To get around I have to ask the concierge to write the name of the destination on a piece of paper just so that there will be no misunderstanding. After all, it is my first time to Beijing. Plus, my mandarin is non-existent and javanese infused .
Thanks to my mom and dad who spoke mandarin at home when I was growing up, I could still at least survive in communicating the basics. It got me around in taxi, it got me food (when ordering), it helps me to communicate with people to show them love and concern. But really it is little more than "tarzan" gestures sprinkled with mandarin words.
But of the few caucasians I met in restaurants, etc, I overheard them speaking to the waiters in fluent chinese (mandarin). Wow. If they can do it, I should be able to do it better, right. (Maybe they have a private tutor. Heheh.. jealous.. )
So come on, people. Let's learn this beautiful language.
Now if only I have more time... (... excuses...)