Monday, May 27, 2013

Don't Look Them In The Eye

This isn't even busy!
Some of the best advice I have received so far whilst being in China has been "don't look them in the eye".  Who might you be asking?  Cabs, cars, other pedestrians, etc.  I have started to implement this approach as I get off the subway, as I am trying to cross a crazy Beijing intersection or I am walking thru a throng of people.  As soon as you look them in the eye - you are dead as it means that you have acknowledged them, you know that they are there and then you have to get out of the way!  However, if you continue to look down or down and ahead, all while paying attention to what is in your peripheral vision, like a bus which will not stop for anyone, and the odd cab who doesn't care, you can pretty much move safely around Beijing.

So this is my 3rd trip to China in less than 2 months (I wasn't anticipating being here this much - my 2nd trip was unanticipated) and I am definitely feeling much more comfortable and much more sure of myself.  Now I know that shocks some of you, as you see me as this travelling warriorette, but this warriorette does get scared and isn't always comfortable when she travels.  For my past 2 visits I have opted to stay at the Grand Hyatt Beijing, partly b/c I am a Hyatt Passport holder and know that I am going to have enough stays this year to move up the ol' frequent stayer food chain, but also because the Hyatt has a better room service menu than Trader's did, and in a place like China, having some N. American comfort food at easy disposal is important!

The trade off with staying at the Hyatt is that I am about a 10 minute cab ride to work (which costs about $3 CDN) or a 4 stop subway ride.  Normally what I have been doing is taking a cab in the morning and then the subway home - mainly because I am lazy, but today I took the subway both ways.  A one-way trip on the subway costs me about 50 cents and I even went so far as to buy a subway card last week, once again using my famous pointing and nodding skills as well as presenting money.  Hell - the lady at the ticket counter was able to figure out what I wanted.  If I catch the subway around 8am and around 5:30pm, it isn't usually that busy - give it 30 minutes more on each and then it is me and 1000 of my closest Chinese friends making our way to work.
One of my subway stations
Beijing is DEFINITELY getting easier and I am starting to venture out just a little bit more.  I am feeling fairly confident when taking a cab and I always have my hotel taxi card with - it says where I am staying in Mandarin characters and I know which main road I am staying on and can point in the general direction.  I have also learned that tapping, pointing, and nodding are effective communication tools, particularly when my Mandarin is non-existent and their English is the same - most times we can figure it out.  Most taxis in Beijing are metered, except for the ones outside of the Silk Market and I know how much it should cost me to get back to my hotel 20 RMB not 150 RMB and have been able to practice my "screw off" in English there :-)

I am not to the point where I  LOVE Beijing yet and I am not sure that I will ever get there, but I am definitely finding my own here.  By nature I am not the most patient person - I know - shocking, but I have had to be patient with Beijing because it has pushed me far outside of my comfort zone and in order to get back to my comfort zone, I have had to be patient, and it is now starting to pay off.

1 comment:

JB said...

Sounds like you have it all figured out. Soon you'll be thinking about heading back and giving India another whirl.