Travel

Travel Tips 

When purchasing train or air tickets in a country where you don't speak the language, I highly recommend pointing at a map rather than trusting your foreign pronunciation.  While making educated guesses that "sound good" may make you feel spiffy, it can also significantly decrease your odds of getting you to your proper destination.

If you are planning to travel and want to learn just a small bit of language beforehand, numbers are a good choice because it makes buying things, like FOOD, ever so much easier.  While finger counting also works, it is somewhat less elegant.  Plus, locals always appreciate any attempt at learning their language.  "Thank you" is, of course, an essential phrase in any language.

I IS A ENLISH TEECHUR

English

Spanish

French

German

Japanese

Mandarin

Thanks

Gracias

Merci

Danke

Domo Arigato

Xie Xie

 

Another tip I found out the hard way:  You can (and should) liberally use your digital camera to take pictures of your hotel, workplace, the train station, key intersections, people, etc.   It can be a tad embarrassing to act "train" out in charades on the side of the road. Another good habit is to collect business cards for any location to which you might want to return.  Even if you can't read them, somebody else should be able to.

This helps greatly when you inevitably get lost.

Ways I sort of know how to count to 100

Arabic

English

Spanish

Japanese

Mandarin

0

zero

cero

zero

ling

1

one

uno

ichi

yi

2

two

dos

ni

er

3

three

tres

san

san

4

four

quatro

shi

si

5

five

cinco

go

wu

6

six

seis

roku

liu

7

seven

seite

shichi

qi

8

eight

ocho

hachi

ba

9

nine

nueve

ku

jiu

10

ten

diez

ju

shi

11

eleven

once

ju ichi

shi yi

12

twelve

doce

ju ni

shi er

13

thirteen

trece

ju san

shi san

14

fourteen

qatorce

ju shi

shi si

15

fifteen

quince

ju go

shi wu

16

sixteen

diez y seis

ju roku

shi liu

17

seventeen

diez y cinco

ju shichi

shi qi

18

eighteen

diez y ocho

ju hachi

shi ba

19

nineteen

diez y nueve

ju ku

shi jiu

20

twenty

veinti

ni ju

er shi

21

twenty one

veinti uno

ni ju ichi

er shi yi

22

twenty two

veinti dos

ni ju ni

er shi er

30

thirty

treinta

san ju

san shi

40

forty

quarenta

shi ju

si shi

50

fifty

cincuenta

go ju

wu shi

60

sixty

sesenta

roku ju

liu shi

70

seventy

setenta

shichi ju

qi shi

80

eighty

ochenta

hachi ju

ba shi

90

ninety

noventa

ku ju

jiu shi

100

hundred

ciento

kyaku

yi bai

Quan Yin and the Good Luck Knot

  

 

The other day I was doing my biweekly book binge at the Asian buffet when I looked down and realized that I finally recognize the knot I've been wearing off and on ever since Taiwan. It is tied in red cord and sits atop the jade pendant of Quan Shi Yin that was given to me by this "holy man" (that's how I think of him, anyway) who counseled me for hours late one night when I was feeling especially compressed by and angry with people.

I'd been up talking to the ocean and stars but it wasn't enough. I needed to stop hating people, and fast, because I was completely surrounded by them. No escape. If you have ever been to Asia, then you know what I mean. I felt compelled to find this one tiny little temple in particular. I searched the entire small town on foot for hours and had almost given up when I saw a small group of people gathered together near a door. I went up and "asked' them in the worst Chinglish you've ever heard, followed by some baffling sign language, then finally showed them the picture I'd taken of the doorway earlier that day.

I love the Taiwanese. They all jumped up and the next thing I know a girl is telling me to get on the back of her scooter whence she took me to the place, which was actually right behind where I was but in a hidden alley. Who the hell knows how I spotted it the first time. I was a curiosity to her and another woman who was holding a baby. They all wanted to know why I was there. I told them I was seeking peace.

I wanted to pray/meditate/contemplate but I obviously didn't know the proper way so they initiated me in the 7 fold incense ritual, told me that I could sit as long as I wanted and showed me where while she discretely called the English speaking priest from a phone in the back. I sat quietly and tried to calm my mind, looking at the icons on the altar. I had a bit of a fascination with the dark one in the center - alone in the midst of bright gaiety, we seemed to connect.

The temple builder came and we had one of the best conversations of my life, dealing with compassion mostly. That became a major theme for me and my studies the following year. Later, in the wee hours of the morning when my blood sugar finally overcame me and the final remnants of the stress hormones released themselves, he said he wanted to give me something. Before showing it to me, he asked me if I'd had any experience with any of the deities on the altar. I told him of the tenuous flights of fantasy I'd indulged in and he gave me the pendant. It turns out that Quan Shi Yin is the goddess of compassion, naturally, which is the key quality I needed most to cultivate at the time.

I just had to revel in yet another wonderful glowing moment of universal harmony brought to me by the same knot that I will invariably forever associate with a certain knot tier. I'm glad the knot evoked such a powerful memory. It was so nice to finally tell the story and make the connections, as it were.

Then today in class my professor unexpectedly started talking about Quan Yin. I suppose it wouldn't have been unexpected if I were current on the reading, but whatever. I'll catch up. I always do. But the coincidences are starting to pick up in speed and frequency, whatever that means. Something else in that lecture directly resonated with something I was thinking recently but damned if I can remember what it is. Something about Bodhisattvas and how enlightenment is an ongoing process, not a single "Aha!" moment but a lifetime of them...