Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I'm going to China! I have a business trip this fall. I'm excited, but nervous. I've read too many travel narratives that have made me believe that I am ill-equipped to travel there alone. I'm just not that assertive, and am already dreading the onslaught of aggressive street vendors and crowds I am sure to encounter. But unless I want to spend my very limited free time in the hotel, I'm going to have to get over that. I have got to see the Great Wall!

I decided there are two things I can do to help myself prepare for the trip to China. One, I can learn to haggle. This is definitely a weakness of mine. I can't even haggle at garage sales, but I'm going to start trying. Secondly, I can try to learn some key phrases in Mandarin Chinese. My husband bought me a Chinese-language CD to help me with that. I was amused to see that it warns people not to play the CD while driving. It was almost like a dare; naturally, I shoved the disc into the disc drive as soon as I got in my car this morning.

Here's what I heard:

xie xie nihao zooshanghao wanshanghao wan'an zaijian nihaoma wohenhao zheshi hengaoxing renshi ni

Maybe they don't want people listening to it while they drive because it makes listeners want to cry. The recording does not include the English translations for these words. For that, you have to refer to the phrase book itself, which makes me laugh. The words I hear and the spellings in the phrase book have very little in common.

I think that what I really learned is that I need to stick with "Do you speak English?" because even if I ask a question in Mandarin, I will have no idea how anyone responds. I will learn xie xie (thank you). And I'll mean it. Sincerely. I will thank anyone and everyone who helps me get to the Great Wall. Once there, I'll speak English, but I think it will translate:  Wowwww!


  1. Lol. Oh man, good luck. Also, I am jealous and can't wait to see pics of your trip! How long will you be there, and what area will you be based?

    "Ni jiang ying yu ma?" = Do you speak English?

    More phonetically: knee jang (with a soft a, like the end of tuna) ing u ma?

  2. Kristan, I thought about you as I was wondering how hard it would be to learn Mandarin Chinese. I remembered your references to Chinese school and appreciate your phoentic lesson here. :)

    I'll be in Beijing and hope to arrive there in enough time to have the weekend free to explore. I may be jet-lagged, but I'm going to see as much as I can!