How lucky your daughter can speak fluent Chinese, even she can recite
the Chinese classics, such as dizigui弟子规,You know even not all the
Chinese students know this classics. I am sure they will enjoy the trips
cause they can understand the culture easily, at least they can
communicate with the locals if they want. It is a problem traveling in a
strange country, of course you can call it adventure, but sometimes, if
you can speak the local languge is the shortcut to understand the core
of the culture, and you can benefit from the trips. It doesnt matter if
you can not speak Chinese, Soultravelers3 give you some tips as below.
3) Thank god your daughter can speak Chinese, but do you think it is still a problem for the non-Chinese speakers Travel to China? whats your tips for this kind of group people? how to enjoy the nice food and not miss the nice places? how to stop the cab etc.
On Yes, it was really a great blessing for our trip to have a child who is fluent in Mandarin.
How lucky she was to make her visit to China already fluent. But we
were also very lucky to have you and the school and many friends that
you set us up with. Even with Mozart’s Mandarin, our trip would have
been much harder without that.
Yes, I do think the language barrier makes independent travel to
China harder than many places. By coincidence I met up with an old
friend who was born in Hong Kong, but has spent the last 40 years living
in Canada and doesn’t speak Mandarin and also an American acquaintance
who learned Mandarin in Beijing
20 years ago who was visiting with her family. BOTH of them ( and they
were doing tours) remarked repeatedly that they were amazed at how
little English is available in China even in the service arena in major
cities ( places where one would expect that in countries that don’t
On the train to Shanghai,
we met an Australian backpacker who was traveling China for 6 weeks who
didn’t speak any Chinese, so independent travel is possible ( and we
did much on our own of course), but a lot harder, so people must be
prepared for that. He also said he was very disappointed with the food
which he was surprised about as he’d been so looking forward to it. We,
on the other hand, absolutely loved all the delicious food we had in
China, but then many of our meals were through locals, so there is the
difference. If we were just guessing all on our own,( places as well as
menu items) things might have been different.
Cabs are wonderfully cheap in China, but unless one has a local
connection, they can be extremely difficult for the traveler who doesn’t
speak Chinese. Easy to flag down, but not once you get in due to
language. We didn’t meet even one taxi driver who spoke any English and
even with Mozart’s good Chinese it was sometimes a problem ( like when
she didn’t know the name of a famous destination in Chinese).
The key for cabs
in China is to always have a written address of where you are going
and if at all possible to also have a local phone or sim card and a
person to call if there is a problem. We had to use charades added to
Mozart’s Chinese when we approached some taxi drivers on our own in Xi'an
to take us from the Muslim Quarter to the city wall. We didn’t have a
card or written information with us for it or our apartment where we
were staying and just took the cab as a spontaneous decision with a
short time frame.
So we were proud that we got there, but did have problems catching a
taxi back to our apartment, so luckily we had your friend and guide in
Xi’an to phone and he rescued us so we could catch our train. Otherwise
that would have been a much bigger problem. We also had challenges with
coordinating with our non Mandarin speaking Canadian Chinese friend
when we met for the Peking Opera. Luckily her hotel and our school
helped us, but that would have been impossible without help.
China is definitely doable for the independent traveler, but one
should be prepared for the challenges and it helps greatly to have
someone to call if there is a problem. Where ever we have traveled where
there are few or no English speakers, we are challenged, but if one is
prepared for that challenge it helps a great deal.
4) is there any disappointements this trip? why? what
will you do and where will you go for your next trip? whats your plan
for next year? whats your 46th country?
The only disappointment with our trip to China, is that we couldn’t
extend our stay as we would have liked to have stayed longer. It was
really a magical destination for us and that is because of you and the
amazing people we met. We definitely felt the spirit of Lao Tzu while
there and that deeply touched our hearts and stays with us.
We’re always traveling since we don’t have a home, so life is one big
trip, but we don’t plan too far ahead. Our focus now is continuing
Mandarin education for Mozart and my healing, so we will be spending
more time in Penang where it is easy to get those things. We plan to
return to China for a longer stay if we can work out the details we
Other possible countries in the coming year are India, Maldives,
Thailand, Bali and Indonesia, Korea, Philippines, Cambodia, Viet Nam,
Burma etc. We spent 5 years focused on Europe and now we are focused on Asia ( although we do plan to return to Europe for more).
Who knows what are 46th country will be? We like to be spontaneous so we might be surprised as everyone!