There were many things I loved about living abroad - like feeling glamorous when I came back to the UK - but one of the unexpected highlights of living in Asia was actually 'Engrish': bad or randomly used English. Because, lets face it, when you're surrounded by signs you can't read, in a language you can't speak, finding comedy English makes you feel just that little bit less inadequate. And some of the signs were very funny. My favourite was an "uncomplimentary" towel I found in a hotel in Beijing. I half hoped it would say things like "My! You've put on weight," or, "Uh-oh! Cellulite!" (not that either would have been true, of course), whereas what it actually meant was I had to pay to use it.
Japanese friends used to point out that westerners - mainly footballers - choose to cover themselves in equally nonsensical Chinese character tattoos, but did that spoil my fun? No. But the Beijing Olympics may do. Having schooled Olympic hostesses in the right kind of smile, given locals lessons in how to cheer and done all sorts of scientific hocus-pocus to control the rain, the government has now moved onto tightening up 'colourful' translations of food in restaurants. No longer will you choose between ''husband and wife's lung slice'' and ''bean curd made by a pock-marked woman'' - now it's beef and ox tripe in chilli sauce or mapo tofu. The only problem is I don't really know what those mean either. And they're not very funny.
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