Learning is going fairly well. What I have noticed is that my level of proficiency is coming in stages. I seem to have got the first stage where I feel I’m able to talk and make some conversation which the teachers. The second stage would be better understanding, however, I don’t feel I’m there yet since I need the teachers to speak slowly and sometimes repeat themselves. Then of course the third stage is where you are able to understand and speak to the locals. Even though I can ask for things in a shop or in a restaurant, I can’t eavesdrop into a conversation or give much of a reply, especially when they start using words outside my vocab list.
I needed something desperately for when I go travelling. It was a camera pole for my Gopro action camera. I had ordered it in the UK, but it came too late and so I cancelled the order and got a refund. It still didn’t help the fact that I really needed it to do some good filming. Luckily, I found it on the Taobao which is the Chinese version of eBay. It seemed great, but it was all in Chinese and it would have been complicated with postage since I would have had to be at the flat to receive it. So I took some initiative and found the guys mobile number on the product listing. I then went on Google Translate to convert what I wanted to say into Chinese characters and sent him a text explaining that I wanted to pick it up from his office. He replied that he understood and gave me his address. I took the gruelling 1+ hour subway ride and finally arrived. After accidentally wasting 30 minutes in the wrong building trying to find level 13 when the building only went up to level 12 which should have been my first clue that I was wrong, but obviously I wasn’t thinking correctly. Anyhow, after I realised I switched buildings, took the elevator to the 13th floor and knocked on 13a2. A man answered the door with his daughter playing on the floor and his wife at the computer. He was extremely polite and welcomed me in. Gave me the product, insisted that I opened it and tested it. I gave him the money, he gave me change and ended up even giving me a discount, I persisted to pay the full asking price however he was having none of it. We communicated with the basic level mandarin I had, while asking him to speak slowly. Once we exchanged a few pleasantries I exited the building chuffed to bits.
As for the technology centre Zhongguancun, it’s a techie’s dream. It literally has anything you could ever possibly want. If you ever wondered where the stuff you buy on eBay comes from in China. This is where.
When I arrived home I had decided that I wanted to make some dumplings for dinner since no one was around. I had bought what I thought were dumplings to boil, however, turned out to be dumplings for steaming. I was rather puzzled when they didn’t seem to be cooking correctly. I wechat’ed (china messaging app) my Chinese friend and he was quick to point out my mistake.
The next day I bought the correct ones and they tasted just as good as they did in the restaurant.