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Books: A Wanderer’s Best Friend

As a Mexican learning Mandarin and living in China… I’ve needed to take a few extra precautions to insure that I have the resources and capabilities necessary to feed myself on a regular basis. BEHOLD! My travel hacks to making it in Beijing!

Lonely Planet’s Mandarin: Phrasebook & Dictionary

Knopf Map Guides: Beijing.
— The City In Section-By-Section Maps

These are the most comprehensive books I’ve found/read so far that really lets you dive fearlessly into the culture and wander honestly.

The Lonely Planet’s Mandarin book is by far the most useful piece of literature I’ve ever purchase because it covers all of the real world phrases/words that you’ll need to use in case of emergencies or munchies. It goes beyond “hello” (ni hao), “goodbye” (Zaijian), and “You look like some cousin of mine” (Ni zhangde xiang wode biaomei!)… and that’s only in the Romance section!

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Notice the little marks above the English letters and below the Chinese characters? That’s called Pinyin. For someone who’s unfamiliar with Pinyin, it’s the phonetic system for transcribing the sound of Chinese characters into Latin script. Your tone is suppose to reflect the movement of the little ticks above the letters and that’s how you distinguish each word. After taking a very brief Chinese crash course in Boston, I can assure you that I still have no idea what I’m doing.

But it’s fine. Everything is going to be fine.

The best part of LP’s book is the usefulness of the phrases provided. They have everything covered from travel, food, medicine, market conversation, and (as you can see) useful phrases to spark up a spicy Chinese love affair with a local! Wo ai ni baby 😉

I was particularly impressed with their medical section; more specifically, their emergency section. Anything that could go wrong is covered-including emergency contraception. For those less traveled, this is incredibly progressive considering some southern states still don’t sell condoms in certain cities. The liberal nature of this book and healthcare options in China is continuing to impress me as a 21st century CRAZY LIBERAL HIPPY (aka democrat) and I haven’t even touched down in the city yet!

The Knopf Map Guides of Beijing is also incredibly useful because it provides a small and comprehensive map for English speakers to venture into the various districts of Beijing without fear. There are even suggestions on the bottom regarding popular pit stops! I plan to use this book as a starting point for my wandering habits and eventually, I’ll be pasting my own (and original) “expansion pack” of notes in the book itself. Once I’ve visited every establishment listed (because I will), I plan to donate my upgraded version to a younger wanderer just starting out in the big crazy city.

Because sharing is caring and caring is wonderful.

Check it out:

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About Vanessa Elizabeth

Vanessa Elizabeth is a cultural chameleon currently based in London. She enjoys sports (such as CrossFit and dating), cooking, and demolishing her savings account. When she's not busy blogging about her feelings, she works full-time and practices Chinese with her English/German friends.

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  • Angela

    I didn’t know certain states still can’t sell condoms. In Dallas, you’ll see stores here and there called “Condoms To Go”. I always think “To go? Oh, thank God. Other places make me use them then and there.” Haha