So, I am getting used to life here in the East. But, let me talk about transit in China.
Question: “Would I like to own a vehicle here? I have a USA driver’s license. It would add to my conveniences and give me freedom to travel.”
Answer: NO WAY!!!
Let me give you some of MY observations.
Right of way: Biggest vehicle with people being LOW on the list.
Notice that I didn’t say pedestrians and I said people. That’s because basically when you leave a building and enter any attached horizontal surface that is attached to a ‘road,’ you are taking your life in your hands. Try to imagine a crowded sidewalk and you’re having to ‘walk’ down it. Not just any sidewalk, Imagine a REALLY crowded one. Now, stretch the sidewalk building to building and replace people with construction vehicles, buses, trucks, cars, taxis (like in NYC), motorcycles, mopeds, bicycles, animals, and people and you have how to get around in Wuxi.
No laws, no rules, no order, and you’ve got travel in my town. It’s basically survival when you’re a pedestrian because you’re the lowest on the ‘right-of-way’ scale.
I see no regard to driving direction (what lines?), near-miss encounters every direction I look (They ARE only going one way.), headlights optional (and NOT required), families (dad, mom, and child) on a moped (electric, they make NO noise), at night (the street light do give a little), no helmets (on anyone!), carrying bags (way more than a moped should), wrong side of the road (or sidewalk) and talking on a cell phone going as fast as dad can.
I have been in near miss situations where I’ll have vehicles (up to a truck) pass me both front and rear by inches (or centimeters in China) going opposite directions at night with no lights. I’ve been on a sidewalk and been missed by a moped (electric, they make no noise) by a fraction of an inch. I know, I wasn’t watching, I was waving to my dry cleaner in their shop, so that’s what I get, right?
So, I’m trying to look at all this with non-Western eyes. I know that I probably shouldn’t impose Western standards onto what happens in this country but can’t I just assume that these people have some common sense?
It’s pretty crazy sometimes. No, all the time!!
So, in spite of that whole ‘driving’ thing, whould I want to drive here? The answer, ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! I’m happy taking cabs everywhere for 10-30RMB (Renminbi the official currency of the People’s Republic of China , whose principal unit is the Yuan.) (That’s about $1.50 to $4.50 USD), I’m good with that. To not worry about vehicle ownership, I’m good with that too.
Life here has been interesting to say the least. I’m getting pretty good with chopsticks too. I’ve already lost about 5 pounds and it’s only been a month or so.