Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pleasure while Practising

If you're learning Chinese, are you scared to get out there and practise?

Today I did just that - but no fear, just pleasure. I took the day off work today (legitimately - I didn't take a sickie!) and "tricked" myself into having a great time around London, and this is what I did ...

  • I found a foreign language bookstore near Oxford Street, and spent ages browsing the Chinese book section. Bought a Chinese version of the cartoon book "The Adventures of Tintin" (in Chinese it's called '丁丁' - dīng​ dīng​).
  • Strolled towards Chinatown, pausing to read various signs as I got closer, practising as many hanzi as I could - and pleased that even knowing only 500 characters I could get lots of them.
  • We ate at a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, making sure that I had a Mandarin-speaking waitress - who was more than happy to chat at my level and my speed.
  • Also in Chinatown, we went for a 20 minute massage, where I got to speak Mandarin. Sara the masseur was flattered that a foreigner would self-study Chinese, and was more than happy to follow my speed, and teach me new words along the way. (£16 for a massage and Chinese lesson - 还不错)
  • Decided to finish the day with a Pearl Bubble Milk Tea (珍珠奶茶 - zhēn ​zhū ​nǎi ​chá​). Tried about five places before I found one which sold it, so I got to practise my Chinese several times over - much to the amusement of the staff on duty at the door of each restaurant).
Overall, it was a great day - speaking Chinese with lots of people along the way. Add to that a great Chinese meal, a massage and a Pearl Bubble Tea - a very pleasurable practice indeed!

Have you done anything similar? Are you planning to? Leave a comment below to share ...


  1. What a great idea. I will have to give that go soon. :)

    I always forget that London really is so close to me. I have never (to my shame) had Chinese tea yet. So that is a must!!

  2. Charlie, where are you based?

    I really like Pearl Bubble Milk Tea (or whatever different people call it). I first heard about it on a ChinesePod lesson a year or so ago, and then set about London trying to find it. And in Fuzhou, where I visited earlier this year, there are shops all over the place - where this is all they sell. Dozens of flavours - perfect for a really hot day!

  3. Greg,can you recall which Brand of pearl tea you drank? Is it 香飘飘?I am a bit curious about the pearl tea market share in London.

  4. Ah - this is where you can tell I'm just a beginner :-) I simply go from restaurant to restaurant, saying "你有珍珠奶茶吗?" (ni you zhen zhu nai cha ma?)(Do you have pearl bubble tea?). When they say yes, I go in. I have no idea which brand it is - we should go to Chinatown in the next couple of weeks, then you can tell me :-)

  5. Well, now we know that they are just homemade 珍珠奶茶. :-p It is really good. I think you really enjoyed the 芝麻糊 and the "wrong" character they put in the menu (They put walnut as合桃,which is not wrong, but rarely used in our daily life. We tend to use 核桃or 胡桃 for walnuts)!
    I think I had too much fun that day too.

  6. It's like that red car thing ... when you buy a red car, suddenly you notice all the red cars on the road. Something about your brain's reticular activating system.

    And it's like that with 芝麻糊 - even saw it at a Japanese restaurant I ate at on Monday night. It's *everywhere* !! :-)