Saturday, June 1, 2013

Planes, automobiles and Sketchy panel China

While visiting China I had plenty of opportunity to try out a number of transportation devices. Some of them quite common, others not so much. I had my first ride in a rickshaw and hopefully my last ride in a sketchy panel van.
 Here we are in the rickshaw. We are in Beijing, headed in to the "Hu-tahn". This a the traditional way that the chinese have lived for centuries, before the advent of huge high rise apartment complexes. Many of the people that live in the "Hu-tahn" never leave, all there needs are met here. They have fresh food groceries and health clinics and they live their entire lives within about 4 city blocks. They have running water in their "homes" but they share a communal bathroom. Puts a whole new spin on getting to know your neighbors.

Leaving one of the many airports that we visited and headed to yet another "sight-seeing" van.
 This is a common "3 seater" (count the number of heads). The pollution from the exhaust is not enough to prevent the drivers from smoking.
 A "two-seater", sharing the common road. The traffic is incredible in all the parts of China that I visited. As near as I could tell there are no rules, I saw no stop signs and very few traffic lights. Merging is based on guts and nerves of steel.
 Because of all the traffic in town, the speeds are limited to less than probably 40 miles per hour but still a scary prospect if you are on the three wheeler.
 I don't know what he could smell, but it may just have been "china". The scent is pervasive. It's a combination of body smells based on the multitude of people that live there, a healthy dose of smog with a hint of fish and collard greens. Yum!

 I think this guy is delivering the laundry, but who knows?
 After-school pick-up with a snack.
 You've heard of 2 guys and a van? Well this may be China's version.

You know those moments in time when you are so thankful to get to your destination and you know your family won't have to wonder what happened to you in a foreign country?

This van represents one of those times. There is no seating in the back of this van, just a carpet of questionable vintage and equally unknown cleanliness over the metal. To set this up, we were desperate. We (Patty and I) had left "clinic" early with Dr. Todd and Dr. Brian in search of the great goose pagoda. Instead, our taxi took us to the small goose pagoda. Common mistake considering the language barrier, so according to the guide book we were a mere 4 blocks away, even us un-fit americans could make that walk.  Except for the fact that it was more like 4 miles across freeways and trying to be a pedestrian in China is dangerous for one's health. Pedestrians have no right of way. A number of transportation devices of dupious natures had refused to transport us, until this "fine" gentleman came to our rescue. Now you remember that we had a fairly clear idea where we were going. The longer it took in the windowless back of this van the more creative my imagination became. Being a pre-op nurse, I started considering how to prep each of my van mates for organ donation. The longer it took, the more organs I figured we were donating. When we finally reached our destination, Patty jumped out to take this picture and then the driver proceeded to try to shake us down for 10 times the quoted price. When in China, like when you face a bear in the woods, it's not important to be the fastest runner, as long as you can stay ahead of at least one other person (appetizer).  Bet you can't wait for my retelling of my "chinese massage." (some things should be avoided when faced with a language barrier, I'm just saying.


Georgia said...

The best thing about a photographer going on trips is that the rest of us can almost feel like we were along for the 'ride'. Thanks for sharing all the wonderful photos of Chinese Transportation Methods. I loved seeing them!

Anita Preece said...

Wow! All I can say is you are an adventurous soul. It is fun to see your pictures. I will never be as brave as you!