If you think Dubai is all about shopping and partying then you’d be wrong. Dubai offers some of the best thrill seeking activities ideal for all adrenaline junkies as well as lavish sporting events which make Dubai one of the most exciting places in the world to pay a visit.
The first time I went to Dubai I thought I was hallucinating. Either that or the chilled beer I was sipping had had an adverse effect on my mind as in the distance I saw a group of what I thought to be parachutists hurtling towards the end of the Dubai marina.
I turned to the waiter to ask him to confirm whether or not I was losing my sanity and he began to explain that there is in fact a sky dive centre on the coast of Dubai.
Whether you’re a first timer or a sky diving veteran, Sky Dive Dubai offers breath taking jumps that span the coast of Dubai, providing the sky diver with incredible views of the stunning Palm Jumeriah. If you’re looking for something different to do in Dubai and you’re feeling on the brave side of things then Sky Dive Dubai could be just the ticket!
For all you petrol heads out there the Dubai Autodrome is quite simply a must see. Home to events such as the UAE Touring Car Championship and the UAE Sports bike Championship, the Dubai Autrodrome is an ultra-modern racing track designed to blow the minds of all Lewis Hamilton wannabe’s.
By day the Autodrome opens its doors to the public offering a variety of experiences including skid car driving, the Audi R8 experience and my personal favourite, the F1 (Formula 1) style single seated experience.
If the idea of stepping into the shoes of your favourite F1 driver for the day is top of your bucket list then the Autodrome is a must. Complete with a full blown pit complex and grandstand, the first hand motor racing experience doesn’t get much more real than what the Dubai’s Autodrome has to offer.
Make sure you have a UAE or International Drivers license.
Before you accuse me of genuinely losing the plot by suggesting you can ski in Dubai, just hear me out first.
Dubai has a habit of doing things bigger, bolder and more extravagant than anywhere else in the world and the addition of their world record breaking in door ski resort is no exception to this rule.
Housed in The Mall of the Emirates, Ski Dubai was the world’s first indoor ski experience to offer its daredevil skiers a black run.
However, if you’re ski style is more of a Bridget Jones then don’t let the prospect of the black run put you off. There are five runs to choose from, all of varying difficulties. As well as the ski runs there is also a freestyle zone where snow boarders and skiers can show off their tricks as well as a vast snow park ideal for the tiny tots which comes complete with a helter skelter made of ice. If however, you prefer the après ski to the actual activity itself then you can watch from the comfort of the choice of two cafes: the St Moritz or The Avalanche café.
Sky Dive Dubai, the Autodrome and Ski Dubai are just three of the weird and wonderful activities on offer in Dubai. If you had discounted Dubai as a place to visit because you didn’t think it would have anything on offer to entertain you then hopefully this article will have changed your mind!
We all have our beliefs about what we think is normal, acceptable and right or wrong but not all cultures share our beliefs & values. These differences can cause severe culture shock. – a term which people throw around but often don’t really understand. You may have already experienced culture shock and not even know it. Here are some examples of culture shock to give you some context into this puzzling phenomenon which can turn a perfectly good holiday into your worst nightmare.
Welcome to your new country:
People do things differently here.
Culture shock happens to everyone, even seasoned travellers experience varying degrees of culture shock- that disconnect between what you expect and what you actually experience when you visit another culture. Sometimes the differences between your culture and your new culture can be very exciting at first. Sometimes they make you feel confused, anxious., nervous, overwhelmed, disgusted or disoriented. until finally, you feel homesick and can’t take it anymore and or go home.
Unfortunately many people underestimate the power of culture shock or don’t realize they are experiencing culture shock which can turn any trip to another culture into a nightmare. By learning to identify when you are experiencing culture shock and understanding why, you can better prepare so you have an easier time overcoming and dealing with your feelings.
I’ve put together 10 examples of culture shock. Read through them and try to imagine how you you might react or feel in these situations. Some may SHOCK YOU, some may not but if you are not accustomed to these differences they can cause culture shock which is totally normal but please don’t be rude when you see of row of skinned sheep heads behind the meat counter by pointing and making twisted contorted expression of disgust. You’ll not only insult the locals but you’ll look ignorant as well.
1 – Food Culture Shock
I’ll have some roasted rat and chicken feet please!
TIP: Expect food to be different. What you think is gross may be considered a delicacy in other countries.
Travelling to a new culture can mean seeing things on the menu that you never even knew you could eat. You don’t have to scarf down every weird thing you see but at the same time, choosing not to eat could insult your hosts or make a bad impression. Use good judgement and don’t insult people by squinting up your face.
Here are some examples of foods which are eaten in different cultures that may send you over the deep end.
Rat on a stick is served in some countries like Thailand and Africa. Not dirty city rats but wild field rats on a stick! MMMMM.
In China and in many Chinese restaurants around the world, chicken feet is served regularly.
Don’t be surprised to find horse meat and blood sausage at the food stores in France.
TIP: Try to learn a few key words and phrases before you go.
In cultures where you don’t speak the language, expect simple things to be more difficult- like riding a subway, ordering food at a restaurant or calling the cable company to tell them your box isn’t working. Don’t expect people to speak your language.
The continued frustration you feel from not being able to communicate can lead to culture shock.
Imagine being in a country like Japan where the language and the alphabet are completely different. You have no car so you head to the subway station or bus stop but you don’t know how to read the signs and no one speaks English. You could take a taxi but how would you tell the driver where to go if you don’t speak Japanese?
This is exactly what happened to me my first 3 months in Japan. I remember feeling helpless and frustrated at my inability to understand anything. Everything took extra time to figure out. I felt anxiety about asking directions because I couldn’t understand what the other person was saying. At times I just didn’t want to go out because it took too much effort.
Rather than curl up and cower home, I toughed it out. I took extra time to figure out the words for the places I wanted to go. I began learning Japanese, made some friends and immersed myself in their culture. Doing so helped me really enjoy my stay in Japan because I actually felt I was experiencing Japanese culture. Being able to speak a little also gave me the confidence to go see and do as much as I could despite my inability to completely communicate fluently.
3 – Nudity in public
(My husband sleeping at the beach next to a topless women)
Boobs on the beach!
TIP: Don’t expect other cultures to have the same views as you about nudity in public.
It’s just not a big deal in some countries. In France for example, it is not uncommon to see women going topless at the beach. Not just young beautiful women, but older women in their 80’s too. Don’t expect hundreds of women to be topless at the beach either, unless you go to a nudist beach. Instead you’ll see a smattering of women here and there because NOT everyone goes topless.
You don’t need to go topless at the beach but don’t act like you’ve never seen a pair of breasts either and for goodness sake, don’t stare. You’ll get used to it and then it just becomes no big deal.
**note: At the pool my husband used to swim at in Hyères France, some women used to swim topless which did shock my husband at first but again after a while he just got used to it.
4 – Clothing: Burqa’s and the way people dress
Do you dress modestly enough?
TIP: Do some research about proper attire before you go. You may discover certain things are inappropriate.
At the other end of the spectrum of nudity are women who must cover most of their body including their arms, legs, ankles, neck and sometimes their face like many women from Muslim countries who’s custom is to dress this way mainly to enforce female modesty.
The first time I saw a woman wearing a burqa that wasn’t on TV was in France. There is quite a large Muslim population in France so it’s not unusual to see women wearing a Hijab ( scarf on their heard) or a Burqa (covered from head to toe).
I felt a little frightened but immediately felt ashamed for feeling that way. I remember there were two women wearing full burkas which covered up every inch of their body except for their eyes. One of them was wearing black gloves as she pushed her baby along in a stroller.
I couldn’t help but stare (I tried to do it discreetly). I wondered how they ate with their mouth covered up. How they swim. How could they stand the hot summer months wearing a burqa.
I met the woman above in Marseille (she is wearing a hijab)
5 – Hygiène: Blowing your boogers and snot
How to properly clear your nose?
TIP: People from different cultures view hygiene differently.
Most of us are taught from an early age that it’s just not polite to pick a winner. One must use a tissue or handkerchief and blow our nose into it, then put the tissue in your pocket until you can dispose of it later.
Theodora, a single mom who is travelling the world with her son, said that in some parts of Asia, the thought of blowing your nose into a tissue and saving it for later is disgusting. Instead, many people covered one nostril and blew out the other so whatever is up there will get blown out like a projectile and hopefully land on the ground.
6- Don’t use toilet paper
You probably think toilet paper is necessary.
Ha, you are wrong, You don’t need toilet paper!
In many culture people would rather use water and their hands to clean their private parts after a pee or a poo- not toilette paper.
I know what you are thinking. WHAT! They use their hands to wipe their bum?
Yes It’s true. Using toilet paper to wipe your bum is considered not as clean as washing yourself with water and your hand because toilet paper smears as you wipe. So if you go to any of the countries that have this custom, don’t be surprised to see a water source in the stall but not toilet paper. Countries which do this include many Muslim countries like Morocco, Asian and south east Asian countries like India and even parts of Africa.
Tutorial: How to use the WC without toilet paper!
According th Wilbur Sargunaraj in the video, a bucket filled with water and a smaller container in the bucket called a dipper is used to scoop out some water and pour it on your rear while cleaning yourself with your left hand. After it is all said and done, you wash your hands with soap. This method is considered much cleaner than using toilet paper in India.
7- Strange celebrations & customs:
When is it ok to cut and hurt yourself?
TIP: Every culture has their own customs and rituals. To the rest of the world they may seem strange and bizarre but to them it has special meaning. Learn about their customs to get a better understanding.
There are customs and rituals around the world that would make many of us scratch our heads and maybe even recoil in disgust. This feeling is yet another example of culture shock.
My friends Jennifer and Tony Miller, were in Thailand during their world travel tour with their 4 kids, saw a festival in Thailand called the Phuket vegetarian festival. People participating in this festival were causing all kinds of bodily harm to themselves as part of the festival. Blood was everywhere.
One man was slicing his tongue with a knife.
Another man was jabbing his cheeks with sharp objects.
Most travellers and tourists would probably be quite horrified to watch this festival and wonder “WHY?”. But this festival holds special meaning to the locals.
If you are interested in seeing Jennifer’s photo essay about this festival, you should go and read about it on her blog here Phuket Vegetarian Festival. Just remember, that you may not like what you see.
8- Dog shit- Accepting the unacceptable social norms
There is no worse feeling than taking a stroll and stepping in a hot pile of dog dung. That disgusting stench that is released and won’t go away no matter how much you try to scrape the bottom of your shoe on the curb or in the grass.
France has had a bad reputation about all the dog shit everywhere and guess what. It’s true. There IS an exceedingly large amount of dog dung everywhere.
I remember hearing about the dog poo problem in France but knowing and experiencing first hand are two completely different animals. When I was actually living in France and saw the problem up close, I felt frustrated and confused. How can you just leave your dogs feces lying in the street? It boggled my mind. Even the French hate dop poop and know they have a problem. Why else would their be avertissements saying there is a 50 euro fine for not picking up after your dog. It does not good though.
It took about a year for me to adjust and take on the French attitude towards the dog shit problem which is………. I don’t have to like it but I don’t have to get frustrated or angry either. I tolerate it and say “That’s just the way it is, what can I do?” C’est la vie!
Tip: Try to understand why something is different because sometimes there is a practical reason for the difference in a cultures social norms
Nancy Vogel of Family On Bikes said in many countries, especially in Central and South America, one should not throw used toilet paper in the toilet. You must throw it in the rubbish bin. When I heard this, I immediately thought wouldn’t it start to smell up the bathroom? It turns out, toilet paper is thrown in the rubbish bins because the septic system cannot handle anything other than human waste; not even toilet paper. Some hotels even have signs asking guests to throw their used toilet paper in the waste bin and NOT the toilet.
Not all toilets are created equal.
TIP: Learn about the toilet customs before you go. You might thank yourself later.
Some toilets have lids, some have a lever you push, some you pull. In other words not all toilets look like American toilets.
In FRANCE: it is not uncommon to find toilets with no seat covers or lids.
When I lived in Japan, I was surprised to learn that many of the bathrooms were actually squatting toilets. If you are really lucky, there was a pole to hang on to so you didn’t lose your balance.
I admit, at first these differences in the toilet do seem a bit strange but after a while you barely notice.
Your best chance at overcoming culture shock is to adapt to your new culture and try to understand the history and reasons why the cultural differences exist. Look at it as a learning experience to gain a new perspective and develop a better understanding for that other culture.
You just might see things in a whole new way and find it easier to adjust and deal with the differences. It’s these differences that make travel so interesting.
If you want everything to be the same, you can always just stay home.!
We all like to think we have good table manners but what you consider appropriate table manners may actually be considered rude in another country and vice versa! let’s explore some strange table manners around the world.
Why Bother With Table Manners When You Travel To Other Countries?
SLURP…SLURP….SLURP!!!. That was the sound all around us.
I had been living in Japan for a few months and one of my roommates at the time was a beautiful blond girl from Carmel California. Let’s call her Jenny.
Jenny was raised like most westerners to believe that you “SHOULD NOT SLURP” and you “SHOULD NOT HOLD YOUR SOUP BOWL UP TO YOUR MOUTH” It just wasn’t civilized. Jenny thought it was absolutely disgusting that everyone around her was slurping and would not lower herself to slurping. I think she was self conscious.
We tried to explain to Jenny that slurping was a sign to the chef or in this case, the street vendor where we were eating the noodles that the food was delicious. NOPE! She wanted nothing to do with any slurping. Oh Well!
Adapt and adopt or suffer
Jenny never did adapt to the food, the etiquette or the culture. She ended up returning home within a month with a terrible experience while I continued on with my travels for a total of 3.5 years… loving every second of it.
The point I’m trying to make is that eating among the locals is going to be one of the most memorable parts of your trip. Your experiences with the food will give you as much insight into a foreign culture as say going to see the local sites of that country so you had better adapt!
7 surprising examples of some strange table manners around the world
Don’t be a Jenny. If you don’t try to adapt to the local food customs of the country you are visiting you probably won’t fully enjoy yourself. With that said, here are some table manners from around the world which you might find peculiar.
1- NEVER, EVER, NEVER leave your chopsticks sticking vertically in a bowl of rice
Growing up, my mother used to tell me it was bad luck to stick your chopsticks into your rice. Even to this day when If I see someone sticking their chopsticks in their rice, I have to hold back the urge to grab them and lay them flat on their bowl or plate. Many countries in Asia believe it is bad luck including Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, China and Korea to name a few. The reason it’s considered taboo is because during funerals, bowls of rice with chopsticks sticking straight out of them are offered to the dead. Passing food between chopsticks is also taboo because this is how the bone ashes are transferred to an urn or bone pot.
2- Slurping is good
One of my favourite things about Asian food is noodles. Pho, ramen, Udon, soba to name a few.
As you just read in my story above, in Japan, slurping is considered polite. It’s also an indication that the food is good. You’ll look weirder for not slurping your noodles. Trust me.
But be careful, slurping is not considered polite in all Asian cultures. In Thailand and in parts of China it is accepted to slurp but not really encouraged. Just know before you go.
#3- Should you finish all the food on your plate?
You might be surprised to learn that in some cultures, finishing all your food on your plate is a sign that your host did not provide you with enough food and in many cases your host will continue to serve you each time you clear your plate and drink your entire beverage.
Filipinos, Cambodians, Koreans, Egyptians and Thais will all think this. For Japanese people, finishing ones plate and rice bowl signifies to the host that the meal is complete and that you appreciate the meal. When in doubt, observe what other people are doing.
#4- Is it ever polite to fart after a meal?
I heard that farting was NOT rude in certain cultures but I wasn’t really sure if was true or not so I did a little research. Turns out Farting after a meal is an expression of thanks and appreciation to the Inuit people of Canada? I’m not sure if I believe this one so if you know otherwise, please let me know. I’m really curious.
5- Yes, You SHOULD Belch and Burp:
As strange as it may sound, burping is not considered rude in parts of India, China and in Bahrain- A small island country located in the Middle East, just south of Kuwait. Burping after a meal shows a sign of appreciation, satiety and being well fed.
6- Don’t Cut Your Salad With A Knife In France!
Proper etiquette in France when eating a salad is to fold the salad leaves onto your fork if they are too big to put in your mouth. Never are you to cut your salad with a knife. This rule of etiquette is taught to many French children from an early age just as you were told never to put your elbows on the table. Most French people have no idea why it’s considered rude but I know.
The belief that cutting your salad is rude originates from a very practical reason. In the days when utensils were not stainless steel, the vinaigrette in the salad dressing would tarnish the knife. To avoid this from happening, the cook would cut the salad into bite size pieces before serving it. If she saw you cutting your salad after it was served to you, it meant that the cook did not cut the salad properly. Don’t worry though, loads of French people cut their salad and you won’t be judged whatsoever. The only time you may want to think twice about cutting your salad is if you are in a fancy restaurant where they had in fact cut your salad for you. By the way, salad is always served after the meal in France and not before.
7- Don’t eat with a Fork please
Have you ever gone to a fancy restaurant and weren’t sure which fork to use. Fear not. It’s the one furthest from your plate.
In Thai culture the proper way to enjoy Thai food is with a spoon in your right hand and a fork in your left. The fork is not used to shovel food in your mouth, in fact it never goes in your mouth. Instead the fork is used like a rake to rake food from your plate onto your spoon. Chopsticks are usually used only for stand alone noodle dishes. You may however use your fork to eat anything that is not served with rice like fruit. Got it?
Some countries don’t even use forks but rather eat with their hands like Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan.
during the renaissance period in Europe, there were no forks. The custom of using forks began in Italy but it took a while for it to catch on. Forks were initially viewed almost to a fault as excessively refined. In the case of men, it was even considered a sign of effeminacy. Even then, only the wealthy could afford them throughout the 17th century.
Don’t take these rules too seriously
Just like Americans and Canadians who don’t adhere to all their table manner rules, not all people in other countries adhere to their table manner rules 100%.
For instance, it’s generally believed that you should not put your elbows on the table or a napkin on your lap but not everyone adheres to these rules 100 percent.
When in doubt, look around and see what other people are doing and just follow suit. Better yet, just ask someone. And the next time you are sitting next to someone who slurps at the table, just smile and feel happy that you know, they are showing that they are enjoying their meal.