A Silly Visual Fairy Tale
Funny International Signs
in No Way Parallels
Real Living Family Related to Me
Story and photos by
Once upon a time, an ordinary family embarked on a vacation to far away Signlandia. The mother, who organized the trip through a discount website, hoped for an adventure. She longed to see every temple, palace, museum, landmark, and crumbling ancient wall that the country had ever built. The father and two children hoped there would be white bread and wifi. Adventure was fine as long as it was just like every other day at home.
The flight to Signlandia was long, but uneventful. The family yawned as they collected their baggage in the oily yellow glow of the airport McDonalds sign.
“I could go for a quarter-pounder. Anyone else hungry? Might be your last chance for a while,” the father said. The other three shook their heads, looking forward to a much-needed night’s sleep. A taxi dropped them off at the HONGYADONGHOTEL.
An amiable man at the front desk handed over their room key and pointed them toward the elevator. A sign mounted above the opening doors read,
Wish you a higher promotion,be careful of the doors of the lift close at any time.
“Isn’t that nice?” the mother said to the father. “I’ve been wishing you had a promotion for years. A beautiful hotel and career wishes.”
The teenage daughter sulked. “I thought we were staying in the hotel with the polar-lava pool. The one where you go in one end with your winter coat and it melts off by the time you swim to the other side. What fun is a Swimming Pool Of Constant Temperature?”
“I could swim in one of those at home,” the son agreed.
“Nevermind,” the mother said. “We’ll be doing too much sight-seeing to have used it anyway.” That made the teenager even sulkier.
As the elevator ascended, the father consulted the key for the room number. “It looks like we’re on the thirteenth floor.”
“Great. I hope nothing weird happens,” the daughter said.
“Don’t be so superstitious,” said the mother. “Thirteen isn’t an unlucky number here.”
The elevator dinged and the doors opened. Half an hour later, when everyone was in their rumpled pajamas, they all climbed into bed. The mother turned off the light.
“I’m hungry,” the boy said.
The mother turned the light back on. After a call to room service, a steaming bowl of Stinky tofu arrived.
“But I ordered a cheeseburger,” the boy said, looking mournfully at his father’s crumpled quarter pounder wrapper in the trash can.
“Better eat it while it’s hot,” the mother said.
“Can’t we find a McDonald’s?”
“They don’t have those outside the airport.”
“Guess what else they don’t have outside the airport,” the daughter said.
“Don’t say it,” said the boy.
“Wifi,” she growled in frustration. Both children clutched their phones to their chests and face planted into their pillows.
The next morning, their tour guide, Mr. Toursy, ushered the family into a van to begin exploring. The mother had already told them that there was to be No Romping, No Striding, and No Trampling of the attractions they visited. Sightseeing was a serious, slow and orderly business.
“No romping AND no wifi,” the daughter said. Both children sighed and slumped and closed their eyes to shut out the beautiful countryside that it had cost so much to get to. The tour began near an ancient temple. Mr. Toursy was quick to point out The Spot Where Emperor Chongzhen Hanged Himself.
“Oddly specific for a tourist sign,” the father said.
“Poor man,” said the mother. “Oh, let’s take a stroll through the Unambitious Garden!”
Mr. Toursy shook his head. “They never planted anything. It’s just dirt and weeds.” Instead, Mr. Toursy steered them toward the banks of a lake with holy boats floating upon it. “As a member of The national intangible cultural heritage society,
I felt it was important to show you this lake. But I can’t explain why…” Mr. Toursy trailed off. He gestured to the crumbling foundations of an unmarked building set under glass. “Over here, we have several bricks left over from the Pre-Explanation Era of Signlandia, when people had to stumble about not knowing where they were.” Mr. Toursy invited the family to walk on the Glass ladder rank, carefully slip(ping) so as not to break any arms or legs
and ruin their day.
Afterwards, they hiked to THERETRDSPECTIENTOWER, a lonely building on a hill that overlooked the lake.
“Now that I have a moment to think about it, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to come here,” Mr. Toursy said. “It’ll be a long walk back and I’m sure you’re all hungry.”
“I think we all needed a little visit to the retrospection tower,” the father said, certain, upon reflection, that his wife should no longer be in charge of family vacation destinations.
“I wasn’t always a tour guide, you know,” said Mr. Toursy. “I used to be a fireman.”
“When was that?”
“Yesterday.” His chest inflated with pride. “I was the chief of the . But the less important fire engines kept threatening to invade. Riots everywhere. I had to get out.” He clapped his hands together. “How about a picnic? I know a place where Stressing civilization,establishing new trends of civilization Being a civilized citizen,establishing a civilized scenic spot is a priority. And they make great
“With white bread?” asked the father.
Mr. Toursy shuddered at the suggestion. “Heavens, no.”
“Before we go, is there a bathroom? That Stinky tofu didn’t agree with me,” the boy said.
There was no public restroom in sight. The boy began to panic, feeling the pressure build in his lower abdomen. Just as he felt desperate, ready to abandon civilized citizenry and race back to the Unambitious Garden to relieve himself, a good fairy appeared. There was a flash of light and a sparkling white port-o-potty materialized before their eyes. The fairy said, “The heart-warming toilet may make you feel relieved, secure and comfortable.”
“Oh, thank you!” the boy said, disappearing inside.
The fairy nodded, pleased at the boy’s obvious gratitude. “Speaking words,doing things and being a gentalman in a civilized way. That is how to live your life properly.”
“Could you conjure up a wifi signal?” the daughter asked.
In reply, the fairy offered this advice, “ .” Then she disappeared.
“That would be a lot easier with wifi,” the daughter lamented.
“I told you this place would be lucky,” the mother said. And they lived happily ever after…AFTER they returned home where the white bread was plentiful and the wifi was always reliable.