Day 1 to Qingdao: The liberal Chinese interpretation of the words “one-way street” and how to share your lane

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So I’m officially the farthest I’ve ever been on a motorcycle from Beijing, shattering my previous record of 200km by over 120! However, I don’t think anything has made me more appreciative of the drivers in Beijing (you know, that city with the worst traffic in the world) then actually leaving the city and experiencing some real authentic Chinese driving. For one, it’s bad enough that most cars seem to completely ignore my existence on the road and act as if I wasn’t there altogether, often pushing up inches to my left as I’m driving in the center of the lane attempting to pass the car in front of me even though there’s oncoming traffic, but when cars start doing the same to trucks and vice versa, that’s when you really gotta start wondering at what they test for in China when you get your license (actually I’ve heard some of the questions and it’s not really surprising).

Driving through Tianjin, the special economic zone and municipality next to Beijing, was particularly stressful with high speeds big roads, and complete disregard for safety. At one point when driving down the street there was a car coming nearly full speed down the wrong side of the road, and as if that wasn’t enough, 1 minute later another doing the same thing!

What’s really distressing about it all is though is the fact that no one seems to consider the consequences. Not too far out of Tianjin we came upon the worst crash I had ever seen, right on the road we were driving on. We were driving along the road at a good speed when it looked like things were slowing down up ahead. Soon it was at a standstill and to my right I finally noticed was a car perfectly perpendicular to the barrier on the side of the road, with what was left of its front hugging it. Then as we moved along we finally came upon the other car. It was also at an unnatural angle relative to the flow of traffic. All around it were bits of car and right to the side of it was a guy barely moving, with blood around his head and offering the sporadic cough. Then I noticed the front of this car, with heavy flames coming out of it. You could see the smoke for miles. The worst part was that not 5 minutes after the crash site, I got cut off in my lane two more times.

It’s not all bad though! Amy and I have thoroughly enjoyed the ride, having made it 320km to Wudi, tired but safe. It’s been amazing being able to see China from this perspective, driving through little towns, passing factories, farmers driving their produce on trailers pulled by a motor that looks like it’s held on by duct tape and twine with the goods piled higher and wider than the vehicle. It’s a great ride and a fascinating country, I can’t wait for day 2!

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