Overcoming Language Barriers in China

Occasionally in China I meet a language barrier I can’t get around. The best advice I can offer is to keep calm and just go with it.

For example, tonight I ordered a glass of wine…
And they brought me the bottle.

As a man of faith, I know this is a sign. A gift. A moment to savor.

And that’s exactly what I did.

Where Are You Going?

Still a few kilometers from the Forbidden City I stood at a crossroads.
As I was looking down at the map a wiry middle-aged Chinese man approached and asked, “Forbidden City?”

“Yes. Forbidden City,” I said.

He pointed across the street and said, “Rickshaw. Two yuan.” The U.S. equivalent of 32¢.

I declined.

He insisted, “Too far!” He produced a map from his pocket and showed me it was — indeed — too far for any one person to ever walk unassisted.

Smiling I said, “I like walking.” I pointed to the map and showed him the hotel I walked from. We both knew I was at the halfway point in the journey.

He saw my resolve. “Okay. Bye bye.”

After touring the Forbidden City another man at the exit wanted to give me a ride in his rickshaw. I again said no. He asked, “Where you going?”

I slowly exhaled, “I don’t know.”

And I still don’t.