I received several emails about my last post on China so I thought I’d post again about our trip on a more light-hearted note.

The two most challenging aspects of our stay in China were language issues and food. Communication in English is severely limited though we did find that the younger generation were a little more proficient than others. People were invariably very friendly and anxious to help but limited in their ability to do so because even rudimentary English is not spoken.

The other, occasionally frustrating aspect, was our lack of familiarity with the food. Chinese food in China does not bear the faintest resemblance to Chinese food served in the US, the UK or in India. Now this did result in some amusing situations as we tried to communicate our food orders. A Chinese lady who shared our table during the Yangtze cruise wrote on a piece of paper in Mandarin the words for “beef”, “chicken”, “pork” and “fish”. We would show the waiter or waitress the paper to understand what type of meat or fish was being served or to specify what we wanted served! If all else failed our fall-back was McDonalds, KFC or Pizza Hut!!

One of the more amusing incidents that occurred was in Beijing at a restaurant renowned for its Peking Duck.

Now this was a “hole in the wall” kind of place but its Peking Duck was supposed to be out of this world! We were given a table in one of the private dining rooms since we were a group of five people. Ducks were being cooked en masse since just about everyone who came here would order it. The walls were emblazoned with pictures of celebrities who had patronized the restaurant – among them were Al Gore, Margaret Thatcher, prime ministers and presidents of several countries and a host of show business celebrities. It was my first experience eating Peking Duck and the food was delicious. The service was good but not exceptional.

The ladies used the rest room at the restaurant and came back very amused at what they saw which is best illustrated by this picture one of them took. It is a classic and shows some of the cultural/language issues that one encounters in China.

The admonishment shown in the picture was repeated on all four walls and, I guess, explicitly tells the users what they are not supposed to do in the toilet!

3 Responses to “Calling a spade a spade”

  1. Mona says:

    No shit?

    (Wonder how the Chinese will translate this popular American expression!)

  2. TJ says:

    Good point! One can envisage the potential for a lot of misunderstanding.

  3. GeorgeB Kurian says:

    Hahaha…dis might turn out to be another misinterpretation of a name….

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