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Time to make a move



Although I touched on travelling around the city in last month’s edition, I thought that I would make it my main focus this month. This will include getting around on the subway train and the bus as well as using a taxi.

When I first came to the city, one of my work colleagues told me that he had taken quite a while to gain the confidence to get into a taxi alone and speak to the driver in Chinese. This immediately gave me the incentive to reach that level in a shorter amount of time! I thought that it would be best to try my plan out when coming back home from work, as I would recognise the buildings and roads near to where I am staying: Cheng Ji Da Sha on Nan Jin Lu. ‘Lu’ incidentally means ‘road’ (if you look at the road signs, you’ll quickly recognise the character). Every city has a ‘Nan Jin Lu’ as this is the name of the major road within. So every taxi driver will be familiar with the location, even if you have only just started getting to grips with pronouncing the tones of the Chinese language. So after work, I hailed a taxi (the vacant ones have a red light illuminating on the front dashboard), and then said to the driver, ‘wo yao qu Cheng Ji Da Sha, Nan Jin Lu.’ This is simply, “I want to go to – ‘location’”. This worked fine and then when I reached my destination, I simply said, “ting you bian” which literally translates to ‘stop right side’. (‘Ting zuo bian’ if you wish to ‘stop left side’.)

Buses are relatively simple, as long as you know which one to catch. I simply asked some Chinese work colleagues which bus I needed to board and the closest stop to my flat. Once this was done, you just get on the bus and pay either one point five or two Yuan and then simply take a seat. One of my first adventures was going to a train station on the edge of Tianjin city. It was a two-hour bus ride from the city center. Here I simply handed the bus driver a little note that was written in Chinese (one of my work colleagues wrote it), saying my destination and if he could tell me when to get off the bus. He was more than happy to help and said, “mei wen ti” (no problem).

You can also use a small plastic, credit card sized card to use both the bus and the subway. The subway also costs two Yuan, but if for example, you wish to go to the edge of the city, and one-way ride in both the subway and the bus could cost around six Yuan. You can both buy and put money onto the card at every subway station. I admittedly had to have someone who spoke Chinese with me when I obtained the card, but when putting money onto it, you can just hand the card and money over and simply say the value in Chinese (wu shi kuai, 50 – kuai is the slang for Yuan. Like dollars - bucks, pounds - quid.) Note that, especially on the subway, your card may not always activate the barriers. Sometimes it is just a case of try the barrier next to the one that you’ve just tried, or handing it to the people in the nearby kiosk and they can rectify the problem.

This should give you a foundation in order to begin your travelling around the city, making trips to work, coffee shops, restaurants and attractions within the city much easier. For the latter, take a look at some of the back pages in this magazine, where you can simply say, “wo yao qu nar er” (I want to go there) and point at the picture!

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