Swan Lake on the Backroads

Friday evening we took a taxi into the city. The driver chose the backroads, something we try to avoid, but since it was still light we decided it would be okay. Not okay. The backroads are scary, and let me try to explain what I mean by scary.

Chaos, mayhem, terror – words I use to describe driving (or at least being a passenger) in China. Every driver is very familiar with every square inch of their vehicle. They know exactly how much space they take up and how  much room they require to pass another vehicle, and they take full advantage of this knowledge.

Imagine a two-lane road with small shoulders on either side. Add to the picture large trucks, overloaded to the max with who-knows-what, (and believe me, you do see all sorts of interesting things). Add a few crazy taxis, regular passenger cars and big buses. Add some tuk-tuks and tractors pulling small trailers loaded down with so much plant material (or something random like empty boxes or styrofoam) that you can’t see around them. And just for fun, throw in mad motorcyclists, hordes of bicyclists and the occasional lady sweeping the shoulders with a handmade broom. Take all of these objects on that little road and shake them all up. Make sure that everyone is trying to overtake the vehicle in front of them while another vehicle barrels straight-on towards them. Make sure none of the motorcycles or bicycles have lights or any reflective material at all if riding at night. Make a suicidal pedestrian dart in front of speeding cars. And make sure everyone is calm and accepting of this mayhem, because for some reason this crazy system actually works. People here don’t seem to mind being inches from death at any given moment. It is all like a highly-choreographed ballet. Except for, trust me, you don’t want to buy tickets to this one!

We survived and made it to our destination – yet another Brazilian-style, meat-on-a-skewer restaurant, except for this one had a brewery on site and really good German-style beer. Chinese people must really love meat, because this is the third such place we have been to in our month here.

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One Response to “Swan Lake on the Backroads”

  1. Crazy Chinese Taxi « On the Fringe Says:

    […] This really isn’t an issue of money, although noone likes to be swindled. This is an issue of safety, as you will see. Want to know more about a backroads ride? See this post. The sound on the video consists mostly of honking horns and a few Spanish phrases from the DH and our friend M. Remember, this is a typical 2 lane road, meant to be used for 2 lanes of two-way traffic. Pay special attention to all the pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles taking up the sides of the road and remember this is a rural road. Just imagine what the city roads look like! Oh! and  you know how mirrors all say “objects may be closer than they appear?” Well, all objects in this video were MUCH closer than they appear! […]

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