Sunday, April 22, 2007

China Part 4: Banana in China

Yes. That is me. However, that doesn't mean I can't understand a single word :D Sometimes it's good to be a banana. Especially when you have those pesky salesmen pushing their items into your face.

Sometimes, it's frustrating because they (the China Chinese people) have problems understanding what I want. Sometimes...it can be quite funny...

I was at the West Lake when another tour group consisting of China folks from other areas approach the place where I was waiting for other group members of mine (they were using the washroom), when their tour guide said loudly, "Ni men qu chang ke zai ze pian (han yu pin yin may not be accurate. Literal translation: You guys go and sing there)". I stared. Do local tour groups normally sing loudly at the park? I panicked. I won't have to do that right? We are from Malaysia after all, we won't have to sing right?!

My mom laughed out loud. Apparently, "chang ke (sing)" simply means "to do your toilet business". -_-||| I had forgotten. It happened again in the bus and I seriously thought that we were going to the karaoke to sing...

I also noticed that as a banana, you get stared at a lot. They aren't subtle about it at all. They'll stare at you for a long time, then start whispering to their friends. Anyway, I don't think it's something good so it's better not to know :P

However, being thought of as a "gaijin" (foreigner in Japanese language) in Nanjing is no joke. Their hatred towards the Japanese people has not waned at all even after many years, until a Japanese in a previous group from Singapore refused to alight his bus at Nanjing as he feared for his life. This is due to the Nanjing Massacre,however, I won't go into details about it as I don't like depressing stuff.

We were at a shopping area called "Fu Shi Miao" (I THINK lah) at Nanjing when this old man came up to my mom to persuade her to buy his items in Mandarin (another pesky salesman, they are all over the place!). After giving up on my mom, he came over to me and started speaking gibberish! It was obviously not Mandarin.

Mom: DIE LAH! He thinks that you are a Japanese!
Steffi: Is that so?
Mom: SEE!!! It's because of your cap and hand gloves! Remove them now!
Steffi: Don't be silly. Don't wanna remove, it's cold.
Mom: Later we'll have people chasing us down the street...
Steffi: How do you know that he thought that I'm a Japanese? Maybe he thinks that I'm a Korean or Vietnamese?
Mom: Hmph. I don't know. Just better pray that we don't get chased.
Steffi: Haha -_-

And then there were times when I WISHED that I could speak Mandarin well, and in their slang, because English and sign language just didn't work very well.

At McDonalds, Nanjing. These two aunties and I were at McD's and I asked them what was the name of the pie with purple filling. They didn't know either. So it was my turn to order. Note that the conversation/words are spoken in Mandarin if they are in italics.

Waiter: (don't know what he's saying, but I presume that he's asking me what I want)
Steffi: Wo yao...na ge! (points to the board up on the wall like a retard)
Waiter: *looks at the board then looks at Steffi like she's a retard*
Waiter: (again, I don't know what he's saying. I think he named some food)
Aunty 1: She wants to know what is that food with the purple colour filling.
Aunty 2: Yes yes, the purple one.
Waiter: Yada yada pot pet
Aunty 1: pili pala pot pet
Waiter: pot pet pot pet bla bla
Aunty 1: I think he's saying that it's fish.
Steffi: No! It can't be...how can a pie which looks like the apple pie have fish filling?
Aunty 2: Yeah, definitely not fish.
Waiter: yada yada pie
Steffi: *GRRRRR...I KNOW it's a pie* It's ok lah, don't care what it is, I'll just order one.
Aunty 1: pot pet sot set
Waiter: Bla bla
Aunty 1: yada yada (it seems that even ordering is a problem although BOTH are speaking Mandarin. Must be because of the different accent)
Waiter: *packs the pie and hands over to me* Yada yada? (I'm assuming he's asking whether I want to take away or have it there)
Steffi: *stares at waiter* Plastic bag, please?
Waiter: *looked confuse*
Steffi: Uh...bao bao! (it means bag)
Aunty 1: *quickly intervenes* yada yada pot pet
Waiter: *hands over a paper bag to Steffi*
Steffi: Xie xie *takes it and walks off

I'm sure he must have thought that I'm the most troublesome customer he has ever met. He also probably thinks that I'm a retarded Chinese...The best part was, when we could READ the label on the pie box, the aunties still have no idea what it was. THat is because it was labeled "TARO Pie". Of course, being an anime otaku, I knew what it was. "Yam pie", I told them. Hey...I thought they hated the Japanese...Ah, well. At least the pie tasted nice, though I wondered if it was worth all the hassle.

So when I went to Yoshinoya at Nanjing Lu in Shanghai, I decided not to speak at all. Just use sign language. I pointed to the chawan mushi and showed him two fingers. Then my mom wanted to order a bottle of mineral water. There was one bottle on the cash machine, but I wasn't too sure if it was water.

Steffi: Are you sure or not, that is water?
Mom: Yes ler..
Lady staff standing beside cashier: Yes, yes water.
Steffi: (relieved) Ok, I'll have one (shows one finger) please.

And then at the bookstore. HUGE ONE. We both looked around like lost lambs.

Mom: Where's the postcard?
Steffi: Definitely not on this floor.
Staff standing nearby: (in clear English) The postcard is located at the next floor over there. (points upstairs, to the left)
Steffi: Ah, thank you.
Steffi to mom: See, I guess people who work at the bookstore can speak better English.

Another well mannered lady. Much appreciated. :D Then we wanted to look for KEYCHAINS.

Mom to another staff: Do you have keychains here?
Staff: *looks confused* Ha?
Mom tried again, without much success.

Steffi: Wait, I've got an idea. (takes out her keychain and dangles it in front of lady)
Steffi: Zhe ge. Key chain. (makes a circle motion around the keychain) Ni you zhe ge ma?
Lady: (After much frowning, she finally got our message). Oh, mei you.
Steffi: Ah, ok. Xie xie.
Steffi to mom: Uh, looks like not all of them can speak as well as the first one.

Another incident was at the first hotel I stayed at in Hangzhou. I left a bag behind in the hotel's restaurant and only realized it while walking out of the hotel. So I dashed back in without my mother and was immediately dismayed when I realized that I would most likely have problems communicating with the waiters/waitresses there. Nevertheless, I cheered myself on as I approached the waitress and attempt to speak to her.

Steffi: Qing wen, ni you kan dao wo de...paper bag ma? Zai ze pian (points to empty spot on the floor)*Excuse me, did you see my paper bag? Over there*
Waitress: (has problem understanding the word "paper bag". started talking to another waiter)pili pala sok sek
Waiter: pili pala pot pet
Waitress: yada yada bla bla (trying to explain to Steffi. This doesn't look good)
Steffi: uh...paper bag wor...(tries to use sign language)
Waitress: yada yada bla bla
Steffi: uh, ok, xie xie.

All I knew was that someone has taken it. So I grabbed a tour member of mine who was outside the restaurant, and got her to be the interpreter. Finally, I was told that a lady wearing black took it already. Well, everything ended well, we managed to find the "lady in black" who belonged to another tour group before they left. PHEW!

And at another hotel...this sweet room cleaner knocked on my door to ask me a question. I confessed. I have NO idea what she was saying, but I know that we were supposed to be out of the room by then, as all our group members have checked out.

Sweet lady: yada yada bla bla?
Steffi: uh...um...wo men...teng yi xiar, ha...
Steffi to toilet door: (mom's inside) MOM! How do you tell her that we are going already?
Mom: Wo men jiu yao zou le!
Steffi: (turns back to look at lady) Wo men jiu yao zou le! (she probably heard my mom already...haha)
Sweet lady: ah, hao, hao...(walks off)

Bless that sweet lady...she's one of the rare ones who's smiley who didn't look impatient and didn't look at me as if I'm retarded.

Of course, wherever I go in China, I carried around my little chinese book with me. At Cheng Huang Miao in Shanghai, I was looking for this "wired name" shop so that I can get Jyrenze her souvenir.

Steffi: Let's ask the guard (they have guards EVERYWHERE. Even the parks)
Mom: You know what to ask meh?
Steffi: (flips throught booklet) Let's see...Qing wen, ni zher dao na ge...uh...something dian zai nar? (Excuse me, do you know where' the uh...shop is located at?)
Mom: Ahahaha, how do you say, wire name shop?
Steffi: aiyah, just tell him "yong uh, wire zuo ming de..." (use uh, wire to form the name...)
Steffi: ...somehow, we have to find out how to say "wire" in Chinese.
Mom: I also don't know. Er, but even if he tells us the directions, would we understand him?
Steffi: (blinks) HAIH.

So, that was the part of the reason we failed to obtain it, Jyrenze...gomen nasai!

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7 Comments:

At 1:20 PM, Blogger Jyrenze said...

haha..i think even those of us who can speak chinese have problems getting ourself understood in china coz of the accent and all.

I think wire is "tie sian" in mandarine, FYI.. which translates to metal thread

 
At 1:30 PM, Blogger Jyrenze said...

and the reason y they thought it was fish pie, is because the word for yam and fish in mandarine is quite similar, hehe

 
At 10:32 PM, Blogger Darke Shard said...

Hehehehehe, your China trip never fails to make me laugh, my fellow numbnut! :D

Soooo, you're embarassed to sing karaoke in the park, but you're fine with doing your business there? Steffi, no! You must not disturb the growing grass!

 
At 4:23 PM, Blogger Eng said...

yea... as what Pun said, even if I could speak Mandarin, I had hard time understanding their slangs.

but it also depends where you are. Shang Hai has a slang so deep that even the locals may not understand them... and this was told by one China Chinese I knew.

 
At 9:44 AM, Blogger Steffi the Numbnut said...

Jyrenze: Oh! No wonder...Suddenly only "fish" came into the picture. So weird.

Darke: Don't worry. I won't "disturb the growing grass". I'll only disturb the growing trees...

Eng: You are right. Sometimes my mom and I even thought that they were speaking KOREAN at first. Then only we realized that it's mandarin...heavy slang.

 
At 10:42 AM, Blogger Eng said...

Steph... dun disturb nature, you wicked woman

 
At 12:21 PM, Blogger Steffi the Numbnut said...

HOHOHO!>=D

 

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