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Old 03-26-2005, 10:21 AM   #1
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I know one language,English and I don't even know English very well. I'm going on my first backpacking trip in 4 months through Europe. I am not concerned in least about the Language barrier in Europe. What I was curiose about was When people Backpack Asia do people they general know another language? or should I not be concerned with that?
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Old 03-26-2005, 11:00 AM   #2
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isn't being in a land you don't know surrounded by people speaking a language you don't part of the adventure?

p.s. i'm only saying that because i too only speak one language and i am try to reassure myself
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Old 03-26-2005, 11:10 AM   #3
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It sounded good though...

I think that if you don't know the language in a certain country it dosn't matter if it's asia or europe or southern alabama you still can't understand a damn thing... so I think that when I do decide to go to asia I'll be fine... Maybe... I hope
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"Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonalds? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria's mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once."
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Old 03-26-2005, 02:10 PM   #4
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It is part of the adventure and you don't have anything to worry about.

To me, Asia wouldn't be any different then Italy in ways of language barrier. Chances are they may not know English, or not very well, and chances are you can't speak their native tounge.

You'll make do with sign language, pointing and whatever means you find to get from point A to B.
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Old 03-26-2005, 05:21 PM   #5
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I think it's a good point, and it's realistic to expect difficulties in Asia, if you travel outside the major touristic areas. In hotels and tourists restaurants, no problems (but watch out the accent !!!), they usually know the basic and more.

But if you plan on visiting smaller towns, or use local transport, or try local restaurants, etc. then you may have troubles understanding or getting understood. Example from Laos : You're in an intercity bus used by locals for a long distance trip, the driver stops in the middle of a wood, at 3 a.m. and kicks you out. You panic inside but don't show it. There must be a reason. And 45 minutes later it all becomes clear, when another bus picks you up. It was a transit, noone had told you. It's funny AFTERWARDS !

Seriously, you will have new communication skills after your trip. Like the others said, body and hand languages works very well.

But to learn the basic, "hello, please, thank you, goodbye" will get you smiles and opened doors. It shows them respect and they appreciate it.

And one last tip : some people will fake not understanding in order to have more money from you, like taxi drivers for instance. Make sure the price is set before.

Where are you going in Asia ?
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Old 03-26-2005, 06:31 PM   #6
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I guess it depends where you are going. I had no problems at all in Malaysia - it used to be under British rule. As for Singapore English is the national language!

I agree with atchoum, if you're going to be in tourist areas you'll be fine however get off the beaten track and it gets a bit tougher. But do learn the basic pleasantries as that's just being polite.

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Old 03-27-2005, 03:21 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by atchoum@Mar 27 2005, 01:20 AM
Example from Laos : You're in an intercity bus used by locals for a long distance trip, the driver stops in the middle of a wood, at 3 a.m. and kicks you out. You panic inside but don't show it. There must be a reason. And 45 minutes later it all becomes clear, when another bus picks you up.
Yikes, Atchoum! I'll be THAT was a little worrying...

Hey, agriadam, my English got me through the main tourist areas in Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, Malaysia and Hong Kong. I didn't get as off the beaten track as Atchoum did, but I really never had much of a problem, either.

I say go for it...any communication problems are part of the adventure of travel...

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Old 03-28-2005, 01:41 AM   #8
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Call me anal retentive, but it's my personal policy to learn at least a little bit of the language of each country I go to - I won't necessarily be able to get into full-blown conversations, but I think it's good to learn enough to get by. Of course, with some countries it's a lot more difficult to find learning resources, but if you look for it, it's out there.

On top of that, you learn something! And it can be fun. One night I was drinking with a crew of people at a hostel in London, and very few of them spoke much English. It was a blast going back and forth between everyone in French, German, Japanese, and so on... it was like a mini UN
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Old 03-28-2005, 09:17 AM   #9
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Well, it's hard enough communicating in China even if you know some rudimentary Mandarin - because people tend to all speak in their Provincial dialects with heavy accents and a lotta slang. Now, the younger set have all learned English as a 2nd-language, but most are not very fluent in it either because they never use it.

Some Swedish travellers there I talked to said they often resorted to "charades" or drawing pictures, lol. So, it can certainly be done - but you might have to go back to the very basics...
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Old 03-28-2005, 09:51 AM   #10
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Quote:
Some Swedish travellers there I talked to said they often resorted to "charades" or drawing pictures, lol.
Now THAT is cool. Imagine having a little flip book with you where you can draw pictures or refer to pictures you've already drawn to communicate w/ people whom you have nothing in common with linguistically? Hmmm.. BUSINESS IDEA!
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Old 03-28-2005, 09:54 AM   #11
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haha little pre made stick figures in various situations....i'm curious what the "where is the bathroom?' drawing would look like...or the "i'd like to purchase some condoms please."
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Old 03-28-2005, 05:01 PM   #12
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In all seriosness they do have those so the busness Idea... yeah sorry to crush your hopes and dreams but the stick figures got me thinking... do you draw a condom or a turd...??? point to your nether region and make obsene wissing noises...???

Maybe I should get one of those books...
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"Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonalds? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria's mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once."
-Anthony Bourdain

“If you can imagine a man having a vasectomy without anesthetic to the sound of frantic sitar-playing, you will have some idea what popular Turkish music is like.”
-Bill Bryson

"The older I get the less likely I feel I will ever figure my life out... I think that might be okay though"
-Me
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Old 03-29-2005, 08:06 AM   #13
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Hi, I am from Thailand(Asia). When I go to somewhere outside my country around asia like Japan Korea, it still have the language barrier. But it's not the problem ,we can ask for help from the other professional trveller or backpacker. Because we must share and help.
Even in the southern Thailand , I can't understand what day say.
So, goodluck for your adventure.
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Old 03-29-2005, 09:53 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by polsart@Mar 29 2005, 04:05 PM
Hi, I am from Thailand(Asia).
Welcome to the Boards, polsart! I'm sure members will be asking you all kinds of questions once they find out you're from Thailand. I loved my time in your country...

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Old 03-31-2005, 05:17 AM   #15
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Thank you Mike.
Anyone need the information about Thailand and LAOS PDR. or how to get a boat trip on Mekhong river can email me: klpolsar@kmitl.ac.th or polsart@gmail.com
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Old 07-08-2005, 01:53 PM   #16
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well thailand is a very good place to go and its not expensive either...nice place nice beaches and nice ladies....
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Old 07-18-2005, 04:30 PM   #17
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they have a book like that already, omid!

i almost bought one for my last trip to thailand but i learnt enough thai so i didn't need it haha!

you can see it here.

i guess it'd make a great gift for a traveller.
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Old 07-19-2005, 09:40 AM   #18
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it really depends on where you are going. i found that a good amount of ppl in south east asia speak english. i think it's been picked up by locals to help them with business:

"hey...YOU...buy this!!!!!!"

but i found that virtually no one in japan spoke english (that or they all pretended they didn't to get away from two tourists). when I got off the plane in tokyo, i couldn't understand a word from the english speaking help desk. and the further you get out from the city, the less people speak it. it was very scary at first...but for some reason it's ok after a while. and you get used to gestering like a monkey. i mean, we're all people, no matter what language we speak. our needs are universal.

If you go to japan i'll teach you the hand movements for: "i want to get trashed on sake and party with those cool looking japanese kids"

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