Deep in the Amazon: A Culture Smart! author’s Peruvian travelogue

A Peruvian Travelogue with Culture Smart! author John Forrest

The indigenous inhabitant’s of Peru’s Amazonian region number over one million today. Made up of 65 different ethnic groups and over a dozen linguistic families, there is great variety to be found in this part of the world.

While development continues throughout Peru, there still remains three areas along the border with Brazil where indigenous groups continue to live in isolation from broader society and the Western world.

One of such area is in Madre de Dios, one of the most ethnically diverse regions in the whole of Amazonia in the southern Peruvian Amazon. Here, small groups of Mashco-Piro are occasionally sighted along the Manu and Las Piedras rivers. Photographic evidence suggests that they still live as they have done traditionally for millennia.

Continue reading

5 Ways You Can Be a Respectable Guest in Japan

5 Ways You Can Be a Respectable Guest in Japan

  • Punctuality:

In Japan, being punctual is an expression of good manners. Excuses relating to traffic etc. will not save you as everybody has to deal with that – even if you are a first time visitor. Profuse apologies and a humble demeanour are more appropriate.

  • Taboo topics to avoid in conversation:

If you want to win friends, do not start a conversation on the subject of the Yakuza – they are not supposed to ‘exist’ (sorry Giri/Haji fans!). Yakuza are a part of Japan’s historical social structure – highlight trained gangsters famed for their ornate all body tattoos, flashy limos and the missing top of the little fingers. Japanese police simply accept their existence and won’t interfere unless something severe happens. The Yakuza rarely bothers foreign businessmen or tourists.

Continue reading

5 cultural tips and facts from South Africa

5 cultural tips and facts from South Africa – winners of 2019 rugby world cup


1 – South Africans go out of their way to make newcomers feel welcome, and this may include being invited to stay in their homes. If you’re invited to stay, there are a few observances that should make your visit comfortable for everyone. Make sure that you keep your room tidy; even if there is a housekeeper, don’t take advantage of it. Offer to help with chores or cooking, even if there is domestic help. Although the original invitation might have been to ‘stay as long as you like,’ be perceptive and gauge how your presence is affecting others. Don’t overstay your welcome.

2 – If you are invited to a South African home for a braai (barbecue) or a formal dinner, arrive on time. Some occasions are ‘BYOB’ (bring your own bottle/booze) or ‘bring and braai’, in which case you’re expected to contribute your share of drinks, meat, salads, or other dishes. South African gatherings are notorious for serving a meal well into the afternoon or evening after normal eating hours.

Continue reading

5 things you NEED to know about Indian culture.


India is seen world-wide as a large, colourful country steeped in tradition and history. There is more to the people of India than what meets the eye – as such here are 5 things you need to know about Indian culture before your visit!

  • FOOD: Indian food tastes better when eaten by hand. Food should only touch your fingertips, and although people will be polite if you dirty your fingers past the knuckle, they will be disgusted.

Continue reading

Wednesday Wanderlust – 10 Culture Tips from our Newest Releases

Wednesday Wanderlust

10 Culture Tips from our Newest Releases

All the following 10 cultural tips are taken straight from our five newest guides released this May. The titles include: Colombia, Denmark, Singapore and Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka:

  1. Sri Lankan’s are more relaxed about missed opportunities than Westerners because of their strong belief in karma. It is thought that if something does not work out then it was not meant to be, and that it will come around at a more opportune time, with more success.
  2. To beckon someone toward them, a Sri Lankan will hold one arm outstretched and, with the palm facing down, move the fingers inward. It is considered impolite to point at someone using the index finger, so gestures of moving the head or raising the eyebrows in the direction of the subject are commonly used.

Continue reading

Wednesday Wanderlust -Greetings in Eastern Europe

Wednesday Wanderlust

Greetings in Eastern Europe

Wednesday Wanderlust is back! In these posts we shall be sharing information on the etiquette, values and attitudes of different countries around the world.

This week’s post focuses friendship, manners and greetings in Eastern Europe and highlights the relevant cultural norms for Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Russia and Romania. Traditional versus contemporary greetings divide the older and younger generations within these countries, with similar norms being visible across the region.

Timisoara in Romania

1.      Hungary

Good manners begin with a greeting. Stand up! Only the old and frail stay seated for greetings. Like other Eastern European countries, the practise in Hungary is for a man to make the first greeting to a woman, a younger person to an older, a subordinate to a superior, a salesperson to a customer, and someone entering or approaching those already present. It’s bad manners not to greet people, and worse not to return a greeting. As Hungarian writer István Mácz says, “the reply to a smile, is a smile”.

Continue reading

Behind the Pen ∘ Singapore

To accompany our new releases we’re returning to our Behind the Pen series of interviews with the authors of Culture Smart!. In the series we take a closer look at who our authors are, how they became conversant in a culture they were not born into, and what they’ve gained from their cultural experiences abroad.

Meet Patricia Voute – one of the authors of Culture Smart! Singapore. Tricia Voute has a B.A. in Anthropology from Durham University and an M.A. in the Philosophy of Religion from King’s College, London. She has taught philosophy in different parts of the world and written textbooks on the subject, as well as articles on cultural and faith issues in the Times and other publications. Tricia lived in Singapore for five years, teaching religion and philosophy at the Tanglin School. She was involved in teacher training in local schools and has Singaporean friends across the social and religious spectrum.

Continue reading