The first one I remember picking up when I started learning Japanese was
'Even monkeys fall from trees' = "No one's perfect"
And of course instead of "packed like sardines" it's "packed like sushi" :-)
A Dutch one by my boyfriend translates to 'You can't get feathers from a frog', meaning you can't get the money you are owed, if the person who owes it has no money.
"Beer without vodka is a waste" - Russian
A thousand years ago I had a french (fodors from memory) travel guide to France with a few examples of phrases...one that has always stuck with me roughly translated as.....My hovercraft is full of eels. Ive been waiting all my life to need to say that in French or any other language.
Across the English Channel, where I once worked, are people who have a strange choice of animals in their proverbs:
Il ne faut pas vendre la peau de l’ours avant de l’avoir tué
(Don’t sell the bearskin before killing the bear)
English: Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.
Quand on parle du loup, on en voit la queue
(When you speak of the wolf, you’ll see his tail)
English: Speak of the devil and he’s bound to appear.
Un chien vivant vaut mieux qu’un lion mort
(A live dog is worth more than a dead lion)
English: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
and, from these same people, who eat little wild birds:
Faut de grives, on mange des merles
(For want of thrushes, one eats blackbirds)
English: Half a loaf is better than none.
Garde le sourire!
A pearl of Thai wisdom I that learnt in Bangkok:
"Grabbing sh!t is better than grabbing a fart"
When I started to learn German:
Du mußt ein Schwein sein in dieser Welt
(You must to be a pig in this world)
I´m not sure if I have to say: '...be a pig´ in the bad way cuz being a pig is not that bad for me! lol