Archive for July 30th, 2007

Point It Traveler’s Dictionary

WHEN traveling, I feel it’s always in the best taste to at least try to speak the local language, however much one may butcher it.

During my time Beijing, the Lonely Planet phrasebook I brought along was a big help. But truthfully, an untrained ear trying to pronounce Mandarin’s tones meant I got a lot of blank looks when I ventured beyond “Ni hao” (Hello) and “Xie Xie” (Thank you). So I ended up doing a lot of pointing; this made for some interesting surprises – like pointing to “breakfast,” without a clue of what might come to the table.

This is the central idea behind the Point It travelers dictionary, which I picked up at the MoMA shop in New York a while back. This thin book is divided into basic categories – Food, Hotel, Transport and Shopping, etc. – with each section featuring photos of things like place settings, animals, modes of transportation…anything you might need to find the word for.

Though the photos look like they’re from circa 1970, this looks to be an extremely useful reference – there’s no need to carry around a bunch of dictionaries if you’re crossing through countries, and I imagine one could just pick up on words as they went along, instead of trying in vain to pronounce poorly-romanized words from phrasebooks.

Sadly, I’ve yet to have a journey where I needed to use the book. Whether it’s the travel essential the publishers claim it is, I’m not sure, but you can bet it’s coming with me on my next international flight.

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This Week’s Wandering News

  • In this shrinking world, new conundrums – both intricate and mundane – confront us daily. For Joyce Hor-Chung Lau of the International Herald Tribune‘s Paris Globespotters blog, it was seeking out the perfect French restaurant for her lactose intolerant Chinese parents; her observations create a comic narrative on how dining-cultures collide.
  • If you want proof of how pollution has become a truly global crisis, a team of Belgian scientists say you need only look at the Penguin Guano.
  • Blogger FiftyViss reports that a decade after Burma joined with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), little progress has been made.
  • Even as tourists trickle in to the Eastern European capital, recently-polled citizens of Budapest say they aren’t so satisfied with their city.
  • Australian Paula Constant is hoping to be the first woman to trek the Sahara by foot – but even in the oblivion of endless dunes, political strife has put a hold on her journey. Story at The Age.

This Week’s Wandering News is a collection of travel-related links from the past week TDT finds interesting. It is normally posted every Sunday.


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