One of the most brilliant things about Shenzhen is the mobike. Similar to the ‘velib’ in Paris or other free city rental bikes in Europe, you scan a QR code using your smartphone and the bike, unless it is in need of a repair, will unlock and allow you to ride all over town for less than one yuan per half hour. Once you’re done, you can drop the bike off at a bike rack and continue on your way. There is a small set-up process as well as a refundable deposit of 299 yuan that you must pay to be able to use the service, but ever since I got it set up, I have been riding around and loving it!
So, instead of heading to my usual cafe, I decided to head up to Coco Park 购物公园 which is about 10 minutes from my apartment by bike. A friend took me to a sweet little cafe a few weeks ago near the Shangri-La Hotel. I liked the peace and quiet there and thought it might be nice to go a little further today while I had the chance.
I ordered a cappuccino 卡布其诺 which was a big thing as I had never used the word cappuccino in Mandarin before. To my surprise, the man understood me with no problems, so I paid and picked a nice table outside. I opened my book and began to read, however my mind was too unsettled to concentrate, with thoughts about tomorrow rushing through my head.
Although I have been enjoying my new job, I have been feeling slightly unsure if it is the right place for me. Some days, the job is easy. Other days can be so frustrating. Of course, this goes for every job, however I have noticed that I am blaming myself for failing rather than blaming the material that I am working with. I know that I shouldn’t blame myself and try to remind myself of this when I am feeling down. Time will tell. I am still getting used to the way things work.
My coffee arrived. After a few teaspoons of the chocolatey foam, I took a sip. It was just as pleasant as the last time. I wondered to myself if ‘double shots’ were a thing here and if I would have to pay more. I tried once again to focus on my book but was interrupted by a man speaking loudly on a mobile phone and by a persistent mosquito which had decided to join me.
I finished my coffee and decided to ride around for a little before I headed back home. I wanted to enjoy the beautiful city all lit-up at night! It is really impressive to see all of the modern buildings with so many different and intriguing designs. The lights are fabulous at night! I also found this beautiful window display at the Shangri-La Hotel.
I was feeling a little hungry so I went to a restaurant near my apartment. I have visited this restaurant several times, and so, with a little too much confidence, strode in and smiled at the cashier. It often happens that I forget where I am and exactly how little Mandarin I can speak. Sometimes I go to speak in Japanese or French!
As it dawned on me that I needed to say something in Mandarin, I began mumbling and throwing words left right and centre, which made me feel even more nervous and stupid. 我要鸡肉. 这是鸡肉…吗？
I am ashamed to say that I really have no idea how to order something in Mandarin. Maybe 我要… is correct, but it feels so strange to say. One of the waitresses standing nearby was watching on and laughing nervously. I smiled and laughed a little with her, hoping to break the awkwardness with a little humour. However the awkwardness carried on and her laughter continued. Finally, one of the chefs brought out the meal I had hoped to order. I smiled, paid and turned to walk away.
The whole interaction put me down a little, but the food was tasty. All I can do is try to communicate as best as I can, and I have to accept that there will be times when I can’t make myself understood and when people will perhaps not have as much patience in trying to understand me as I would like.