Friday, April 23, 2010

Planes, Trains, and Audible Deals

If my Chinese teachers awarded star stickers for significant accomplishments, I am pretty confident I would have received one today. This afternoon I ventured to a nearby ticket office (alone) and purchased an airplane ticket and a train ticket in Chinese!

At first this might seem terribly unimpressive, but those who have been following my journey closely will understand my elation. Ever since I began studying here I have been bombarded by frustration and incompetency in regards to my Chinese abilities. Time and again conversations with Chinese people have abruptly turned into English conversations -- with them usually initiating the change -- because they can't understand what I'm saying, or I can't understand what they are saying. Most inklings of hope that have sprung up due to understanding my teachers in class have almost immediately been mowed over as soon as I enter the "real world."

But today I "successfully" had a significant exchange of words with the woman in the ticket office. I say "successfully" because much of that exchange was spent clarifying each other's meanings. But, alas, I now have two tickets.

In case you're wondering, I purchased the tickets because I will be traveling during a short school holiday next week to visit a couple of friends.

A few interesting facts to leave you with:
  • At most ticket offices in China you can only buy a train ticket if it is 10 days or less before your departure date. 
  • The standard price of a train ticket to a city 500 miles away is about $20 if you want to sit or $40 if you want to lie down.
  • You can fly for about $75.
And since I'm feeling generous I'll throw in a couple of pictures. I still can't get passed how interesting this city is. Even something as mundane as a wall or a  dirty sidewalk will captivate me.


  1. I love you title of this post! haha :D

    Sounds like your hard work is beginning to pay off. Now, you are sure the tickets are to the place you were intending on going, aren't you? (just kidding!)

  2. correction: I love 'your' title...

  3. Michelle,
    I thought maybe you forgot a common in your first sentence and just wanted to express your lover for a title. Stranger things have happened.

    You said that sometimes your conversation turns to English because they do not understand your Chinese. What do you do if you can't understand their English? Has that ever happened to you?
    I can also understand taking a picture that others might not find the beauty in. Sometimes you look at something and think "Wow, that would be a great picture."