Walkabout in China

During my extensive time in country (two weeks), I’ve learned how to get around in very crowded cities. Traffic is chaotic but accidents are rare. Horns are used twenty times more often than turn signals. Lane lines are decorative and the rule of the road is “find a space and fill it.”

Buses are crowded but cheap. Taxis dart around like dragonflies and are a great bargain.They don’t have seat belts but there are bars between front and back seats to protect the driver from flying passengers. Bikes and motor scooters are ubiquitous and dangerous.

Crowds swarm like schools of fish. The safest way to move about is slip-streaming. Get behind someone, or a clump of someones, and stick close. Don’t walk by yourself; it confuses the scooters and gives the cabbies an easy target. Look down often as young children in split-pants answer the call of nature on city streets and old men like to spit.

I haven’t picked up any Chinese as I doubt I’ll be back. But I have learned the most important phrase to know in any language. (Even more vital than, “where’s the bathroom?”)


It means “thank you.”


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