Dominic: Although Beijing boasts a highly effective and affordable transport system, sometimes, for shear convenience and speed, it's necessary to take a taxi. Finding one is easy enough. Just head towards any large road to flag one down.
(Dominic walks to road.)
Dominic: Today I need to take a taxi because I'm going to meet my friend PK [Paul Thangwa from Kenya]. However, I'm not exactly sure where he is, so let's make a call to find out.
(Dominic calls PK.)
(PK standing by the Bird's Nest Stadium answers phone.)
Dominic: Oh no! PK's practicing his Chinese again!
Dominic to PK: PK, 你在哪里？
Dominic: 我在鸟巢附近？I know, 我在 means I am at, 附近 means close to, but I'm not sure about the rest. I need to get him to repeat. To do this, I can use a very useful Chinese phrase, 再说一遍。It simply means please say again.
Dominic to PK: PK, 再说一遍。
Dominic: 鸟巢？鸟 means bird, ah, 巢 means nest! You are at the Bird's Nest Stadium! Why didn't you say?
PK: Dominic, you really need to improve your Chinese.
Dominic: I know, I know, I'm working on it.
PK: Anyway, hurry up. I'm waiting for you.
Dominic: Don't worry. I'm flagging a taxi down now as we speak.
Dominic: Roads in Beijing are so big and busy. It's important to make sure a taxi has a place to stop when you flag one down. But they are not allowed to just pull up anywhere, even though some of them do. If you look closely, you notice that the taxis in the city can be different colors. Don't worry about this. The color simply signifies different taxi companies. To you and me, it makes no difference. They all charge the same.
(Flags down a taxi, gets inside)
Taxi driver: 你好。
Dominic: The next step is telling the taxi driver where you want to go. As most taxi drivers in Beijing don't speak English, this is the perfect opportunity to practice some Chinese. Today we want to go to the Bird's Nest Stadium. In China, that is simply known as the Bird's Nest, 鸟巢. 鸟巢is the nickname of the Beijing National Stadium, the man location of the track and field event during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. To put this into a sentence, we simply say 我要去鸟巢.
Dominic to taxi driver: 师傅，我要去鸟巢。
GRAPHIC FLASH: 我要去鸟巢。我要 means I would like, 去 to go to, 鸟巢 the Bird's Nest, 我要去鸟巢。I would like to go to the Bird's Nest.
CRI reporter: Dominic Swire
Dominic: These days most taxis in Beijing are equipped with a reliable metre that starts at 10 yuan for the first three kilometres, which works out at approximately 1.5 dollars, and then increases at around 2 yuan per kilometre after that. Nevertheless, it's still sensible to get a good idea of the price before you start your journey. To do that, you can simply say 大概多少钱？
Dominic to taxi driver: 师傅，大概多少钱？
GRAPHIC FLASH: 大概多少钱？Let's break this down a little. 大概 means approximately, 多少 means how much, (多means more, 少 means less. So literally “how much” can be translated as “more less”. As complicated as Chinese seems at first, there is a simple underlying logic to many of the phrases.) now we simply add 钱, which means money, onto the end of the sentence to get 大概多少钱？Once again, 大概多少钱？Approximately how much is it?
Dominic: Now the Bird's Nest Stadium is one of the most famous locations in Beijing, so it would be very unusual if a taxi driver didn't know how to get there. Having said that, more often than not, you need to go to a location a little more difficult to describe. In this situation, it is highly recommended to have a written version of your address, like this 鸟巢. In this case, simply point and tell the driver 我要去这里。我要去这里。
(Shot of Dominic's piece of paper with instructions)