Tag Archives: language

Thai English ;-)

4 May

For me a DEEP SAUSAGE for breakfast please

I know it’s not nice to make fun of people – but sometimes the things I came across just made me smile. As English is the lingua franca of tourism, it’s interesting to see how different countries come to grips with it.

There’s something like Thai English, which in a way is a lot more logical than the ‘real’ English, because it is written more phonetically. It would be indeed easier if we would just would write what we say, instead of concocting some incoherent set of letters for words.

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23 Sep

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A bit of Asia travel stats

18 Jun
What does it take to travel Asia?

What does it take to travel Asia?

Did you ever wonder how much traveling in Asia costs? How many people you meet? What it takes to get there? How many borders you cross? What your trip is composed off?

For me it was: 126 days, 40000 km, 8 countries, 20 flights, 34kg luggage, 170 blogpages, 8 SIM cards, 8752 pictures, 10 currencies, 3x diarrhea, 6 books, 16 languages, 8500€,…

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(Gay) Trouble in (Malaysia) Town

12 May
The many flavours of Malaysia

The many flavours of Malaysia

Malaysia prides itself in being a great multi-cultural society in which different communities live peacefully together – and when walking around in KL the mix of different languages, religions and cultures seems to be harmonious. But when talking to different people, not everybody is as tolerant as the government might want to see it.

A Malay friend took me to a curry house, and when I asked if it would be Thai style curry (green, red, in claypot) or Indian style (the spicy stew you scoop on your rice), he was almost offended and said it was Malay curry (so that was my first faux pas). So there are some ethnic sensitivities in Malaysia (sounds like Belgium – hehe). The Chinese don’t like the Malays with their mosques and conservative attitude. And a Malay friend of mine said that the Chinese have poor hygiene and smell. So there seem to be quite some stereotypes around – and at the same time it gave me a chance to explore my own prejudice. Continue reading

Sgprns luv abbrvtns & nrs

4 May
Euh, so where does this lead me?

Euh, so where does this lead me?

I told you that Singapore is full of signs, whether it is traffic signs or public convenience signs. But what’s worse is that most of the signs (and other written material) contain abbreviations, so that to the outsider the signs are virtually un-understandable…

But the Singaporeans don’t only have a weak spot for letters, they are also crazy for numbers. Everything is numbered: exits of metro stations, the directions of the metro lines, the lanes on the highway, even the urinoirs in the station…

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KL shopping paradise

29 Apr
How many square miles of mall one needs???

How many square miles of mall one needs???

So when I asked people, what they would do on their free day in KL (Kuala Lumpur) many of them said they would spend some time in the mall. Hmm – very consumerist I thought, but then they explained that it would be too hot to be outside – so that explains the mall-phenomena in KL I suppose. An outside shopping street would simply not attract any visitors when the sun’s out. And THE shopping streets that are outside (e.g. Chinatown’s Petaling Street or the Little India Bazar) they are covered with roofs or shades to keep the sun out, and every second shop keeper has a fan running in his stall.

Local food, fancy style in the malls: blue rice

Local food, fancy style in the malls: blue rice

So I gave it a try and headed for the newest of the newest malls in Bukit Bintang shopping Mekka. I can’t even remember its name, because taking pictures is forbidden (at least where the guard sees it – so I only took some snaps when the guard wasn’t looking).

Eating is also an easy affair, with on every corner of the street hawker stalls with local specialities – and when I say local I mean: Indian, Malay, Chinese, Arab and some street burgers… Continue reading

Getting lost in JogJa

26 Apr
Me and my Jogja T-shirt

Me and my Jogja T-shirt

I had little time to walk around the city of Jogjakarta on my own because I was escorted by the Jogja friends of my Bali friend. They took care of all my needs (well, not exaggerating either): they drove me around to see the sights, they arranged a hotel for me,  bargained to get me a better price on stuff, and took me out to eat local specialities.

But one of the friends had an emergency and had to return to his village, and the other guy played mini-football. So there I was, all alone in a big new city, getting lost and enjoying it. Sometimes that’s the best way of discovering a city.

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Language Melting Pot

23 Apr
Gang = alley

Gang = alley

It was funny to arrive in Indonesia, and then all of a sudden notice that there is quite some left-overs from the Dutch there. There are quite some words from Dutch in Bahasa Indonesia (the official national language) – and vice versa Indonesian words (mainly for food) that have found their way into Dutch (e.g. kroepoek, nasi,…). And if you look really well, you can still find some Portuguese influence in Indonesian as well.

  • Some examples from Dutch & Portuguese influence below

Add to this, the large variety of local languages (Balinese, Javanese, etc) and the language confusion is complete. Continue reading

Surreal Cinema in Cambodia

2 Apr
The horror movie of the week poster

The horror movie of the week poster

Once you slow down in traveling and move away from the ‘Lonely Planet’ route (or any other guide), then you start doing things that the locals do – or what I use to do back home in Brussels – like going to the cinema.

But if you think Cinema in Cambodia is a ‘normal’ affair (for me at least) then think again! I went to see a Cambodian film with a Khmer friend. Quite an experience – partly because what was happening on the screen, but just as much observing what was going on in the seats around me…

The khmer films can be divided into two main categories – either the cheezy romantic type OR the horror films. We went to see a horror film – me that couldn’t sleep for 2 weeks after watching E.T. Continue reading

French Connection Laos

18 Feb
Ze French couple - great to "causer" (chit chat)

Ze French couple - great to "causer" (chit chat)

In order to get from Muang Khoa to Muang Ngoi Neua, I thought to take a boat 3 hours down the Nam Ou river. I had asked several people along the boat landing on the river bank, frantically pointing at my phrasebook, but with no result. It is only afterwards that I realized the sentence given in the phrase book was ‘when is the BUS going’ – so then I understood why the boat people were looking strangely at my question (and also because of my probably alien pronunciation of Lao language).

After asking a few people more, I found out that there was something like a ticket office (near bus stations and boat landings). There was a young guy who attended me in pristine English. Of course there was Continue reading

Muang Khoa river town

16 Feb
Muang Khoa of all places - besides the river nothing much there

Muang Khoa of all places - besides the river nothing much there

After a bone braking trip in the Songthew, we arrived in Muang Khoa, that is, on the other side of the Nam Ou river, which we had to cross by long tail boat because no bridge available. I just crashed in the first guesthouse I found, overlooking the river and ‘port’ (read ‘improvised cemented boat landing’), with fever. I decided to be my own doctor and wrote me a sick-cert for a few days: no strenuous activities allowed.

Anyway, in the little town, there was not much to do, besides walking up and down the main road (that was being rebuilt – a heaven sent gift – but for the moment it was still a path of rumble) and cross the river over the shaky cable suspension bridge to practice my Lao language skills (limited to Sabaidee at the moment = hello) with the school kids of the village down the other side… Continue reading

Super-Sonic Saigon

25 Jan
A tiny portion of traffic in Sai Gon

A tiny portion of traffic in Sai Gon

Remember the structured traffic chaos I described in Cambodia? Multiply this by ten, and you get an idea about the traffic in Sai Gon. Or should I say Ho Chi Minh city? Many of the places in Vietnam have several names: dating back from the ‘old days’, from the French colonial period or from the communist (current) era – just to make understanding & traveling easier ;-) Add to that a few accents (meaning, completely different pronunciation and meaning) to every vowel, and you’re completely lost. But Sai Gon definitely had its charm, all done up in the New Year looks, and holding onto a hunk shooting through traffic on the back of a motorbike…

Are there enough accents ?

Are there enough accents ?

Traffic… I thought I’d seen it all in Phnom Penh, but Saigon beats it by large. The large bulk of traffic are not cars, not buses, but motorbikes and mopeds. It’s like dropping a handful of marbles in your bathtub, they all jump frenetically into different directions, bumping into each other, but still arriving where they should be. Continue reading

I have arrived in Vietnam

18 Jan
I have arrived in Vietnam

I have arrived in Vietnam

It wasn’t maybe by the most obvious route, but I did arrive in Vietnam, in one piece. Crossing the border entailed some challenges, but nothing a world-traveler can’t surpass. Vietnam feels a bit similar to Cambodia, but it is definitely different: more aggressive/assertive/commercial (pick the word you prefer), definitely better and stronger coffee, language barriers as high as skyscrapers and squeaking sand on the beach!

Cambodia–Vietnam struggle

10 Jan
Vietnamese-Cambodian friendship momunment (but a statue alone is not enough...)

Vietnamese-Cambodian friendship momunment (but a statue alone is not enough...)

One of the days we went to eat with the Cambodians in a Vietnamese restaurant – despite the Vietnamese/Cambodian friendship monument, the Vietnamese don’t seem to have such a good reputation – there used to be Vietnamese in Cambodia before (so told my friends) mainly doing professions/businesses like hair dressing etc – but when they helped to oust Pol Pot and the red Khmers (end of 70s), many Vietnamase took the opportunity to settle down in ‘deserted’ (because terrorized and exterminated) cities in Cambodia to make fortune. So the Vietnamese are still considered to be the more businessy people, and the prejudice Continue reading

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7 Jan

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Oh Bangkok baby…

30 Dec
Try to read that...

Try to read that...

So Thai Airways brought me safely to my first stop on my (hopefully) long Asia trip: Bangkok!

As soon as I got out of the plane, reality started kicking in. I was on the other side of the world!

  • The dream I had been dreaming of exotic temperatures came true – once OUTSIDE of the airport – because inside everywhere it is like a fridge because the airconditioning. It was 34 degrees, sunny, hot: a caress to the skin and soul.
  • The funny squiggles that make up the Thai alphabet did take my by suprise when getting my luggage. I of course knew that the Thai writing is different, but still, I had to blink my eyes a few times to find out which conveyor belt my suitcase would be arriving.
  • And then immigration started. Not just waving your passport briefly (or ID card for that matter) at the border guard. Nope, this was serious business: being ushered in different lines, by security guards that were wearing combat boots and trousers that were more tight than would be good for them (and for my concentration). Continue reading
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