Lost in Translation

Platypus yarn is back home, after a month spent in Thailand and Malaysia.  We’ve returned fresh, and ready to work harder at bringing regular updates to you.

In the next post, I will return to the interview format; today however, I’d like to share a couple of stories.

Blog pic 2 thailand

Whilst I know a couple of words of Thai, it is not the easiest language to learn.
Because intonations play an important part, the same word can mean many different things depending on whether you go up or down at the end of the word.

And the Thai’s obviously have similar problems working with the English language too.

Story 1.

In Krabi, Thailand we were out exploring the evening entertainment.

Mr Platypus is a guitar player, so when we heard a pretty mean sounding electric guitar happening, we were drawn to go inside.  The guitar player had been singing in Thai when we heard him, but when he saw us come in, he finished the song and started singing in English instead.

Unfortunately, he had seemingly not checked his word translation, so  “Hotel California” by the Eagles sounded something like this………to our ears anyway.

“Welcome to the Hotel California.

Such a lovely place,

Such a ugly face.

They live in a hut at the Hotel California

What a nice surprise.

Ring and advertise”

Quite funny really, but he was extremely soulful, so we didn’t laugh.  However, it was really hard to stop the giggles when, instead of the guitar solo (which I happen to think is the better part of this rather average song) he  put down his electric guitar and used a kazoo.

Story 2

Still in Krabi.  We were staying in a guest house on the 3rd floor.  Our room had a balcony which overlooked the river, and the street below.   Half a block away, on the same road, was a very big backpackers hostel, with (generally younger) people of all nationalities coming and going continually.  This hostel used to be a secondary school, so that gives an idea of the size.

Part of the view from our balcony which would have been beautiful except for the mist/smog from the peat fires in Indonesia.
Part of the view from our balcony which would have been beautiful except for the mist/smog from the peat fires in Indonesia.

One night, standing on our balcony, we saw a very weary group of 3 young female British backpackers taking their laundry to the  “motorbike rental/laundry express 2-4 hours (‘quick dry assured’)” shop across the road from us.  They were so tired they could hardly walk, but they were desperate to get the laundry done, they had a full day tomorrow but were leaving at 6.00am the following morning. From our balcony, we could see and hear all that was said.

“No problem, no problem” said Mr Laundry man, “You come back tomorrow, I have for you”.

The ladies took him at his word, and wearily headed back to the hostel, where we imagined they would not fall into bed, but rather stay up talking and drinking until the wee hours;  the hostel had a very healthy social life.

Mr Platypus and I had a chuckle.  This is Thailand after all, land of smile-and-slow-down, and we had made the mistake of taking our laundry to that very man on our first day.  Not only did it take us nearly 3 days to get it back, but we could see from our vantage point, that he was using the rental motorbikes as the clothesline for drying. For 2 days our clothing was advertisement for the wonderful motorbike rental. Every time we popped in to ask we got “You come back later”.  The only dryer happening at this shop was the sun. The ladies would not get their gear on time, especially given that the peat fires in Indonesia meant that for a week it was continually overcast.  The 2-4 hour laundry express was actually meant to be 24 hours!

Story 3.

We were now in Ao Nang, Thailand, and I was getting a bit adventurous with asking for things.  However, I did revert back to english when I asked for “chaa dam rom, mai sugar” (which should have been ‘hot black tea, no sugar’) I got, instead tea that had condensed milk in it twice in a row.

While some of the menus had been translated to English, it was far more sensible to just look at the pictures, and select that way. Especially for this one.

Deep Fried Duck Lips.
Deep Fried Duck Lips.


I didn’t order it. I ordered Chicken chop, which is actually chicken with fried rice……..or it was until the second last day, at a different place, when I ordered chicken chop again and got a schnitzel with gravy and chips.

Who knew.

Cheers, and I will continue the interview series in the next post.


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