Driving in China – Just Go

Matt | Chinese Culture,Driving in China | Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

The problem with \

Driving in China seems to follow the general flow of things here, which appears to be:

just go baby, just go.

From a pedestrians point of view it looks like cars have the right of way and buses trump all. Cars seldom stop for people and buses never do, except at scheduled bus stops. Bicycles are fast, furious and everywhere. Electric bikes are deadly. They fly by in stealth mode, sometimes at speeds of up to 40km/hr. Sometimes I’m about to step off a sidewalk and whoosh an electric bike zooms by inches away from exploding into me. But, the biggest adjustment for me was in crossing a street in China.

Crossing the street in China is a challenge as you continually need to look in all directions, like running down on kick-off in an American football game, for all sorts of vehicles or 240lb linebackers (buses). The biggest challenge for me as a walker was watching cars turn right at a red light. Cars do NOT need to stop when turning right at a stop light. Actually, cars can speed up into the turn right. These drivers just go, and like a round-a-bout in Europe, without looking at the oncoming cars. The car coming onto the road seems to have the right-of-way. And no-one looks for pedestrians. The walker needs to be on the look out. Or to walk confidently giving a “straight arm” to the driver telling them they need to stop. Be careful, buses will NOT stop.

This “just go” mentality often leads to messy situations especially as more and more people are owning cars. People drive where they want when they want. Street signs seem to be recommendations only. Driving on sidewalks, driving the wrong way on a one-way street, and driving in the bicycle lane are common practices here. Actually I saw all of these situations while I was walking yesterday.

But sometimes, just going, can get you into trouble.

Weekly Roundup: Emotions & Olympic greats

Matt | Books: Mindset,China Developing,Driving in China,Visas | Friday, May 9th, 2008

It’s been an emotional time in China lately. I’m continually moved by the stories of people who have donated their efforts to help Sichuan recover from the earthquake. Yesterday on the news I saw an 80 year old grannie who came down to volunteer. It reminded me of my grammie back in Canada who did a similar thing back during the ’95/’96 referendum when she supported her country. I don’t know what it is, nor how to describe it, except to say that I’m continually moved by these outpourings of love. On a financial front, I have given some money, but it never seems like it’s enough. As there are more and more needy charities asking for donations, there are more emotionally-charged images and requests for much needed money.

On a round up front, I came across some nice stories I wanted to share.

Here was a quick one from the PekingDuck which talks about a doctor who told his wife he was going out, jumped on a plane and went to Sichuan to help.

Here are a couple of interesting posts from Sinosplice. This one about the candlelit vigil moved me. And this one about how much donation was appropriate in a company was an interesting insight in the the Chinese culture. Both well worth a read.

From the emotional challenges China has been facing, I keep thinking how China needs and truly deserves a great Olympic games. I continue to send out positive energy pray that this happens. At China Briefing, they do more than send out thoughts as here they give some great tips on how to set up your Chinese office to make the environment as Olympic and employee friendly as possible. Their tips reminded me of working in Canada and watching the 2002 gold medal hockey game in my company cafeteria and thinking how lucky I was to be working for a company that would set up a big screen TV in the cafe for it’s employees.

Here is an interesting article from Asia Times about the quake and how the government is listening to the people.  Hopefully from this disaster some good will come, like improving the safety and quality of schools.

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