Doug Lansky has backpacked in more than a hundred countries, and besides collecting travel smarts he's also collected photographs of funny signs, often in fractured English, presented in a series of full-color books. The latest is "Signspotting 2: More Absurd & Amusing Signs From Around the World" ($9.99 in paperback from Lonely Planet).
Lansky and freelance contributors to www.signspotting.com have found hilarious examples (some of them unintentionally naughty) and the author adds an explanatory caption for those who may not get the joke. Some of the signs are not exactly helpful. In Monroeville, Pennsylvania, there's a sign that says "Entrance Only - Do Not Enter." In Boulders Beach, South Africa, a prominent sign says: "Table Mountain National Park - Warning - Please look under your vehicles for penguins." In Darwin, Australia, there's an official sign pointing to "Lost City." ("Pssst," Lansky adds, "don't tell anyone.")
Lansky is scheduled to appear at Chico State University's Laxson Auditorium this coming Tuesday, April 14, at 7:30 p.m. His "Get Lost" presentation, billed as stand up comedy, only about travel, is free to the public as part of the "On the Creek Lecture Series." Though the presentation is free, a ticket is required from Chico Performances (www.chicoperformances.com) by calling (530) 898-6333.
The author uses humor to get at something deeper, an appreciation of travel that doesn't depend on seeing all the tourist attractions and taking pictures of friends standing in front of them. One can tread lightly on the earth and make travel a very personal project. Collecting funny signs is not about laughing at those whose English is poor (Lansky points out that English speakers would also be prone to gaffes putting their words into different languages). It is about connecting with a memory and enjoying the silliness.
In Bangkok, Thailand, the sign says "Milk Chocolate Covered Crocodile" ("Hold the whipped cream," says Lansky); in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, the club sign says "Members and Non Members Only" and in New Brunswick, Canada you'll find the "Ha Ha Cemetery." In Kenya don't forget the "Joyride Driving School." And when you visit Colton, California, be sure to see the sign on the side of the building that says "Colton High School - Commited To High Standards."
Sign me up!