1. Japan.

A fellow traveler told me of a samurai from the Shinyo district who loved to have cereal in the evening, right before bed, especially cereal of a particular kind. It was all he would eat. Then one evening in spring he began cutting up strawberries and putting them in with the cereal, because they were in season. And he loved it even more. But then the season ended, as seasons do, and strawberries were no longer available. And he found to his dismay that the cereal was to him suddenly too plain, and he did not like it any more. And so a great joy was removed from his life. Such a person is worthless.

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2. Italy and Amsterdam.

Canals are artificial waterways that can be used for navigation or for draining or irrigating land. Such a series of waterways belong to the Italians and those people who live in Amsterdam.

Only a hard-working people like those who live in Venice and also in Holland could have carved out such a number of channels. Italy and Amsterdam, particularly Venice, are well known for their waterways and all of their canals. The Dutch, however, are even more famous for their cheese, eggs, butter, and meat. These are the principal things they trade with Italy even though they’re not terribly interested in trade with Venice because they sometimes get confused between… confuse it with Amsterdam all the time with the canals. Some of the things they get in return are coffee, cocoa, iron, wheat, corn, and lumber.

Pasta, wooden shoes, gondolas, windmills, Venetian blinds, and meters and/or miles of tulips – all these you will see sometime if you go to Italy and Amsterdam. But you would also see people living much as you do, for all countries are becoming more and more alike.

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3. Germany and Italy.

Ein Deutscher und ein Italiener starben zur selben Zeit und begegneten sich im Fegefeuer. Da fragte man sie welche Hölle sie bevorzugten, die deutsche oder die italienenenische. Der Deutsche wählte die deutsche Hölle und der Italiener die italienische. Damit man sich nicht zu sehr an der Hölle gewöhnt und weniger leidet, gibt es alle fünf Jahre eine kurze Unterbrechung im Fegefeuer. Da begegnen sich die Männer also wieder. “Na,” fragte der Italiener, “wie ist es denn bei euch?” “Ach,” sagte der Deutsche “könnte besser. Wir stehen alle in einem Riesentopf voller Scheisse und wenn man aufspringt um an die Luft zu kommen, schlägt ein Teufel einem mit einem Hammer auf dem Kopf, damit man wieder untertaucht. Aber wie ist es denn bei euch?” “Ungefähr das Gleiche,” antwortet der Italiener, “nur gibt es ’mal nicht genügend Scheisse, ’mal fehlt der Hammer und dann wieder streiken die Teufel….”

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4. France.

It was a Sunday, and my wife, at the time, was going into Paris on the train. Some time in the morning, I got a call from her saying she had gotten off the train. She was sobbing. She had lost her ring, and I said, “Well, I know where it is.” I walked upstairs, went into the bedroom, put my hand between the mattress and box springs. I went in up to my shoulders, got the ring, came back down and said, “I’ve got it right here.” And that, my friend, is a true story.

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5. Poland.

Nobody has ever been to Poland.

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6. Brazil.

The plane started to go down, and, suddenly, their ears popped.

“My cap flew away.”

“How soon do we get to Brazil?”

“Which Brazil?”

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7. Argentina.

When you take a bath in Argentina are you amazed? Are you amazed how the water goes down the drain in the opposite direction from what you’d expect? If answer is “yes,” you do not need our product. If “no,” call now and order.

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8. Cambodia.

I first visited Angkor Wat at the time I was finishing my doctorate in anthropology. I was shown through the complex by someone from Cambodia who had an enormous familiarity with its history. While standing in a clearing in the jungle, I began to feel dizzy. I thought that I was having a spiritual experience. The next day in Phnom Penh, I learned that I had food poisoning.

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9. United States.

One Tuesday I went to the Amsterdam Billiard Club to see if I knew anyone there. Maybe I did. Not certain. Couldn’t be absolutely sure. Left the building and went for a walk around the block. Saw some people but didn’t speak to them. One I knew. Minnesota Fats. What was he doing there?