Monday, September 8, 2008

Annals of Automobile Abominations, Part I

What would a trip to China be without tails of driving horrors? I have often stated that Chinese streets were designed by watching water flow. If you pour two containers of water into a third container the water will merge, resulting in one seamless stream of water. If water works this way, why not traffic? After all, liquids and solids are not that different.

Here are a few experiences.
  1. One morning on the way in to the factory we came upon a new intersection. As this was in a newer area of the industrial park, they had not yet put up any traffic lights. There was also no stop sign, and no one directing traffic. Naturally, all four directions have the right away. Cars would come from all four directions at high speed and move through the intersection. In the middle was a series of braking and turning that would leave a NASCAR driver envious. And out the other side the cars would go. Just for added interest people walking, riding bikes, and riding scooters would also try to cross the street at this intersection. No wonder China does so well in Gymnastics.
  2. I was walking in front of the hotel one afternoon. Suddenly I heard wheels screech and looked up to see a taxi come safely to a halt, without so much as a mark on the car in front of him. The gentleman on the scooter behind the taxi was not so lucky. He came to an abrupt halt as the scooter introduced itself to the taxi. There was a loud thud as plastic flew into the air. The man got off the scooter. Amazingly enough he was not already halfway through the rear window of the taxi. He had a few words with the taxi driver. Both then drove on their way.
  3. One fine morning, on the way into the factory, we took the hotel shuttle instead of a taxi. Usually the shuttle is a large bus. The bus is nice and comfortable. Best of all you sit up higher and cannot see the many cars that nearly turn into you. Today, however, they used a Buick van. The traffic was worse than usual, and the driver was in a hurry. This is not a good combination. While the experience was not actually new, it demonstrates a situation that I find myself in all too often here. In one instance the driver did not want to wait for the cars that were stopped in front of him. So he drove down the right shoulder, only to find cars turning right up ahead. He slammed on the breaks and swerved back into the traffic, narrowly avoiding the cars. Further on down the road a car was making a left turn from a side street into the flow of traffic. Well, we could not allow that. The driver sped up. The merging car screeched to a halt, mere inches from the side of the van.


Kristin said...

I am always amazed when you come home unscathed from traveling in China.

Ryan said...

I am always amazed too!