Lost in Translation
The most difficult aspect here to get used to is not just the differences in language, but that it sometimes seem near impossible to communicate with people here on any level. Even the very basics are worlds apart, such as how to show numbers on your hands (in the States we hold up 10 fingers for the number 10, in China they use just two). Apparently China is starting programs in elementary schools to teach English. It seems to be working, because in most of the families we have bumped into, it's almost always the little kids that do all the talking to us and then translate to their parents. In a decade or two it will probably be much easier for tourists to survive in China.
The other night, a few of us walked down to KFC. Believe it or not, KFC seems to be much more popular here than McDonald's. I'm still kind of surprised by that, but at least the KFC menus are different and offer some items that are not prepared in the States. All I wanted off the menu was a #2, which consisted of a fry, a pop, and a crispy chicken burger. It didn't quite turn out that way.
I suppose my first mistake was pointing at the big menu hanging behind the counter, and then holding up two fingers. The cashier said something in Chinese, which I didn't understand, so I grabbed a smaller picture menu they have handy for foreigners like us who have no idea what we're doing. I pointed at the picture on the menu for the #2 meal. The cashier nodded his head and started punching things in on the register.
The meal was supposed to come to 22.50 Yuan, which is about 3.50 USD, and I figured something was off when the number reached 60 Yuan. I started shaking my head and waving my arms around, trying to somehow communicate that through to the cashier. All that achieved was a very confused cashier. Food started appearing on my tray, much more than I ordered. I started frantically motioning again, and a manager showed up. Then I had a confused cashier and a confused manager. For some reason they separated the three sandwiches, three pops, and three fries, onto three different trays. How that was supposed to change things, I have no idea. After all of this, the price managed to go up even more.
Ten minutes later, and after having made quite a spectacle of myself in the Chinese KFC, I finally got just what I wanted. Don't ask me how, but the price was also less than it was supposed to be, but I wasn't going to complain at that point. I just sat down and enjoyed my delicious, crispy chicken sandwich.