Quality of Life

Right now:  sitting in Caffè Fiore at the top of Queen Anne.  I walked here, and it felt good and the neighborhood is awesome. I ordered an americano and a mini veggie quiche and paid with my phone, and tipped with cash. The americano was kick ass.  The quiche was delicious. Locals and tourists are rolling in with bed head. They are paying Stan Getz over the speakers. I have nothing to grade. The sun just broke through the clouds. Nobody is talking too loud.

A few years ago my friend Barcelona E was here to visit.  I had taken her to Columbia City Bakery, which was my neighborhood bakery at the time. Barcelona E was in the middle of picking up her croissant when she asked me the question, “JP, what is so special about Seattle?”

Back when I was in Michigan I used to my mouth about how Seattle was a better place, something which I still believe. I was fully aware that people found it obnoxious, but I just had a hard time believing that anyone would choose to live in other places. Honestly, I tried to be kind about it.

Anyway, Barcelona E was here, in Seattle with me, in my neighborhood bakery, about to take a bite of her croissant, asking me the question that probably had occured to her twenty years prior, before my diabetes diagnosis, before I spoke Mandarin, before her daughters were born, before she spoke German.

“JP, what is so special about Seattle?”

Before I could answer, she took a bite of her croissant, and put it back down on her plate, looking at it, and saying casually, “Oh, quality of life.  I understand now. ”

I didn’t have to explain anything to her with words. Not that I could, I was laughing pretty hard. Sometimes being friends with people from Spain is like living in a movie script.

Later on, Barcelona E scolded me for allowing her to put sugar in her coffee, she told me if she had known the coffee would be high quality, she wouldn’t have put sugar in it, and it was my fault. You gotta give people a heads up.

Anyway, back in the present:

  •  A dude just walked in and started talking scones with the barista, in a way that you know the man is obsessed with scone theory. People in this town go on obsessive inward journeys to make a perfect product. It seems unhealthy when you meet them, but then you taste their beer/coffee/bagel/liquor/croissant.
  • A dude sitting across from me is talking about his trip to China. He’s saying he can no longer 請 his family members (he can’t treat them to a meal) because they could all pay with their phones (they scan a QR code) where as he carried cash, like a chump. He’s also telling tales about how there are (rideshare?) bikes in China you lock with your phone, so you don’t need to chain them up to a post anymore, there are just bikes everywhere. I cannot imagine overhearing a conversation about the technological advances in Chinese society at the cafés I go to in California.

I don’t really live here anymore, and at the moment there’s not really a job for me here.  But it’s nice to be from here, and nice to be back.

A post shared by Jp Villanueva (@jpv206) on Jun 11, 2017 at 8:28am PDT

 

Asian Squat Bombs

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A while ago my sister and I decided to start taking #AsianSquatBombs because it cracks us up.  Here are 24 photos, mostly of me. Some are of my sister and parents, and two are with my coworker MY.

Shall we remember this day?

It’s Thursday, June 8th, 2017, a little before 9am.  I’m sitting in my mama’s freshly-watered backyard garden. There is a pair of small birds flirting with each other, carving the desert air as they dash  from plant to plant, winding through the tree blossoms; white, pink, and red.

It’s my first Wednesday of summer break. As soon as I put my grade book to bed the other day I packed up my suitcases and drove across the desert to my folk’s place in the north of Las Vegas. So far, for the last few days, it’s been an alarming routine of eating, napping, and checking my phone. Occasionally I drive my mama to the grocery store or to the veterinarian; practice my asian squat and my standing forward fold.  At one point I created a quest to buy a new aloha shirt.

Former FBI director James Comey is currently testifying before a Senate committee; I watched a little of it until I got bored.  I hope it leads to the early demise of the DJT presidency, and the oligarchy that has taken over the Republic. People have taken off work to watch this testimony, eagerly gotten up early on the West Coast, and made this an event, complete with the hashtag #ComeyDay, like it’s a holiday.  If Comey’s testimony does bring down the president, today will be a day to remember in American history.

This summer break, besides Las Vegas, I’ll spend time in Seattle and Kauai, and probably LA.  I hope I start blogging more.  I’ve been thinking about blogging about Racial Imposter Syndrome, Gringo Pronunciation Enforcement, and weapons-grade ratatouille. My hope is that this summer I’ll blog, stick to my nutrition program, write my book “Memoirs of Becoming Multilingual,” get a book deal, and become the wealthy and culturally influential language teacher I aspire to be.

Or or or, alternatively I could win the Powerball; that would be awesome too.  It would certainly make today a day to remember.

Accent marks in Spanish

Sí lleva tilde.pngI feel like I have some students and friends whose policy is to ignore the accent marks in Spanish.  If I tell them, “copy this word:  más” they will write the letters “m.a.s.” When I ask them why they didn’t copy the á with a tilde over it, they will either burst into tears or immediately attack me with a punch to the neck.

Look, I don’t care about proper Spanish.  It is my job to teach it to students, but in life my friends write me however they want, I don’t go after them, they’re my friends.  I do, however tell my students they should learn how to write them, because a) it’s not hard and b) there are people who will write them off as pochos. I, as their teacher, wish them success and wish that other people didn’t write them off as pochos.

I tried to be gentle about it, but I had to start bringing the hammer down when they were writing like “mi familia es muy orgullosa de ser de Mexico” (sic).  Folks, you’re not really representing pride in Mexico if you’re writing me-HEE-co in Spanish.  In Spanish you have to write “México.”  A huevo.

I know that this is an issue with heritage Spanish speakers, the accent mark looks arbitrary to them, and they go into shame spirals when someone exposes them. I’m not trying to put them there.  So I tried to develop helpful graphics.  Here’s the latest.

OG tildes

Organizador gráfico: tildes

I’m not sure if they’ll find this helpful or if it will stress them out.

The following are two examples of flow charts that I made.  When I showed my latino friends, they told me, no, these two are way too stressful.

Tildes por sílaba

Tildes por tipo de sílaba

Tildes por tipo

Tildes por tipo de palabra

This final one is organized by final letter, and my latino friends were less stressed out by this one.  So I added sight gags to it and passed it out to my students. I also passed out little game chips to them, and forced them physically move the chippy along the arrows, and when they did, they got to the right answer. However they hated it (and me) with a passion and as soon as I wasn’t looking went right back to brute force guessing.  Baby steps I guess.

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Tildes por letra final

If anybody wants these on PDF please email me and I’ll be happy to share; or find the links on my Spanish resources page.  If you’re using my material, I’d love to hear how it went over with your students.

By the way, when I learned these, it was three rules organized as bullet points in a paragraph. At this point in my career, I don’t have rules memorized, and I don’t need graphics; I just hear where accent marks are supposed to be written, even if it’s a word I never heard before.  I’m still trying to figure out how to teach my students to hear where an accent mark goes. I suspect the answer will have something to do with them listening.

My Dim Sum Spots in Seattle

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Happy Mothers’ Day from Las Vegas.  I used a personal day so I can be with my mama today.  I popped popcorn last night and my parents and I watched SNL together.  This morning I made strawberry/blueberry buckwheat pancakes for breakfast.  Mama used to tell stories of her father Tatang Maël making popcorn, making pancakes in the afternoon for snack, picking pineapple out of the yard for breakfast, and stealing chunks of Cougar Gold cheese that Tatang bought at the Commissary.

I’m grading papers and planning classes all this weekend, but I’m taking a little break to blog.  My boy BM texted me this morning for dim sum recommendations in Seattle, which… I haven’t lived in Seattle for two years! But of course I have a list.  I don’t know if these places are still there, but they are still fresh in my mind.

Dim sum for one/I’m in a hurry

  • Dim Sum King Order at the counter.  Get it to go if you want.
  • Dim Sum House Up on Beacon Ave. This is the greasy spoon for dim sum.
  • Duk Li Dim Sum Probably the best variety of the Dim Sum For One category.

Old School Dim Sum

  • Harbor City This has been the it-place for a while now; a shoebox shaped, mildly noisy, wait-for-30-min during Sunday Brunch kind of place. This is where I would take Chinese people.
  • Jade Garden This was once the it-place, maybe ten years ago. Still good, but not the same spectacular food it once was back in the day. There is often still a wait, and it’s got a lot of non-Chinese buzz.
  • Joyale Seafood This place has had two other names, but they were all good. There has been ownership drama, I think; an ugly divorce, etc. The food is good, service is good; free parking is nice, usually no wait time. This is a wedding banquet hall.  The only thing I don’t like so much about it is the lack of natural light; otherwise it’s good.
  • Honeycourt Maybe twenty years ago, this was the it-place.  Still popular among old people and Filipinos of all ages. A student messaged me recently to tell me they had renovated. When I still lived in Seattle, the buzz was that Honeycourt was a place for old people, which means absolutely nothing to me.
  • Ocean Star This is the old Sun Ya, which was a way old school place that I didn’t like. A friend of mine, the Transit Tzar, asked me to meet him there a couple years ago, and I was blown away by how good it was. Also, free parking (tight, limited) and natural light. This place is the new hotness to me.
  • New Hong Kong Way down in Rainier Beach.  Nothing to sneeze at; jammed with Chinese Americans. Parking is a piece of cake.
  • Regent Bakery and Café This place has high quality food and is on the fancy end of the dim sum spectrum. Service was a little weird the times I went there, in that the servers were not Asian and were not really acquainted with the way that Asian people eat. For example, they weren’t very quick on the draw when it came to a big pot of rice and a whole bunch of rice bowls for everybody at the table. But my complaints about this place are cultural, not food-based.
  • House of Hong Ok, look; I don’t go here anymore. It’s not that it’s bad; in fact, it’s nice inside, and it’s the place where a lot of us non-Chinese people first learned about dim sum. You will see the whole ethnic spectrum of Seattle in the dining room, and it feels good. This used to be my go-to place, until I started realizing I was seeing the same shrimp ball cooked 15 different ways, and I kept falling for it. I didn’t mind, until I started going to other places and seeing other things; then I never wanted to go back to HOH. Still, I’m thankful for all the meals there.

If I wanted to impress my Chinese friends, I’d go to Harbor City.  Left to my own devices, I’d be at Ocean Star. My sister and I often end up at Joyale because of parking.  慢吃吧。

 

 

Spring Break 2017

I’m in LA today; just got my haircut in Koreatown and now I’m at Vita.  I bought my coffee beans and am cooling out now. Writing. Will meet Dr. J for dinner later, and then pick up H from BUR, who is in town for a wedding. Disneylandia tomorrow.

I had planned a post about the way protests are going these days, about how the organized public demonstrations seem to be ineffectual. How people don’t seem have thought out the consequences; not ready to fill the jails, not really thinking about changing people’s minds, really with fear in their hearts. The best protests nowadays are the town halls, where people are yelling at their representatives to their faces.

Anyway, that post was going nowhere, I got bored of it.

I visited my folks in Las Vegas over the weekend. My mama scolded me for making the four hour drive in four hours, for driving too fast. I didn’t drive that fast, actually, I just didn’t stop for a tburrito in Thousand Palms.

I got to Vegas on Holy Thursday night. On Good Friday I treated my parents to Joe’s Crab Shack, which we had been wondering about for years. We finally went, and declared it to be bullshit. Bland.  We wondered if they had washed the flavor out before serving it. At one point the manager came to scold my mama and I for not wearing our seafood bibs. Mama zoned out and I told the dude that it wasn’t our first rodeo. Dad told the manager to take a hike; it was hilarious. We spent the rest of the night analyzing what was wrong with that place, and the following day we went to the Canto place we always go to and ordered a salt and pepper crab, to erase the memory of Joe’s.

I got back to the Coachella Valley on Easter Monday, and met up with Don D, who is in town for some sunshine. Apparently winter was bad back in Seattle, and everybody is starved for sunshine… these widespread stories of misery make me more homesick. Here I am, surrounded by sunshine, and I have stacks of papers to grade. All this wasted sunshine seems vulgar to me.  Give me some gray skies, and I’ll finish my grading, maybe plan my classes, maybe stick to my nutrition program, get up in time for crossfit.

I have big plans for the summer. More on that later.

 

My Spots in LA

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged; I’ve been trying to keep my head above water teaching. I’ll blog more when my time is my own.

I’ve done a My Spots in Manhattan and a My Spots in Shanghai. For some reason I didn’t get around to a My Spots in Seattle, or Taipei, or Manila.  Maybe someday. Maybe I’ll even do one for the Coachella Valley. Who knows. Here goes:

NELA Athletics. My friend E told me once, with a far-away, misty look in his eye, “You never forget your first box….” I wrote about Crossfit once here, and again here. The day after elections I dropped by the old Merge (they re-branded as Northeast Los Angeles Athletics; NELA) to buy a T-shirt, for old times’s sake. People were doing squat snatches, and Coach MJ was there, and I thought, aw, I miss this place. Coach MJ is the one who used to give me extra reps, so I would cuss him out. They didn’t have a T-shirt in my size, so Coach Paul sent me one in the mail for free!  I was a paying member there for two and a half months, and they’re still being nice to me. I loved that there was Sunday morning yoga, that I could catch a class on the hour AND on the half hour. I loved that they were effortless at being a diverse community; diverse in terms of culture and ethnicity, age, fitness level. I’m not sure I ever told them how comforting it was to work out with some brown people; it is Totally. Comforting. to not have to feel like a pioneer; blazing a trail for Filipino Americans every waking second.

India Sweets and Spices. All vegetarian Indian cafeteria. On a day when I was hungry, I’d get Combo #7: two curries, a scoop of rice, salad, yogurt, a pickle and a soda and it would set me back $7.00. On a regular day I’d get a Combo #3: two curries and a scoop of rice (I had to specify one scoop, because they default give you two), and they would charge me less than $5.o0. I would eat there every day, and I lost a lot of weight. They were super nice to me, too; they got to know my tastes… except the weekday afternoon lady, the daughter of the owners, never guessed correctly what I wanted. The curries were different every day. Usually there were homeless people eating there, or hanging out; they are welcome there and I think the family offers meals to hungry people. They are Hindus, there’s an altar in the dining room and they celebrate Hindu festivals. When some Indian Muslim customers came in for the first time, EVERYONE WAS SO HAPPY; the Hindus, the Muslims, the homeless lady, the chubby Filipino.  It’s not the most elegant place to see in LA but when my sister came to visit, she understood quickly why I ate there every day; the food was good and it felt good to be there.

Little Tokyo Marketplace.  They have free parking, and it’s easy. The banchan deli is good, the fruits and veggies are good, the fish is good. I get to drive through Chinatown and past Homeboy Industries to get there. There’s a Daiso next door.  I stop here on my monthly supply pilgrimages nowadays; I miss going here every week.

Jason Meyers Music. Jason gives private guitar lessons and runs the Atwater Village Ukulele Club. He’s an honest-to-God musician, so it’s one ukulele club that’s a lot of playing instead of a lot of yapping and mediocre singing.

Pescadores de Ensenada. These guys are the first fish tacos I discovered in LA, and also the best; I’m saying this after exhaustive research.  They only appear at the Sunday morning Atwater Village Farmer’s Market. They are just the best, a delicious light tempura fry. They also make grilled fish, which is rather fish-forward; also a tempura fried shrimp. They’ll also give you a tostada and spread frijolito on it if you ask. Yes, I ate my share of Ricky’s and Best Fish Taco; Pescadores is better.

Coni’Seafood. This is a Jonathan Gold spot down in Inglewood. Spectacular. Maybe I’ve had better mariscos at Playas de Tijuana.  Maybe.

Mariscos Mi Lindo Sinaloa. This place wasn’t spectacular but it was across the street from my apartment, and I keep going back, even though I don’t live there anymore.

Itocco Hair Salon. Kelly makes me look like a movie star, best haircuts I’ve ever had. I found the place just by driving into Koreatown on Western, finding a place with free parking, and then wandering inside to ask for a haircut.  Every time Kelly cuts my hair, I look into the mirror astonished by what she has accomplished, and then think it was all because of parking; a true Los Ángeles miracle.  I drive to LA every month now to get my hair cut from her, still. Some people ask me why I don’t get my hair cut in the Coachella Valley, and the answer is a definitive NO.  There is a reason Asian Americans all had the same bad haircut in the 80s, and it’s because we hadn’t found Asian people who could cut our black Asian hair to suit our fat American faces.

Mediterranean Delight. This might have been the one the few lunch spots near the office that I actually liked (besides Lola’s and El Morfi Grill). Good hummus, good falafel, good mahi mahi, salad without a sugary dressing.

El Ruby Café. This spot is a hole in the wall but the chile rojo is dark and smokey, slowly burning a hole in the back of your throat the way chile rojo should. I’ve tasted nothing like that in Seattle.

Pacific Fish Center. I go here to eat a crab with my friends. Tell the ajuma, “Large crab” and she calls back to the kitchen “¡Una jaiba, grande!” and the dude calls back with the price of the crab. Then you go sit, and when the hot crab comes to your table, you can tie on a bib and go at it with both hands. Koreans like that place because it was featured on a TV show in South Korea. Filipinos like that place because you can bring your own suka and make your own sawsawan. By the way, the steamed crab comes to you in sections, and they hand you a mallet if you’re one of those people that doesn’t know how to crack a crab with your teeth. Last time I was there, someone sitting behind me was hammering at the crab way too hard, I flinched at the sound because I could hear that juicy crab meat getting crushed and ruined. I asked my friends, “Is it… some white people behind me?”  That’s probably unfair of me but that crab will crack open with a tap-tap-tap; the lady behind me was doing Hulk smash!  Maybe she was working through some issues.

Quality Seafood. My sister and I are some oyster snobs so we only look at the oyster counter to sneer and make up condescending hashtags. Go to Seattle for oysters. In LA, get a medium sized sea urchin and split it between the two of you. They’ll steam you some clams, they’ll fry things in butter, it’s all there. But the story of LA seafood is the sea urchin.

La Tostadería. This counter in Grand Central Market is really a cevichería. There were a few places at the GCM that I wanted to try, even after I stopped eating land animals, but if there was an open stool, this is the only place I’d go.

There were other places I discovered, fancy bars that positive K took me too before ukulele club; fun dim sum places, and Taiwanese pubs in the San Gabriel Valley. There was a bowl of chili at that place in Burbank, the izakaya way way out in Little Osaka. Pupusas at the Watt’s farmer’s market. Boulevard Music where I bought my ukulele.

LA has good food, but the places are secret, and I left before I could develop a really precise food radar, like I had in Seattle. One thing I can tell you: burritos are good here, and I don’t even like burritos, and you can get a good one almost anywhere in LA. When in doubt, the King Taco carnitas burrito, ask for the chile rojo.

 

Laser Eye Surgery, Round 2

I’m sure the entire universe remembers that I had LASIK in 2008 when I lived in Shanghai, China. It was probably a little scarier than I expected it to be, because of culture shock, but my vision improved tremendously and I no longer needed glasses. Life was good. They warned me that I shouldn’t box or go surfing, that cigarettes would dry my eyes, and that my vision would change again after age 40… “the change.”

Then around my 41st birthday “the change” happened and I was back to needing glasses for daily life. Of course the prescription was drastically milder than the coke-bottles I had needed pre-LASIK, and because of my habit of going to Asia I could get all kinds of fashion glasses just for fun.  In Shanghai I got three pairs of prescription glasses for $80 USD made while-you-wait in under 30 minutes. In Taipei in 2012 I got brand name frames with titanium and all the fancy coatings for about $200 USD; they were ready to pick up in 24 hours. The same glasses might have cost me $1200 in the US and would have taken a week or two. I liked those Taipei opticians so much I went back to them in 2014.  By the way, glasses are expensive in the US because of a monopoly, according to 60 Minutes.

Anyway, I’m 44 now, living in Southern California, which means I do yoga and Crossfit and have become a pescatarian. I asked my eye doctor about more lasers and he said SURE and set me right up.  I scheduled the zapping for Christmas break so I could recover away from teenagers.  It would have to be LASEK this time, which means longer recovery.

Here’s how it went down, as I understood it. They taped my eye open, dropped some numb drops in and then put some tiny egg rings over on my cornea. The egg-ringsdoc dropped some acid into the egg rings while an assistant counted to ten. After the ten count, the doc lifted fished out my corneas with a pokey thing; the corneas came out like plastic wrap. They washed the acid out and then there was some bright laser-ing. The doc put in some drops and then put on a clear “bandage contact lens” and then patted me on the behind and said, “get outta here, kid.” The procedure didn’t last 15 minutes.  They gave me a face shield. I went home and slept.

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Before and After

The next day they saw me again, did and eye test, and tussled my hair and told me to come back in a week.  Yesterday I went in for that week-after check in. The doc pulled out the bandage contacts and did an eye test, and then put another bandage contact just in my left eye and said it needed to heal a little longer.  My vision is much improved, and I can drive in the day time with sun glasses, but is continuing to improve every day.

How was it compared to my LASIK in China?  It was a lot more comfortable for me.  The acid drops were about a thousand times less stressful than when they “cut a flap” in my corneas in China (the process includes a cigar trimmer).  Recovery of vision is much slower with LASEK but so far so good. One good thing is that with the LASEK I don’t have that corneal flap to worry about long term… so boxing and surfing, here I come!

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Wrapping up 2016

Here are some posts I haven’t written yet.

  • George Michael has passed away
  • My mama is making crusty bread rolls in the toaster oven in 15 to 20 minutes.  We are eating them greedily.
  • Fitness check-in: dropping meds, dropping carbs, making clothes fit
  • More laser eye surgery
  • I became a bow tie person.
  • Maybe Japanese is next.  I’ve been learning kana on the side.

I’ve gotten out of the habit of regular posting, which is tough, but I’m working on it.

Right now I’m in Vegas with the family.  Last week was finals week at work; we had our faculty Christmas dinner on a Thursday night and I was on the road to Vegas on Friday morning.  I took my parents to Rogue One, swanky bingo, and lunch at KJ Kitchen (a pretty good Cantonese seafood place).

JP’s Nine Tips for Asians Visiting the USA

chinese-tourists-taking-picturesWelcome Asian cousins!  We hope you enjoy your visit to the United States. I’ve put together some tips for you to help make your visit to the Beautiful Kingodom go smoothly.

  1. You can eat whatever you want. If you would like to spend your entire stay in this country eating hamburgers, pizza, and sandwiches, it is absolutely possible. However, if you’re getting a stomach ache, you can also eat rice and vegetables, that’s easy. Here’s the trick; ask us, your Asian American cousins, where to eat. Chances are we can steer you clear of blistery egg rolls and fried chicken with sugary glaze on it; we live here, we’ve dealt with this problem before.  Also, don’t assume that all the Asian food is going to be bad and that all the European food is going to be good; that is a stupid assumption, for stupid people.  Stupid.  One more thing, American sweets will be a thousand times sweeter than is necessary.  Maybe you’ll like it, maybe not.  If not, you can always go to a Cantonese, Japanese, or French bakery for cakes and pastries; they will have a more manageable level of sweetness that you are accustomed to.
  2. Flush the used toilet paper down the toilet.
  3. Clear your own plate and dishes when you can. It is considered tacky (uncivilized and ill-mannered) to walk away from a table with your garbage on it. If you are invited to eat at someone’s home, offer to help clear the table.  If you are eating at a restaurant where you are served at the table (your order is taken, your food is delivered, and your bill is brought to you), there is no need to clear the dishes.
  4. Tip your restaurant servers.  Add 15% to your restaurant check if you were served at the table at all.  Add 20% if your meal included alcohol.  You may tip more if you feel your server served you in a way that was more than what was expected.  If you feel you got bad service, tip 10%.  It is horrible to not tip a restaurant server in North America.  Horrible.  HORRIBLE.
  5. Wear your damn seat belt.  I will punch you in your stupid neck if you ride in my car without your seatbelt. Then I will put you out of the car and drive away. I don’t need you.
  6. You will see some crazy stuff. Listen, in this country your friends will pour soy sauce over their rice and explain to you that rice has no flavor.  They will find a way to put cheese on noodles, cheese on vegetables, cheese on soup; then they will ask you if you’d like extra cheese.  They will stay in the shower for a long time, and when they come out, the entire bathroom will be filled with steam and it will spill out into the hallway.  There will be mysterious invisible zones where smoking is against the law, and there will be times when you are not allowed to buy alcohol.  You will see homeless people and mentally ill people.  You will see the American flag everywhere, as if every day is National Holiday.  You’ll see people at Chinese restaurants who don’t know how to order family style; in a group of five people, four of them will order chicken and one will order fried rice and all of them will be surprised when their family sized portions arrive; they won’t share.  Just laugh, and let it go.  After a while we get used to it, and frankly, when we travel to Asia we notice a bunch of messed up stuff that you probably never thought of.
  7. You will see amazing things.  You will see bank lobbies with no chairs, no take-a-number system, because people finish their banking business within MINUTES of entering.  At a restaurant, a server might refill your water glass discreetly and quickly, without you having to ask and with no one interrupting your conversation, like a ninja. You will see people at parties who are not drinking booze because they are “designated drivers;” oh yes, things you hadn’t even imagined.
  8. Take pictures.  Avoid taking pictures of other people’s children.  But apart from that, who cares. Food, buildings, selfies, cops, take whatever pictures you want.  Just do it fast, and don’t make other people wait for you. If you are taking a picture and blocking the path, people might get frustrated with you. Or they might walk in front of you and ruin your picture.  Actually, me; I will walk in front of you and ruin your picture. Do it fast.
  9. Nobody is impressed by your fancy designer brands, your constant extravagant shopping, your display of wealth. In fact, we find it vulgar. Those things impress your aunties and uncles and peers back home, but here it makes you look like garbage, and I would feel disgusted to be seen with you. We know you have to impress everyone back home, so we will help you schedule a shopping trip, but please be discreet, and don’t assume that we share your need to talk about shopping all the time.  Puke.

There are my nine tips, I hope you find them helpful. Happy travels!

Special note to visiting Filipinos: make an itinerary and communicate that with us, your cousins who love you. I know you think you’re awesome by playing it by ear every single freaking day; however, that actually stresses out your American cousins. And when I say “communicate” I mean communicate with actual words that actually leave your damn head and reach us in the form of text or sound. No, seriously; bad planning and poor communication not awesome, it’s inconsiderate, we hate it, and we may end up resenting you.  Mabuhay!