Please Get Ready For Your Arrival

I really like getting the chance to help Chinese visitors find their way. First, it’s a nice karmic balance for all the times kind Beijing and Yantai folks helped get me where I wanted to go, despite my awful Chinese. And second, my survival-level Mandarin includes the four compass direction, the words for bus, train and street, and numbers, and that’s really all the vocab you need to give Chinese directions in New York City.

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4 Responses to Please Get Ready For Your Arrival

  1. Julie says:


    When I was waiting for a train in NYC, I saw an older Asian woman go up to a younger Asian woman, ask her a question in (?)Chinese, they carried on a little conversation, the older lady got directions and went on her way. And I thought, huh, good thing that younger woman spoke that language.

    More relatedly, here in London, whenever I overhear Italians discussing where they want to go I’m really tempted to butt in and try giving directions. Which is supremely dumb because I really don’t speak Italian, I just recognize enough basic words and can decipher mispronounced tube stops to guess what they’re saying.

    • Meg says:

      Yeah, I can feel pretty awkward butting in, especially because my Chinese really is SO BAD. What if they speak English fine and are just using their native language to chat to each other? Would I like it if were abroad and someone just walked up and asked, in broken English, if I were lost?

      But sometimes you can tell that an older couple nervously asking each other where to go might like some limited-Mandarin help.

  2. David Feng says:


    Has the Beijing Subway polluted your lexicon?


    #tweet #tweet #tweet

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