Douglas Adams writes. “A towel, [The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy] says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.” While I would agree, having proved it when I first got to my apartment and appreciating a shower to get the gross sweaty travel vibes off, the towel I brought also comes in handy with catching minor drips when I hang clothes up to dry and is particularly handy when it comes to wiping a coating of sweat off your face.
I would have to say the most important thing for a global traveler who isn’t leaving planet earth is carrying a half roll of toilet paper in your day bag. Riding around in the jeepneys, you inhale a decent amount of exhaust and city gunk so your respiratory system is always playing catch up so your nose is always slightly runny. But most importantly many of the restrooms are BYO toilet paper. After spending a couple runs at Warped Tour and a summer at Lollapalooza and Sasquatch, I learned how quickly TP ceases to be present. It’s a precaution that takes an iffy situation and turns it into the popular, “Come at me, bro.” Because like a Boy Scout, you’re prepared; it’s a small step that takes you from being fearful to fearless.
When you add a wet wipes to remove a layer of “I don’t even want to think about what I touched today” before a meal as you think of tourist spot door handles and railings you touch while hanging on in the jeepneys, you just feel better about everything. It’s very common I’ve noticed for locals to use a diluted form of rubbing alcohol as a catch all for “hand sanitizer” the wet wipes are a 2 for 1 since it is customary to pick meat off bones with your fingers and eating street foot with your hands is very common.
Throw in a couple hundred pesos and as long as you stay hydrated, you’re ready for just about anything.
After Saturday’s motorcycle adventure to Mountain View, I’ve been thinking about useful skills to have as I daydream about the next international adventure, which for all I know could be winter break, next summer, or later in my college career when I spend a term abroad for my degree.
- Have a better understanding of the metric system. For the most part, I understand that a kilogram is 2.2 pounds. But Celsius and distance leave me clueless. I know 0 degrees C water freezes and I know it boils at 100 C but beyond that, I am regularly question why Americans are so stubborn of not adopting the Metric system. Liberia, Burma, and Antarctica are the only places where Metric is not common, and Antarctica is heavily populated by science inclined people so Antarctica pretty much does.
- Be motorcycle savvy. I’m not saying I go home, become certified, buy a bike, and use it as a main form of transportation. After all, being aware of cyclists is a huge public policy and social movement, but I think at least being competent in something like a moped or similar scooter would make future travel fun. I can see having an idea of what I’m doing and not being afraid of someone asking, “Do you want to drive?” only opens the door to more adventures.
- Become open water dive certified. This one I can do through OSU. Open water, advanced open water, rescue, and even up to dive master. To a certain degree, I have to take a minimum number of credits to get my degree, and a certain portion is elective and whatever catches my interest. Considering that I’m less than half way through my stay here and I’m already thinking about when I could feasibly come back next (Maybe when the less than pleasant Oregon winter is in full swing), the Philippines has some of the best diving locations and reefs around the world. If I wasn’t working full time during the week and was somewhere a little closer to a dive location, odds would be good you’d have a hard time keeping me on dry land. I did the PADI training a couple years back and never finalized the training (some regrets). And unlike Luca Brasi from the Godfather, I would be swimming with the fishes by choice.I would make a bucket list of all the places I want to go, but the list would be pages long. There’s more of the world I want to see than I think I don’t.
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