LANGUAGE: Why it’s good to know a little Mandarin
Finding people beyond your hotel or at major restaurants and tourist venues that speak fluent English is not easy. While the majority of the signage throughout the Beijing is in Chinese and English, I would highly recommend that visitors and businesspeople take a quick course in Mandarin. Scott bartered Spanish lessons with a colleague fluent in speaking and writing Mandarin who taught him the language and cultural nuances. I learned a few phrases myself, including typical greetings, and Thank you,” and “I do not eat meat.” This was the most important phrase since I do not eat anything with more than two legs, and pork is a main ingredient in a lot of their dishes.
Otherwise navigating the city might prove to be difficult. Even the simplest task of catching a cab requires that you keep your hotel’s business card with the name written in Chinese to hand to the cab driver. I would highly recommend the China Institute in Manhattan as a great place to take classes, and it’s a wonderful resource for information on Chinese culture.