And I couldn't even say, "I'm lost". My panicked expression, however, must have spoken volumes, because a flock of angels - disguised as a trio of kindly bus riders - suddenly converged on me. Though their English matched my Mandarin abilities, I tried to convey my odyssey: "China Daily to Taiyanggong to art museum ..." I then shrugged helplessly.
My message must have gotten across because the Good Samaritans - a young lady in office attire and two older women carrying shopping bags - quickly turned to the impenetrable (at least to me) route schedule and began debating which bus I should take.
Finally, it was decided. Through gestures, they advised me to ride the No 130 bus back to Taiyanggong and then pick up the 515. Though the younger woman didn't seem quite convinced, when the No 130 pulled up, they all helped me onto it, calling out encouragement.
Sure enough, it delivered me to Taiyanggong. Once again, I dodged cabs and motorbikes across six lanes of traffic to get to the 515 bus stop. And for the second time that day, I realized I was totally disoriented (the sun was masked by clouds, and there were no familiar landmarks to guide me).
But my chariot arrived, and I hopped on, keeping my fingers crossed. After all, how many mistakes could I make in one day? In short order, the answer appeared as an oddly familiar sign floated by. I could have sworn it said, "University of International Business and Economics" - the name of the school directly across from the China Daily building.
No. Couldn't be. But it wasn't until the bus halted in front of South West Minority Dishes, the bright-orange restaurant just around the corner from the newspaper, that I came to terms with where I was: Right back where I'd started.
It was time to admit defeat. I stepped off the bus, turned and raised my arm. "Taxi!"