Chinese Charades

As we travel through Asia I can’t help but be reminded of and grateful for the many camping trips to Ginnie Springs that I’ve taken with family and friends.  Squatting in the woods and the countless games of charades have proven to be a beneficial training course, in particular for our time in Beijing.  As we ventured out each day to explore something new we undoubtedly found ourselves caught up in a huge and endless game of charades.  Ordering off a menu, asking for the check, requesting chopsticks, getting directions, purchasing soap at the convenient store, negotiating prices, asking for a to go box – all of these simple tasks were accompanied by many smiles, laughter and tons of hand gestures sometimes resulting in what we were hoping for but often times not.

Ghost Street
I love picture menus!







On one of our nights in Beijing we were enjoying a dinner of kung pao chicken, shrimp egg rolls and soup on Ghost Street.  I decided to go out on a limb and request some dipping sauce for the egg rolls.  Ross got the waiter’s attention for me and when he arrived I did my best attempt at forming a little bowl with my fingers and pointing at the egg rolls then back at the side dish.  While motioning I repeated slowly “sauce?”, “sweet and sour?”  He seemed to pick up on something I’d said and excitedly walked away while letting me know to wait one minute by signaling back with his pointer finger.  A minute later he brought back a small dish of sugar.  He looked so proud and triumphantly asked, “Yes, is okay?”  Ross and I maintained poker faces and assured him this was what we wanted.  He walked away with a huge grin.  We gave it a shot while laughing and discussing how stupid he must have thought we were for wanting sugar for our egg rolls.

6 thoughts on “Chinese Charades

  1. Ha, I know the feeling. When I started working in a small cllinic in Honduras, I was the sole English speaker in a million miles…Dr. Maritza and I loved our games of charades and medical pictionary…

  2. It’s very easy to solve your problem,that is you can download a English -Chinese dictionary in your iphone or Android phone,when you don’t know how to express a thing by yourself then look up it in the dictionary and show him ,I’m sure almost 100% Chinese are literate in the city.I make the English-speaking people understand me in this way , you can have a try.

    1. That is a great idea and several Chinese people used the dictionary with us on their phone. We don’t have any phones. We like to travel old school. Sometimes it works and a lot of times it doesn’t.

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