Beijing - Exploring the Forbidden City

I was standing like a lost little boy at the Jianguomennei Dajie trying to find this road on my map. The huge avenue was flowing like a wide river collecting all the small streets around. She was standing beside me with a very similar map which showed with Chinese characters the same avenue. To rely on the map was not enough to her. She went to an old man who had a maybe even older black bicycle and asked for the direction.

Seeing that I am taking photos she approached me asking with a wide smile about my photos maybe, but to be honest all I understood was that it was trying to be a question in English. I said YES hoping this is a proper answer whatever the question was. It seemed to be a proper answer because though I didn’t ask back she said to me that she was a `middle school` student and at the end of her sentence she nodded like saying: yes, these are the words I was looking for.

I nodded also showing that I understood and I asked if she had found the place on the map. But I realized it was too difficult she didn’t understand it at all as she was standing there trying to repeat my words catching their meaning deep in her thoughts.

I stopped to take photos and I turned to her with a smile again making it more simple:

-`Tian` anmen Square?`

She nodded like 1000 times being happy that finally she understood something from my strange speech. And this success give her more energy so she informed me that it was summer holiday and now she had a little free time. Her mom sent her to Beijing for an excursion. While I took some more pictures I tried to say that there was a holiday in my school also and my mom allowed to me to come to Beijing to look around, too.:) But the light became green at the cross and she was running to the other side waving bye-bye with her hands to me.

I didn’t cross the road yet rather I turned to the right taking some more shots and when I faced the red light again I saw her running back to me with her little green backpack..

-`I decided to go with you…because I am only 17 and I still don’t have the……` - she didn’t find the right English word but she was drawing something like an ID card in the air.

-`Ohh you mean ID card. Ok not a problem though I don’t go directly to the Tian` anmen Square I wanna find a street before which is full with stores. So, Lets go together for a while!`


I guess she understood `lets go` only but it was enough and we crossed the road finally. We were just walking but at times when she recognized something interesting she started to run there shacking her green backpack to the rhythm of her fast move.

-`My mom and my dad said I am old enough to try to come to an excursion alone. This time is summer holiday for students so everybody is traveling`.

-`Yes, I could recognize it at the railway station` - and I recalled the incredible mass I faced with just 30 mins ago at the Beijing Railway Station where I wanted to buy tickets to Shanghai without any hope.

-`Yes, yes. I came with TIELU. My mom and my dad are teachers and during the school-time I have to learn so so much. But now I have some time.`

-`You mean you came with train?`

-`Yes, yes with TIELU`.

She just kept talking. When we walked along a sport center where people were playing football, and basketball she mentioned how it was in her city. I tried to understand and especially to remember the name of the city but I couldn’t.

Arriving to the Wangfujing Dajie she asked again an old man with bicycle about the direction toward the famous square. She explained to me, that it was much better to ask older people because they were more nice. I said to her that I was going to stay in this street for a while because I wanted to buy a book. She reacted immediately:

-`I go with you`.


And she kept talking and asking again.

-`Which places are you going to visit in China?`

-`From Beijing I try to get to Shanghai and then I plan to spend some time in Qingdao.`

-`Ohh Shanghai…and Qingdao. Qingdao is very nice place. There are a lot of German houses and the sky is blue not like here in Beijing.`

We both looked up and really the sky was like yellow. I don’t know….maybe because of the humidity but it was the same in Kuala Lumpur or in Jakarta. Very hot weather but when you look up there is no blue sky with innocent white sheep-clouds like in Hungary.

-`Have you ever been to Qingdao or to Shanghai?`

-`No, I am first time even in Beijing, too. But my mom and my dad are teachers and I have read everything in books. When I will be bigger I would like to go all over the world.`

-`This is my first time in Beijing, too. When I was 17 I wasn’t able to go to Budapest all alone from my city. So seeing what a brave girl you are I am sure you will explore the whole world one day.`

-`What kind of book do you want to buy?`

-`You know I am searching for an English book about Chinese calligraphy.`


-`Yes, the beautiful way they `paint` the characters`.

-Ohh, I know, I know. My grandfather can do it very beautifully. And my sister does it beautifully, too.`

At the bookstore she ran away again. She was just shouting back that she was searching for my book while I was exploring the shelves with Chinese language course books.

We didn’t find anything about calligraphy. I said it was not a problem maybe in Shanghai I will find it. But she opened her green backpack and took a small Chinese book.

-`I wanna give this to you. Its not about calligraphy but has nice essays inside.`

And she pointed to the only English word on the cover: `Essay No. 317`.

-`And this signature is my name on it. Chao.`

After I said thanks we continued our walk toward the Tian` anmen Square together.


-`My mom and my dad gave me 200 yuans for food and for costs in Beijing. Lets buy something.`

And she started to run to one of the buffets choosing a stick having grapes on it which had covered with some caramel. I got scared a bit as I never buy any food on the street in a country where you are sweating after 5 seconds on the street.

-`No, thanks. I cant eat this stuff in this hot.`

-`Ohh…I understand…….`

And without finishing her sentence she ran away again to an other place asking for mineral water. When I arrived there I pushed her hand with her 100 yuans gentle away.

-`Keep your 200 yuans. Your mom will be happy that you didn’t spend too much and she will let you to go to more excursions like this in the future.`

I paid the 6 yuans for the waters and we explored the forbidden city together. Around 6 pm I guided her to a bus stop and after we said good bye to each other I felt like maybe Saint-Exupery`s pilot might felt when in the desert he met the Little Prince.