A Travellerspoint blog

Driving in China

Or, It's All About the Timing

A says: I’ve been here for 2 ½ weeks and I have to say I am fascinated by the way they drive here. It seems on the surface to be a totally conventional highway system. There are painted lines on the road. There are traffic signals and the occasional traffic cop. They even drive on the right side of the road here--just like home. But that is where the similarity ends. When the lights turn green (and sometimes even when they don’t!) an odd combination of ballet and donnybrook ensues on the thoroughfares. Suddenly you see Chinese creativity kick in. Not happy with your position on the street—not thinking too highly of the lane you’re in? Simple—create a lane of your own. It’s a wonder to behold. There you are sitting in the backseat of a taxi with buses and trucks and other cars all jockeying to get to wherever you are going FIRST and coming within tenths of inches from where you are sitting. (Nothing like looking out the window of the cab you’ve hired to find the headlight of a tour bus staring back at point blank range!) And it’s not just the motor vehicles involved with this little dance. Add to it bicycles, tricycles, rickshaws, mopeds, and finally, pedestrians, you gotta disaster movie just waiting to happen. Traveling the roads in China in any mode mentioned takes a certain amount of chudspah—or maybe PRAYER! Or maybe it’s just a matter of timing.

You Seinfeld fans out there have the advantage when I say that traffic in China is similar to that episode where George tries to save his high score on the Frogger machine. He tries to cross the road while dodging cars, backtracking and sidestepping in an attempt to push the machine to the other side—just like the little frog in the Frogger game. You just have to watch out for the buses. A guide warned me, “Buses in China don’t stop!” A little like the truck in the Seinfeld episode, wouldn’t you say? So if you come to China, remember that little bit of advice. And if anyone ever offers you a rental car, DON’T TAKE IT!!! Your insurance company will thank you!

Posted by A-T-PRC 07:50 Comments (0)

“BRAAAAACK” (splat!)

The Chinese are actually Phlegmish

A says: I have a notoriously weak stomach. When I was a kid, if you were to even look as if you were to about to contemplate even thinking about some form of expectoration, I’d have been in the necessary room trying to forcibly eject everything I’d eaten in the previous 24 hours. So here I am in China where it seems to be a national pastime likened to basketball or baseball or football back home. On our flight from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou, a mighty chorus of braaack splatting broke out from all areas of the plane after lunch. It’s hard to run for the life of the lunch you’ve just eaten when you’re sealed inside an aluminum cigar with wings at an altitude of 31,000 feet and traveling at about 500 mph. They frown at their passengers suddenly opening the emergency doors at that altitude. I think it had something to do with sudden decompression. Anyway, there I was like a rat stuck on a sinking ship trying not to hear and hearing everything going on around me. T had warned me. Oh had she warned me. And yet I was not prepared to be caged with that kind of intense braaack splatting. So I plugged my ears and hummed quietly to myself until I thought it was over. I’d unplug the ears just in time for the second movement in the mighty chorus. All my progeny could do was laugh.

“Welcome to China, Mom!”

Uh huh…

Posted by A-T-PRC 05:03 Archived in China Tagged health_and_medicine Comments (0)

Of all the...

T says:

Imagine, if you would, a giant, nicely running machine getting sabotaged by a wrench in the hand of a cheerfully squawking monkey wearing a travel agency beanie after the monkey had already, with great joy, smeared travel agency-brand molasses all over the gears.

This is almost exactly what happened last night when we tried to change the tickets for my flight home. We've had to rework our entire (self-designed) itinerary, all thanks to the monkey with the wrench!

A word of advice, then, to anyone traveling... Do not go with travel agencies if you don't want your flight itinerary set in stone!

I don't like monkeys...

Posted by A-T-PRC 23:05 Comments (0)

Preparations, Preparations!

A says: Sometime around 20 July I will be boarding a plane in San Francisco to join my T in Chengdu. Thus will begin the long (albeit, fun and most educational) journey across the continent of China and home again with T in hand. Seems simple, the traveling part that is. Getting things done to get there? Woof! The passport acquisition went well. It's in hand with a new, somewhat tolerable picture of myself glued in its pages. I paid for an expedite thinking that I had to get it to San Francisco far enough in advance to make sure my entry visa was approved. Come to find out I need to go 30 days or less prior to travel so when I attempt to enter China my visa is still valid!! So another trip to San Francisco in June. Oh rats...can I stand the strain? =) The next problem: when to buy the airline tickets. T is working on an itinerary for us once in country which looks enjoyable, but I have no idea where these places are so much research ensues to discover our route and what's available to see along the way. A map with push pins has been posted in our study to help facilitate such a search. Then there's the visit to the travel nurse and corresponding innoculations (my favorite...) and the necessary effort in getting fit in order to travel there comfortably (something I really do enjoy). T is 24 and I am...er....well, NOT! Not necessarily a slacker when it comes to fitness, still I must pursue it to the full! I must keep up with my progeny. Paying for the trip? I would say selling my first born but I will be traveling with her. Hmmm...maybe I could retroactively sell my little brother to the circus...maybe not. His wife might object.

Posted by A-T-PRC 09:15 Comments (0)

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