20 October 2015

A Walk in the Park

Language barriers as well as cultural differences tend to lend themselves to communication breakdown upon occasion. For example, this last spring, in China, some friends invited us to join them for a walk at the beach one Saturday. We'd been to the same beach a few times before, assumed we knew what we were in for, and only after we had already arrived, found that the day's plans included a 20 km hike along a trail that eventually led to the beach.

Back when we first moved to Malaysia, we had a eerily similar day of mismatched expectations. A new family friend said that he wanted to take our family out to the park for a walk. We were brand-new in town, and didn't know the park, but we got all dressed up, and headed out in his car.

It turns out that the "walk" he was planning on, while not 20 km in length, was in fact a jungle trail leading straight up a mountain.

This trail is one I've done many times in the years since then. Only at the times when I'm at my fittest can I actually make it to the top of this trail and back down without feeling ill--it is an intense climb, full of steep, uneven stairs and heavily rutted pathways. And...there are a lot of monkeys, ready to attack if you're foolish enough to bring any sustenance with you.

You have to remember, at the time of this "walk in the park," there were 6 of us kids between the ages of 13 and 2. In addition, we weren't dressed for nor were we wearing appropriate footwear for a serious hike.

Yep, that's a 4 year old you see clinging to a rope by herself. But it's Rebekah, so she was tough enough to handle a hike like this, even then.

I was actually wearing my new black slacks, and dramatically fell and scuffed and muddied the fabric, which made me very sad, as clothing tragedies always do (in case you don't know what kind of person I am, I'm the kind of person who develops emotional attachments to my clothing). My slacks actually survived the experience quite well, and I was wearing them throughout beauty school in 2013, which tells you how sturdy that pair of slacks was.

This is now a cherished and exciting memory from days long past--but let it serve as a warning to others: When you're living in a different culture and you're not sure that you and your friends are speaking the same language, you might want to clarify the meaning of "a walk in the park" (or "a walk on the beach") before you actually embark on one. Either that, or wear sensible shoes at all times. That works too.

This is Day 21 in my 31 Days Series: 31 Days of Growing up in Malaysia}
Tayler Morrell said...

You have some of the funnest adventures!

Alexis @ Chemistry Cachet said...

Walks are so much fun! It is neat to explore like that! Great pics :)

chelsea @ the new wifestyle said...

ohhh my goodness - you all are such troopers (i guess you sort of had to be) because that sounds like some serious hiking! i am also glad i'm not the only one with an emotional attachment to my clothing. i was walking past someone downtown a few weeks ago and they flicked ash from a cigar and it landed on one of my favorite cream colored shirts...i have washed it twice in hopes of removing the stain but i think i have to let it go. blast!

Suzanne said...

Ha ha! I think I would have politely declined their offer upon realizing what it really meant. Especially in flip-flops!


Charlene Maugeri said...

Oh how funny. Language barriers always intrigue me. I'm glad you all seemed to enjoy yourselves. I would have been a nervous wreck. Knowing what to wear or pack for certain occasions is one of those silly things I get way too anxious about.

Lace up and Walk said...

I love this. A reminder to always be prepared! Visiting from 31 day Facebook.