Monday, 9 April 2012

Sudden trip to Beijing

In exactly 2 weeks time, I'll be hiking up the Great Wall of China, exploring the Forbidden City and absorbing the art and culture of my ancestors. But I'm unlike my ancestors because I can't speak Mandarin despite being Chinese. There's a special term for people like me; we're called 'bananas' - yellow on the outside but white on the inside.

So how did my trip to Beijing came to be? On 20 March a close friend invited me to join her for a trip there. She'll be going to Beijing for training and I could tag along. After all, lodging is free! It was a spur of the moment decision and I agreed.

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) currently offers the cheapest flights from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. I bought my return ticket for RM1,506 (all inclusive) after waiting a few days because ticket prices on the MAS website fluctuates like crazy, even crazier than AirAsia. One moment it's RM806 and the next moment it's RM406 for the same flight.

Being a 'banana', my fear of travelling to China is obviously the language. I'm pretty sure the locals will speak to me in Mandarin because they'll think I'm a local too. Asking for directions and help will certainly not be a piece of cake. I've travelled to the Middle East where English is hardly spoken and I came back a survivor. But in a country where I look like the locals and can't speak the language, I think I'll come back battered and bruised. Well, let's see how it goes.

So watch this space for stories about my 'banana' escapades in Beijing. And I haven't even completed blogging about France and Spain yet, gosh ...



10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am sure you have heard about their 'open toilet' concept, so make sure you have an umbrella handy :-)

Anonymous said...

hahaha, u will do fine Julie! Just speak to the rowdy Chinese(yes, i hate mainland chinese!) in English, why bother. They just assume u are ABC, BBC or CBC(American, British, Canadian born chinese) cuz many of these blokes REALLY cant speak their mother's tongue!

Ray Hee

art said...

Julie
You're no banana. You're a peach. Always was and always will be
Art

juphelia said...

Haven't seen you personally (very soon, can't wait for that!), but I would think you can get by speaking English, because firstly, many people in China can speak English nowadays, especially those in the big cities, and secondly, no matter what, you definitely won't look like the local mainland Chinese, so I don't think people will "judge" if you can't speak Mandarin!

It would be a challenge speaking with the older folks, but generally the younger ones around our age range would be able to speak relatively good English.

Enjoy your trip! The Great Wall is one place spectacular indeed, steeped in history and gone through many wars and peace and bloodshed. I just haven't got a chance to go yet even though the rest of my family have gone, but I would imagine it'll be quite a feat climbing all the way up and down again!

Julie Lim said...

Hi Raymond,

Thanks for the brutal honest tip, hahaha. Will remember that when I get my arse to Beijing!

Julie Lim said...

Hi Art,

It's good to know I'm a peach :-)

Julie Lim said...

Hi Juphelia,

When I was in Phuket in January this year all the locals spoke to me in Thai! So I think I would be mistaken for a local mainland Chinese which I hope won't happen lah. But like you said, the younger generation may be able to speak relatively good English, so I'm hoping they would be able to help me, if need be.

And yes dear, I can't wait to meet you soon too!

JIPP said...

Wow. I wonder how come you've got all the time in the world to travel that much. I am so jealous. I'm sure you'll enjoy Beijing. Looking forward to your stories from there.

Julie Lim said...

Hi Jipp,

I'll be in Beijing for 4 days only, so taking leave is rather easy compared to taking leave for 2 weeks!

Cheap flights to Beijing said...

The wonders of a journey consist far more of such intangible experiences and unexpected situations than of factual things and events of material reality.

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