Just in case Friday's list didn't seem like enough to cover any anticipated surprises on a daily outing, here are some additional items (in my opinion) that a foreigner should never leave home without! Since I'm sort of an inbetween, I try to keep stock of the items handy for both foreigners and locals :)
For the Foreigner
1. Your nerve
Absolutely, hands down, the number one necessity. This is the time to pull out all of that cocky American confidence that you have been raised on, and put it to use. Chinese? No problem. Ordering food and not always knowing what you"re eating? Bah. Standing out like a parrot in a flock of pigeons? No biggie. The get up and go to put yourself out there and conquer whatever your adventures may bring. If you are not the adventurous type, or would describe yourself as shy and timid, conquering the big city could be quite a hardship for you...
2. Chinese / English map
The Chinese/English map is crucial. Mine personally is from previous visit and has worn holes in the corner as well as hand written notes pointing to places I've found and liked. If your map is in English only, you might not be able to ask someone for directions as well if you get lost. The bilingual map has been key for me!
3. Easy Card
The Easy Card is a swipe card used for all forms of transportation in the city. You can buy them at various locations (including MRT stations, or 7-11's) and use them to ride the MRT, city buses, or even some select taxi cabs. If you're not a local - then you are likely to not own a scooter or a car - this is your ticket to all transportation.
4. Small bills
When I mentioned cash on Friday's list, I failed to point out that coins and small bills are widely used here. It's not that people won't accept that $1000 you put in their hands, but I just feel down right guilty every time I pay a street vendor for a $20 breakfast with a $1000 bill and wipe out their whole change drawer...
Ok, ok, so I have been completely failing on this one - using my camera phone in lieu of a true camera - but it is exceptionally handy to be able to photograph all of these wild new adventures... and I vow to start carrying my real camera more often... promise! :) The advantage of the camera phone though, is that I can also take pictures of people when they may not realize it... that could come in handy for a future blog entry on fashion...