So I had to get lunch by myself today and since I can’t speak a lick of Mandarin other than: Hello, Thank you, Receipt, Good bye… I knew it would be challenging. Here’s what happened today.

Food Lady: *something in Mandarin… probably “Can I take your order”*

Me: “chai dan” (Menu) and makes hands look like a menu

Food Lady: hands me menu

Me: Points to sandwich while holding up my finger to say I want one.

Food Lady: *something in Mandarin while pointing at the combo portion*

Me: Nodding, saying yes (hao) that I would like that

Food Lady: *something in Mandarin in the form of a question (ma?)*

Me: Motioning that I don’t understand what she is saying, trying to hand her money

Food Lady: *refusing my money, making a sound like she’s about to spit with her hands around her mouth*

Me: Uh….. *wondering if she’s ok*

Food Lady: *again, making a sound like she’s about to spit with her hands around her mouth looking at me*

Me: ni hao boo hao ma? (are you ok?… I think?)

Food Lady: *she looks fine, says something in Mandarin… “la mah?” is all I can catch*

Me: Oh! La? (remembering that means spicy in Cantonese and hoping it means the same thing) I make a face that I think implies spicy and using my hand to fan my mouth.

Food Lady: *she makes the same sound and same hand motions*

Me: yao (I think this means I want spicy since I have no idea what she’s saying)

Food Lady: *she just takes my money, hands me cash*

So I take my food and sit down and wondered what just happened. I take a bite of my lunch and I think I guessed right because it was pretty spicy. I guess this is more funny to me since her taking the time to actually ask me if I want it to be spicy despite our language barrier. I sat and ate my food with a smile on my face… Even though I can’t understand anyone (nor can they understand me)… they really do try hard to communicate. That makes me happy.

But you know what doesn’t make me happy? Squat toilets. I don’t know how to pee in those things and for some reason in China… even if there’s a toilet stall right next to the squat stall and both are empty. They choose the squat toilet. I always go for the sit down toilet…. or if they don’t have a sit down toilet. I hold my pee like nobody’s business and find a bathroom with a toilet. I don’t know how to squat and pee. Sigh.