Friday, December 28, 2007

Hello Taiwan Pt 4 - The Language Stories

I've got a serious deficiency when it comes to Mandarin. This is common knowledge amongst those who know me, but two events have escalated this to a point where it has been tickling LB all trip long.

The Airport Story

No, we didn't get on the wrong flight or missed our plane, although we came close to it again. We are incorrigble people who never learn from our mistakes, but that's a story for another time.

When I first arrived in Taiwan, I got questioned at the immigration counter on my purpose of visit. I figured this was common practise, given that I was there for 13 days and no Taiwanese would fathom anyone silly enough to spend that long a time in Taipei.

I will write the following conversation in Hanyu Pinyin and re-write it (or attempt to) in Chinese when I get back.

Officer: "Ni Lai Taipei Ji Tian?"

(How long are you staying in Taipei)

Me: "13 days"
Officer: "Ni shi lai zhe bian chu cai ma?"

This entirely baffled me. Mainly when he said "Chu Cai". I immediately turned to LB and he started giggling.

'Chu Cai' ? Why would anyone ask if I was coming to Taipei to cook? I mean, do I fucking look like Jamie Oliver? Was I even carrying onions on me?

Me: "What?"
Officer: "Ni shi lai liu xing ma?"

(Are you here on holiday)

Me: "Holiday."

He cleared me eventually and once LB made it past it was clear from his grin that he was entertained by my little conversational hiccup.

Me: "What the fuck was that guy asking?"
LB: "He was asking if you are here for work la."
Me: "Work? I thought he was asking if I came to Taiwan to cook."

The Starbucks Story

On regular days, or if I really didn't have an interpreter such as LB with me, ordering coffee at Starbucks in Taiwan wouldn't be much of a tall order, even with my limited linguistic arsenal. It's Starbucks, they all ask the same shit.

I just place my order and they ask for my name. I give it and I walk to the counter at the end to get my drinks. Simple. It's like winning polio kids at a 100m dash.

LB: "One cafe latte and one iced mocha."

The guy mumbles some jibberish and I took it as cue for me to step in and say my name.

Me: "Wo de ming zhi jiao Shaun"

(My name is Shaun)

The coffee guy stared blankly at me and LB started giggling. If my deductive senses were anything to go by, I believed I fucked up again, somewhere along the line.

LB: "HAHAHAHAHAHA! He's asking you if you want whipped cream la! Why you so stupid?"


At 4:50 PM, Blogger sÞ¡ηηєє said...

Next time I'll going to call u Cook Whipped Cream.

And if ur birthday's coming , I'll buy you a Cook's attire with onions & a can of whipped cream.


At 11:42 AM, Blogger THB said...

hhahah! Brave of u to publish the part where u made a fool of yourself.. haha

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