One of the things I like the most about traveling are the differences in language. I always try to learn a few words in the local language but there is never enough time to master a language. My native tongue is Dutch but no one ever seems to understand the language except for the Dutch and the Belgians, so English it is. Everywhere I come, people speak English and it is obviously the number one world language.
South East Asia for example, is a real backpackers Walhalla and in order to earn some money, the locals are almost forced to learn English. The funny thing is that they often write it down as they hear it and sometimes this evolves to really interesting things on the menu. But it is not only the mistakes in words that can be funny. Signs can be confusing as well as I have seen. Sometimes it is the position that can be funny like in the picture below in Mexico and sometimes it is the way how words are written down. I will give you the funny language mistakes I have seen on my travels
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It was still early in the morning when I arrived in Chang Mai (Thailand). I just spent a night in the sleeper bus coming from Bangkok and I was still sleepy. After the check in at a hostel, I started to walk through the quiet streets. Stores and restaurants were opening and the city was slowly waking up. All of a sudden my eyes met a quite disturbing sign from a restaurant. It said in big letters: PAIN PANCAKE. I stopped and at that moment my imagination took a run. What do they mean by pain pancake? Is the pancake in severe pain or will I get in pain once I have ordered it. Are they going to slap me in the face with the pancake? Or is the pancake filled with needles? Do they guarantee a 100% stomach pain? It was still early in the morning so I did not want to take my chances. Sometimes it is more fun to leave things to your imagination.
There were moments in South East Asia when I just had enough of all the noodles and the rice and I wanted something else for a change. I think I was not the only one because most restaurants included a Western section in the menu as well. Think of pizzas, pastas, burgers and that kind of food. It is rarely good but sometimes you forget or just do not care. Anyways, one day I had a moment like that and I was looking at the Western dishes. They offered the same as everywhere but they had one dish I did not see before. Friends Fried?
I was considering it for a moment but at the same time, questions were starting to rise as well. Which friends? How do they know who my friends are? Are all of them in the kitchen right now and if they are, why do they not come to say hello? My thoughts were getting deeper and deeper and slowly I came to the realization that it would be impossible. I mean, I was not the only one reading the menu. It would mean that every friend of everyone would be in the kitchen right now, including me. Impossible! Maybe they ask which one of your friends, when they take the order? But then again, it would take too long and the expenses would be too high. That aside, who wants to order their friends fried in the first place. Then, as struck by lightning I realized that I had it all wrong. They did not mean my friends, they meant theirs.
Beer Lao is the big pride of Laos. It usually comes in big 640 ml bottles and it is very cheap. I must admit that I have bought myself a few as well. It does not matter if you buy them in a restaurant or in a store, they are about the same price. Now speaking of the same price, one restaurant had a very special offer. When I looked at the menu I saw exactly this: Beer Lao / Small battle……. 10.000 kip. Ok, so if I spend 10.000 kip I can have a beer or a small battle. I mean, I came for a beer but now I see a small battle is the same price! Tempting, very tempting. I had actually two questions: How small is small and if I order the small battle, do I have to fight or am I supposed to watch. I was looking around me to see if anyone else ordered a small battle but apparently no one did. All the thinking made me thirsty so I ordered a beer. A big bottle by the way.
Do you know those mornings when you wake up and everything seems right? The sun is shining, you are full of energy and you are this close to whistling a song or maybe even doing it. You are in for everything and you just want to say YES! to everything that crosses your path. The world is yours and you are about to enjoy it. I had one of those mornings in Cambodia. I was going to a restaurants for breakfast with a couple of friends and it was a perfect start for the day. Now, I have this habit when I am traveling and eating in a restaurant. When I go out for dinner three times a day, it is getting harder and harder to pick something after a while. The longer I am traveling, the longer I look at the menu. I go through what they have a couple of times before I finally pick something. It does not matter because I have all the time in the world.
This specific morning I was doing the same and something I did not see the first times, suddenly caught my eye. It was there, very sneaky between Sprite and Fanta. A light Cock? Wow, I did not expect that and certainly not in the morning. In Thailand it can be quite in your face sometimes but here? And the funny thing was, they only offered a light cock. Were they out of the heavy ones? Or did they take the heavy ones off the menu because no one ordered them. In that case, people were obviously ordering the light ones. I was just about to ask the waiter when I came to the conclusion that maybe I was not in for everything. Even though it was a light one, it seemed a little hard to digest. Instead of that I just ordered a baguette.
Many people have an opinion about what is good for you and what you should do to live a better and happier life. Some people keep it to themselves and others are eager to share it with the world. Some people use big platforms and effective media to spread their word but most do not have access to these kind of tools. They will probably never reach a big audience and in some cases, I think it is only for the best. Just like this one time on the Island Nusa Lembongan in Indonesia. It is a small island with a couple of small roads and no cars. What you can do is rent a motorbike to explore the Island. It is a beautiful and lush island so of course I did.
One day I was driving around, enjoying the surroundings of the island and there it was. A sign with a message, just in front of a simple store. Why on earth would you write that message on a sign, I thought. I mean, of all things you could write down, that person chose that. Obviously he or she must have thought it was very important and wanted to share it with the rest of the world. DRINK PETROL, it said! I had my doubts because as far as I know, it is very bad for you. If it said: ‘Don’t worry, be happy’ it was easy for me to agree on but in this case I was not sure. Maybe that person knew something I did not know. I did not have time to figure it out. I was looking for a store where I could buy a coke and some fuel for my motorbike.
Horses, Please Shut The Gate!
In my imagination, Scotland was a mysterious part of the world. A land of myths and legends where big monsters live in deep lakes and men do not wear underwear. When I was there, I discovered there IS something strange about Scotland because animals can read. Well, I do not know if all animals can read but at least horses. Really, I have proof! People communicate with them through the written word. Look at this sign.
Horses please shut the gate. Do whatever you want but when you are done, please shut the gate. Of course you can think: ‘Sure, that farmer is nuts’ but the spooky part was that the gate was actually closed. The horses must have read it, I see no other option.
So these things made me laugh when I saw them. I am sure you must have seen some funny and confusing word mistakes as well. If you did, please leave them in the comments and make me laugh.