Guaraní have a legend that says that the Goddesses of the Moon and the Cloud came to the Earth one day to visit it but they instead found a Yaguareté (a jaguar) that was going to attack them. An old man saved them, and, in compensation, the Goddesses gave the old man a new kind of plant, from which he could prepare a “drink of friendship”. Today there are different traditions or ceremonies in South America in how to drink mate, but is often social event so it is still a “drink of friendship”.

431611_3118530973553_114741977_nI had lunch twice at the Mercado del Puerto, which is the centre of traditional Uruguayan food and beverage in Montevideo. With the juicy and tasty meat I drank the traditional Medio y medio, which is part sparkling wine and part white wine.

428681_3118565414414_169820333_n427066_3118552574093_176275897_nUruguay is famous for excellent beef and soccer teams. – Mercado del Puerto in Montevideo.

N95_12_Uruguay_VeitingastadurNice view of Montevideo from a restaurant

N95_17_Uruguay_LovelockLove padlocks in Montevideo – I first saw Love padlocks in Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province of China and then in Copenhagen, Denmark. I don’t know the origin of this tradition but in Rome the ritual of affixing love padlocks to the bridge Ponte Milvio can be attributed to the book “I Want You” by Italian author Federico Moccia, who later made it into the film-adaptation “Ho voglia di te”.

418270_3116735688672_1429430809_nThe Pedagogical Museum in Montevideo, Uruguay, commemorates the educational reforms by Mr. José Pedro Varela (19 March 1845 – 24 October 1879). His writings convinced the government to pass the 1877 Law of Common Education. This is why Uruguay pioneered universal, free, and compulsory primary education in the Americas.

405917_3116733528618_303443854_n422413_3117585549918_2031722612_nHead support for a big brain in the Pedagogical Museum in Montevideo.

420975_3116739688772_34833290_nTestimonies show that before Varela´s reform, the education was focused both on rote-learning and on the reward and punishment one.

N95_4_Uruguay_EnglishA poster in Montevideo about the importance of learning English. I met more people who spoke English in Uruguay than in Argentina. In my opinion, English is the most important language in the world. I have been told that all children in China learn English today.

N95_17_Uruguay_KonfusionA statue of Confucius in Montevideo, Uruguay. Under the statue is written: “The education must be without discrimination of class”

N95_16_Uruguay_GhandiStatue of Mohandas Gandhi at the Ramba in Montevideo. I saw many walk or run at the Ramba. When it´s very hot it´s good to walk there because of the cold wind.

N95_14_Uruguay_KvennakosningarA book commemorating the women’s vote in 1938. I saw this book in the Museo Casa de Gobierno in Montevideo. An Argentinean, who is the general manger of the hotel where I stayed, told me that the Uruguayans emphases on democracy and honesty.

Barbados

I went to Barbados in February 2014 and in this post are photos and information about what I found most interesting there. It´s part of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean Sea.

WP_Barbados_StrondPhoto taken from Radisson Aquatica Resort Barbados towards the center of Bridgetown.

WP_Barbados_GeorgeWashingtonGeorge Washington House is a museum in Bridgetown. George and his brother Lawrence resided in this plantation house, also known as Bush Hill House, for two months in 1751. The reason was that Lawrence fell victim to tuberculosis and doctors in Virginia recommended a change of climate. Lawrence found the oppressive heat miserable and the venture failed to improve his condition.

Continue reading Barbados