Travel: Trouble spots

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The Independent Travel
How to avoid cultural gaffes around the world.

Israel: "It is not uncommon for men to carry handguns, usually tucked discreetly into waist bands and covered with the shirt. This should cause you neither alarm nor trepidation. Remember that almost all adult males in Israel have served in the Army; that Israeli men are often concerned with a `macho' image, and that Israel does have very real security difficulties. It would be indiscreet (or inept) to make reference to the gun." - The Simple Guide to Customs and Etiquette in Israel (Global Books, pounds 4.99).

Korea: "Finger to nose gestures are very rude, so it's best to keep your hands away from your face (even if your nose is itchy)" - The Cultural Gaffes Pocketbook, by Angelena Boden (Management Pocketbooks, pounds 6.99).

Japan: "To convey `no', the word `difficult' is used" - Ibid.

Eastern Europe: "Eastern Europeans do not want to be patronised: `I bet you don't have this back in Moscow' will not go down well. Many are prosperous, have travelled and are rapidly developing their economies; don't expect them to accept second class" - Ibid.

Bali: "Babies are not allowed to touch the `impure' ground until they are six months old according to the Balinese calendar (about seven months according to our calendar)" - Thomson Faraway Shores brochure.

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