Get me out of this slump

I know, I am here again, trying to start something I probably won’t finish. I have been blogging on and off (but it’s really more off than on) the past few years and I’ve only been good at the start.  

I’ve always had problems with blogging consistently and these are my major challenges:

  • I’m always tired.  I know I have enough time, but I never have enough energy to do something productive.
  • There’s too many things I want to write about. And because there’s too many of them, just thinking about it makes me want to just sleep instead.
  • Life has been boring. I wake up, go to work, come back home, watch a few anime or some YouTube videos, then go back to sleep. Repeat.

I know I have to push myself harder. If there’s nothing interesting, I’ll make an effort to try something new, or go somewhere – just find something that I can write about. I had a hard time defining the purpose of this blog so I’m making it a daily blog. This makes it easier for me to talk about anything and everything, without feeling restricted by categories.  Hopefully, this will get me out of this slump, not just with blogging, but with life in general.

Hoping for better things. Taken at Ayala Triangle Lights Show (December 2016)

This blog will also be a journey to finding what I really want to accomplish in life.  I ask myself, if someone mentions my name – what would people associate it with? What would they remember first? I want to look for that which makes me me.  I don’t want to be just an average person anymore. This will become the fuel to my dying fire!

That’s all for now! Please help get me out of this slump by leaving your comments – knowing that there are people reading this will add that pressure to keep posting daily. It’s not easy, but I’ll give it my best this time around.

Travel Expense Tracker for Groups

Have you ever had a hard time tracking your travel budget and expenses, especially when you travel in groups? I have created a very simple Travel Expense Tracker that automatically does this for you.

The tracker is saved on Google Sheets so you and your travel buddies can access and update this at the same time.

Sheet 1 Travel Buddies

On this sheet, you just need to input the name of your travel buddies, as well as your budget for the trip. As of the moment, I have limited the number of travel buddies to a maximum of 20 people. You can also input your travel destination and travel dates (for labeling purposes).

TET 1

Sheet 2Expenses

This is where you will input your specific expenses, who paid for those expenses, and the amount involved per expense. The expense column is a free field so you can input whatever you want. The Paid By column is limited to the names you’ve entered in Sheet 1 – Travel Buddies. This sheet also shows a snapshot of your total expense as a reference.

TET 2

Sheet 3 – Summary

The last sheet is basically a report that shows the allocated expense for each travel buddy (note that this tool allocates all expenses EQUALLY). This also shows the receivable/payable amount based on the payments made by each person vs. their allocated expenses. Lastly, it also shows the remaining budget per person. This will vary depending on the initial budget set for each person.

TET 3

In the above example – Ron owes 17.75, and needs to pay Maggie for 11.25, with the balance of 6.5 to John. Keith will also pay 1.75 to John. 

Because this is on Google Sheets – you can easily access this on your smartphones (iOS & Android have standalone Google Sheets apps).

You can purchase the Travel Expense Tracker for 100 PHP only (~2 USD). This will help me fund my hosting services for this blog! 🙂 Payment will be done via PayPal. Once payment is confirmed, I will create a copy of the tracker and give you Edit access via Google Sheets (this will also allow you to share this with your travel buddies).




If you have any questions on the tool, feel free to leave your comments below and I will assist you the best way I can!

Japan Tourist Visa Application for Filipinos

The application for a Japan Tourist Visa is not as difficult as let’s say, applying for a US Visa.  Everything is coursed through an agency, and there’s no need for personal appearance (with the Embassy).  Japan has relaxed the requirements for Filipinos to encourage tourists to visit their country. Traveling to Japan is at its most affordable today, with the rise of cheap airfares from low-budget airlines all year long. If you are worrying about the visa application – don’t!

I tried to put all the requirements and necessary links here – so that you don’t need to check out different sources anymore.

  1. Of course, you need your Philippine Passport. Make sure you have more than 6 months from date of expiry, otherwise, it’s best to renew your passport before applying for a visa. Also, make sure the laminated photo on your passport is not broken or folded.
  2. Download the application form and fill it up.  You can leave the fields for guarantor/inviter blank if you are going as a tourist. But, you need to indicate where you are staying (hotel/hostel or Airbnb accommodation). If you are staying in several places throughout your visit, you can just indicate the first place on the form.
  3. Photo – 4.5cm x 4.5cm with white background, pasted on the application form. You can visit a nearby ID studio (e.g., Kodak) and tell them you need a photo for Japan visa application.
  4. Birth certificate of applicant from NSO. This needs to be issued within the past 6 months. If you don’t have one – you can have it delivered to your doorstep by ordering it online (via ecensus.com.ph)! No need to go through the long lines at NSO for this. It normally takes 3 days to get this so make this your first priority before completing the rest of the other requirements. Note: if you already have a used Japanese visa on your passport, you don’t need to submit this anymore.
  5. If married, you also need to submit your marriage certificate. You can also get it from ecensus.com.ph. As with the birth certificate, this is not required if you already have a used Japanese visa.
  6. You need to submit your daily schedule/itinerary for the duration of your trip in Japan. Suffice to say, you need to plan your trip ahead, including accommodations, etc. If you need a reference, here are my past Tokyo and Osaka/Kyoto itineraries.
  7. Bank certificate – to show you have sufficient money to fund your travel. To be safe, I suggest having an ending balance of more or less 100,000 pesos. There’s no exact rule as to how much money you need to have but it wouldn’t hurt to have more (borrow from your parents/friends for a while).
  8. Latest income tax return (Form 2316) original and photocopy. Again, this is to prove your financial capacity to travel (as well as prove that you are generating enough income in the Philippines, and you’re really just visiting for travel and not for work).

If you’ve completed your requirements, you only need to submit these to an accredited agency (see full list here). It normally takes around 3-5 business days to process your visa. The agency will also connect with you in case there are additional clarifications/requirements needed. Fees vary depending on the agency.  I used Discovery Tour for both of my applications and they charge 800 pesos for tourist visa.

Some applicants are granted multiple entry on the first try – but most (including myself) start out with a single-entry visa. On the second application, that’s when they usually grant you a multiple-entry visa. This is not within the control of the agency, rather, a decision of the embassy, so don’t stress your agency contacts on this.

That’s it – I hope you’ll find this post useful. If you have any questions, let me know via the comments below.  Please also feel free to share to your friends who are planning to visit Japan for the first time!

TORIAEZU – Japanese Phrases for First Time Travelers!

I’m going to start off my series of Japan Travel posts with some essential Japanese phrases that would be good for you to know (and hopefully use), when you are traveling to Japan.  I am not an expert in Japanese, but I have on-and-off studied Japanese formally and by myself since high school (more self study than formal study).  This guide is not supposed to teach you the exact grammatical or native way of speaking, but enough for you to be understood by the person you are talking to.

In this age of the Internet and Google Translate, you can actually do away with learning some Japanese words – BUT – nothing beats the experience of immersing yourself by speaking some of these basic phrases and getting surprised reactions from the locals.  I’m sure they’d appreciate the effort you’ve put into learning the language, and it shows the level of your interest in their culture.

Greetings

  • Good morning (use this early in the morning up to around 10 am) – Ohayou Gozaimasu! (pronounced: o-ha-yo-o go-za-i-mas)
  • Good day (use this around 11 am until right before sunset) – Konnichiwa! (pronounced: ko-n-ni-chi-wa)
  • Good evening (use this at night) – Konbanwa! (pronounced: ko-m-ba-n-wa)
  • Thank you – Doumo Arigatou Gozaimasu! (pronounced: do-o-mo a-ri-ga-to-o go-za-i-mas)
  • Excuse me (calling the attention of a person); Sorry/Excuse me (passing through and disturbing people) – Sumimasen (pronounced: smi-ma-se-n)
  • That’s OK/That’s fine, or I’m/We’re OK – Daijoubu desu (pronounced: da-i-jo-o-bu des)

 

At the restaurant

  • When entering, you will be greeted Irasshaimase, nan-mei sama desu ka?” or “Welcome, for how many people?”. You can answer:
    • One person – Hitori desu (pronounced: shto-ri des)
    • Two persons – Futari desu (pronounced: f-tari des)
    • Three persons – Sannin desu (pronounced: sa-n-nin des)
    • Four persons – Yonnin desu (pronounced: yo-n-nin des)
    • Five – Gonnin desu (pronounced: go-n-nin desu)
    • and so on – for more than 5 people, click here!
  • Ask for an English menu by saying Eigo no menyuu ga arimasu ka?” (pronounced: e-i-go no me-n-yuu ga a-ri-mas ka)
  • It’s easier to point to your order on the menu and say: Kore o kudasai” (pronounced: ko-re wo ku-da-sa-i). You can insert a counter by saying Kore o xxx desu“. Replace xxx with the below (example: Kore o hitotsu kudasai, One of this please)
    • One – hitotsu (pronounced: shto-tsu)
    • Two – futatsu (pronounced: f-ta-tsu)
    • Three – mittsu (pronounced: mi-t-tsu)
    • Four – yottsu (pronounced: yo-t-tsu)
    • Five – itsutsu (pronounced: i-tsu-tsu)
    • For counting more than 5 – click here and refer to Hitotsu system.
  • Here are some of the usual food/drinks you (a typical Filipino) would order. Use these instead of Kore in the above pattern, or add ga arimasu ka? to ask if they have these.
    • Rice – gohan (pronounced: go-ha-n); or you can be specific by saying White Rice – shiro-gohan (pronounced: shi-ro go-ha-n)
    • Water – mizu (pronounced mi-zu)
    • Coke/Cola – koora (pronounced koo-ra)
    • Beer – biiru (pronounced bii-ru)
    • Coffee – koohii (pronounced koo-hii)
  • After ordering, say “That’s all” – Ijou desu (pronounced: i-jo-o des)
  • To order something “for now” and you plan to order more later, say Toriaezu (pronounced: to-ri-a-e-zu) before ordering (e.g., Toriaezu koohii o kudasai).
  • To ask how much something costs – while pointing to it, say Ikura desu ka? (pronounced: i-ku-ra des-ka)
  • When asking for the bill:
    • Excuse me (call the attention of the waiter) – Sumimasen
    • Please give us the bill/check – O-kaikei onegai shimasu. (pronounced: o-ka-i-ke-i o-ne-ga-i shi-mas)
  • Give your compliments by saying “It was delicious” – Oishikatta desu (pronounced: o-i-shi-ka-t-ta des), and of course, say ‘Thank You’ (Doumo Arigatou Gozaimasu).

 

Asking for directions

  • As you are causing an inconvenience to the person you are asking directions to, start with saying Sumimasen in calling someone’s attention
  • And then ask “Where is xxx?” by saying xxx wa doko desu ka?” (pronounced: xxx wa do-ko des ka?).  Just make sure you pronounce the name of the place in a Japanese way (be as syllabic as you can). Keep some of these in mind:
    • Train station – eki (pronounced: e-ki)
    • Bank – ginkou (pronounced: gi-n-ko-o)
    • Police outpost – kouban (pronounced: ko-o-ba-n)
    • Convenient store – konbini (pronounced: ko-m-bi-ni)
    • Department store – depaato (pronounced: de-pa-a-to)
    • Pharmacy or drug store – yakkyoku (pronounced: ya-k-kyo-ku)
    • Hospital – byouin (pronounced: byo-o-i-n)
    • Bus stop – basu tei (pronounced: ba-su-te-e)
  • Some common words for directions. You don’t need to understand everything the person is saying – just make sure to catch these words!
    • Straight – massugu (pronounced: ma-s-su-gu)
    • Right – migi (pronounced: mi-gi)
    • Left – hidari (pronounced: hi-da-ri)
    • Next – tsugi (pronounced: tsu-gi)
  • Don’t forget to say thanks – you should know this by now.

Finally, if someone talks to you in straight Japanese (because you attempted to talk in Japanese, and you don’t understand what they are saying – you can just say, Wakarimasen (pronounced: wa-ka-ri-ma-se-n) or “I don’t understand”.  They will know you are not really fluent, and will try to speak some English words mixed with Japanese words. When all else fails – Google Translate! It’s not always accurate but it can help on most occasions. Just construct your English sentences in a simple manner before getting it translated.

There is a lot of tutorial on the net on basic Japanese words, but I wanted to put this together for friends who are visiting Japan this year (especially after the recent airline sale), to make the experience more fun for them.

If you have any questions or have anything other phrases you think are essential to be added here, let me know via the comments below! I’m sure you will, but I’ll say it anyway – Enjoy Japan!