People in every country have places they are so proud of that they protect. Usually, tourists are welcome. So if we had only a short time in your country, what two or three places are on the must-see list? The ones you choose don’t need to be the top tourist destinations. For example, there are many places in Egypt other than the pyramids that would be well worth our while.
Every country also has a history. Even if the country once had a different name or different borders, the history still counts. Learn something about the history of your country, too. This doesn’t have to be a video covering all the events over all time in a broad sweep. It can be just a point in time, such as how Pakistan divided from India according to religion or how some British marketing executives concocted Nigeria out of a marketing supply chain, regardless of religion. Or it can focus on a specific cultural aspect, like A Brief History Of The Tango, about Argentina’s famous dance, or Music kept me alive, about South Africa under apartheid.
Often, the “official” videos are not as interesting as the less formal videos made by other people and organizations.
For history videos, type the name of your country followed by the word history in YouTube’s search box.
For cultural heritage, the best source: UNESCO’s World Heritage List
Next best: Lonely Planet’s Destinations
Discovery.com’s Atlas – China and India
To make your conversations with foreigners more productive, you should learn more about their country. I have tried to model that in the Case Study pages with information about the Netherlands.
The quotations and videos below come from UNESCO’s World Heritage site.
India’s Sun Temple, Konârak
On the shores of the Bay of Bengal, bathed in the rays of the rising sun, the temple at Konarak is a monumental representation of the sun god Surya’s chariot; its 24 wheels are decorated with symbolic designs and it is led by a team of six horses. Built in the 13th century, it is one of India’s most famous Brahman sanctuaries.The ‘City of Caves’, on an island in the Sea of Oman close to Bombay, contains a collection of rock art linked to the cult of Shiva. Here, Indian art has found one of its most perfect expressions, particularly the huge high reliefs in the main cave.
China’s Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor
No doubt thousands of statues still remain to be unearthed at this archaeological site, which was not discovered until 1974. Qin (d. 210 B.C.), the first unifier of China, is buried, surrounded by the famous terracotta warriors, at the centre of a complex designed to mirror the urban plan of the capital, Xianyan. The small figures are all different; with their horses, chariots and weapons, they are masterpieces of realism and also of great historical interest.
Southern Chinese lion dancing comes from an ancient tale: Terrorized by a mythical monster, a horde of villagers descended from the mountains and huddled under an enormous monster of their own in an attempt to repel the beast. Year after year, to the accompaniment of firecracker bursts and drums, the ritual is repeated as protection against evil spirits. At least that’s one version.
Korea’s Historic Villages: Hahoe and Yangdong
Founded in the 14th-15th centuries, Hahoe and Yangdong are seen as the two most representative historic clan villages in the Republic of Korea. Their layout and location – sheltered by forested mountains and facing out onto a river and open agricultural fields – reflect the distinctive aristocratic Confucian culture of the early part of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). The villages were located to provide both physical and spiritual nourishment from their surrounding landscapes. They include residences of the head families, together with substantial timber framed houses of other clan members, also pavilions, study halls, Confucian academies for learning, and clusters of one story mud-walled, thatched-roofed houses, formerly for commoners. The landscapes of mountains, trees and water around the village, framed in views from pavilions and retreats, were celebrated for their beauty by 17th and 18th century poets.
Japan’s Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama
Located in a mountainous region that was cut off from the rest of the world for a long period of time, these villages with their Gassho-style houses subsisted on the cultivation of mulberry trees and the rearing of silkworms. The large houses with their steeply pitched thatched roofs are the only examples of their kind in Japan. Despite economic upheavals, the villages of Ogimachi, Ainokura and Suganuma are outstanding examples of a traditional way of life perfectly adapted to the environment and people’s social and economic circumstances.
Japan has more than 50,000 businesses that are over 100 years old. 3,886 have been around for more than 200 years.
In 2007—after 1,429 years in business—the temple-construction company Kongo Gumi ran out of money and was absorbed by a larger company. (source: Atlantic Monthly)
One in every four U.S. companies founded in 1994 was still operating in 2004 (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Vietnam’s Ancient Town of Hoi An
Hoi An is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century. Its buildings and its street plan reflect the influences, both indigenous and foreign, that have combined to produce this unique heritage site.
Thailand’s Historic Town of Sukhothai
Sukhothai was the capital of the first Kingdom of Siam in the 13th and 14th centuries. It has a number of fine monuments, illustrating the beginnings of Thai architecture. The great civilization which evolved in the Kingdom of Sukhothai absorbed numerous influences and ancient local traditions; the rapid assimilation of all these elements forged what is known as the ‘Sukhothai style’.
Malaysia’s Melaka and George Town, Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca
Melaka and George Town, historic cities of the Straits of Malacca have developed over 500 years of trading and cultural exchanges between East and West in the Straits of Malacca. The influences of Asia and Europe have endowed the towns with a specific multicultural heritage that is both tangible and intangible. With its government buildings, churches, squares and fortifications, Melaka demonstrates the early stages of this history originating in the 15th-century Malay sultanate and the Portuguese and Dutch periods beginning in the early 16th century. Featuring residential and commercial buildings, George Town represents the British era from the end of the 18th century. The two towns constitute a unique architectural and cultural townscape without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia.
Indonesia’s Borobudur Temple Compounds
This famous Buddhist temple, dating from the 8th and 9th centuries, is located in central Java. It was built in three tiers: a pyramidal base with five concentric square terraces, the trunk of a cone with three circular platforms and, at the top, a monumental stupa. The walls and balustrades are decorated with fine low reliefs, covering a total surface area of 2,500 m2. Around the circular platforms are 72 openwork stupas, each containing a statue of the Buddha. The monument was restored with UNESCO’s help in the 1970s.