Andrea Hsu, NPR
Booking air travel in China has become as easy as A-B-C.
Over the next ten days or so, I'll be joined here in Chengdu by the rest of our China team. Producer Art Silverman will be the first to arrive, tonight.
The other day, I was booking his Beijing to Chengdu air ticket, as I normally book tickets, over the phone with a travel company called Ctrip.
I like Ctrip, because they bring the e-ticket receipts to me wherever I am, and I can pay cash on delivery. However, in the past, I always dreaded having to spell out English names over the phone. It was often a painfully slow process, with some letters harder to communicate than others.
Now, after several months of this, I think I've finally cracked the system! It's all about choosing the right word to represent each letter.
No, not Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, but a set of words that seem delectably appropriate for this day and age.
Here's what the Ctrip agent read back to me for Art's ticket:
U (I couldn't understand the word that was given for U)
I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I'm actually looking forward to booking the rest of the tickets, so I can test my fluency in this new language and learn more of the alphabet.
As for my previous post about language, here's what Rebecca was saying in Sichuan dialect in those last two audio clips:
Mr Tian, I'm at Sichuan University right now, can you please come get me?
Oh, this dish is delicious! ("ba se" is a Sichuanese saying meaning delicious. I hear it used all the time!)