Hello everyone. I decided that I should add to your reading experience by posting something of my very own. Since I spend most of my time working here, I assure you that my experience is all together different from Kate's. I'll try to give you small insights in my posts...and I'll start with driving (or should I say being driven).
So the one picture I posted really has not much to do with anything but I thought that it was cool that some guy and his son actually cruise around the city in an old motorcycle with a sidecar. How cool is that?
SO. Driving. Well, I've learned through observation a few rules of the road out here. In this post I'll share one: The food chain is upside down from the US. At home, the pedestrian always has the right of way - here if you're on your feet then you are just a slow moving target. Next up the food chain here would be bicycles which are slightly more mobile and certainly pick on those lower on the food chain by haplessly driving on every sidewalk, path, street, etc. Next up the food chain is scooters. These, in my opinion, are the most dangerous creatures. These things do not require a license if they are electric and also do not require a brain to operate. The worst part is that they can also travel anywhere: street, sidewalk, pathway, etc. Oh, and at night they don't use their headlight which means that if you aren't careful and don't hear their quiet electric motor purring away at 30 km/h you are very liable to get run over. I have almost had head on collisions with these guys even right outside my apartment on the walking path at night. I loathe these things (mostly because I am low on the food chain and don't have one to wreak havoc with myself...).
Ok, so next on the food chain is the regular car. Most people driving cars are actually fairly careful and so far I haven't had any problems with them...well, I'll leave some content for other posts. Next to highest on the food chain is the taxi population. There are two different flavors of tazis here (spelling correct): Green ones and all the rest. The green ones are local guys that drive scummy old VW Santanas but only cost 9RMB to go locally. The rest (see pic) are 11RMB and are the "3000" version of the same Santanas and get rated by a number of stars on their name tags. I have no idea why, but these guys basically rule the road both by sheer quantity and by aggressive behavior. Don't get in their way.
King of the jungle award goes to big "full to the top with locals" buses. These things should really have a plow on the front because they stop for nothing. They get through traffic better than anything and squeeze through holes that I never thought would be possible. They drive in any lane they want. They truly rule the road and they are my favorite. Consequently they are Timmy's favorite as well. He can't stop talking about them when he sees one. They are truly cool.
So as soon as I can I'm going to go try to get my driving license. I can't wait to join the madness. I'm sure most would think me crazy, and maybe I am, but I love driving and sitting in cars and cabs and buses and not being in control makes me crazy. I can do it. I know I can.
Now I just need someone to give me a car....