Additional Asia Thoughts

I want to mention a couple more things about Asia.

-the pictures are here if that so interests you.

-I think I've shat once in two weeks. I guess Vietnam had the last laugh.

-I forgot to mention my biggest pet peeve about all of Southeast Asia, other than the aggressive and lascivious transvestites. There exists not one sign, billboard, menu, etc. without at least one misspelling or grammar mistake (there's a small-- maybe 2%-- chance, in my mind, that "misspelling" only has one "s". That means I have a 98% chance of enduring no humiliation at all from that sentence-- I'm satisfied with those odds. You can't have it all in life, and I'll take 98% any day). Huge, undoubtedly expensive, fluorescent signs would say "Manh Thung Restuarant" or "All Day Breafast". There would be a stack of nice-looking brochures in a tourist agency, that would advertise "Overnight Tous to Halong Bay."

I don't know why it bothered me so much. But it did. How frickin hard is it to ask any tourist off the street to proofread the pamphlet before you print 2,000 of them, or before you order the huge lit sign that will be there for the next 15 years? I guess it's a culture thing. Americans would never send out an order before checking the spelling. Just another vast cultural contrast.

6 comments:

Serial Dater said...

To the self-righteous, fortunate-to-be-born-in-the-U.S. pompous tourist that just wrote the most offensive post I have ever seen:

How many signs in the U.S. are printed with foreign tourists in mind? I suspect that you know little, if any, Vietnamese, and I bet you still navigated Vietnam just fine, whereas the Vietnamese that manage to make it here to the U.S. have to converse entirely in a language completely foreign to their own, with not even a misspelled sign to help them.

You are an ignorant ass, and I'm sure you mispresented the U.S. as such. Way to go.

Tim Urban said...

Friends, we have an attack on our hands. And one with some zest. Bravo! I enjoy a good attack from time to time. I’ll defend myself though, at risk of Serial Dater getting her panties all up in a bunch.

I think you misunderstood my criticism. It was not a criticism of the Vietnamese not catering to my needs, or the lack of English around, or the ease or lack thereof at which I traveled through Vietnam.

This was shock expressed on my part, directed toward a very specific group of Vietnamese—those who make their livings off tourist money. The signs and brochures I’m referring to advertised services PURELY for tourists. And after spending a couple grand on a huge fluorescent sign, I was simply shocked that they wouldn’t have checked the spelling first. The misspellings didn’t make my life any worse—I was expressing my puzzlement at the culture difference.

If I was setting up a hostel in America that targeted 90% people whose first language was Vietnamese, you can damn well bet that I’d have checked the spelling with a native-Vietnamese speaker before ordering the sign to be built. But they didn’t consider this—maybe spelling isn’t valued as highly there as it is here—who knows—but this is a culture contrast.

Frankly, the most interesting parts of the trip were the rural visits, where there was nary an English word in sight. You’ve painted me as the crass American who expects to have my needs met in a foreign country, but I’m afraid you’ve misunderstood my words.

Anonymous said...

My friend's wicked smaht.

Anonymous said...

haha, hilariousness

Anonymous said...

"And after spending a couple grand on a huge fluorescent sign, I was simply shocked that they wouldn’t have checked the spelling first."

This sentence implies that you paid $2000 for a sign, and then expected the Vitenamese to proofread your sign.

EggFurious said...

www.engrish.com

I think you'd enjoy it.