Lost in China

I saw this on Facebook and it made me laugh, then it reminded me how inordinately good people can be … especially when I’m lost.

October 2013, when I was living in Suzhou, China, my friend Darla and I rode the subway out to the southwest edge of the city to a place called Mudu. It’s an ancient water town known for it’s hilly terrain and a street devoted to silk embroidery supplies. But on this day, Darla and I were interested in hiking through the park to enjoy the fall colors.

We were told by friends that once we exited the subway, we should walk to the nearest bus stop and take the number three out to Mudu Mountain. We did and spent the morning hiking and enjoying the fall colors.

When we were ready to leave, we couldn’t find a number three bus in the lot where we were let out, and there was no one around to ask where we should go to wait. Weren’t sure what to do. On the way into the park, I had noticed several bus stop signs along the road, so we walked in that direction and waited by a sign with a number three on it. No one came, so we started walking toward the next sign.

My friend Darla is not shy. She’s not afraid to ask for what she wants. I’m the opposite. I try to be invisible and stay out of trouble. But after walking for another thirty to forty minutes on top of our hiking, we were exhausted. When a bus with an illuminated number three on it rounded  bend in the road, Darla stepped out in it’s path, flagging her arms. I didn’t know whether to find a rock to hide behind or join in the distress call. (Remember from last week’s post–The Invisible Lurker–I’m like Nick Carraway).

I watched dumbfounded. Proud and embarrassed.

The guy stopped! He didn’t speak a bit of English, but he let us on the bus. We rode back into town, breathing a sigh of relief. Until he drove right by our bus stop. We didn’t know if we should get off or wait until the bus circled around. Too tired to care, we decided to enjoy the rest. Until an hour passed, and we appeared to be in a different part of the city. We had no way of finding out if the bus was ever going to circle back until a young lady spoke to us in English. I think she understood pieces of our conversation. She asked the driver if we’d be heading back to Mudu soon, and he said not for a long time.

Darla and I promptly got off, not sure where in Suzhou’s New District we’d landed. We weren’t too concerned because we knew the subway spanned all three districts of the city and if we could get to the subway, we could get home.

We sat at the bus stop and examined the map on our smart phones. We located the nearest subway stop and decided we needed to cross the street to catch a cab so we’d be going in the right direction. Stowing our phones, we maneuvered through traffic across fours lanes then flagged a taxi.

We showed him the address of the nearest subway stop, which happened to be several miles from Mudu. He said something, started the meter on the cab, then promptly did a u-turn and headed in the opposite direction.

I always forget the maps on I Phones are upside down. Or, maybe they’re right side up, and I don’t know how to read them. Obviously.

We made it home and continue laugh at the memory. Nothing like being lost in a foreign ity where no one speaks your language to test the boundaries of your comfort zone. But for the most part, around this great big world, outside of power struggles, politics, and selfish endeavors, people are generally kind and want to help one another.

I am very grateful for the bus driver who stopped to give us a ride, the English-speaking lady on the bus, and the taxi driver who didn’t take advantage of our ignorance. None of them remember me, but I remember them. Whenever I think of their simple acts of kindness, it makes my day a little better.

Oh … and I’m grateful for friends who are willing to jump in front of a bus.

Have you ever been lost? How did you handle it?


4 thoughts on “Lost in China”

  1. I knew someone once who said, “I never get lost. I have unscheduled adventures.” I’ve been borrowing that phrase ever since. 😉
    I know I’ve been lost more than once but the only memory that comes to mind is the time that sparked a crush on the guy who eventually became my husband. It was back in college, and this was a Bible college so they didn’t have dances – they had a Christmas banquet and a Spring banquet. A group of us were going together to the banquet in Atlanta but along the way we were supposed to swing by a house and pick up a classmate. We got lost on the way to the house, and didn’t get there until the time the banquet was supposed to be starting. Everyone was getting grumpy by that point and the classmate took a few minutes to come out which didn’t help. But he kept encouraging everyone to stay in good humor and did a wacky dance in front of the headlights until everyone was cracking up. By the time we got to the banquet, we’d missed most of the meal. We ended up going to Applebee’s afterwards and had a great time just the 5 of us.


      1. Upon rereading, I see I wasn’t very clear at all. My husband was the one dancing but he was not the one we were there to pick up. Hubby was just trying to keep the rest of us from killing that classmate over the fiasco. 😉


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