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Arromanches 360 circular cinema: A review

My oh-so-laconic son, on exiting Arromanches 360, remarked, “Even I found this one moving.” Take my word for it: that was high praise indeed, coming from my perpetually-unimpressed teenager. Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. This will not affect your…

The Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy: A review

In the same week that I visited the excellent In Flanders Field Museum in Ypres, Belgium, I also saw the Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy in Bayeux, France. The two museums are quite comparable: the first is about World War I in the Ypres Salient; the second looks at the D-Day invasion of…

War graves in Belgium: Living among the dead

Belgium is without a doubt the best place to learn about World War I and to visit historical sites related to the war. It has a number of museums, most notably the In Flanders Field Museum in Ypres, and hundreds of cemeteries and monuments. In places, the scars are still visible of the relentless shelling…

How NOT to design a bathroom!

What’s wrong with this picture? We ate lunch yesterday at a café in Gent. Afterwards, I went inside to use the toilet, followed the signs upstairs, came around a corner, and saw this. Except it wasn’t quite this; there was a man standing at the urinal, making some very contented sounds while he peed. I…

In Flanders Fields Museum: A review

An effective museum doesn’t just display items drily in glass cases; an effective museum gives those items meaning to the people viewing them. It entertains, but it also makes visitors think. It gives the items an emotional weight. The In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres, Belgium, is one of the most effective museums I’ve ever…

Chinese Tourists

Everywhere we’ve gone so far, there have been very few foreign tourists like us. Most of the tourists — and in some places all of the tourists — are Chinese. Sometimes they’re in pairs or families, sometimes in groups. When they’re in a group, even if it’s just 5 or 6 people, they hire a…

Toilets in China: On cleanliness and filth

Note added in December 2019: I wrote the following article years ago in Hancheng, China, and I see now how terribly judgemental I was about toilets in China. I’ve added some tips and comments to update it a bit. My message now is: be aware of how you communicate and behave around the issue of…

Intercultural Understanding and Chinese Beds

When I started teaching a class in intercultural communication this past year at the teacher training college, I didn’t actually know anything about it. Or rather, I didn’t know any of the theory, but I’d had a whole lot of practice. I had plenty of anecdotes to share, for example, about differences in expectations and…

Conspicuous Consumption

In my last entry, I mentioned how it seemed to me that the Chinese have wholeheartedly embraced conspicuous consumption. Visiting the Forbidden City the other day emphasized that for me. You could say that the emperors of pre-revolutionary China were the originators of the concept for this part of the world. They represent the ultimate…

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