Monday, February 11, 2008

Subway and Taxi Adventures

The subway in Beijing closes before 11pm. I learned this by walking into a subway station at 10:55pm to go home. The attendant wouldn't let me enter until I communicated to her where I was going (by using a map). Then she said a few syllables I didn't know but which I took to understand as "the last train going there has already gone by." Too late. I decided not to risk whether or not she would understand the syllables I considered uttering.

Walking out of the subway station by myself gave me the perfect opportunity to play on the escalators. They slow down to conserve energy when there is no one on them, then each speeds up again when someone walks onto it.

Since I was over an hour by foot from home and the wind is razer sharp tonight I decided to splurge on a taxi. I had the business card from the day spa in my apartment complex with me, with the address written on it in characters. Unfortunately the cabbie didn't know where the address was. I had my trusty map with me and was able to show him on the map where I wanted to go. The exchange took a couple of moments but it resulted in him speeding me home via the most direct way possible (I've walked it by foot and am familiar with the route). When he turned the meter off it read 26 RMB - pricey for a cab ride around here but appropriate considering the distance traveled. My wallet discharged a twenty (er shi) and a five and a one. Unfortunately the number six doesn't automatically register in my brain in Mandarin yet so I had to count on my fingers like a three year old (yi, er, san, si, wu, liu) and then looked up and said liu (six) aloud to the driver, laughing. He'd been watching the whole thing with interest and waiting for me to laugh before he would laugh out loud.

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