Existing Member?

avant-garde_chauvintist wandering through the garden of ideals

Train tickets

CHINA | Monday, 30 June 2008 | Views [940]

The one thing I was sure I could do in Chinese was buy train tickets. I've done it countless times now (mostly in Chinese), and I've never once gotten the wrong ticket.

Today, I attempted to purchase my third to last train ticket in China. I went to a window armed with the train I wanted and my minimal Chinese skills. They pointed to the "English-speaking window." I thought, "Dammit, I can do this in Chinese!" And insisted that they help me.

They couldn't. When they realized I wasn't leaving, they just said, "Meiyou," and moved on. Meiyou is perhaps the most over used word in Chinese. It means simply, "Don't have."

So I marched over to the English window, and attempted to do my business. But the guy...big surprise...didn't speak English. Except, "Sorry. No English." So I did my Chinese thing. It worked. Sort of.

He found the right city, he found the right day. But the military time threw both of us off and instead of getting a ticket leaving at midnight, he gave me one leaving at noon.

When I realized this, I went back to ask for a night ticket. He couldn't tell me what I needed to know, so, FINALLY, he called over someone who can speak English. He explained that I had to be refunded before I could buy a new ticket.

So I went to a third counter, a fourth line, to sort out this situation.

Without even saying a word, the man took my ticket and refunded it. But he didn't give me all my money. Turns out, they keep 20% of the price of the ticket. I was not at all happy about this, so I asked for my ridiculous and wrong ticket back.

He had to call someone on his cell to figure out how to do it, but he gave it back to me. And near tears, I left.

I'm leaving Beijing a full 12 hours before I'd intended. I think that's what upset me more than the inconvenience.

And, again, I've disproven my ability to do anything in Chinese.



Travel Answers about China

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.