Traveling in foreign countries means one thing: Always being a moron. I can’t read a word of Chinese (or Russian, or Mongolian…) and therefore never have any idea what’s going on. My Chinese vocabulary has expanded considerably to include such luxuries as “one,” “cold,” and “good.” Still, it’s not much help in train stations and restaurants.
In Shanghai, I wandered into a restaurant looking for a cheap bowl of noodles to keep me full for a long train ride. I ordered at the counter, sat down and waited. And waited. Everyone who came in after me got served before me. Finally I got up and made confused gestures at the woman at the counter, who was sort of nice about taking care of the rest of the process (handing my receipt to the cook behind glass–who knew?)
And then on the train from Shanghai to Kunming, I was again the moron when I didn’t know how to read my train ticket, and therefore, my bunk number. I helplessly handed it to the nearest kind-faced woman, who enthusiastically pointed to my bed, and then had a good laugh with her friends.
The only way to persevere despite always being a moron is to smile and laugh at oneself in full view of those to whom you’ve just demonstrated your idiocy. But THAT part gets old, too, because usually I’m just frustrated, tired and annoyed, not actually amused at myself. I don’t even have a travel buddy to help deflect the (good-natured, usually) chuckles that come my way on a daily basis. Being a lonely moron is hard.