We finished shopping at Silk Alley in Beijing an hour before a Beijing duck dinner at 7:30. We planned to take a taxi to dinner. It might take 10 minutes to get a taxi on a Sunday night. We don’t speak Mandarin, but the restaurant name and address were handwritten on a paper.
We window shopped until we found a subway station. We tried to get a taxi for 10 minutes, without success, so we kept walking. A cab with an older driver stopped. The driver couldn’t read the address and gestured the direction to the restaurant. It was 7:00 — 30 minutes to dinner.
We stopped at a brightly-lit shop to look at our map. A young man from the shop asked us a question. He got a young man in a white dress shirt who spoke some English. He said he’d help us. He walked us to an intersection. Other groups got taxis, and another group walked away. We thanked the young man twice and said we’d catch a taxi ourselves. Each time he said to hold on.
After 15 minutes we moved a block to a second subway station. A taxi stopped. The young man talked to the driver and showed the driver our map. The driver would take us. We talked the young man and palmed him a bill. He refused it. We pushed it to him again. He refused it again, smiled, and said “Welcome to Beijing!”
After a 10-minute ride, we arrived at the restaurant and joined our tour group. It was 7:30, and they had just sat down. Amid the crowds and constant sales pressure, we are warmed by a young man’s kindness to strangers and our welcome to Beijing.