I finally started going through my photos of Japan in preparation for a long overdue post about my time there. As I went through the myriad of images, I found some that remind me of one of the things I love about travelling.

I can not express how much joy I have in discovering signs that make me scratch my head wondering “whaaaat???”, remind me that I am far from home, make me laugh, or at the very least put a smile on my face.

On my first walk around Doha – definitely a reminder that I was very far from home. And I really like the image.

Seeing the photos I took of signs in Japan made me think of some that I have come across in other parts of the world – like South Korea where a sandwich board outside a pub, shaped like a big frothy pint of beer, said “Live Beer”. Unfortunately that photo is deep in storage so I can not share it with you today – but I still remember it and it always makes me smile.

So I thought I would share some of my favourites from the past few years.

Some are “typos” or give you an idea of some of the local language challenges (like the letter ‘L’ in Japan).

I often saw the “L” replaced by an “R”.
“Frence” 🙂

There are some that I have difficulty understanding – or rather figuring out what they really mean.

In Istanbul I was introduced to “Birdshit’ ice-cream. What? What the heck is that??? Not sure I want some. But then, how do you not order it? Turns out it was pistachio….apparently the colour of pistachios is reminiscent of bird shit.
Ya…no clue here. What is “Hot water crack” or “Hot water crack of buckwheat”? For that matter, what is “Shochu”?
Okay…I can figure this one out – as long as they are not actually going to serve me a roasted vegetarian, that is.

Menus can be a fabulous source of smiles…or WTF’s… I mean, as much as I love wine, I’m not sure I want to “chug” it. I also don’t know that I want an “ice cream burger”. I can say that the pepper dressing is indeed “very delicious”, and I am not sure why their other dressings were not labeled as such. And then there’s my favourite Turkish breakfast egg dish – menemen. I have often said that I love “men-E-men” for breakfast, but this is the first time I saw it on the menu as “Men & Men”.

Every now and again I come across signs that are just really very clever. I always appreciate those and want to congratulate whoever thought them up.

Then there’s the time I was with friends in Amsterdam. We were walking around and wanting to find a little coffee shop to sit in and chat over coffee or tea.

But apparently a ‘coffee shop’ in Amsterdam isn’t necessarily serving you coffee. Oops…sometimes I really just do not have a clue. I finally asked why we were walking by all these coffee shops (thinking my friends were being super picky). Ha!

When you do touristy things you can be met with many signs designed to help you – some do and some don’t. While traveling in China with two of my brothers we went to the Great Wall (so beautiful). When we got there we had the choice of taking a little cable car up, or the ever popular “stair way of mounting the Great Wall”. Again, unfortunately that photo is in storage, but clearly the sign left it’s mark!

At the train station in Kyoto. I’m pretty sure they are saying that only adults can enter the smoking room – not that there is a separate smoking room for children….pretty sure…
Always nice to be reminded that I am “ordinary”. Hehehehe
Does the name engrave itself?

I do hope that these signs never get “fixed” or have their grammar corrected. For me it is definitely part of the charm of visiting and discovering new places and cultures. It can also give you an indication of how the local language is structured which comes in handy when trying to speak it. Part of the lure of travel is to experience something new, different from home. As much as it can be nice, and sometimes comforting, to see English (or French), let’s hope it doesn’t all become one consistent, sterile, grammatically correct world.

Finishing off with one of my faves. I always chuckle when I see this photo.