Who Carried His Personal Library Wherever He Went?

Abdul Kassem Ismael was the Grand Vizier of Persia in the tenth century. He was so enamored with his collection of over 117,000 books that he carried them with him on his many travels. Four hundred camels trained to walk in alphabetical order carried his precious volumes.


If you want to learn more about Abdul Kassem Ismael, check out the following sites:

Educause (where today’s fact came from): http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm003a.pdf

Austin Public Library: http://library.austintexas.gov/blog-entry/how-much-do-you-know-about-traveling-libraries


Where is the First Country to Ban the Sale of Tobacco?

If you intend to smoke a cigarette in Bhutan, think again – there are very harsh restrictions about the purchase and smoking of tobacco products. Bhutan first banned the sell of tobacco in 2004, claiming that it contradicted the teachings of Buddhism. You can receive up to 3 years in jail for smuggling it into the country. If brought in legally, you are charged a hefty tax (anywhere from 100-200%) and then given a receipt that is valid for only 30 days and must be on your person at all times if you intend to smoke in public. Moreover, you can only bring in 200 cigarettes, 30 cigars or 150 grams of chewing tobacco.


Time Magazine: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2057774,00.html

Tourism Council of Bhutan: http://www.tourism.gov.bt/

Idiom of the Day

From now on, we will be giving you at least one idiom or phrase from an Asian language that will not only brighten your day, but liven up your conversation. Today’s idiom comes from Mongolia.



бурхан оршоо бутын чинээ сахал урга    burkhan orshu duteen chine sakhal urga

Literally: May God bless you and your mustache will grow like brushwood

English Equivalent: God bless you, gesundheit (response to sneezing)

Source: Omniglot.com

Can You Repeat That, Please?

Did you know that Bangkok, Thailand’s official name is “Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasi”. Translations vary, but here is one from Encyclopedia Britannica: City of Gods, The Great City, the Residence of the Emerald Buddha, the Impregnable City of Ayutthaya of God Indra, the Great Capital of the World Endowed with Nine Precious Gems, the Happy City Abounding in Enormous Royal Palaces which Resemble the Heavenly Abode Wherein Dwell the Reincarnated Gods, a City Given by Indra and Built by Vishnukarm (Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica,CNN). Thai singers have written numerous songs to make the recitation easier, and there are even competitions to see who can recite the name most accurately and quickly.