One of the most interesting aspects of travel has been the little tidbits of knowledge picked up during the day-to-day aspects of our journeys. Some are mind-blowingly large and some are almost trivial bits of knowledge (but we might never have learned them had we not been in that particular travel experience). Jeni and I thought it would be cool to start tabulating the large and small nuggets of knowledge that we’ve learned. We will try to add the new tidbits at the top of the list!
4) Vietnam is quite the agricultural country:
Vietnam is the world’s top producer of black pepper and is the number 2 producer of coffee (second only to Brazil). It is also the #1 exporter of rice although there are several countries which – internally – grow more rice.
3) The preferred monetary unit for transactions in Cambodia is the United States dollar: Siem Reap:
Cambodia has it’s own currency called the riel. There are currently 4,000 riel to 1 US$. However, the preferred currency for transactions here are US$, with 1,000 riel bills substituting for 25¢ change transations. This started in 1992 when the United Nations entered Cambodia with assistance, millions of US dollars arrived helping to stabilize the Cambodian riel. The ATMs in Cambodia distribute both currencies, but make sure you have some American money when you arrive. Makes things easier.
2) Some countries and cultures have their own historical dating system: National Museum of Oman:
The revelation which occurred at this museum is probably the one that shocked us to the core the most. Especially once one considers how much it makes sense. Obviously, the world history Jeni and I have learned throughout our entire lives is focused on Western European history. Every date in history we’ve ever learned is based on the BC and AD version. For instance, D-Day invasion of Normandy is June 6, 1944. We’ve just assumed that ALL countries – and therefore all religions – used this same dating system. That’s why I didn’t understand the dates that were being used in the Oman National Museum. They were using an “AH” and “BH” designator after the date. These refer to a time period BEFORE the Hijri and AFTER the Hijri. The Hijri is the era in which Muhammad and his followers migrated from Mecca to Medina, founding the first Muslim community. This occurred in 622 AD. Additionally, since the Islamic lunar calendar does not match up directly with the Gregorian calendar, one cannot simple subtract 622 years from a AH date to get the AD date. Therefore the D-Day invasion occurred in the year 1363 AH. (apologies to my Muslim friends if I simplified things too much or made any errors in my description).
1) There are more types of basil than the one we use in cooking Italian food: Thailand Cooking Class:
There are apparently multiple kinds of basil in this world. For the Thai cooking class, the teacher had 5 different types of basil growing in her front yard that she used in hew cooking. Obviously in retrospect, it makes sense there are numerous types, but we have pretty much thought only about the version commonly used in Italian cooking (Sweet Basil).