Chamber of Ten Thousand Flowers/Toilet

3 min read
Chamber or 10,000 Flowers Toilet

Well that’s what the sign said. I wasn’t sure if it was indicating two different destinations or… maybe this was just the most beautiful euphemism ever for a bathroom. “S’cuse me, I need to use the Chamber of Ten Thousand Flowers. Do you have the key?”

We were in China and just about every translated sign was a treat. Back home, signs were as predictable and mindless as breathing. Here they were a linguistic shiny object – intending to communicate but usually ending up as entertainment. 

Thunder Storm Day

I’m sure this was neatly poignant in its original intent. Something about the hazards of inclement weather and taking cover? There must be a word in Chinese for “Thunder Storm Day”. One word that summons up the danger, darkness and fury of such a moment.     

You can sense there was poetry in the original Chinese. But when it was translated into our highly functional and structured English, it was like stuffing a bouquet into a Tupperware container. We can still see they're flowers but now they’re kinda crushed. Something got lost in the re-packaging.   

No scribbling

Now here we move from poetry to the slightly more threatening language of the police state.  Can I at least scribble in my journal?  I wonder how they feel about sketching? 

Skipping Rope

I’m sure these sounded better in the original Mandarin. And since when was the international symbol for lingering, a little girl skipping rope? “Hey you with the pigtails - quit lingering with that jump rope and join the other Brownies."

The Old, children

From the same series and probably the same translator – here they’re insisting half the population should be under supervision. This translator wields exclamation points like a pair of nunchuks!

Cultural Relics

Again with the exclamation points!  I’m sensing anger here or maybe it’s just panic. Does that arrow point to a tray where you’re supposed to surrender your Marks-A-Lots? 

Chinese ET

 To?... Too? Maybe this is a message for Chinese E.T.

no cartoon puppies

 Old Chinese proverb, “A thousand words are worth exactly three pictures.”  I can understand not allowing bicycles here, but banning dragonflies and cartoon puppies?  You go too far, Sir!

Moulage of Mat's Grain

“The Moulage of Mat’s Grain”… Hmmm. So let me set the scene here for proper context. Behind the sign are thousands of unearthed figures forming what’s known as the Terracotta Army. It dates back to 200 B.C. and is a necropolis of over 8,000 warriors designed to protect the emperor, Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife. Now that you know all that… now does the sign make sense?                             

Me neither. 

No breadcrumbs

OK, they’ve just given up on words altogether because nothing is allowed here. But the three prohibitions that put me over the edge are: no sprinkling of breadcrumbs, no sitting with legs crossed and no playing the bugle! All I can say is, thank god I live in America. Now toss out some breadcrumbs and hand me my bugle! 

Protect the railings

These railings are very old, very delicate. Within them lies the secret to “The Moulage of Mat’s Grain.” 

Amoebas here

I guess they felt this just couldn’t be translated into human words, so let me do it for you. On the left: discard your jack-o’ lanterns, watermelons and amoebas here. On the right: this is for your broken mirrors, galoshes, martini glass and elixir.  Easy.

Tiger Bear Monkey

A horrid genetic experiment gone terribly wrong. This mutant zoo beast has given unsuspecting schoolchildren nightmares. What’s going on there, China? 

Beast Perfoming

Is this the same Tiger Bear Monkey from the genetics lab? And will it be performing new material or just the standards?

Fire Cock

 Ok, they probably just meant a red rooster. Grow up!


Just in case you’re tired of the whole green/eco thing. This device lets you retrieve that discarded  jack o’ lantern and throw it in with the martini glass and galoshes.  

Visit Animal

 After I visit animal, can I watch children feed? 


Actual 2000x magnification of organism as presented on garbage can lid.

Tiger Bear Monkey Swan

In the name of all that is holy, keep that beast away from the swan! That’s all we need is a Tiger Bear Monkey Swan!


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