What proper table etiquette looks like in East and Southeast Asia…


Mashable (by Chelsea Frisbie):

Whether you’re planning an international trip or you’re headed to a local cultural experience, it’s important to learn about the eating habits of the folks you’ll be dining with. What might seem silly to you could be incredibly important to someone else, so don’t judge.

Langford’s silverware shop has compiled a collection of the dining “Do’s” and “Don’ts”…

Here is an excerpt of East Asian and Southeast Asian countries’ dining etiquette.


Red skies and mud rain in China as apocalypse begins earlier than expected


RocketNews 24:

The apocalypse is clearly happening right now, and if you’re in China, Mongolia or that general region, you may want to go ahead and kiss your loved ones goodbye, because Cthulhu himself, or some other terrible dark deity, is already sending warning of the end times in the form of blood-red skies and freaking black stuff raining from the heavens. Sorry, guys, but we’re clearly all doomed.

The below photographs come from a city in Inner Mongolia (which is, confusingly, actually part of China) called Aershan, where, on April 16, the sky – apparently out of the, er… blue – turned such an unnaturally vibrant shade of red that many residents reportedly for realsies thought the end-times were nigh.

And who can blame them? I mean, look at it. That’s the kind of red only seen by those who have gazed into the mouth of madness and lived to tell the tale. We should know.


Of course, there’s also the Aershan, which we are suspicious isn’t mud at all but actually petrified pieces of unicorn soul being regurgitated by Dark Lord Cthulhu, whom you should probably repent to immediately just to be safe. In fact, you should go ahead and repent to whatever deities you can think of in a long, stream-of-consciousness ramble, preferably while wearing a sandwich board about the end times and a tinfoil hat. People will understand because, look at this!


Adding to the craziness is the fact that Beijing apparently experienced a bizarre sandstorm of Biblical proportions on the same day as Aershan’s apocalyptic mud rain. You might want to get started on bucket list of yours sometime soon.

A photo exploration of the nomadic culture in Mongolia

My Modern Met:

Always curious about the world around him, Santa Barbara-based photographer Brian Hodges recently traveled to Mongolia to document the everyday life of traditional nomadic communities throughout the country.

He spent his time getting to know the culture and living within a wandering community.

According to the artist:

These families migrate based on the season and the needs of their animals, who require ample grazing space and safeguarding from extreme temperatures.”

The collection of work visually describes the nomadic way of life. Viewers are introduced to rows of yurts that function as temporary homes, as well as various food, weapons, and daily activities such as playing basketball and riding on horseback. A number of these intimate scenes are featured in publisher Assouline’s upcoming book, Gypset Living.


Brian Hodges’ website

The Dukha tribe, Mongolia’s last nomadic reindeer herders

My Modern Met:

After living in Nepal and exploring Tibet and the Himalayas for more than a decade, photographer Hamid Sardar-Afkhami decided he would travel to outer Mongolia to document the nomadic tribes and their unique way of life. A scholar of Tibetan and Mongol languages who received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in Sanskrit and Tibetan Studies, Sardar was just the right person to capture the Dukha people, Mongolia’s last nomadic reindeer herders. The Dukha are an ancient group of people of Turk descent who are dependent on reindeer for their way of life. In addition to milk and cheese, the reindeer provide transportation for hunting. They’re ridden to hunt wild elk and boar.

The Dukha tribe is quickly disappearing. Only about 44 Dukha families remain, or between 200 to 400 people. In the 1970s, it’s estimated that there was a population of about 2,000 reindeer but that number has since dwindled to about 600.

Sardar has not only captured fascinating photos of this lost culture, he shot a film called The Reindeer People which followed a family on its seasonal migrations.

Synopsis:In Northern Mongolia, there exists a sacred alliance between people, ancestor spirits and reindeer. This film is an intimate portrait of a family of Dukha reindeer nomads following their migration through the forests of Mongolia’s Hovsgol province. They move with a herd of about a hundred reindeer through a sacred forest inhabited by the spirits of their ancestors, who communicate to the living through songs. The oldest Dukha, is a divine seer, a 96-year old shaman, called Tsuyan. She is the link between the healing songs of the forest ancestors, her people and their reindeer. She is the centerpiece of an extraordinary adventure that unites people and animals in one of the wildest regions of Mongolia – where people still live and hunt in a forest dominated by supernatural beings. To live in harmony with them, people had to learn to respect nature and animals and to pass down their beliefs, from generation to generation, by invoking the song-lines of their deceased ancestors.”

The film earned a jury prize for Best Film on Mountain Culture at the Banff Mountain Film Festival.

Hamid Sardar-Afkhami’s website

Asian remedies that will cure your hangover


Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup

Audrey Magazine (by Jianne Lasaten):

Sure, Asian glow is one thing to worry about, but what about those nights when things go a bit too far and you end up taking one (or five) more shots than intended? Hopefully you got home safe and sound (that’s what’s most important, after all).

But when you wake up the next day, you have to face an immediate problem. When the world is still spinning and you feel too nauseous to move, you know you’ve been hit with the dreaded hangover. For my friends and I, a comforting bowl of pho usually does the trick. But what helps everyone else?

Buzzfeed shared their list of interesting traditional hangover remedies from around the world. Below, we bring you the hangover cures, Asian style! We have to warn you though, you may have to be a brave one to try a few of these…

Philippines: Balut and Rice


Ah, yes. The signature “weird” delicacy of the Philippines is also a well-known hangover cure. According to the Travel Channel, balut, which is a developing duck embryo, contains cysteine– a substance that breaks down alcoholic toxins in the liver.


China: Congee


This rice porridge contains ginger, garlic and scallions. All three ingredients combined should help ease those headaches.


Japan: Umeboshi


Umeboshi is a pickled sour plum that is well-known for its health benefits. It contains natural bacteria, enzymes, organic acids and alkaline. These help eliminate excessive acidity in the body.


Mongolia: Picked Sheep Eye in Tomato Juice


Commonly known as the “Mongolian Mary,” this beverage is not for the faint of heart. Tomato juice contains simple sugars to boost your glucose levels back up as well as re-hydrate you after a night of drinking. The significance of the sheep eye? Well, that’s still a mystery.


South Korea: Haejangguk


South Korea definitely came prepared because Haejangguk literally translates into “soup to cure a hangover.” Although the recipe differs in every region, this spicy beef broth usually contains pork, spinach, cabbage, onions and congealed ox blood.


Indonesia: Kaya Toast

Courtesy of latimes.com

This traditional Indonesian breakfast will satisfy all of your sweet and salty hangover cravings (ladies, this would probably be just as helpful for that time of month). Warm toasted bread slices are served with salted butter and Kaya Jam, a sweet mixture of coconut milk, sugar, eggs, and pandan.


Bangladesh: Coconut Water


We can’t argue with this one. Coconut water is known to have a significant amount of potassium and will keep you hydrated.


Thailand: Pad Kee Mao


Nicknamed “drunken noodles,” this spicy dish is said to be a favorite among Thai men after a night of drinking. It usually consists of wide rice noodles, ground beef (or other meat), basil and other spices, onions and bell peppers.

Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament sells out for first time in 18 years

Banners reading “Manin Onrei” (Thanks for the full house) hang above the sumo ring at the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo hall in Tokyo on Jan. 21, 2015.

Mainichi Shimbun: 

Anyone still hoping to pick up a ticket for the January Grand Sumo Tournament now on in Tokyo may be out of luck, as every day of the 15-day event is now sold out — for the first time in 18 years.

The last Tokyo tournament to sell out was in January 1997, when the brothers Takanohana and Wakanohana were the darlings of the sumo world. The last Grand Sumo tournament to sell out in Japan was in spring 2001, in Osaka.

The Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo hall seats about 11,000, and a sellout is officially declared when 90 percent of tickets have been sold. The hall has been packed every day since the January tournament began on Jan. 11, and advance tickets for the last four days of the event are sold out. Only a few hundred same-day non-reserved seats remain for anyone hankering for a live look at the tournament.

The tournament sellout comes as Mongolian Yokozuna Hakuho tries for a record-breaking 33rd makuuchi division championship — with young wrestlers such as Endo and Ichinojo also having become tremendously popular.

It’s all down to the wrestlers’ perseverance and tenacity,” said Japan Sumo Association Chair Kitanoumi.

Mitsuru Yaku, a manga artist and one-time outside member of the sumo association board, commented, “There’s no reason to look askance at the good attendance numbers — but it’s important that the association doesn’t get cocky.”


Amazing Race winner wrestles 100 Mongolians

With today’s online media platforms, independent artists and filmmakers have the opportunity to showcase their work to audiences around the world. Newly released on iTunes, Wrestling Mongolia, a film about two friends who find themselves wrestling 100 Mongolians for their TV show, proves to be a fun, heartwarming, albeit unusual, family film. I was initially intrigued by the title of this film, as I had never seen a film about or set in Mongolia. Wrestling is considered one of the three most important “manly skills.” It is the most popular sport, and people all of the country participate.

The story follows the eccentric Will Green, who dreams of having his own TV show. He attempts to entertain audiences by filming himself doing crazy things, (such as pogo sticking across the Golden Gate bridge 10 times,) for his YouTube channel. After meeting a TV producer who encourages him to do a show about wrestling, he decides to head to Mongolia with his friend and cameraman, Simon, to wrestle 100 Mongolians and get it all on tape. The film features three main characters, Will (Tyler MacNiven, Season 9 Amazing Race winner) Simon (Omi Vaidya,) and Chuluun (Boum-Yalagch Olzod) their Mongolian guide. Will and Simon discover that their plan would not be as easy to accomplish as expected, and find their friendship gets the ultimate test.

Although having a small cast, the actors did a wonderful job bringing each scene to life. The relationship between Will and Simon proves not only comedic but also has a redeeming quality that keeps the audience rooting for both of them until the end. Newcomer and native Mongolian, Boum-Yalagch Olzod, portrays the perfect sensei- type figure to the lost boys. Olzod’s performance brings the movie and story together.

Director Kenny Meehan did an extraordinary job of bringing the audience into the exotic land of Mongolia with the breathtaking visuals. I had a chance to speak with Kenny Meehan about the film, cast, and obstacles they faced while shooting in a foreign country.


African Chinese history: Turn of the century Tibetan nuns, wearing African-inspired wigs!

African Chinese history: Turn of the century Tibetan nuns, wearing African-inspired wigs!

At about 35,000 B.C. a group of African Chinese; later known to us as the Jomon, took this route and entered Japan, they became the first Humans to inhabit the Japanese Islands. Later, another group; Known to us as the Ainu, followed. Oddly, Indians were not part of this group.

Today, their genes can still be found in 40% of modern Japanese, as well as Mongolians and Tibetans.

This photo showing is a group of Tibetan nuns circa 1903, their heads are shaved and these are (African inspired) wigs.


Google Translate adds support for four more Asian languages

google translate punjabi

Google Translate added support for nine more languages last week, including four from Asia: Punjabi, Nepali, Maori, and Mongolian.

Punjabi is the ninth most-spoken language in the world, spanning India, Pakistan, and the diaspora. It’s a common language used in Bollywood films. Punjabi is the native tongue of more than 100 million people worldwide.

Nepali has 42 million native speakers, mainly spoken in Nepal and a few Northeast Indian states.

Maori is a language spoken by the minority native population of New Zealand. Mongolian is spoken in, you guessed it, Mongolia.

We tested out Punjabi and Nepali to English translations on a couple websites in Chrome to see if they were any good. For Punjabi, from what we can tell, it’s about the same quality as what you would get translating Chinese to English – far from perfect but manageable. Nepali was less coherent. I had trouble comprehending anything on the page, and many of the words were left untranslated. As users contribute better translations, the quality will likely improve.

In total, Google Translate now supports 80 languages.

Check out this link:

Google Translate adds support for four more Asian languages