Monday, December 1, 2014

Wisdom from the Road #22

On directions
Admit it, you're lost.
(And the map you got for free at the airport isn't helping.)
Ask directions.

If the person you are asking doesn't know, he/she will say so and apologize for not being able to help. But those who do know (even if they don't speak English) will always try to help — using hands, fingers, eyes, drawings, paper or electronic maps, or even leading the way until you get to your destination.

In Taiwan, upon exiting the subway I checked out the map but got disoriented anyway. I found a police station nearby and asked for help from a policeman. He didn't speak any English so he took me into the station to find someone who could. The one who could took out a printed map (I am guessing many have found their way to the station for the same purpose) and showed me where I was and how to go to Lin Family Mansion and Garden.

While looking for our hostel in Seoul, we asked a guy if he was familiar with the address. He wasn't, but he took the time to search for it on his mobile (pocket WiFi is available for rent in Incheon International Airport but I didn't get one). After we had thanked him, we saw him go off to the side for a smoke—we realized he was on a break and that we had taken 10 minutes off his break time.

In a subway in Seoul, my friend and I stood in front of a sign for several minutes trying to decide whether to go left or right. A kindly old stooped gentleman stopped and spoke in Korean. Seeing the question marks on our faces, he pointed to the sign, trying to get his message across. It dawned on us he was trying to help and I showed him the station map, but maybe his eyes were failing and he asked me to read it (by drawing his head near and pointing to his ear) instead. After a few minutes of my struggling with the pronunciation, he understood what I was saying and gave us directions as best he could through actions (and repeated the action–instructions thrice, to be sure). And yes, we understood him clearly.

Thank you, kind people.

For more lessons from the road, please visit Go Learn.

1 comment:

  1. In most of my travels, the locals, despite the language barrier, are more than willing to lend a hand especially in getting from point A to point B. And if I can help it, I also don't usually ask directions from tuktuk/cab drivers since they'll probably offer their services afterwards, and at a much higher cost too.