Lost in translation

Written by Travel

About a year ago, me and my friends were in Bali for our summer vacations. We had been planning this for more than two months and were very excited.

Unexpectedly, our struggle began just after we reached Ngurah Rai International Airport. We thought we were confident enough to not hire a guide or a driver when we reached but quickly realised we had serious issues communicating with the locals. Most of them were fluent in either Balinese or Indonesian. People who could speak English were less than the fingers on my hands.

That was when I realised that travelling could be difficult in a foreign land, amongst people who do not understand what you say. However we were quick and devised new hacks. When you are on the edge, you tend to look for new ways more efficiently. First and foremost, you need to put up a confident and friendly face. Do not be intimidated by strangers. Also, try not to scare them with your foreign ways. The saying ‘Be a Roman when you are in Rome’ always works well.

Some common gestures are similar throughout the world, like a thumbs up, pointing out to ones wrist for time, waving out etc. Some native ways of greeting can also be easily picked up. Nowadays, the internet is the most useful tool while travelling. One can look upto common ways of greeting or names of popular places. Obviously, you have read a bit about the place before arriving which makes it much more easier. Google maps is an outstanding feature as well. You can navigate to places all by yourself and be sure that you are on the right track. Not to forget, a city map with popular locations can be purchased at every airport. Once you get to your accommodation and if you are still not confident about sightseeing on your own, a professional travel guide can be hired.

The real trouble is trying to communicate with the locals and knowing more about their way of living. Exploring things on your own, messing it up and learning out of it is great fun and that sums up the essence of travelling for me.

Be polite at all times. What is quite casual in a western culture might be considered as disrespectful in an Asian country like Indonesia. A bit of research would be good.Being cautious is also extremely important. However safe the country is and however nice the people are, your safety is in your own hands. Try to stay in groups and avoid loitering in remote places. Wanting to go to unexplored sites might seem tempting but that should be only after you are familiar with the surroundings.

Last but not the least, relax and put on a pleasant smile. In today’s time and age, fear of communicating should never stop you from travelling across the globe.


Last modified: 21st November 2018

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