Auston Toperzer, May 20th, 2016
In the week I have been here, China never ceases to surprise me with new experiences. Interacting with locals, savoring local food, and experiencing China’s history by exploring the Forbidden City have opened my eyes to Beijing’s character. In fact, I’ve had so many experiences that I’m already struggling to remember everything.
One of the surprises was how friendly most people in Beijing are toward foreigners, at least outwardly. Most of the people I have dealt with, particularly the younger individuals, are glad to help me find my way. Taxi drivers are typically gruff, but even they show appreciation when I try to use my rudimentary Mandarin. Restaurant workers usually help out when I or my group can’t figure out what to get, and I can’t say the dishes I’ve tried disappointed me.
My favorite experience so far was on our group’s very first day in Beijing. We decided to get some breakfast at a local restaurant, which ended up being a small family-owned place. No one spoke any English there, so the challenge was to figure out how we could communicate our order. We had no clue what the menu said, and we couldn’t respond to the owner’s questions. I tried out my terrible Mandarin and told the lady we would like to have steamed buns for seven people, and she seemed excited I could actually say something. She then went of for about five minutes. Apparently she heard me say seven full bowls of steamed buns, because she brought back a massive amount of food that we couldn’t possibly finish. She also astounded us by saying it would cost a total of 42 yuan, less than $7.00!
Who knows what the next week will bring? My favorite experiences here have all been with the people. I enjoy the historical visits, but I feel more immersed when I am out on Beijing’s streets, when I attempt to order food, and when I try to explain where I want to go to a taxi driver. I look forward to the next few days and I expect to have many, many more memorable moments.
Categories: 2016 Trip