Travelling through China had its really difficult moments. First off, I don’t speak Chinese. Secondly, China has a technology block on Google, so I was out of luck with my self-navigating. Many larger cities have signs in several languages to accommodate visitors and travelers, but often times I was on my own to try to figure it out. Even when I did know where I was supposed to be going, communicating with those around me was not easy.
The trick was finding someone that DID speak English, and planning ahead. I had directions to my host’s house and my map got me as far as the hostel in which I stayed the first night. While at the hostel, I asked a man at the front desk if he could translate my directions into Mandarin in case I needed to ask for help (my map and directions in English would not help with the locals). This became a VERY useful tool during my journey.
Many times I had to stop someone to ask for help, mostly by making a pathetic face, waiving my hands in a friendly manner and pointing to whichever city name or bus stop on my map I was trying to get to next. At one point, I even had a commuter man have me follow him because he was going to the same location. Not the most efficient way to travel, but I eventually got to my destination. Smiles and kindness are the same in every language.:)
Have you ever had trouble getting around some place? What tricks did you use to navigate a new city?