Subtitled: The End
So I went to the zoo. It is also a botanical garden and is set on a hill. There is a train station right outside the gate, very convenient. And the entrance fee is only a couple of dollars U.S. Quite the bargain. I noticed there was a sign (in English) by the maps that stated you could request a map in either English or Japanese. Why they aren’t in the rack is beyond me. Anyway, so I asked in Mandarin for an English-language map, since I do happen to know the word for “map” (地圖).
It turned out I had been given a map in Japanese. So I went back and asked for an English-language map again, and there was some general confusion, and I showed her that the map was in fact in Japanese, and I do happen to know the word for “Japanese” as well.
I should note I always have some trepidation about speaking another language, and about requesting maps in general, since once in Japan somebody told me they did not have any cheese. Because the word for “map” in Japanese is “chizu.” As far as I know, “cheese” is “fu-ro-ma-jyu” (fromage) or sometimes “chi-i-zu,” neither of which I requested. But being a foreigner with a funny accent and all, I guess I’m subject to misunderstanding. And it turns out some people say “mappu” for “map” in Japan. But I digress.
But once we established that I am an English-language speaker, we started speaking both English and Mandarin. She told me that the best way to see the zoo was to take the “train” up to the top and to walk down, as it is a long distance to the top. Since I had already expended most of my Language Energy already, I elected to walk up to the top. Because I have stronger leg muscles than brain muscles. Along the way I stopped and visited with the animals.
The one really nice thing about the zoo is that the animal names are written in both characters and zhuyinfuhao (the syllabary). This is very helpful to folks who are learning the language. I wish the train system would adopt this practice on its signage as well.
Because how else would you learn that a “Malayan Tapir” is “ma3 lai2 mo4”? Now I’m trying to figure out how to drop it into casual conversation. The word, not the tapir. It was huge.
A little girl stared at me for a little while. I’d guess she was about two and a half or so. Then she ran to her grandfather and reported “Meiguoren!” (American!) That’s gotta be a first. I’m not sure how she deduced that, but I smiled and told her she was right and her grandfather waved and smiled.
After the little girl looked at me, I went and looked at the rhinos for a while. If you haven’t seen one in a while, you forget how big they are. They are really massive. Tapirs are pretty big and scary. But rhinos? A whole ‘nother class of frighteningly big. Did I mention that they are big?
Shortly after I took this photograph, the muddy-feeted one moved directly beneath where I was standing so I couldn’t see it any more. But I could feel the whunnnggggg! whunnnnng! whunnnnnnnng! of it slamming into the wall beneath me. I think it was trying to trick me into leaning over to see it and then suddenly losing my balance and plunging headfirst into the enclosure. So instead I hightailed it away from there. You just know that someday that concrete is going to give and that rhino is going to get its way.
And no zoo visit is complete until you have come to the end. Which was a display outside the bathroom about poop. Unfortunately it was all in Mandarin so I was cheated of the chance to learn some more conversational bon mots. Alas. (Do I get extra points for dropping bon mots in there?)
Coming soon: The End. For real this time.