Traveling in China is exciting and adventurous and it gets even more adventurous if you don’t know any Chinese. Unlike Thailand or Vietnam, China is not among the most popular destinations for western tourists. There are lots of tourists in China, especially during the holiday season, the difference is: they are all Chinese!
Although there are English signs in most of the national parks and around the most popular tourist attractions, the locals are not really used to foreign tourists and due to that most of them speak no or very limited English. Considering that it is very useful to know at least some basic phrases in Chinese that will help you get along in daily life.
I don’t want meat. 不要肉。
Do you know where this place is? 你知道这个地方在哪里?
How much is it? 多少钱?
Thank you. 谢谢.
I want to buy a ticket to… 我要买一张票去 …
Since Chinese is a tonal language the right pronunciation can be a bit challenging for us westerners and make it difficult to make yourself clear, because some locals (especially elder people) won’t understand you if you are not using the right tones. In this case it is very useful to have for example the address of the place you want to go written down in Chinese (in Chinese characters!). When going to a restaurant the easiest thing is to find a place where they have a menu showing photos of the different dishes, other than that you can always point at the food that you want as in a lot of cheap restaurants you can look right into the kitchen or it is even in the same room where the guests are eating. If you are vegetarian and want to make sure that even it doesn’t look like it on the photo you are not choosing a dish with meat or fish from the menu, you can look for these two characters: fish, meat 肉
There are probably nicer things to talk about, but nevertheless I have to come with this topic: toilets. If you have ever traveled in Asia you already know that you can’t compare the hygienic standards to those in Europe, but I can tell you whatever you have in your mind when thinking about dirty and smelly toilets, what you will see in China is worse. It is definitely necessary to always have toilet paper or tissues with you since that’s usually not available in public toilets or sometimes even in hostels. Soap is also a thing that is usually missing (I saw it maybe 3 times within 12 months in China), so remember to bring some hand sanitizer or wet wipes. Don’t go to the toilet with a lot of bags or other items because the locks in the cabins never work (never!) and you will need at least one hand to keep the door closed.
Another important thing that you need to know about traveling in China is, that during the holiday season (July and August/national holidays in the first week of October) everybody in China is traveling and the prices for accommodation and transport can be twice as high or even more. If you are planning to go by train you should definitely book your tickets in advance (ctrip.cn) since the trains are usually fully booked and it is almost impossible to buy tickets at the train station on the day of your departure. Buying bus tickets is a bit easier.
MARIA HELENA 🙂 gegenwind.me