“Please speak Mandarin” “I am speaking Mandarin”

Wulingyuan 武陵源  /  Zhangjiajie张家界

“Please speak Mandarin”.  “I am speaking Mandarin”.

Wierd and Wonderful Wulingshan

Zhangjiajie / Wulingyuan / Hunan Province

Please speak Mandarin” “I am speaking Mandarin. From Zhangjijie city 张家界市we boarded the bus for the half hour trip to Zhangjiajie Village 张家界村 and the Wulingyuan Scenic Area 武陵源风景区. We are in Hunan Province 湖南省, in central China, also the birthplace of China’s first communist leader, Mao Zedong毛泽东.

Mushroom mountains in Wulingyuan武陵源 & Zhangjiajie 张家界

Joining us on the bus was a young Chinese backpacker from Guilin 桂林 (China’s other famous natural scenic area). We soon got talking in standard Mandarin. The ticket seller, a friendly- chubby- bumpkin type chap with a ruddy face, cottened on that the foreigners could speak Chinese and joined in our conversation. He seemed able to understand us, but we and the young backpacker from Guilin were, completely at a loss as to what the conductor was trying to say. His voice high pitched and squeaky, the tones all over the place, was just incomprehensible.

Wulingyuan / Zhangjiajie

Eventually, out of desperation, I asked the conductor if he would switch to Mandarin (普通话), and not speak Kouyin (口音 local dialect). To which the conductor indignantly answered ” I am speaking mandarin”.  The young Guilin backpacker added that he also didn’t understand what the conductor was saying. The conductor insisted again that he was speaking Mandarin and so our conversation continued in a Kafkaesque manner.  The conductor understanding perfectly what we were saying; and we not understanding a single word from him.


When we got off the bus, the young backpacker reminded us that Mao Zedong was from Hunan, and that nobody in the rest of the country could ever understand what he was saying either.

More Mushroom Mountains

Wulingyuan 武陵源 / Zhangjiajie 张家界 Practicalities

Wulingyuan 武陵源 is one of China’s most incredible natural parks and hosts some of the country’s most spectacular and unworldly karst secenery. We got there from Fenghuang 凤凰 in one day. First a Morning bus to Jishou 吉首, then a rapid shuttle across that sprawling city to connect (just!) with a train that stopped in Zhangjiajie City. From Hunan’s capital Changsha, there are various trains, some fast and others overnight.  Buses do the journey on the motorway in about 3½ / 4 hours.

Buses run frequently between Zhangjiajie City and Zhangjiajie Village (about 40 mins). Entrance tickets to Wulingyuan are an astronomical 248 Yuan (138Y for students). The ticket now seems to allow you to stay in the scenic area for 3 days.

Buses inside Wulingyuan can whizz you from one scenic spot to another. However, try to walk and you’ll soon lose the crowds. The trails are amazing.

mystic Wulingshan

Food and Accomodation

We stayed in the Minzu Shanzhuang 民族山庄 . We thought it was quite cool with nice balconies and cold beers. Recent reviews seem to say it has gone downhill. You can stay in many places inside the park, accomodation touts will find you as soon as you enter. It’s advisable to ask the prices of every thing you order in the restaurants in Zhangjiajie Village as over charging seems to be the norm.

Wierd and Mysterious Zhangjiajie

Author: Adam

My name is Adam. I have a degree in Chinese History from SOAS and a masters in International Politics focused on China from the same university. I have travelled around China 9 times and since 2000 I have travelled every year for two months. I guess I kind of like the place!

2 thoughts on ““Please speak Mandarin” “I am speaking Mandarin””

  1. Yes there is a strong sense of what is going on with the drmiatased efforts to displayhistory in the action packed movies of some genres of film. I found many in my beggining years of exposure to television. It was a partial help in historical events in gettung us to want to learn and ignore what we should ignore. Presently I find the culture and history of china serving me well through the local libaries and internet sources that are quickly and freely read such as WIKIPEDIA and MSN or GOOGLE which have extensive knowledge of just about any subject. To optimise the results of seking knowledge in such vast fields of accumultaion it is best to focus in and decide the true course within these resources. I found much noteworthy stories of magnates of P.R. china, in WWII times bringing people from europe to freely and with generous aid from chinese citizens settle in china where no none else would help. Quite laudable of them and not so unexpected. Some older chinese historical pieces superbly done were of the traditional peasant views and mores. one of them THE GOOD EARTH were an attempt to calmy present a vast subject as china and the chinese. Sure there were others via hollywood and foreign film studios and producers, the French producers did some as well as others, some in the 18oos and ofactual events. Much to consider then as china stretched its’ intellect and its’ efforts.something everyine can point to with pride.

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