No matter how cultured a traveler might be, heading to Asia inevitably reduces him to a sweaty man running around pointing, gesturing, and delighting locals with his hilarious futility. Point more effectively, with Me No Speak
Conceived and pub'd in SF, MNS is a series of passport-sized wanderer's companions to China, Japan, and Thailand that boils communication necessities down to point-to pictures and phrases handpicked by the author -- a pro travel writer who realized it's easier to draw a Big Mac than mime a three-bunned sandwich that tastes like heaven. Each color-coded section begins with short phrases in both languages: under "General" (which covers everything from long distance calls to banking), use your finger to convey things like "international" or "can you write it down"; under "Food" you'll find prepared text like "I'll have your recommendation" and "too hot/spicy/cold" (quit bitching -- you asked for his recommendation). Next come the pics: "Transportation" hooks you up with renderings of everything from train stations to tow-trucks to tuk-tuks, while under "Health & Safety", you'll find doodlings of pharmacies, policemen, and even a distressed figure with arms crossed over his chest, meant to signify "heart attack" -- point to him if collapsing in a dying heap of pain and panic proves too vague
As the Olympics are just around the corner, pick up the new 2nd edition of Me No Speak: China before you depart -- only then will you be able to efficiently locate stadiums full of sweaty men competing to watch sweaty men compete.