Cab rides are an adventure in China.
Actually, I’ve only taken cab rides in Beijing so I can only imagine how they would be in smaller cities and where not as many cabbies are used to having expatriates in their cars.
It is a full on adventure in Beijing each day.
Beijing is constantly under development and construction. That means that roads are closed, buildings move and traffic is a mess.
The best cabbies know the back roads and side streets and can take them at a moment’s notice.
The newer cabbies, and this includes mostly people that have moved to Beijing from the countryside, seem to stick to the major Ring Roads and this can be a real time waster.
I took a cab this morning that was jamming down the road, at crazy breakneck speeds, and I thought almost nothing of it.
Strangely enough, the cabbies here all drive like mad but they seem much safer than the ones back home.
Heck, the seat-belts are hidden so you can wear them and I’m still not afraid.
This surprises me because I was in a car crash when I was four years old and had to have brain surgery because of it.
I ended up losing my sense of smell and have no idea what that sense feels like at all.
I also was a very nervous passenger for many years and would never be in a car without everyone buckling up for safety.
Strangely, I just accept it here and know that I’m taking a risk because I am not forcing the drivers to pull the seat-belts out from underneath the seats.
Things change when you leave what is comfortable and known.
There is something about the Chinese drivers that would be wonderful to import to America: There is very little ego and attitude of aggressiveness.
They will let people cut in at any time. People block the road when doing 5 point U-turns (I have been told the drivers don’t like turning the wheel all the way so their U-turns have to be 5 point which can jam up the road for blocks). You can park pretty much anywhere.
People just don’t get mad.
Well, that isn’t quite true. People get plenty mad when there is a car crash but I’ve yet to see anyone flip another person off for stuff that might get you in lots of trouble back in the states.
By the way, cabs are also incredibly cheap here. You can do a 30 minute ride home, as I do, for about 5 bucks USA.
Not a bad deal since I get to relax, have space to myself, and listen to driver’s radio which ranges from Mariah Carey, as I heard this morning, to talk shows in Mandarin.