A hop, skip and a jump to nowhere

By Margaret Mckenzie ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-03-06 07:19:40

A hop, skip and a jump to nowhere

Li Min/China Daily

An old proverb says: "Pride goeth before a fall." However, I never really knew what it meant until my trip to the museum.

A hop, skip and a jump to nowhere

It was on an overcast day in November, a few weeks after my arrival in China, and I wanted to see the Andy Warhol exhibit before it closed at the Central Academy of Fine Arts. But even after my colleagues told me it was hard to find, I was stubbornly set on getting there on my own - no cabs or address written out in Chinese characters for me. No, I would travel like the typical Beijinger I hoped to become, using only public transportation.

I felt confident in my ability to do so, despite my non-existent language skills, since I'd had success getting to the Forbidden City, Sanlitun and even the 798 art zone. Plus, the museum website offered transit instructions. So I boldly set off without even a phrasebook, boarding a train at the Huixinxijie Nankou station and emerging a few miles east at Taiyanggong. From there, however, things - literally - began to go south.

A hop, skip and a jump to nowhere

Not quite a royal flush 

A hop, skip and a jump to nowhere

Brainwashed by soaps 

According to the CAFA's website, I was to take Bus No 132 north to Huajiadi Nanjie. Easier said than done! I had to scurry to each side of the intersection before finding the right bus stop. Even then, I wasn't sure what direction I was facing. But as the bus doors flipped open, I tried to stay positive: Soon I'd be viewing Warhol's famous soup cans.

Instead, I was in the soup.

My happy glow turned to icy fear when I began noticing that not only did the bus seem to be circling an enormous park - funny, I didn't recall any giant parks on the museum website's map - but it was heading south toward the Third Ring Road!

Jumping off at the next stop, I planned to cross the street and simply retrace my route to Taiyanggong. Facing me, however, was no bus stop: just a big brick wall around the park. An old New England expression suddenly popped into my head: "You can't get there from here."

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