Lost in Translation


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Asia » China » Hunan » Fenghuang
May 10th 2008
Published: May 20th 2008
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We are now in the town of Fenghuang. We arrived thismorning at 6:00am after catching a local bus from Yangshuo to Guilin (2.5 hours). We then had to get a bus from Guilin to Huaihua (14 hours) along dangerious roads high up in the mountains. Finally we got another cramped local bus which passed beautiful rice paddies and old towns into Fenghuang (2 hours) . We did all this using sign language and a phrase book since no one understands a word we are saying. I cant believe we actually made it this far!

While on the bus I chose not to look out of the window at the dizzying heights. One wrong turn and it was a long way down. The roads were bumpy and redicilouly dangerious. We were allowed the occasional toilet stop which were only available in the grimest conditions. We had to guess when to jump off the bus. We wernt given much room for our backpacks while surrounded by rice and fruit bags, together with locals that like to hack really loudly and spit greenies all over the floor of the bus - discusting!

Once we arrived in Fenghuang we suddenly realised why it was so difficult to arrange transportation here. We are unintentionally in the smallest and most remote village that obviousally has no foreign tourists. We are really struggling to communicate with the locals and found it very difficult to locate any accommodation.

As we walked towards the water front with our heavy backpacks we were awestruck with the most stunning view of mist floating over the river with chinese fishermen floating in and out of the mist wearing their little hats, surrounded by really old houses built on stilts towering along the river banks. This place is very mystical, i feel like I am in real China!

We met one other travller in the town who has been therefor a while. She seemed suprised that we had made it this far without being able to speak a word of Chinese. We were told that in the last month the total count of foreigners is 5, including myself and Glyn! This town has a real authentic feel. We are well and truely off the beaten track again! The only problem is that not a single person understands a thing we are saying. Its the most bizzare experience, especially when trying to order food!

DOUBLE TAKE, POINT, STARE, SHOUT is the Chinese reaction to us in remote towns. I cant help laugh at their reaction to us. When waiting in queues I see people telling each other that their is a foreigner in the queue, then they all take it in turns to stare at us. One bloke watched everthing I did for about 30 minutes. At first it was very un-nerving. I now just resort to shouting "Ni hao" (Hello) when they begin to stare. Unfortunatly it seems to promote an even more bizzare reaction. They run over and start talking to me in Chinese. When they realise I dont understand a word they are saying, I find they repeat themselves over and over, then louder and louder until they are shouting so loud i am deafened! Its hysterical!

I have spent most of the day wondering around the maze of small alleys and river front buildings. I have seen cobra, dog, cat, hedgehog, pig and chickens available for lunch. They are all alive when you choose what you would like to eat.

While walking around town I keep getting groups of girls following me around giggling among themselves. I get curious old people poke me while others just stop dead in their tracks and stare at me. Occasionally I hear the familiar english word hello, but thats about it. Its strange being in a country where i cant even recognise the characters written on the walls or buildings. Anyone coming to China better invest in a good phrase book or electronic translator. Its the least English spoken country i have ever visited.

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20th May 2008

China sounds great ;-)
Hello, not being able to understand what anyone is saying reminds me when i went to Osaka/Japan. Places like China, Japan and hongkong very seldom speak english.. When ordering food i had to see if the pictures looked ok.. as the writing meant nothing to me! It is amazing how well you manage when there are major language barriers.

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