The Polish Interloper in Guangzhou
In my travels in China, I encountered a Polish interloper who had traveled around the world. I encountered him dwelling in Guangzhou on his protracted detour in China. He had lived in Guangzhou for more than a month getting by as an English teacher before his planned travel to Xi’an, Sichuan, and then back overseas.
He had some stories to tell.
In one of our many colorful conversations, he shared his insights into how illiterate Chinese people are compared to the rest of the peoples in his travels around the world.
He said, “When I tried to get to my hotel on the first day, I stopped people on the road to ask for directions. I used sign language to tell people what is the metro. You know, China is the only country in the whole world – and I have traveled to many, many countries – where they don’t understand basic sign language and English.”
“I can go to any country and do a basic shape of a rectangle and make the choo-choo noise, and people will point me to the metro station. But these people! They have no idea!”
He was just startled.
Language Barriers in China
In my mind, the language barrier has never an issue because I speak fluent Mandarin, but I can now appreciate how troublesome China could be for holiday makers and travelers alike.
Adding to the complexity is how Chinese-language street signs and shop signs rarely have a Western-Friendly English translation.
English is just not a priority in China.
English literacy in Hong Kong conversely is much more conducive to cross-cultural communication, and more favorable to travelers, which makes China look more like a hermit kingdom to outsiders like the Polish guy.
He added, “When you are walking on the street at night in China, and you are trying to get somewhere, and you are a foreigner… good luck to you!”
Diary Of A Mad Chaos is a daily diary written from March 1996 until 2020, of which individual books and book series have been created, namely “The Lost Years” an exploration of young, entwined love, the “Wubao In China (猎艳奇缘)” book series which provides an extensive comparative analysis of the cultural differences between Eastern and Western societies, and the book titled “Foreigner (华人)” an exploration of race relations in Australia.