Tag Archives: Asia

Fourteen Fresh Foreign Tourism Slogans

Iceland – “Very similar to level 6 on Super Mario 3.”

Bolivia – “Come for the salt flats, stay for the iguana meat salteñas!”

China – “What’s a few more people?”

Croatia – “Do not be intimidated by the crazy spellings.”

England – “Come see yer ol’ mum an’ colonial master guvna.”

Zambia – “So much copper!

Faroe Islands – “We’re Torshavn a ball!”

Papua New Guinea – “We’ll let you name a mountain.”

Indonesia – “Hurry, before the Komodo dragons turn on us.”

Romania – “The bloody lore of Transylvania has been greatly exaggerated.”

Malawi – “Anyone besides Madonna please.”

San Marino – “The leading travel destination for those who were initially just trying to google ‘Dan Marino.’

Greenland – “In life, there are precious few opportunities to see a narwhal!”

Germany – “Bygones?”

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Filed under F Lists, Foreign Lands

Flag Facts

We haven’t talked flags in a while, so let’s jump back into some vexillogical discussion.

In our previous flag post we established that the St. Pierre & Miquelon flag reigned supreme as the fairest of them all, and we pointed out some other beauties as well.

The magnifieent flag of St. Pierre & Miquelon.

The magnificent flag of St. Pierre & Miquelon.

Today we’re talking more about decoding flag imagery. While some of the world’s flags are pretty straightforward, many are a bit more coy and need some deciphering.

Pretty straightforward: "We're Guam, we have a beach."

Pretty straightforward: “We’re Guam, we have a beach.”

Bhutan flag featuring Druk the Thunder Dragon.

Bhutan flag featuring Druk the Thunder Dragon.

Bhutan – With absolutely no offense toward the majestic bald eagle, I’m not sure any country has a cooler national representative than the ‘Thunder Dragon.’ Here, we see the mighty Druk, as Thunder Dragon is called, on a yellow and orange background. The orange represents Buddhism while yellow is a nod to the country’s monarchy.

Look a bit closer and you can see that Druk is also clutching some things in his talons here. I thought they were bowling balls or maybe large cherries at first glance, but it turns out they are gems, which represent the country’s wealth. This seems a bit incongruous with Bhutan’s “gross national happiness” policy, but Druk does what Druk wants I suppose.

I also just noticed that the gems could be construed as wheels. In which case Druk looks like a super-aggressive tricycle for the baddest kids on the block. Continue reading

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Ferdinand Magellan Fires Up Modern-Day Portugal

Caramba.

Portugal, it’s time for a chat. I’ve just been kind of hanging out, forlornly navigating the nether realms the last 500 years, but enough is enough. Clearly you need a pep talk.

There was a time when Portugal was great. I mean truly big-time. Harlem Shake? Are you kidding me? At one point in the 16th century, a quarter of the earth’s inhabitants were doing the Lisbon Shimmy – provided they had finished their 15-hour shift of brutal forced labor and yielded sufficient production for the day.

It’s time we recapture our glorious heritage. Do you remember what that even entails? Do you remember what I did? Or to a much lesser extent what Vasco da Gama or Henry the Navigator did?

I’ll tell you what I did. I navigated the crap out of planet earth – not so much for myself or my Spanish paymasters – but for you. I captained a ship that circumnavigated the world so future generations of Portuguese meninos e meninas could have what I never got to enjoy.

I didn’t intrepidly sail around the world with a crew of rough men, eating penguin flippers, dodo bird legs and shoe leather; enduring storms, loneliness and unbelievable hardship for my own benefit. I sailed for you.

My parents died by the time I was 10, so I had to grow up fast. I spent what little time I had exploring, risking it all, advancing, and fighting; until I got speared to death on a remote Philippine island. Do you have any idea what that was like? It was awful. Yet I died a horrific death 8,000 miles from home not for my own gain, but to ensure a glorious future for mother Portugal. The last few hundred years I can’t help but question this decision.

Look at you now: a debt-ridden country bereft of overseas possessions that has had to legalize drugs because everyone is so sad. Clearly this sadness is due to a lack of maritime glory.

I feel we have lost our noble Portuguese identity. We are a land that is smaller than those bobos North Korea, or even the U.S. state of Indiana, yet we have given the world so much. The delight of sardines, the faux hawk – that was totally Cristiano Ronaldo – and Fogo de Chao? You may think of that as more of a Brazil thing, but the way I see it, the riches of Brazil, Cape Verde, Mozambique and Goa are yours, Portuguese people.

The spoils of these savage lands are your birthright. In fact, a fellow apparition just informed me that Angola now has better job prospects than our beloved motherland. So there you go. It’s all out there, you need only tap your inner navigator and set sail for a new Portuguese Golden Age.

I exhort you, Portuguese homens e mulheres, recommission the caravels and raise your masts. Plunge your padrões into foreign lands and stake new claims.

Reclaim your birthrate. Rediscover your heritage. Reclaim greatness. For Portugal, for God, for future glory.

– F. Magellan

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440s – 450s A.D.

A while back we did a post on what the world was like in 1555 A.D. That was a lot of fun and I’ve been watching those awesome “Mankind” shows on the History Channel lately, so how’s about another foray into our spicy past? This time, we’re looking at another great era for the letter F: the 440s – 450s. A.D.

What was happening then? What were we doing? Who was blading and javelin-ing whom? What sorts of fluffy, pointy hats were en vogue? Was America rockin’ it superpower-style? The mighty Atilla the Hun died how?

Come with me as we delve into these dark, dank, kinda’ depressing decades that featured decadence for few, and decapitations for many. We don’t have much patience or relevant expertise room, so we’ll just look at a couple folks who were big at the time and skim some general happenings of the day.

By 440 A.D., the world was changing fast. The glory days of the intellectual Greeks had passed, the Roman Empire had been sliced into Western and Eastern entities and was careening toward its demise in 476 (the debated but generally historically accepted date of its demise), Christianity was on the upswing. Hypatia, history’s earliest female mathematician, had been murdered, Augustine had died, the great Library of Alexandria was no more, and the world’s balance of power seemed to be tilting toward barbaric sorts. Speaking of barbarism, let’s start by discussing that perennial first-round choice in everyone’s Fantasy Bloodthirsty Warlord Draft, Atilla.

Atilla the Hun – Truly one of history’s great purveyors of warfare and wanton bloodshed, Atilla hacked his way through Europe, carving out huge swathes of territory (eventually from what is now modern-day Germany all the way to the area of modern-day Georgia [Tbilisi not Honey Boo Boo/Chipper Jones]) and raking in crazy amounts of tribute along the way. He destroyed cities without mercy and massacred their populations.

Awesome Atilla the Hun figure sporting the pointy, fluffy hat of the day.

Awesome Atilla the Hun figure sporting the pointy, fluffy hat of the day; riding a horse with an emo haircut.

After his brother Bleda died in 445 (some say he died in a hunting accident, while some say Atilla was responsible for his death – who are we kidding, let’s just presume Atilla is guilty here) Atilla became the sole Khan of his vast empire. Though he was defeated in 451 by the fantastically-named Flavius, he continued torturing what was left of the Roman Empire and invading neighbors until his comically unmanly death in 453. Continue reading

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Fifteen Fifty Five (1555 A.D.)

Today we’re going back into time… a time before electricity, aeroplanes, telephones, Cheetos and Progressive car insurance commercials. It was a time when people had to pour sweat into the earth to survive, when brave men risked all to rape, pillage, steal natural resources and exploit native peoples navigate the open seas and find mysterious knowledge at the ends of the unexplored earth. The year: 1555 A.D.

What was happening in the world 457 years ago? (Surely this was in the front of your mind when you woke up this morning?) Let’s look at a few broad topics.

Cultural Learnings – By 1555, the Renaissance had emanated across Europe. Sparked by the Italian masters named after Ninja Turtles and innovations like the printing press, Europe at this point was increasing in knowledge, improving technologies, increasing food diversity (the rich at least), and afire with vigorous religious debate (#euphemisms). The arts (literature, sculptures, music, paintings, etc.) were flourishing, China (under the Ming Dynasty) was inventing all sorts of neat gadgets, trade was becoming an increasingly global affair, and tremendous leaps were being made in various sciences. Continue reading

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Filed under F Commentary, F History, Food, Foreign Lands

Five Disappointing Countries

The world is an unforgiving place. One day, you’re on top: you got the power, the land, abundant resources, strategic advantages over neighboring countries, compliant subjects, and vanquished foes far and wide. It seems like the good times will last forever. But they never do.

All empires wax and wane, but let’s be honest; some declines have been more disappointing than others…

1. Portugal – To be fair, for such a tiny, sardine-powered nation to have ever accomplished the level of world domination they did is quite impressive. There was a time in the 15-16th centuries when they ruled the seas like none other – they navigated the crap out of planet earth, plundering untold riches and carving out territories in India, Brazil and throughout Africa along the way.

But let’s face it, what a free-fall it’s been for them the past several centuries. Today’s Portugal is mostly famous for its debt problems, the legalization of drugs, and a soccer team that can never quite win the big one. Vasco de Gama must be forlornly navigating around in his grave. Continue reading

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Foreign Policy Ideas: North Korea

This is a new series where we throw out some ideas on how to approach the always complex, thorny world of foreign relations. We’ll look at things from an American perspective, cuz we’re an American blog and we do things the American way. If you don’t like it you can geeeet out!

Today’s Topic: North Korea

North Korea continues to be a thorn in the side of planet earth. On the world stage, NK is that guy on the fringe of your group who no one likes but everyone placates because he’s crazy and owns weapons. Unfortunately in this case, we’re dealing with a crazy friend with access to nukes, and who also has many millions of neglected, innocent dependents. Continue reading

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