Posted by: Moon | May 18, 2009

Can you imagine ….

So, we have some guests arriving, again, on Tuesday, they are very special friends of Mrs M. So they are flying from Slovakia, via Vienna, and onto London Heathrow, LHR to LAX. Pretty simple really, and both G&T fly andtravel a fair amount around Europe, and certainly close to home … but …

and this is the part that for some of us is hard to imagine …. they speak no English. SHOCK HORROR to us that always expect the world to be speaking English, and to be fair to us, most of the world does ! I have travelled a fair amount, andwhen landing in Kathmandu, Cuzco, Thailand etc.. airport signs are in the local language, but also normally in English. There are not that many places you go to where you do not find a waiter, and hotel, and steward that will speak English, and will direct you to the right place. It does happen of course, but most of the time, we expect people to speak some English. The last time it happened to me where nobody spoke any English was a  restaurant in Mexico City, we had great fun, and it was so refreshing, we loved it.

However, it must be quite stressful, and nerve wracking to be flying into LHR Terminal 5 (for those who have not been there, it’s pretty impressive) to get a connection, then spend 10 hrs with noboby (I imagine no-one will speak Slovak) trying to get food, ask any questions, and simply getting the drinks you want …. not easy. This is the part I would least like, trying to get through US Customs and immigration. they are a fierce lot at LAX, zero humour, and they scrutinise every document, and ask questions of everyone. So, if you do not speak English… well, you can imagine that will be a nervous time. You and I can simply ask, be polite, but if someone is talking to you, sternly, and you have no idea what they are saying … it must be tough.

While they are here, Mrs M will be around, but they will go off on their own. Just trying to book into a hotel with zero English will be tough. If you didn’t know, you would fill up with petrol as normal, and then pay, or pay at the pump. But, here in the USA, if you don’t have a US Credit Card, complete with either your Zip Code, or PIN, you have to Pre-pay (the same in Canada I believe). Now imagine you can’t read these instructions, and you can’t ask … how would you know ????

we take it for granted that people will help us …… I feel the same when I go to Slovakia. In Bratislava, they do speak English enough to help you out, but as soon as I travel to Mrs M’s home, no-body does really, and it can be quite a scary time ..

so, G&T, I hope you get past LHR,a nd then the scrutiny of  immigration .. then I can tell you all about our plans for the long “Moon” birthday week-end …. !



  1. This is exactly why I’m reluctant to travel to non-English speaking countries. I have serious allergies and just can’t risk not being able to make myself understood – but also, I’m a coward, and I woudl hate that.

    Kudos to your wife’s friends! They are intrepid and adventurous and they have my admiration!

  2. Jay : I guess thats part of the exceitement for me, but I have travelled quite a lot, and thats something I really like, to be away from the English speaking crowd….. but I can understand with illnesses. I remember being in Nepal, and Ma needed some simple headache tablets, who knows what she got !!!

  3. Enjoy yourselves this week, and great that you have some additional celebrants to help with the birthday party this weekend. Given your advancing age, they can assist you in and out of the house!

  4. Cortes : Cheeky git …. I’ll always be younger than you !!!!! but, I have thought this, not many people can just take a long week-end and visit these places ..

    Now , if only Spurs can get 7th on Sunday, Happy Bloody Birthday that would be !

  5. I am convinced that one should not cast aspersions on two things: a man’s wife, and man’s football club. Sorry about Spurs, though. Oh well, there is always next year! And the year after……….

  6. Well they successfully passed LHR airport and in 6 hours landing in LAX. God help them through Immigration. I found it hard myself as they scrutinizing me every single time even there are no more questions left to ask me after two years going in and out of country. But hopefully all goes well for them.

  7. Sounds a bit like Sydney Airport. While I was waiting to pick someone up a few months back I watched people who didn’t speak English come through the gates and try to fathom where they were. Not one sign in another language. All in English. Only one or two translators on the information desk and lots of gesticulating and drawing so that people could get their point across. At least most places I’ve visited have English speakers or English signage to counter the local ones. Very tricky. At least you have a ‘translator’ at home! Happy birthday and enjoy your weekend!

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