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Know the Law / Dubai Travel / Religion / Rules / → All Tags
Choose your wardrobe carefully when packing for your next vacation in Dubai: things are getting a bit stricter.
We've accepted now that sex on the beach obviously offends local sensibilities and plan to refrain, but the stricter rules just announced for places like Dubai's mega shopping malls might not be so easy to follow. For a start, all fashion statements have to go out the window, and:
pants and skirts are to be of an appropriate length and clothing cannot be tight or transparent.
Kind of ironic for a shopping mall. On top of that, there is to be no kissing between men and women, and unless you're married, no holding hands either. Inappropriate behavior could lead to a prison sentences, authorities say. Having your vacation short just for holding hands with your boyfriend would make for a pretty sad travel story.
When it comes to Jerusalem, you hear a lot about the tension between people of the Jewish and Muslim faiths, but not so much about the Christians, who also consider it a sacred city. A recent scuffle at one of the holiest spots in all of Christendom, however, reminds us that they're a fragmented people as well, with plenty of long-standing beefs among the various sects. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher - a Christian church located within the walled city of Jerusalem on what is believed to be the spot of Christ's crucifixion, burial, and resurrection - was the setting for a violent clash between groups of Armenian and Greek Orthodox monks this morning. As with most religious disputes, what they were fighting over is kind of complicated and goes back a long, long way, but apparently the Armenians were holding a ceremony and the Greeks felt that one of their monks had the right to be present, lest they lose their claim to a structure built on Christ's tomb. The Armenians refused to allow a Greek monk to join the ceremony, so the Greeks tried to block the procession, and that's when multiple blows were exchanged (see the BBC video) and Israeli cops rushed in and arrested one monk from each side. We're not about to diagnose the problems of the world in one blog posting, but aren't monks supposed to be loving and non-violent? In any case, the church is usually a peaceful place, and it is open to visitors of all faiths. So stop by if you're in town, and if arguments arise between believers, stay neutral and slowly back away.
[Photo: Associated Press]
Museums / Religion / History / → All Tags
German capital Berlin is really a must-see city, and while it mightn't be as beautiful as Paris or as old as Rome, it is full to the brim with culture and history. The Berlin Jewish Museum is a great example of what you can find in Berlin. This museum is housed in an incredible building, the display is fascinating and the emotional impact of your visit is huge.
If you could hover above the Libeskind-designed building, you'd see it is built in the rough shape of a lightning bolt; the strange slit windows were created by overlaying a map of Berlin and joining sites of special significance to create the window shapes. Inside, exhibits cover two thousand years of Jewish history and the building also has empty spaces like the giant Holocaust Tower, where you can contemplate what you've learned.
We especially recommend clunking over the Shalachet exhibition: thousands of ironwork faces that you're allowed to walk over, metallic clangs echoing up through the concrete tower. It's kind of like sightseeing with your ears.
· Jewish Museum Berlin [Official Site]
· Jewish Museum: Another Reason to Make it to Munich [Jaunted]
Airports / Taxis / Alcohol / Religion / → All Tags
Lushes of MSP, be free! Remember the controversy over Muslim cab drivers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport who refused to pick up passengers carrying duty free booze? The kerfuffle has been rectified, and the cabbies are now required to transport liquor-toting travelers. Failure to do so results in a 30-day cab license suspension for a first offense. You might not think that MSP is a hot spot for such shopping, but as a hub for Northwest Airlines, it sees many international arrivals from places where the trade is hot. Now, the conflict wasn't that hard to get around for anyone who could just stuff their bottles in some opaque luggage, but if you worried you can now rest easy. Unless you're in steerage on NWA, in which case you probably will not be resting all that much.
· Minnesota's Muslim cab drivers face crackdown [Reuters]
Museums / Religion / History / → All Tags
While Germany already has an internationally renowned (and architecturally stunning) Jewish Museum in Berlin, another one entered the scene this month with the opening of the Jewish Museum Munich. In fact, they'd been thinking about doing this for 78 years, so it was probably about time that a new building (including a synagogue) opened for visitors on St Jakobs Platz. Like the Berlin museum, it's not simply a memorial to the Holocaust, but also a collection of displays on Jewish life in general.
The opening of another cultural attraction is great news for those looking to add to their collection of excuses to return to Munich--even when every reason is just a cover-up for another outing to Oktoberfest. Who said drinking beer can't be part of an educational experience? Prost!
· Munich Welcomes New Jewish Museum [Spiegel]
· It's September, It Must Be Oktoberfest! [Jaunted]
While large-breasted, scantily-clad girls serving up burgers are not usually what you'd associate with the Holy Land of Israel, they're about to go together. The Hooters chain is planning to open a restaurant in Tel Aviv soon, and hopes to expand throughout Israel quickly.
Hooters has already opened in Australia, China and Brazil, but there are a few people wondering if it'll fit into the religious ways of Israel. While they may adapt the menu to suit "food availability and local tastes," the gals' uniforms will be the same and so will the basic casual dining atmosphere. And while Hard Rock Café and Planet Hollywood have both failed in their attempts to crack the Israeli market, Hooters executives have this to say:
We are positive that the Israeli's quest for great food and atmosphere will end at Hooters.
· Hooters To Open in Tel Aviv [Israel Today]
· Hooters To Expand To Israel [Forbes]
Visiting a Buddhist temple--or indeed any religious place--is a great way to learn about the culture and religion of other countries. But you have to be careful if you're dropping by the Hong Hock See Temple on Penang Island in Malaysia.
You know how Buddhists have this great philosophy that they shouldn't be violent or harm other living creatures? Sometimes that makes life a bit tricky. You see, Hong Hock See Temple is home to an infestation of stinging red ants, and one worshipper has even ended up in hospital after being bitten. But they can't just kill them, and so far the best solution has been to vacuum them up and let them out in a forest. The Hoovering, however, hasn't quite solved the problem. Can you help?
They cannot encourage anyone to harm the ants, but the chief monk says that if someone turns up unbidden and deals with them without the monks' involvement then that is the will of the universe.
If you're heading by Malaysia, and you're a good at gently shooing ants (read: exterminating them), drop in on Hong Hock See.
· Buddhist Dilemma Over Ants [Ananova]
· Malaysian Monks Face Ant Dilemma [BBC]
Armenia is gunning for its spot on the tourist map by marketing its religious attractions. The country's current slogan is "Noah's Route, Your Route," a nod to the belief that Mount Ararat is the place where Noah's Ark landed. And we thought Serj Tankian from System of a Down was the people's Armenian. How pedestrian.
They've got a pretty spiffy website going over there to compliment the new campaign. It includes an interactive map, useful basic information to get you started, and the obligatory e-card section. We know Armenia's probably not working with Sweden's budget, but they could probably benefit from a more cohesive collection. Beautiful scenery? Check. Goat portrait? Check. Random, unidentified toddlers? Check...and kind of creepy.
· Armenia Info [Official Site]
· Sweden's Cracked-Out Musican E-Card [Jaunted]
Attractions / Alabama / Religion / Grotto / → All Tags
If you happen to be passing through the Birgmingham area on your inevitable Alabama road trip and you're looking for amazing roadside attractions, be sure to stop at the Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, AL.
Especially lovely in the summer, "Jerusalem in Miniature" is a bunch of holy shrines hand-crafted by Brother Joseph Zoettl, from the neighboring St. Bernard Abbey, who seemed to have a lot of time on his hands. Enjoy sites from the Bible, Roman landmarks and some things that don't make any sense at all, like scenes from fairy tales and a "lizard condo." Don't forget to pick up a mood ring in the gift shop on the way home. We're sure it's Vatican-approved.
· Television Travel: MTV's Two-A-Days [Jaunted]
· Tara Reid is a Gerbil Pig [Jaunted]
religion / animals / World Cup / → All Tags
Checking out the local zoo is a favorite pastime for many travelers. But how close should you get to the animals? In the Kiev Zoo this week, a Ukrainian man rappelled into a cage full of lions, shouting "God will save me, if he exists". One of the lions seized him by the throat, severed his carotid artery and the soon-to-be-non-believer died at the scene.
Ukrainian zoo animals are getting a reputation as being a little unfriendly: earlier this year, a twelve-year-old boy had both hands bitten off by a zoo bear when he offered him some crackers. However, the Kiev lion victim wasn't so friendly himself, and waved his arms aggressively at the lions before reaching his premature end.
But hang on: hasn't there already been a troublesome lion in the headlines recently? Could it be that the larger-than-life World Cup Mascot Goleo VI is heading east? Can anyone report a recent sighting that doesn't place Goleo in Kiev? If we'd got as much bad press as him, we might feel like munching on an insane intruder too.
Mauled man was suicidal [Russian News & Info Agency]
World Cup Mascot a Slut [Jaunted]
Architecture / Discoveries / Religion / Mexico / Mexico City / → All Tags
A huge pyramid has been discovered under two feet of dirt on a hill in Mexico City. The 1500-year-old structure is as big as the Pyramid of the Moon, in nearby Teotihuacan, with a height of 60 feet and four sides that are each 500 feet long.
The hillside, in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of town, has its own modern religious significance, since it's been used since 1833 to stage reenactments of Christ's crucifixion. Sounds like a party, right?
The National Institute of Anthropology and History will not be digging up the entire site because of the reenactments. A spokesman for the institute stated that "both the pre-Hispanic structure and the Holy Week rituals are part of our cultural legacy, so we have to look for a way to protect both cultural values." For the moment, that means no digging.
· 1,500-year-old pyramid discovered [Yahoo]
· Pyramid presents religious quandary [CNN]
· Ancient Pyramid found in Mexico [BBC]
Having something branded as a Lourdes miracle has gotten a little easier due to a bishop's reform of the definitions. As the conservative rules stood before now, any claims to a miracle were voided if a patient was taking medicine or receiving treatment. The new reform allows for new categories that don't rule out modern technology: "'unexpected healings', 'confirmed healings' and 'exceptional healings'".
Only 67 official miracles are on record since a peasant girl named Bernadette said that she saw the Virgin Mary in a cave here in 1858, turning the site into a major tourist attraction for many Catholics. There have been only four official miracles since 1978. Not counting the 1980 Miracle on Ice, of course.
· Lourdes lobbies for more miracles [Sunday Times]
· Lourdes miracles get a little easier [Guardian]