Having learnt a lot from experience and a few things the hard way, I thought it would be helpful to list a few helpful tips that you may find useful along your travels … As I think of more I will add them to this list.
Bus drivers – they are your saviour. They will keep an eye on you and make sure you come to no harm. Very useful for finding the tastiest food. Also general information on where you are heading, i.e: places to go and places to avoid. General rule of thumb – get to know your bus driver.
Timetables – always useful. When arriving at transport hubs, take a photo of the timetable and/or opening hours – you can then look at it at any time on your camera, as long as you can zoom in to read the writing, saves having to write it all down. Most of the time the hubs are way out of town and it uses up valuable time having to make a big detour to check. You may have to leave from the same location, or perhaps not if you have done your homework.
Language – learn the very basics. Learning the very basics of a language will take you a long way – please, thank you, yes, no, and numbers one to ten. The rest you learn very quickly. You are far more receptive to learning, when surrounded by audible and visual signs all the time. It is surprising how much you take in without realizing.
Menus – where do you start? Even though the language and script may be different the format tends to be the same: Starter, main and desert, although not always. The most expensive things tend to be the mains and the ubiquitous untranslatable Coca-cola always gives an indication of where the drinks are. Alternatively, have a look what everyone else is eating and ask for the same. Even more daring is to open your arms and just say “feed me!”. Always exciting as long as you do not mind the odd surprise or two.
Street food – do you or don’t you? Invariably yes. You can see the food being prepared, cooked and served. Its all fresh as there is no room for lots of storage. There is normally very little choice which oddly, means they are an expert at just the item they sell. Invariably cheaper than a restaurant as there are no overheads (just a stall / barrow). It is also very quick.