I love driving. One of my favourite things to do on a sunny Sunday was to pack some snacks, get my kids and go for a long drive. It didn’t matter where. Just to drive was such an amazing feeling. Seeing a different town, going to the lake, finding parks to play in, and just spending time with my kids. It remains one of my most favourite memories of when my children were young.
Fast forward to 2017 and living in China. First and foremost, I would NEVER rent a car in this country. No way. This country is definitely the scariest country for driving in. As a pedestrian, I risk life and limb every day when I go out and try to cross a road – any road! Okay, perhaps I am being a bit melodramatic, but I am serious when I say that the drivers have no regard for pedestrians. Even if there is a crosswalk and it is very clear that there are people crossing, the cars will swerve around, or better yet, get as close as they possibly can while passing you, and then honk and give you a dirty look, like we are the ones to blame for their horrible driving skills.
I have used taxis here. I would have rather walked as I felt safer walking then being held captive in the backseat by what could only be described as a wannabe Formula 1 driver. I am pretty sure that there are speed limits here, as I have seen signs. Taxi drivers are apparently blind to these signs. They drive as fast as humanly possible, swerving in and out of traffic, but will stop if someone is waving down a cab. Yes, that’s right. Even though there is already a passenger in their car, they will pick up more people. And when I was dropped off at the train station, the other person was still in the cab, so I paid up to that point, and he restarted the meter. Doesn’t seem right to me but you can’t argue the fact when you cannot speak the language! On the plus side, they are SO cheap!!! I was in a taxi once for over 30 minutes, and it ended up only costing about $10 Canadian.
Tuk-tuks – the funny looking 3-wheeled vehicles you have probably seen in various movies. They look so cute, and being a foreigner, it is something you want to try out. Be aware – they have no insurance, no license plate, no lights at night, and some don’t even have doors!! Thankfully they cannot go too fast. But they also, like taxis, follow no rules of the road. They generally do not wait for a light to change – if they can go, they go. They will pass on the right or the left of cars. They will honk at anyone who appears to be slowing down. They are not as cheap as taxis; however, they are able to go to places that taxis can’t get to (a sidewalk close to a building for example). Should you try a tuk-tuk? Definitely once just to say you did and survived!
Being a pedestrian in China has been very exciting to say the least! I will miss the heart racing rides through the streets of Changchun – or maybe not.