had been bicycling for about eight hours on a steep mountain road through the mountains near Yangshuo, China in 2011 when I realized that I was lost. On top of that, I didn’t have the energy to pedal for another second. I was lost in mountainous, rural farmland, with only an occasional Chinese-only-speaking farmer passing by. My solution? Using the Google Translate app on my iPhone, I convinced a young farmer to drive me in his pickup truck back to town for a small fee by showing him a translated Chinese sentence. Without Google Translate, I might still be in the mountains of Yanghsuo, running my own rice farm.
I’ve also used the Google Translate app to buy theater tickets in Moscow, negotiate with taxi drivers in Indonesia, and buy a backgammon set in Egypt. I like that it’s a fast, standalone app, and the quality of the translation is usually more intelligible than Bing Translator — with Google Translate, the Russian “ты что там делаешь?” becomes “What are you doing in there?”; with Bing, it becomes “Are you out there doin?”
Google Translate makes independent travel much, much easier — and sometimes, it can save you from being marooned on a mountain road in remote China. WB
Google Translate is a web site and an app available for iOS and Android. www.google.com.
To read more about a trip on which I used Google Translate, read: Climbing karsts — Rock climbing and Taylor Swift in Yángshuò, Guăngxī, China.