I’m back in the Middle Kingdom for a couple of weeks, traveling with some friends. Last week, we stopped into the China Ethnic Culture Park, located close to the famous Bird’s Nest. Although I lived in the city for 15 years, it was actually my first visit.
However, even though I had never been there, the park is one that looms large in the annals of bad translation folk lore in the minds of Beijing expats who were around in the 2000s. In the run-up to the Beijing 2008 Olympics, the city launched a campaign to “clean up” the bad English signage. This was a good thing since the sign on the nearby freeway exit ramp pointing drivers to the park said RACIST PARK NEXT EXIT. It was a very very bad translation of the word minzu (民族) which is best (or at least better) translated as ethnic group.
On a Monday morning, my friend and I pretty much had the park to ourselves. In the hour we were there we saw 3 gardeners, 1 peddler, 2 leaf sweepers, 1 other tourist, and a slightly bored-looking group of high school students.
Here a a few photos: