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.
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.
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.
All writing is original and copyrighted to T. Sunshine Love 2008.
That said, please feel free to share at will.
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Current laws screw independent artists in favor of padding corporate pockets.
Fuck corporate ownership.