Sunday, April 27, 2014

Early experience of Chinese traffic

This little event happened during my first week of car-ownership, when I was still learning to Drive Like the Tao (to be the topic of a future essay). It was Friday afternoon, and I was coming home from work down the back roads. As I approached the final left-turn before climbing the hill to my apartment complex, I got stuck in the following traffic jam.
 Then I looked to my left and saw this motorcycle zipping down the empty oncoming-traffic lane...
 ...followed by this car...
 ...and yet another motorcycle. Finally I figured I'm being an idiot sitting here in the left-hand lane 100 meters from the actual left turn, so...
 ...I swerved out into the lane that was supposed to be for oncoming traffic, my heart beating as only a rank foreigner's would.
The few oncoming cars swerved around me as if it were perfectly normal and acceptable for me to be in their lane — as in fact it is, in China. In due course, the lane I was squatting in actually became an appropriate left-turn lane, and I fell into line.
 At the intersection, there was this poor, pudgy policeman attempting to impose some sort of order by the mere waving of his hands. Note the bicyclist happily riding the oncoming lane.

After all this, I made my turn without any trouble, and I trucked right up the mountain to home. I'll eventually learn not to worry about this stuff, but for now it's still rather stressful.

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