Monday, June 24, 2013

Languages: it' s all too easy nowadays...

In preparation of our Cambodia-Laos adventure, I downloaded a few apps yesterday. Basic Khmer, Thai and Lao phrase books that explain how to say: "do you have a room?" or "how much does it cost?" in those languages. On a button press, the smartphone plays back an audio file that repeats the selected sentence in Lao or Khmer. A very convenient way to make yourself understood in foreign countries. 

10 years ago, in preparation of a backpacking trip through China, I took three months of Chinese classes. I was far from conversational, but was able to speak out few sentences, such as "I want to go to the train station, please." Finding the train station was still much of an adventure, as I wasn't able to understand the directions that were given in reply. 

Nowadays we have phrase books and guide books, online maps and GPS. Aren't we missing the adventure part of our travels? The one that makes you feel like a pioneer and so happy and proud when you finally reach the station?

I'll use the phrase books to learn a few basic words such as "hello","good bye" and "thank you". Most importantly, I'll use them to teach those essential words to my children. For them, friendliness should know no boundaries.