Even though Walmart is a bit of a drive away, I seem to find myself there at least once a week. Part of that is it shares a building with our preferred movie theater, so combining trips is a thing. But it also has virtually everything I am looking for.
After a couple particularly uncomfortable taxi rides recently, we started using an app called Di Di Da Che. It’s similar to Uber, and is currently fending off competition from Uber here in China. The experience has been largely positive. Just like Uber (and Lyft and Sidecar and the rest) your request for a car goes out to the drivers who are online at the time. And those drivers have the option to accept or decline your trip. Prices seem to be around 25% more than a taxi, but the cars are much more comfortable and most drivers seem to offer free bottled water. At peak times we have had a struggle getting cars (just as we would for cabs) and the app lets you offer a “tip” added to your fare to encourage someone to come get you. 10 RMB seems to be more than enough to bring someone in a hurry.
The Di Di Da Che app isn’t usable without fluency in Chinese, so The Bearded Giant is reliant on others here. But it has certainly made our lives easier. And my legs more comfortable.
Even though I read virtually no Chinese, I can successfully navigate my way through buying movie tickets through WeChat. The app itself comes in English, but the theaters are not. It’s taken some trial and error and help, but even if I don’t know what all the words mean, I know which buttons to press to get what I want. Progress!
WeChat is one of China’s answers to Facebook and it seems to truly do everything. From messaging to timelines to sharing stories to handling dozens of daily transactions. Sending money to your friends. Getting a taxi. Buying movie tickets. Booking airline flights. WeChat does it all, it seems.
After I press the “movie tickets” button I enter a confusing land of characters I don’t understand… But The Bearded Giant loves his movies. So onward we go!
Hey! I recognize that logo!
Jurassic World, here we come!
As you can see, lots of IMAX 3D showings available on the 13th for 50 RMB.
Something else you might notice. Unlike American theaters, Chinese theaters all post the ending times of movies in addition to the start times. They also believe in fast turnaround times for each screen. That’s just 21 minutes from one to the next for these showings. And don’t even think about showing up early. The theater won’t let you through the metal detector until it is ten minutes before showtime. If you arrive prior to that, you need to wait in the lobby. With reserved seating there isn’t much reason for a giant rush anyway. Getting there earlier doesn’t give you a better seat. But it’s still a mad dash through the metal detectors as soon as that clock strikes ten minutes to go.
I’m not actually buying a ticket for the 13th. But here’s a screenshot of the process from a previous movie we went to:
Red seats are already taken. White seats are available. Green are the ones you have picked.
You now know as much about this screen as I do.
So after the movie? It must be time for Walmart!
(to be continued in part 2)