Xiao Chen thinks it’s great how much I’ve travelled, that I speak Chinese and enjoy Chinese food. What truly stunned him was my explanation that in western food potato is considered a staple (starch) food more than a vegetable.
In Perth with my sister I took a ferry to Fremantle – complete with dolphins, watched State of Origin, went shopping, visited a Beijing friend at a cidery in the hills, and saw a play. It was a great time, with clear air and cider. Then I went home.
Many times in taxis I have heard Australia praised on the radio as a travel destination. These days when someone discovers I’m from Australia, the instant reaction is not kangaroos or our Prime Minister, but how beautiful my country is.
The best moment came later, after we’d talked for a while. She said to me, “You speak great Chinese. Actually, your Mandarin is better than our boss’s. He’s been here in Beijing more than 10 years but he still doesn’t speak as well as you.”
The toffee fruit vendor chatted to the jian bing vendor, saying “Wow! She speaks pu tong hua [standard Mandarin Chinese]. Like my grandson. He can’t speak our dialect. We speak our dialect to him but he doesn’t pick up much.”
Occasionally I meet a driver who has interesting things to say, and a good attitude, so it’s fun to listen. This was one of those times. I don’t share all his opinions but I’m always interested to learn more about another person’s perspective on life.
My previous posts about conversations (in Chinese) with Chinese locals have been pretty popular, so I thought it was time to again record for you a few snippets of interesting conversations I’ve had in the past few weeks. On the plane from Singapore to Beijing I was seated next to a nice man from va small town Shandong…