Travel Tips from a Veteran Ex-Pat

I can up with these travel tips after seeing many of my ex husband's office mates (engineers all of them) make gaffs and cultural blunders continuously while living overseas. These tips are meant to be funny and taken lightly. Several people have asked me to repost them-here they are:

So…Someone once told me that "Youth is wasted on the young". It must be true, because I definitely wasted my youth. However, while wasting my youth, I travelled a lot. I learned a few things, and these may be slightly unorthodox reasons for the "guidelines' I have, (and I really just wrote them for a comedic kick), but they really work in your favor if you just take them to heart.

Things I learned:
1. When you see an "Asian Toilet" don't panic, after all 'when in Rome, and all'...just squat and let her rip! If you've never experienced an Asian Toilet look it up on www.google.com or www.richard-seaman.com/Travel/Japan/Misc/Toilets/ it's very educational.


2. Drink the water...and prepare to suffer the consequences. Okay, there are places you definitely don't want to go testing the sanitary conditions of the public water system I.E...Mexico, Thailand, India, ANYWHERE in Africa. But there are places where the water is really not all that bad like, Japan, China, the UK, Ireland, France, anywhere in Europe come to think of it, and the USA. Believe it or not there is some seriously suspect H2O here in our own country. But what the hell! You just build your immunity drinking the local water, so drink up, Skippy!

3. No matter where you are on Earth always carry a cotton handkerchief! This is a MUST when leaving the free and western world, and a serious option while still in it. You may not know why at this juncture, but trust me you will be so happy you have that hanky with you. (Believe it or not...a lot of restaurants overseas don't provide decent -or any- napkins at all!) Have a 6-pack of the over sized cotton men's hankies with you (no matter your gender) at all times, no matter where you are. Bring them in your suitcase as a staple like you'd bring your underwear. I promise you if you always keep one in you back pocket (men), or your hand bag (ladies), you'll be a much happier person at the end of your day for it. Recently I've discovered "Cottonelle Wipes" in convenient single wrapped packets. DEFINITELY have a half dozen on you at all times overseas...you'll thank me 'in the end'!!!
YUP, that's me...nekked in the tub! Take a good look, cause that's all the nudity I can muster.
4. FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE EAT LIKE THE LOCALS!!!! I met dudes in Japan, Ireland, France, Belgium, or anywhere I was travelling-from the USA, that lived at the local "American Burger Joint". UGH!!!!! Not only is this expensive, but also not any fun at all. When you are outside the USA, and, friends, there is more non-USA than USA... eat what the bloody locals are having. If it's sushi then suck it up, and have 'fish-bait' for supper. If it's stir-fry, curry, mushy peas, raw beef, yakiniku, fish and chips, moulles marinier, pomme frittes, chorizo, bugs, or brains, just eat it! Think of the stories you can entertain your family and friends with when you get back home! "YOU really ate what?!?" You'll save yourself a lot of money, and time, and boredom in the end. Food is an adventure, most idiots sit at home bored.

5. Learn a little lingo. How hard is it really to learn how to say hello in someone Else's language, "hi, hello, hola, bonjour, konichiwa, niihau"...or thank you, or please, or even "nice weather". Folks, the world does not speak English, and the sooner you get used to living in it, the better off we all are. My personal recommendation is to learn; please, and thank you, how to order a beer, and find the toilet. If you can master these, you’re doing better than most people.

6. Use the local utensils without protest! This goes back to rule 4. If you eat sushi, use the chopsticks! In the Middle East as well as most of Africa use your hands. Check that...use your RIGHT hand only! The left hand is reserved for the other end of the digestive process. Not everyone uses a knife and fork, scooter, so deal with it! "When in Rome, do as The Romans". It's the same for Japan, China, India, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, France, Germany, Spain, Great Brittan, Ireland, Africa, Canada, and our South American (and Middle American) Friends. Use a fork, spoon, chop sticks, a piece of bread or tortilla, or just your fingers, and smile, darn it! You are the unofficial ambassador from our country. Most people's first (and usually last) impression of Americans comes from you....Stop insisting on a fork, and live a little on the edge!

7. Speaking of bad reputations...DON'T EVER EVER EVER SHOUT IN PUBLIC...EVER!!!! Yeah, Americans have this terrible reputation of being loud, boorish, obnoxiously rude, overbearing bastards. It's all true. I've seen it firsthand too many times to not believe it myself. I've been horrified a few times into telling people I'm a Canadian, because of some American sitting next to me in a bar acting like a total ass! If you have a complaint, OK, we all have them now and again...but don't get on the bus and sit next to me and bitch about the Irish when that bus we are on in is the Public Transit through Dublin, Ireland! OK, let me just state for the record that I am not a self-loathing American type that thinks someplace else is better. If I thought anywhere on Earth was better than here, I'd live there. I do want to state for the record, though, that we have a bad reputation on whole, and it needs to change.

8. Follow the "Golden Rule". Do unto all as you wish to have done unto you. If you follow this rule, then rules 1-7 don't even apply to you.

9. As far as religion is concerned there are a LOT of people that are perfectly happy not being converted to 'Christianity', so stop trying. (You just make yourself look like a fundamentalist zealot.) OK ... I know I am very likely going to be condemned to hell by the 'born agains' for this one. There are a LOT of people who are very happy being Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Shinto, or what-have-you. Leave them be!!! The last thing they need is some overbearing 'Christian' nut job telling them that they are going to go to Hell for not believing in the story of Christ. How can you be so sure you got it right, and the Swahili rat worshipper got it wrong!?!

10. Smile and look cutely stupid a lot. If you do this, people will be nice to you no matter what country you are in. I have found a lot of people that don't speak English who have gone out of their way entirely to make sure I was safe, fed, and had plenty of alcohol (a must have on an extended trip out of the USA).

11. And this is a recent addition...DON"T ever ever ever reach in your pocket and give one thin dime, yen, Yuan, euro, or shilling to a gypsy!!! Unless you want to be pick-pocketed, raped, or found dead later on, trust me...these people are truly off-limits!!!

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