Learning the Language

I’ve just discovered a website called Omniglot. It gives useful phrases in many languages and also short sound files that you can listen to for correct pronunciation. So handy!

If you visit a country where you don’t know the language do you try to learn a few phrases? How do you go about it? Buy a phrase book, use a specific website? Lots of people I know are taking classes to learn a bit of the language of places they plan to visit, but with over 10 languages being spoken in the various countries we’re visiting it didn’t seem worthwhile. I like asking hotel staff for bits of language but sometimes it is hard to work out who knows enough English to understand what it is I want to know.

I am finding Thai quite difficult to pronounce and I’ve been getting some conflicting advice  – for example is ‘delicious’ ‘alloi’ or ‘arroi’? Or maybe it doesn’t matter? I’ve started looking up Vietnamese words for the next leg of our travels but their pronunciation is even more difficult.

Here’s a translation I think you’ll all find useful, should you come to Thailand.

My hovercraft is full of eels!

The view from our room at Panviman.

Sunrise over Koh Phangan.

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4 thoughts on “Learning the Language

  1. On our 2009 trip which encompassed 7 countries, I tried to learn at least hello & thank you in each. We had lonely planet guides over there – I’m sure there are a whole lot of aps that would be useful now.

    I find languages really hard. Even with 2 months of spanish classes, I didn’t really pick up that much. Listening to spanish lesson podcasts was useful.

  2. Hi Amanda

    Vietnamese pronunciation is really difficult, so much is reliant on tone and inflection I don’t think I would ever master it if I had reason to try.

    Not sure if you have pre-booked anything in Vietnam but Michael and I did a 22 day tour over there in 2007 and loved it, nowhere near as nice a coastline as Thailand but has its own beauty and charm and is such a fascinating place to visit. I much preferred Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) over Hanoi and other highlights were Hoi An (not to be missed for photo opportunities, fantastic buildings, and nice beach too and wonderful food).Halong Bay – have to do the overnight on the boat thing it is spectacular (once again amazing photo opps), Nha Trang was good, kind of Vietnam’s Gold Coast.
    It is even cheaper there than Thailand and you can get very cheap good clean accommodation.

    We didn’t get to Sapa which is the Hill Tribe thing but I believe it is excellent too.

    We ate anywhere and everywhere that the locals were, food was sensational – we all did get cases of what we termed “bloop bloop stomachs” – quick onset diarrhea, but nothing terrible and I think it was probably more due to herbs and spices our stomachs had not experienced before than it was to bad or off food.

    Crossing the road there in the cities is the scariest thing but just do it on your first day and you will overcome the fear. It is a matter of walking slowly and steadily accross and all the traffic just “diverts” around you but if you stop and start in nervous actions that’s what confuses them and causes accidents.

    • Lots of great advice, thanks Leanne! We’re discussing Ha Long Bay at the moment, trying to work out which company would be best:). I think I could write a whole post just on our road-crossing experiences so far! We’ve been out and about a bit (been in the city for half a day) and you’re right, it’s not as bad as it looks.I did a bit of research on Sapa but sadly I don’t think we’ll have time – the scenery does look incredible. We are definitely hitting Hoi An for some tailoring – can’t wait!

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