Some travel tips and side notes from a recently seasoned traveler
1.) If you find yourself in Japan, touring around your parents...
-Use taxis. For the love, don`t drag travel-weary and jet-lagged parents through crowded train stations. It`s not worth it.
-Avoid rush hour (see above)
-Practice your smile beforehand. You`ll use it a lot; in pictures and just in general because it`ll be a good time
-Don`t sprain your ankle before the trip. Though the exercise of taking Japan by storm will be good for it and everything will be fine in the end, it`ll be a bit of a bother and a blow to the ego to be passed by hunched over old people while walking down the many stairs one encounters while traveling Japan
-Always stop for ice cream
2.) If you find yourself in the Philippines building homes... (for about a week)
-Don`t bring dust masks. Even though the packing list suggests them. It`s a tropical climate. So, no dust. Just mud. Lots of mud.
-Bring a floppy/sun hat. context is important for these things and they are not lame while building homes in the Philippines. There is no context, however, in which sunburns are not lame.
-If you decide to snorkel on your day off you might get stung by a jellyfish but really it`s not so bad. And snorkeling is badass.
-It`s possible to learn how to say the numbers 1-10 in another language in the course of two days even if you`re spending the majority of those two days sweating out everything you`re drinking
-Remember: you always have more strength
-Don`t go back home (Ok, so I don`t actually have any experience with this last tip. I always go back home. But never leaving the Philippines is the only reasonable response to have upon landing in that country. Unfortunately for me I am not reasonable)
Magandang mean beautiful in Tagalog which is the language spoken in the area of the Philippines I was in (Palawan, Puerto Princesa).
That is the first word my host mother taught me. Beautiful. What a beautiful world.