Being Prepared

Traveling to a different country is very exciting but it can also lead to a lot of anxiety, especially if you are traveling alone or if it is your first time. Being excited and anxious at the same time can lead to being improperly prepared for your journey and this can cause a whole lot of problems.

The best thing you could do is be prepared and if it helps, create a list of things that you need to do, things you need to bring and research ahead of time regarding the place you are visiting. Having fun is important but being aware of your surroundings and being safe in a foreign country trumps that.

Tips Before Departing

  • Research ahead of time

As stated above, you should definitely learn about the country you are visiting and take note of places that you should not visit alone. Be aware of the weather situation in advance so you won’t have trouble with transportation. For example, go to the tourist site for the country you are visiting, in my case, the Philippines. Of course, these sites will not list all the places that are dangerous, in this case, it’s up to you to do some web research of your own.

  • Don’t bring unnecessary things

Traveling light is very important, at least to me. I don’t want to bring things that are unnecessary because the more you bring, the higher the chances of losing them, especially the valuable ones. The less you have on you, the easier your movement and you won’t be a target for potential theft.

  • Prepare all the necessary paperwork ASAP

Get all your paperwork done as soon as you can and make sure that it is accessible. Also, you can scan them and send them to your e-mail or take a picture so that you have a backup if ever you will need it.

Tips When You are There

  • Credit cards are recommended

When you carry loads of cash or even a debit card, you are just asking for trouble. Thus, my recommended way to access your money is via credit card and having a little emergency cash on hand. If you lose your money or debit card, it’s pretty much gone but with a credit card, you can alert your bank.

  • When withdrawing cash, choose ATMs that have security guards

This means that you shouldn’t use ATMs that are in remote areas and you should always go for ATMs in the banks, malls or other stores. This way, you can withdraw your cash without having to look over both your shoulders for potential robbers. Also, when you withdraw, count your money as fast as possible and put it away immediately.

  • Be aware when in crowds

A crowded area is very dangerous especially if you stick out like a sore thumb. Be aware and be wary of pickpockets. A good idea is to put your money in your front pocket as opposed to the back.

  • Ask the staff in your hotel for help with transportation

Don’t hail a taxi by yourself, chances are, you will be ripped off. Ask the staff to call you a cab instead as they can ensure that you will be paying a reasonable fare. Also, ask them ahead of time if there are areas that you should avoid.

That’s it for now. I hope that these tips will be helpful when you are out and about. Remember, common sense is a powerful thing, make sure to exercise it.

First Stop, the Philippines

One of the things that made me curious about Southeast Asia is realizing how much I don’t know about it. I’ve been living in California my whole life and I’ve had my share of encounters with people from this corner of the world and I didn’t really bother looking into their culture, until now.

Filipinos are everywhere!

My first stop is the Philippines in my tour of Southeast Asia. There are countless Filipinos where I live and I encounter them on a daily basis. I’ve managed to strike friendships with a lot of them and I must say, they are very “westernized”. Since I haven’t been to the Southeast Asian region, I thought that maybe the Filipinos in their country are “westernized” too and this would be very helpful in helping me get acclimated to the region.

Boy, was I wrong!

Filipinos are not as westernized as I thought they would be, especially in the provinces where I planned to spend most of my time in. They are very different from those that I encountered back home in LA and it is actually quite nice, surprisingly. I thought that I would be uncomfortable here but I was wrong, they are very welcoming and friendly despite the difference in culture and some communication problems.

In Metro Manila, yes, there are people that act all westernized and I found it kind of annoying to be honest. After a while, I wanted a genuine Philippine experience and I thought that I would not be getting it in the city. That’s when I decided to go to the provinces where I thought I could get the whole genuine Philippine experience.

The Food is…. Different

Another reason why I wanted to go to the Philippines is their cuisine. I loved eating adobo, sinigang and kare-kare whenever I would visit my Filipino friends home. However, they told me that their recipes are not really authentic and they are adjusted to the taste of Americans. If I really wanted to have an authentic Filipino dish, I should visit their country, they say.

And here I am, so far, the food is exceptional. I haven’t tasted it all but one of the recipes that I loved was the Bulalo I had in Tagaytay. It was almost a perfect food that can warm you and fill you up at the same time. I also loved the dipping sauce that had a funky smell, I think it was called “patis” or fish sauce as it is more commonly known.

I am loving it so far here in the Philippines and right now, I am in Cebu, making my way to Mindanao.