I have traveled and lived in a number of countries. In general, I studied a number of languages and language as a major in linguistics at college. Therefore, I have a good understanding of language, in general, and I know that language and communication are more than just words. When I first came to China, four years ago, it was at the last minute, but I bought some CDs in Chinese and learned some primitive words and phrases. However, what I learned was something simple, and cannot be considered language knowledge, but I dealt with other forms of communication. Of course, the biggest challenge is that the written language, made up of more than 50,000 separate written characters, is completely different from the more familiar written languages, in the West.
Moreover, although China has one language, which is Mandarin (Putonghua), there are already more than 50 separate languages spoken in the country, and many people, especially in small villages and remote areas, cannot speak their language in regional languages. Although street signs, in big cities as well, are written in Pinyin English, this is not the case in most parts of the country and most things, such as store signs, product labels, or listings. Regardless of this problem, I always relied on other forms of communication, in any country, when I had no words to express my needs or desires. I found a smile and playful attitude, and one could get very far.
In addition, simple words and phrases, such as hello (ni hao, in Mandarin; lei ho, in Cantonese), bye (tsai jian, in Mandarin; goodbye, in Cantonese), please (ching, in Mandarin; mgoi, in Cantonese)), and thank you (Shih Shih, in Mandarin; mgoi, in Cantonese), go a long way. Moreover, for travel, in China, you can take a small Chinese-Chinese dictionary with you and show the people's words, in the dictionary. After that, being funny, charming and attractive are communication procedures that go beyond the spoken language. Moreover, every trader, from the small corner store to the supermarket, has a calculator, so they can show you a price in numbers.
Language problems aside, the first trick to travel in China is to use a Chinese travel agent (for example, long travel or C flight) to book your flights and hotel rooms because you will get a good discount (when you are in Rome … However, you are in China , So …). The prices that you can get, through these types of agencies, are actually lower, and usually much lower than those you would get through direct dealing. In fact, on one trip we took, we wanted to extend our stay in a hotel, and they told us to contact the agent because we would get a better rate on the addition. Even if you did not contact an agency in advance to reserve a room, there are usually agencies around airports, train stations, and buses.
You get double benefit as a foreign traveler in China. First of all, hotels and restaurants pay their employees and pay for supplies in yuan, not in dollars, so they are priced like western hotels and restaurants, but the yuan is cheap in terms of dollars or euros. For example, we rented a small floor on our last trip to Xi Chong, an isolated beach, south of Shenzhen, for 150 ¥ per night. I used to stay in a big hotel in Guangzhou, before I got an apartment, for 300 ¥ per night; one of my most frugal (cheap) friends always stayed in the smaller room with no river view for 150 ¥ per night.
So, don't hesitate to think about prices, in China, in terms of the purchasing power of your local currency. Understand the money, locally or foreign, in terms of its local purchasing power, and not in terms of the purchasing power of your home country’s currency, in the other country. The second benefit you get, while traveling in China, is that energy costs are subsidized, so trains, planes, buses, and taxis are still cheap, in terms of any currency, domestic or foreign, because of the subsidies, not because of the purchase of the yuan power.
For example, the round trip cost of a 1,000-mile (each-way) ticket may be 1,000 ¥, or about $ 150 USD. Most Chinese take trains and buses, even on long trips. Some of my foreign friends also made two-day train trips to the north, and they say it is a good way to meet people and see the country (personally, I think they are cheap). The cost of a one-hour train ride (two hours by bus) costs around ¥ 70. I pay a private driver to take me to my university, which takes about an hour by car, mostly on highways, 115 euros.
Although advice is not part of employee culture or expectations, in some Western hotels and restaurants, I am always expected to leave money in the hotel room and in the Western restaurants that we repeat. When it comes to the price of anything but restaurants, always negotiate prices. All Chinese think foreigners are rich. They know that $ 70 is only $ 10 for an American, but what they don't realize is that $ 10 won't buy us dinner, in America, while $ 10 can buy me (and me) in China. As a result of their misunderstanding of the relativity of money (see "You Missing" and other analyzes on the "Country Analysis" page on our website), people were forced to charge me up to 10 times the price in RMB. Remember that one yuan should buy you about one dollar or one Euro to buy you at home.
I am a "natural local", which means the way I love to travel is to act as if I just moved to the area rather than being a tourist (although it's hard to convince people, here, I'm a local, but some still believe me). I have already lived in more than a dozen places, this century. My way is to tell the locals that I go there (as I am, although it may take up to a short week or a month), and ask them what they should do around the area. You learn a lot about somewhere, this way.
People love to help you discover the inner secrets of their cities. I am also very friendly and say "Hello" to everyone on the street (here, "Hello" is "Ni Hao" or, in some parts of Guangdong Province, "Liu Hu"). This always gives you a good measure of city comfort: the more people smile and say "hello" to you, a good measure of friendliness. For example, in New York City, most people would look at you like crazy and pick up their speed, while about 85 percent of people in Philadelphia would say "hello", and others would be the first to say hello. "Montreal is almost 75 percent, Quebec City is more friendly, even if the word "Bon jour" shows that you are not a French speaker.
In most cities, in China, and even in small villages, people are so smoking that you can speak Chinese and that you have spent some time paying attention because they will smile and say "ni hao" "(back to you and may give you a thumb (Xi'an) is a real exception to the rule Thumb.) Try these simple methods, on your own, when traveling, especially if you are trying to roam in China.
I have been wandering around without much difficulty since I came to China four years ago, from the start. Sure, it was scary, sometimes, when I felt isolated and having trouble trying to figure out how to get what I want or where I want to go. But I took a breath and decided to relax and enjoy everything. It was never me who put so many words in the first place.
I am a physicist who was able to speak and think in the most accurate mathematics language, and study linguistics because I am interested in the interaction between language and thought. I always ask a lot of questions and teach students and helpers to do the same because words have different meanings to different people, in the first place. However, language also means more than just words. Don't be afraid of language barriers, be creative and have fun.
Note. When you receive a call in your hotel room, late at night, ask if you want a massage, this is not a massage they are already offering.