Lost in translation

I know we are currently in the middle of my New Zealand posts, but it’s time for another travel linkup with Kelly and Emma, this month hosted by Sam from Globetrotter Postcards with the theme of ‘Lost in Translation’. Oh how I wish I could tell you the story about the time I was in Japan with my then producer boyfriend and ended up having a demi-affair with an older American guy while wearing a pink wig…but sadly I sold the rights to that long ago. I thought instead I would tell you some travel gobbets where my family and I lost a little something in translation.

My mother and the flock of ducks

Last Christmas while I was having terrifying bike rides in London, Mum was busy pre-paring the annual Christmas degustation lunch. One of the courses used Peking duck, so she went down the road to order one from our local Asian supermarket. Simple task right? She went to the duck counter and asked for a roast duck to pick up on the 24th. Chaos ensued. The manager was called, the manager’s manager was called. Mum stood by not understanding a word as the conversation behind the counter got more and more animated. Eventually she was handed a piece of paper and told to pay at the counter. I think the point Mum realised something has got lost in translation was when the lady at the counter asked for $200 cash. Turns out instead of one duck to pick up on the 24th, she had instead unwittingly ordered 24 ducks. A little too many even for the veracious appetites of our family.

Skint girl buys cheese

Flash back to 2012 when 80% of my salary went on rent (yay London!). Not fun times at all. I decided to brighten up my life by heading to Borough Market early on a Saturday morning. Wandering around I came across a cheese stall, and liking the sample I asked how much it was. Around this point something was lost in translation, whatever the stall holder said the reasonably priced cheese that I agreed to was £25 when it came to pay. My budget for the entire day was £4. Being new to the city and almost dying of embarrassment in front of the Borough crowds I handed over all the cash I had (my food budget for the week) and got that damn cheese. I ate it for dinner that night the cheese tasting of capitalism and regret.

 The big proposal

When we were in New York last year I had a couple of epic translation fails mostly to do with my sister getting engaged. We were also out eating an epic Mexican feast (not kidding, try this hidden restaurant if you are in NYC) and my sister and I were a bit past the point of merry on margaritas. We were all talking about what we were going to do the following day. My sister and her then boyfriend were going to go for a walk in central park, and my parents and I were going to hit up MOMA. Important to note: my parents knew that Tyler (my sisters now fiancée) was going to propose on this trip.

So after Tyler announced that they were planning to get food and picnic in the park, Dad said that sounds like fun and we should all go. I think mum kicked him under the table at this point. Then a drunk and clueless runawaykiwi obnoxiously asked “what are you going to do…propose”. Yeah I asked that the night before he was going to propose. Thankfully while Tyler and my parents froze in panic, my sister (who was as drunk as I was) explained that no, they had a three year plan for getting engaged.

Then the following day while at MOMA, we got a call from Nic saying that Tyler had ‘dropped to one knee’. To which I said “oh no he hurt his knee”. I am never going to live that one down.

Oh that Kiwi sarcasm

I was at Wiltons (amazing bar if you haven’t been) and happily making my way through the gin cocktails the menu. A waiter walked passed and checked that we were ok, and if we needed anything. I being a kiwi said “the gin is great but the entertainment is lacking”. I was joking. I totally forgot about this and went on chatting and gin drinking. A second waiter walked across the bar, when all of a sudden the first waiter jumped out from behind a curtain with a roar and dumped an ice bucket of water over the second waiters head. Waiter number 1 then asked “was that entertaining enough?” I should be more careful with my sarcasm.

The snow globe killer

Mum loves snow globes. Not enough to actually buy them, but enough for an exclamation of delight if she sees them in a shop. When we were in LA we happened across Brookstone, an ideal shop to find when traveling because they have massage chairs you can use for free. While we were resting our feet Mum found some snow globes on a shelf and with the usual exclamation of delight she went over to start shaking some snow. Seeing her expression quickly turn to disgust I went to see if she was ok. “This snow globe is rubbish, it’s just full of rocks” she said. At this point I gestured towards the sign that read ‘fully sustainable living ecosystems, very fragile, contains live shrimp DO NOT TOUCH’. Oops.

The one with the camel

When I was about seven we went to Australia Zoo when we were on holiday. I was desperate to get Steve Irwin’s autograph, because…legend. Dad was on a mission, every staff member he saw was asked Steves wareabouts, Dad didn’t want to let the mini-runawaykiwi down. We couldn’t find him anywhere, it was like he actually had a job or something. Then we got a hot lead, a staff member said “oh he’s just out the back” gesticulating towards a closed gate. A closed gate with a sign on it that said ‘CAUTION DANGEROUS ANIMALS’ with a picture of a camel. Dad thought the sign was a load of nonsense, “whoever heard of a camel attacking anyone” he said as he walked through the gate…just as the camel attacked. (Yes I eventually got the autograph)

Runawaykiwi tries to speak English

To wrap up, here are the words that no one in the UK understands when I say:

  • Rebecca
  • Pen
  • Deck
  • Chips


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13 Comments

  1. March 1, 2015 / 8:13 pm

    OMG don’t get me started on pen and ten and my name Sarah – Im speaking english dammit people! xx

  2. March 2, 2015 / 7:19 am

    The camel story killed me.

  3. March 2, 2015 / 10:42 pm

    Oh my! I couldnt stop laughing at your proposal bungle – literally laughed out loud!

  4. March 3, 2015 / 8:20 am

    Seeing a bucket of ice poured over someones head would have definitely been entertaining to say the least. And I understand you about the name I got Gina, Jemma,

    • runawaykiwi@gmail.com
      March 15, 2015 / 8:17 pm

      The other name I get is Rubina, which I don’t think is actually a name #awkward

  5. Shobha
    March 3, 2015 / 10:41 am

    Wiltons does have a great cocktail bar! I’ve done some damage there myself. At least your sister was completely surprised with the engagement!!

  6. March 3, 2015 / 12:05 pm

    hahaha, dangerous camels.

  7. March 4, 2015 / 2:53 pm

    In Munich a number of years ago, my friends and I wanted some lunch and we walked by this place with its doors opened and people were having lunch so we went in and filled up our plates and grabbed some cold beers and sat down and started enjoying our meal. We hadn’t been charged for anything but we figured it was a German thing and maybe they would come to our table and ask us to pay or maybe on the way out? About half-way through our tasty sausages, someone started talking to us in animated German. Apparently we had wandered into a staff canteen (this was not hard to do!) and were eating their food.

    • runawaykiwi@gmail.com
      March 15, 2015 / 8:16 pm

      That just made me laugh out loud on a packed train. AMAZING

  8. Happyeverafterbride
    March 6, 2015 / 2:20 pm

    I spent EUR25 once on a small bag of about 8 lollies in Barcelona! I didn’t realise the signs meant the lollies would be weighed and that the lolly weighed a ton each! Was to mortified to hand back my bag of lollies too.

    • runawaykiwi@gmail.com
      March 15, 2015 / 8:14 pm

      Oh the act of embarrassment that lightens your wallet. I swear everyone has a story like this and are just to ashamed to say!

  9. March 16, 2015 / 8:57 am

    So many great travel adventures huh? Bloomingdales jeans department!