Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way Through Asia

My cycle odyssey through South East Asia has come to an end! As a final post for this trip I thought I'd share some oh-so-funny things I saw along the way.

Tonight's Specials
Menus are often the victim of some amusing translations. Here are some of the funnier things I found available for dinner.

  • Pork party with spaghetti
  • Killed beef, Korean style
  • Batterian Fish
  • Fried rice with pork pies and vegetable (one for the Brits)
  • Bits of pork
  • Fish of the year
Health and Safety
When there are so many other basic necessities to worry about, safety often falls down the list of concerns in developing nations. Here are some violations that would stop a health and safety officers heart.
  • A guy arc welding, using a stylish pair of aviator sunglasses for eye protection. Less funny were the many instances of welders using no eye protection at all.
  • Two guys on a motorbike, carrying an enormous sheet of glass between them, across the bike. Other cargo carried by terrified motorcyclists included double beds and mattresses, large cabinets and all manner of household furniture.
  • A family of four on a motorbike (nothing unusual about that) with the woman holding aloft a stand, suspending her intravenous drip.
Useful Phrases
I stopped for noodles in Laos and 'talked' to a Vietnamese girl whose only English came from a Viet phrase book. It was a tricky conversation, particularly since the phrases in the book were not the kind you'd usually expect to find. There was an emphases on military vocabulary and rather extreme situations. Here are some examples:
  • She has been dead for 3 hours
  • He has been dumb from birth
  • How did you escape?
  • You are hurting me
  • Can you make me a set of false teeth?
  • My beard is very hard
  • Can we buy some nuts for the monkeys?

The first time I saw these frames for carrying chickens in Cambodia, I thought they were clever. Then I realised the suspended chickens were still alive. Super fresh and super ingenious!

Cambodian minibuses are both passenger and freight carriers. Bags of rice and cement are commonly carried like this with passengers inside and on the roof.

A few more live chickens and this biker may even take off!

No health and safety problems here. A chap at a metal shop in Phenom Penh machines a new stem for my bike.

What's the English for guerrilla warfare? The phrasebook told us, but conversation was still tricky with this eager young Viet lass.

Everything and the kitchen sink, but no cycle panniers.

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