Overcoming Language Barrier in China - Meeting Sisi and Osca

Is it possible to travel in China without the ability to speak the language and a tour guide to translate everything? The answer is: DEFINITELY.

It's not a walk in the park, but with effort and a lot of smiles, you will be able to find your directions. With a little bit of English and lots of body movements, you will somehow be able to communicate to the locals. Yes, it felt like charades most of the time. I even flapped my hands like a bird to order a chicken bun instead of pork. Whatever works, right?

Despite of all those differences, I am grateful for every help that I got. Although, to be honest, I was quite unsure of my decision to bring my parents to China without a guide, I was lucky to bumped into kindhearted strangers along the way. Two of the most memorable strangers I met were Sisi and Osca, who happened to be fluent English speakers with interesting stories to tell.
Meet Sisi!
I was having a hard time locating a place to buy a sim card. As I was asking for directions in the mall, Sisy approached me and offered to help. Not only did she translated everything for me, but she even walked me to the store that was located outside of the mall.

To answer my confusion, I began asking about her English fluency background. Apparently Sisi was a flight attendant who had been all around the globe. With this background, she was fluent in English and a keen helper to everyone she meets. As we talk about the lack of English proficiency in China, she mentioned that it is a huge problem in China, but locals would be keen to help if they could understand tourists a little bit better.

I can't agree more.
Meet Osca!
Getting a cab in Beijing is very hard to do if you don't speak the language. Even if you have the address written in Chinese, most drivers would wave their hands at you once you said anything in English. As I confusedly searched for a cab back to the hotel after a tiring day out at Forbidden City, Osca came to the rescue. Meeting someone who speaks English as fluent as Osca in the middle of Beijing was definitely a relieve. 

He quickly guided me to take the bus and took us to the nearest MRT station where we could find our own way home. During the bus ride, Osca, who is an art student in France, told me all the famous art districts that I could visit in China. One of which was the 798 District that is definitely a lovely place to visit for the art enthusiasts. Today, Osca dreams of curating more and more art pieces from China to be showcased in Europe. 

Traveling in China without understanding the language could be really hard. But if you have the courtesy to ask people for directions, the locals will try their best to help you. But before you ask anyone, try looking for the millenial ones who might be able to speak English well. Other than that, check out any translation applications that you can use offline as they would be useful when there is no access to the internet. If you are confident with your internet connection, google translate would be sufficient as long as you have your VPN application ready.

I will be writing more of Beijing next week! But in case you missed it, here are some posts of Beijing that I wrote in my 2 blogs: 
PS: Are there anymore tips on how to beat the language barrier in China? Drop your comments and let me know!

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